Hunting -> Archery Safety

Archery Safety

The popular imagination regarding the hazards to people resulting from deer hunting in residential neighborhoods needs to be informed by a significant fact:  No bystander to an archery deer hunt has been struck by an arrow or bolt since Virginia began keeping records of hunting accidents in 1959. 

That is not to say that archers don’t get hurt.  The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reports the following injuries to archers and to other hunters state-wide:  


 Fall from tree stand

Self inflicted injuries

Other hunter injuries

Other hunter fatality

Compound bows

37 since 1995

7 since 1959

4 since 1959

1 since 1959

Cross bows

8 since 1991

1 since 1959

0 since 1959


Source:  Virginia Hunting and Hunting Related Incident Report Summary provided by David Dodson, DGIF, 24 August 2010.

Since 1988, all hunters have been required to complete a Virginia Hunter Education course that teaches hunting safety as well as principles of conservation and sportsmanship.  One of the four “Other hunter injuries” was caused by an archer who had completed hunter education.  The other three companion hunter injuries and the fatality were caused by archers who had not completed a hunter education course.  

A course designed especially for archers is the International Bowhunter Education Program (IBEP) designed and administered by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF).  The goal of the IBEP is to provide bowhunters with the basic fundamentals of safe bowhunting while maintaining the highest ethical standards in the sport. The immediate objective is to instill in all bowhunters a responsible attitude and to adopt and follow acceptable behavior towards people, wildlife and the environment in which they hunt.  Twelve states require archers who hunt to complete IBEP. Review the content of the IBEP course on Today's Bowhunter web site.

Even with appropriate training, accidents cannot be totally eliminated and should not be ignored.  However, landowners who are concerned about their liability for hunting accidents on their properties should understand that Virginia law, Virginia Code § 29.1-509. states that landowners who give permission to enter their property to hunt and charge no fee to do so owe no duty of care to keep their land safe for entry, and they assume no responsibility for or incur liability for any intentional or negligent acts of the hunter or any other person.  

An additional safeguard is provided by general liability insurance that archers or archer groups obtain that covers injuries to hunters beyond what hunters' personal insurance policies might cover.  Archer groups that Green Fire refers to private landowners will provide such general liability insurance for their archers.

Private property owners who are interested in safety and liability concerns should see  VA DGIF's publication “Hunting on Private Property”.  Also see “A Landowner's Guide To Working With Sportsmen In Virginia” by Peter T. Bromley, Extension Specialist, Wildlife, Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Tech.