Perhaps the first, and certainly most fundamental information beginners learn at our archery range is weapons safety rules. Nowadays some people fall into the trap of seeing only firearms as “weapons”, but thst is simply not true. Arrows and other points and blades may be “old school”, but are can still be lethal as ever. And despite the variety of weapons that exist, the most basic safety rules are pretty universal.
THREE SIMPLE RULES
Only point at what you want to hit.
Whether you are actually aiming, just practicing the motion, or pretending, that does not matter. Only ever point your weapon at something that you want to see it sticking out of in a moment. This is not a post about ethics so I will leave it up to you to decide what it is, but whatever your choice, aim at that and only at that.
Be a good spotter and mind your surroundings.
“Your surroundings” is basically everything within range or potentially in range, from your target/s to allies to obstacles to terrain elements. And by the way “in range” is not just in front of you.
Know your weapon and know yourself.
Learn how to use it, learn how it works, how you can be dangerous with it… but learn to control *when* it is dangerous. An untrained person with a weapon can be very dangerous, even when their intentions are saintly, because they lack the knowledge and practice to execute their plan in the correct way. “Oops I was not aiming at you!” is not an excuse, and injuring yourself is also not cool.
I think the rest of safety all follows from these 3 rules + common sense.
- Dear sharpshooters and similar ilk, it is not cool to fling a projectile an inch past your friend’s head with hopes of impressing him. It’s not that I doubt your aiming ability, but your friend may inadvertently move (eg. get scared and attempt to dodge… in the wrong direction), or there may arise some other unexpected external influence, and you end up with a nasty mess to clean up. Rather unpleasant, don’t risk it.
- A generalisation of the previous rule: Know that time does not stand still while you perform your move. Things may move into your weapon’s path that were not in it a second ago.
- Mind the collateral damage… An elegant swing of a longsword or battle axe is only elegant if it doesn’t get tangled in plants, furniture or bystanders. Not only does it destroy your momentum but can end up with a nasty mess too. Know the path of your weapon, and make sure the path is exactly as you intended.
- Anything you attempt to hit may attempt to hit back. The enemy might retaliate, the game animal might bite, or the old, worn practice target might decide to hate you. I have a permanent scar on my toe, from a throwing knife that decided to bounce back at close range, to remind me of this. Stay aware until you are finished.
- Don’t don’t don’t play-fight or train against each other with sharp weapons! There are LARP weapons, tag arrows, paintball and training blades for a reason, and I assure you that they are just as fun, except without all the blood.
These are just a few things that came into my mind. The bottom line is, be responsible, use common sense, and remember: the bow, the knife, the sword, spear or gun is just a tool. The real weapon is you.
(now i’m off to an archery club competition! woohoo!)
kitty hugs to all~