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Bowhunter retracing his path

Archery and bowhunting safety rules cover all aspects of using a bow and arrow, including storing, handling, and shooting.

In many states, a bow and arrow are considered a firearm, and the same rules and regulations that apply to firearms also apply to bows and arrows. Always check local laws, and follow these archery safety rules.

  • Only point the bow and arrow in a safe direction.
  • Only nock an arrow when it’s safe to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what is in front of it, immediately behind it, and beyond it.
  • Never shoot over a ridge.
  • Only shoot when you have a safe range or shooting area, and a safe backstop or background.
  • Avoid dry-firing a bow (releasing the bowstring without a nocked arrow). It may cause serious damage to the bow and can injure the archer.
  • Do not shoot an arrow straight up in the air.
  • Wear an armguard and finger protection while shooting bows and arrows.
  • Handle arrows carefully. Protect yourself and the arrow points with a covered arrow quiver.
  • Use a bow-stringer for stringing longbows and recurve bows.
  • Immediately repair defects in equipment.
    • Prior to each use, check your bow for cracks, dents, breaks, separating laminates, peeling glass, and defects in mechanical parts.
    • Check the bowstring regularly, and replace it if it becomes worn or frayed. Frequent use of bowstring wax greatly extends the life of a bowstring.
    • Check arrows for cracks, dents, or bends; discard any that have permanent flaws.
  • Store your bows in bow cases—preferably hard cases—and store recurves and longbows unstrung.
  • Store arrows in quivers and accessories in a sturdy box or padded bag.
  • Keep your emotions under control, and think about safety first.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take mood-altering drugs before, during, or after shooting a bow.
Prohibited sign on alcohol, beer bottles, and beer cans
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