TARGET ARCHERY IS EXTREMELY SAFE AS THE STATISTICS SHOW, BUT POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS WHEN THE RULES ARE NOT FOLLOWED OR TRAINING/COMMON SENSE IS NOT EMPLOYED.
These visual examples are an exellent learning opportunity. For example, with the arrows shown below, you can see minor flaws (well, some are not so minor!). Be aware that you should *NEVER* shoot any arrow that has a flaw in the shaft, point, or nock. When a flaw causes a major "FAIL", it is called a catastrophic failure because it can be a catastrophe to the archer. A nock that has been nicked by another arrow at the target, can seem okay, but just not click onto the serving the way it usually does. Shooting an arrow with such a nock may result in the nock splitting, which in turn gouges flesh out of the archer's bow arm, leaving a bloody divot or strip. That is why the SMART archer always examines his/her nocks and arrows on the way back from the target, before the arrow is returned to the quiver. If it doesn't "Click", don't shoot it.
It is true, and insurance industry statistics show, that archery is one of the safest sports, far safer than baseball, football, and even soccer, target archery still has the potential to cause injury and death. This is particularly true when the rules are not followed. A few pictures have come through the internet, and they are displayed here as an encouragement to all, to be as careful as possible.
It is important to always inspect your gear, before you use it and WHILE you are using it. Especially arrows! Check this great article on inspections by Tom Barker.
Here are some examples of failed and injured arrows: (if you click on a thumbnail, you'll need to use your "back" key in your browser, such as your backspace key, to return)
The series below show what happens when the archer uses an arrow that is too short, such that the arrow is overdrawn, falls off of the rest, and then is loosed. Every NAA level 1 instructor is taught how to avoid this but not everyone has the benefit of such an instructor or coach.
There is not a lot of blood because the arrow is actually acting like a cork. Once the shaft was removed by a physician (probably involving a dremel-like cutting wheel) the blood most certainly would flow freely. After several TSAA members sent me this photo, I did get a commentary of what caused this:
Regardless, this is exactly what happens if one were to draw a bow (both compound AND recurve bows) back so far that the arrow falls off of the rest, and then the string is released. It will happen so fast that there will be no avoiding the punishment.
These photos below are the result of a carbon arrow shattering/breaking at the moment of release. Judging from the arrow's fletchings the bow was likely a compound, but it can happen with recurve bows as well. Archers must always inspect their arrows (and bow and other/all gear) at appropriate times, such as first taking them out of bowcase, and after every end. One important note: A carbon arrow such as this one is composed of tiny strands of carbon fiber running the length of the shaft. As you can see, these strands separate from the resin holding them, and each one is very brittle and can break off into tiny segments. These segments are small enough to travel through a vein and into the heart, where the pumping action can force the shard into the valves of the heart, or go into other organs and be embedded there. This can be a life-threatening time bomb, so carbon arrows that fracture must be handled with the utmost care and caution, disposed of in a way that no child, or person taking out the trash, is put in danger.
Below is another example of the rules not being observed - hunting archery calls for even more diligence than target archery by its very nature.
Errant arrow pierces man's head
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