Madison Evans, February – I admit it, I am a bit of a nervous nelly. Scary movies and books, no thank you. Trust me, watching the movie It is not on my radar for any day soon. So, you can imagine my reaction when I heard about a sport that uses arrows to pierce a target. My first thought was – isn’t it dangerous? The only thing I knew back then was how archery was a sport used for hunting. Nowadays, I know that it is so much more than that, with friends, games, and like a bazillion safety precautions. The thing is, not a lot of people know how safe they make it. Let me take you back to my first day when I learned more about the many safety precautions used in archery.
My first practice was a whirlwind of rules. Rules that I later learned help create the foundation for a safe environment. The three rules that stuck out the most to me and made me feel comfortable with the sport were about whistles, lines and arrows.
During my team’s first week of practice, we were not even allowed to touch our bows until we understood the whistles. One whistle is shoot, two whistles is get bow, three whistles is go get arrows and five or more whistles means there is an emergency and everyone should stop everything immediately.
The next crucial part in safety is understanding where to stand in relation to the lines on the floor. There is the waiting line which you can cross when you hear two (get bow) or three (go get arrow) whistles. The waiting line is used to separate archers and equipment and make sure no incidents happen, like dry fires. Then, there is the 10- and 15-meter lines. These, you only cross when you hear three whistles to get your arrows. There is one last line, called the target line, which is located near the target. It is used to reduce crowds in that area so everyone is safe when archers pull their arrows.
During the first practice we learned how to properly handle our arrows. As you can imagine, scared-and-sometimes-clumsy-me had visions of myself carrying the arrows, tripping, and stabbing my leg or some other body part. Of course, that never happened. Our coaches taught us to hold and carry the arrows correctly with one hand on the tips and the other near the top. Also, we were taught to safely remove the arrows from the targets by stabilizing the target and pulling the arrows straight out without touching the fletching.
I still needed to do some research on safety to thoroughly convince myself. Our coaches use the NASP® Basic Archery Instructor book which is a training manual that helps them know how to properly conduct lessons. Not only are there two chapters dedicated to safety, but I also found this tidbit on page 4.
“Archery’s safety record is exemplary. It almost unheard of for a person to be injured or to hurt another person while shooting a bow and arrow. National safety data keeping organizations rate archery more accident-free than every ball sport except table tennis.”
After learning all this, I am firmly convinced that I am safe while shooting. Now I know I can have fun as long as I follow the rules.