Safety is of primary importance in the operation of the Youth Archery Skills Program and it must never be compromised. To maintain safety a responsible adult supervises program activities. It is not necessary they be expert archers. The participants should be well versed with the safety routines for archery There are three areas where safety can be an issue: one is safety of the individual, a second is the safety of the group and the third is the safety of the equipment.
#1 Individual Safety
The archer should have:
- adequate clothing for warmth, protection from equipment and other hazards
- close-fitting clothing around sleeves and upper body
- flat shoes, such as sneakers
- bulky clothing
- long collar points
- breast pockets (especially with pens, etc in them)
- unbuttoned sweaters or jackets
- eye glasses in pocket that may become caught in the string
The archer should have:
- an armguard and finger tab or release
- arrows that are 2” longer than the archers reach
- a bow that is easily drawn (i.e. correct draw weight and draw length)
Equipment must be inspected before each class:
- Check arrows for cracks in the shaft, cracked or loose nocks, or damaged points
- Check bows for cracks in the fiberglass or laminations and loose sites or rests
- Check strings and cables for broken strands and serving
During the class:
- Bows are drawn only when pointed at the target
- Bowstrings are released only when an arrow is in the bow
- Arrows are pointed only at the target during shooting
- Arrows are pulled from the target only if no one stands in the line with the nock of the arrow
- Arrows are carried back the line point down and away from the body
- Everyone walks to and from the target
- When arrows are missing behind the target, an archer, or instructor remains in front of the target until everyone returns from the search to the shooting line.
- Only point an arrow at the target
- Walk, do not run when recovering arrows and pick up arrows which have fallen in front of the target
- On an outdoor course, leave your bow in front of the target if you are looking for arrows behind the target
- Use equipment in good condition and that fits you properly
- Shoot arrows that are of proper length (they should be 2 inches longer than the riser of the bow at full draw)
- The anchor position of the draw must be clear of the nose and glasses
- Release only when an arrow is nocked
#2 Group Safety
- Archers begin shooting only when instructed to do so
- Archers move back from the line as soon as their arrows are shot
- Archers approach the target only when instructed to do so
Position On The Line:
- Left-eye dominant archers will stand on the right-hand side of the shooting line
- Right-eye dominant archers stand on the left-hand side which allows archers to face toward the centre of the facility and be able to see you
- Archers who have finished shooting put their bows down in the designated area and remain at least 5 meters behind the shooting line
- Arrows which fall in front of the shooting line are left there until shooting is finished UNLESS it can be reached without moving the feet from the shooting position
- Arrows are shot while archers are ON the shooting line only
- Indoor ranges should have sufficient dead space behind the target to allow for high, misfired arrows
- Spectators are to be kept back from the shooting line
- Targets must be firmly anchored
- Care must be taken when pulling arrows ensuring no one is directly behind the arrows
- The shooting line must be straight, not staggered
- Targets may be at varying distances if different groups are shooting at once
- Doors must be locked if they are in front or along the sides of the shooting line
While shooting, the archer is always aware of the rights and feelings of others. There are many types of archers. Some like to act up on the line. Others take their shooting very seriously. Here are a few etiquette tips for the archer:
- Do not talk on the shooting line or distract other archers while shooting is in progress.
- When practising, do not shoot more arrows in an end than you would shoot in competition.
- When you have shot your end of required arrows, step 5m back from the line.
- Do not remark on someone else's shooting during the end.
- Should you have problems, step back and signal the supervisor Do not distract other archers.
- Leave other archers' arrows in the target unless asked to remove them.
- Respect the other arrows in the target while you are drawing your own.
- Pay attention to and co-operate with club officials carrying out their duties.
- For shooting in gymnasiums wear shoes that will not mark the floors.
- Be familiar with the Club Rules regarding dress.
#3 Equipment Safety
Stringing the bow with a bow stringer:
1. Fit the bowstring on the bow by sliding the top string loop (the larger one) over the top limb and fitting the bottom string loop into the bottom limb nocks.
2. Fit the stringer caps over the bow tips. The larger string cap or pocket goes on the bottom limb.
3. Hold the bow by the grip and step on the middle of the stringer (use one or both feet).
4. Pull the bow up by the grip while sliding the top loop into the top limb nocks.
5. Turn the bow away from you and check to ensure both string loops are secured in the limb nocks.
6. The string lies in the grooves on each limb.
7. Remove the stringer.
Un-stringing the bow with a bow stringer:
1. Follow steps 2 and 3 above.
2. Pull the bow up by the grip and slide the bowstring out of the top limb nocks and down the limb.
3. Slowly release the pull on the bow.
Pulling back the bowstring and releasing it without an arrow is referred to as "dry-firing" a bow. Considerable damage can be done to the limbs of a bow when it is dry-fired. Bows that are dry-fired should be checked for damage before being used again.
When arrows miss the target or hit each other in the target, they should be checked for damage to the nock and shaft before they are used again. Damaged arrows should be set aside for repair or discarded if badly damaged. Arrows being pulled from the target should be pulled straight back to avoid bending or breaking. The arrow should be pulled by placing the hand as close as possible to the target.
#4 The Shooting Process
Warm-ups will only take a few minutes and will reduce injury and increase performance and consistency. They will help adults stretch out stiff muscles and lets young people use up extra energy that can distract them from concentrating on shooting.
- Neck and Head: Slowly move the chin from left to right shoulder and back. Hold the head turned towards each shoulder for seven counts. Do both sides 2 to 3 times. Never do full neck circles as they can hurt the neck when the head is back, chin up.
- Shoulders: Slow shoulder circles and arm circles, backwards and forwards to a count of ten.
- Arms: Cross the arm over the chest and pull the elbow into the chest gently with the other hand to achieve a good stretch along the triceps, shoulder and upper back Hold for a count of seven and then switch arms. Next clasp both hands behind your buttocks and slowly stretch the shoulders back with both arms gently. Keep standing straight. When the furthest stretching point has been reached, hold for a seven count. Repeat.
- Lower Body: Trunk, waist and knee circles can be used if some archers find stiffness a problem. Keep circles slow and full-ranged. Do circles in both directions, ten times each.
More warm-up exercises are listed in the FCA level 1 Coach manual available through the Distribution Centre.
Shooting and Breathing
Different theories about breath control and aiming have been developed over the years. To simplify the issue, remember to teach your archers the following:
- Breathe in normally as the bow is lifted and the draw begins.
- Allow about a third to half of the air to leave your lungs just before and during the anchor.
- Continue to exhale slowly during aiming.