10 Archery Mistakes That Can Result in Injury or Death

Bad bowhunting fortune goes by the names of ignorance, naivety and neglect

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap
Mistake: Dry-Firing a BowMistake: Using a Frayed Bow StringMistake: Operating with a Cracked Limb or Busted CamMistake: Shooting a Damaged Arrow ShaftMistake: Using an Arrow Spine That’s Too Weak or ShortMistake: Getting Cut on Unprotected BroadheadsMistake: Working on a Bow Without an Approved Bow PressMistake: Shooting at an Unidentified TargetMistake: Releasing an Arrow without a Safe BackdropMistake: Shooting Straight Up in the Air

1 | Mistake: Dry-Firing a Bow

While No. 1 on our list is just as dangerous as any other, it’s definitely one of the dumber ones. This is not a good idea. Obviously, this happens on accident more than on purpose. But it shouldn’t happen at all. The easy fix — never draw a bow back that doesn’t have an arrow nocked and pointed in a safe direction. And if you ever do it once, you’ll make sure to never do it again.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 8

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 1

Prevention Rating: 10

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

2 | Mistake: Using a Frayed Bow String

This is something that usually happens without people knowing it. All it takes is a small nick or fray to send things downhill in a hurry. Imagine the possibilities when you draw back a bow and the strings snaps. Or, worse yet, when you release the arrow. Protect your bow strings. Inspect them regularly. Replace damaged and old ones. Your safety depends on it.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 7

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 9

Prevention Rating: 9

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

3 | Mistake: Operating with a Cracked Limb or Busted Cam

It’s equally important not to use a bow with a damaged limb. Fiberglass splintering under pressure isn’t a fun deal. Always check limbs, cams and other bow parts for damage and malfunctions. Preventative measures are key.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 8

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 7

Prevention Rating: 8

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

4 | Mistake: Shooting a Damaged Arrow Shaft

Shooting an arrow shaft that shows dents, chips, cracks, splinters or any other visual clues of being compromised is dangerous. Ever seen the photos of people with splintered arrow shafts through their hands? That could be you. Don’t let it be.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 9

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 8

Prevention Rating: 8

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

5 | Mistake: Using an Arrow Spine That’s Too Weak or Short

Every arrow is designed for a purpose. If you have extra-long draw lengths or pull gorilla-rated compound bows, take care not to shoot an arrow that isn’t rated for your bow. Chances are this won’t happen. But it isn’t unheard of. Prevent it.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 6

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 5

Prevention Rating: 8

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

6 | Mistake: Getting Cut on Unprotected Broadheads

Good broadheads are sharp broadheads. But it’s just as easy to get cut with a dull one. Protect yourself and others from broadheads by keeping them covered. Make sure hunting arrows are secured inside a protective quiver. Keep uninserted broadheads tucked away in an enclosed case. Keep them somewhere away from children.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 8

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 4

Prevention Rating: 10

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

7 | Mistake: Working on a Bow Without an Approved Bow Press

Most bows aren’t reliant on a specific bow press. But some of the new models are. When it comes to working on compounds, not knowing what you’re doing is a one-way ticket to Cuts and Bruises Boulevard. If you aren’t educated in this arena, leave the press work to someone who is. And then find a mentor to teach you.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 9

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 3

Prevention Rating: 9

Photo Credit: Heartland Bowhunter

8 | Mistake: Shooting at an Unidentified Target

Never shoot at something you can’t completely identify. If you aren’t 100% sure of what you’re looking at, don’t pull the trigger or release the arrow. It’s that simple. Don’t allow adrenaline or the desire to fill a tag influence a bad decision. Only make the shot once everything is clear and obvious.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 10

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 1

Prevention Rating: 10

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Photo Credit: Heartland Bowhunter

9 | Mistake: Releasing an Arrow without a Safe Backdrop

Never under any circumstance release an arrow if there isn’t a safe backdrop beyond the target. Don’t take shots at sky-lined animals, when another animal is behind the target, or when people or structures are beyond the animal in question. Wait until the animal walks in front of a safe backdrop before taking the shot.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 10

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 1

Prevention Rating: 10

Photo Credit: Heartland Bowhunter

10 | Mistake: Shooting Straight Up in the Air

Should this really even have to be on the list? Apparently so. It might seem like another one of those obvious no-nos. That said, a quick online search shows it’s a thing. I guess some people like to play with fire. Or in this case, arrows. Don’t be that guy or gal, though. Use some common sense. Don’t pull a stunt only a numbskull would do. This ain’t Rook cards. “Shooting the moon” wins you nothing in archery.

Dumb Deeds Rating: 10-plus

Accidental Occurrence Rating: 1

Prevention Rating: 10

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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