IS Archery A Safe Sport? Yes!


Archery has been part of countless physical education introductory programs in schools, summer camps, Scouts, 4-H Clubs and community recreational programs, to name a few. Throughout its long history in recreational sports, archery ranks as one of the safest activities offered in any organized group setting. Especially impressive is the fact that archery maintains a consistently high safety record despite the fact that participants range from grade-school children to senior citizens, many of whom have never before picked up a bow and arrow.

Archery has become increasingly popular in recent years as schools and recreational programs strive to find activities that appeal to families, both genders, and all age groups in a variety of group settings. Educators, group leaders and recreation instructors find archery is safe and easily learned. Beginners become proficient with minimal assistance, and they improve their skills quickly with practice.

As more administrators at schools, camps, clubs and recreational programs consider adding an archery program, safety questions often arise. This report addresses those concerns, and also compares archery’s safety record with the safety record of many recreational activities that regularly draw more experienced participants.

“We implemented archery in schools across Kentucky in 2002, and because we emphasized safety with our students, conducted training for all teachers, and adhered to standard procedures, we have had a remarkable safety record. Vigilant school districts are always concerned about liability issues, especially with sports and recreational activities, and archery consistently proves itself one of the  safest sports taught in our public schools’ physical education programs.”

Commissioner Gene Wilhoit
Kentucky Department of Education


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) operates the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is a database used to track hospital injuries for more than 15,000 kinds of consumer products used in sports and recreational activities in and around homes and schools. Data from the NEISS are a critical resource for consumer groups, manufacturing and industry organizations, the media, educators, researchers and attorneys. The data are also used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services, the principal agency in the United States government for protecting the health and safety of Americans. Organizations like the National Safety Council, a nonprofit, nongovernmental, international service organization also use the data from NEISS to compile its annual Injury Facts publication2. We queried the NEISS database to determine the safety of archery compared to other sports. We Compared this information to the data on participation obtained from Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), a global trade association of manufacturers, retailers and marketers in the sports products industry. The SGMA provides estimates of the number of participants in a number of sports and recreational activities, including archery, through an annual survey conducted for them by American Sports Data, Inc. Since SGMA only tracks participation for ages 6 and above, we queried the NEISS database for safety data for several sports beginning at age 6. These data indicate that archery is one of the safest sports, with an injury rate of less than one incident per 1,000 participants, in 2004 (Table 1). Recreational activities like golf and fishing have an injury rate of up to 1.5 to 2 times the rate for archery (Figure 1). Common sports like soccer, baseball and basketball have injury rates 15 to 25 times that of archery (Figure 1). Because the National Safety Council cautions about calculating injury rates from these data, we presented the raw injury and participation numbers in the Sports Participation and Injury Table (Table 1) so you can judge for yourself.

Figure 1 Injury rates per 1000 participants in youth sports from 2000 through 2004.
Safety Rating from the Insurance Industry

The safety record of archery is also recognized by the insurance industry. Based on evidence from injury reports, the standard general liability coverage maintained by most orginazations has been determaned sufficent for archery, In these situations, no additional polaicy amendments are needed when adding an archery program.

Insurance broker Francis L. Dean & Associates rates archery in the same class as badminton, bowling, cross country, fencing, golf, handball, rowing, tennis and track when calculating policy premiums. Among the sports that require the highest insurance premiums for coverage are basketball, cheer leading and volleyball


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