This article stems from two instances in a one week period that really reminded me of the importance of inspecting our equipment prior to heading to the range. This goes for both archery and firearm equipment. In one instance, tragically, an old work friend went hunting and had a weapons malfunction that caused the action to explode. This led to major damage to his face and will, ultimately, lead to the loss of an eye. In another instance, my friend had his brother-in-law hand him a rifle and say, “Hey, go shoot this!” Luckily, my buddy had a sixth sense pop up to inspect the rifle. He realized that the bolt was the wrong caliber for the barrel and his brother-in-law never knew it. Instances like these really hone on what could happen if we neglect safety.
Every year, we hear stories across the nation talking about incidents just like these — sometimes, even worse. We have a temporary sense of awareness as a reaction to hearing about these events, but that soon fades, I'm just as guilty. So, this leads to the question: How can we lessen the risk of this happening to yourself or a friend?
I’ve come up with some easy lists for both archery and firearms that can help keep us all safe and reduce the risk. Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments! Let's get into it!
These may be basic rules for most scenarios; however, awareness of these areas has to be discussed. The moment we begin being complacent is when accidents are prone to happen. Implementing these simple rules will help mitigate the risk when going out for a fun evening of shooting.
If you have any recommendations or additions to these lists, feel free to drop them in the comments. I wish all of you a safe shooting experience!
Inspect the limbs for cracks, delamination, chips and overall integrity. Do a quick check on all hardware for security and corrosion build-up.
Inspect string for heavy fraying, separation and cuts. Also, look at your d-loop to ensure it hasn’t worn thin.
Inspect arrows for chips and cracks near the nock and insert. Look for odd bends and, lastly, perform a flex check on carbon arrows. Grasp the arrow at each end and apply a mild amount of pressure to make it bend slightly. Listen and feel for a cracking/crunching sound. If you hear anything similar to the previous symptoms, do not use the arrow. When in doubt, play it safe. Take the arrow to an archery shop to have it further inspected for safety.
Inspect wrist strap for loose hardware. Inspect release mechanism for missing hardware.
Safety operational check.
Bolt head security and corrosion.
Barrel inspection from chamber to the end of the barrel. Inspecting for debris and obstructions.
Inspect ammunition for proper caliber, dents, corrosion and misaligned bullet seating.
Verify the range or public land you are occupying for shooting is a safe firing area with proper backstops. Also, perform a range safety brief for those around you so everyone is clear of range rules.
Use proper safety equipment for all shooters: safety glasses, earplugs and gloves (if required). Ensure that all patrons are clear of the muzzle.