Aim: The aim of this paper was to assess the incidence of injuries in the general population caused by participation in the sport of target archery or bowhunting.
Methods: Descriptive analysis of a national probability sample of hospital based treatments for archery-related injuries, over a 10-year period.
Results: The leading injuries were lacerations (62±2%), which most often occurred through mishandling hunting arrows. Puncture wounds accounted for 8±1% and foreign bodies 6±1%, arising from feathers or vanes embedding in the hand, falling onto an arrow, or a rupturing arrow shaft. Contusions and abrasions, often caused by the bowstring hitting the arm, accounted for 6±1% of injuries. Nearly all (99±0.4%) of cases were treated and released. The overall injury rate is 4.4/10000 participants age 6 and over.
Conclusion: Contrary to the prevailing perception that archery is inherently dangerous, the evidence shows that recreational archery is a very safe sport ‑ safer than popular field sports where people risk collisions or falls, such as soccer, basketball or baseball. The injury rate from lacerations could be significantly reduced if bow hunter education courses emphasized safe handling of broadhead arrows. The data suggest that nearly all acute injuries in target archery can be prevented through participation in an accredited training program and the use of basic protective gear (arm guards and shooting gloves). All archery education programs should focus on proper archery stance and joint strengthening to minimize chronic shoulder and back injuries.