The accompanying photo was found circulating on the Internet. We don’t know how this shooter injured himself. It probably was shooter error, but it might have been the result of malfunctioning equipment, equipment that was set up wrong, or the result of a damaged carbon arrow breaking under the tremendous stress of a bow that’s at full draw. ( WARNING: Graphic image behind the break )
Regardless of how this archer shot himself, it’s important at this time of year, when we’re weighing our choices for new equipment, that you consider the choice of carbon or heavy-duty aluminum shafts carefully. If you choose to go with carbon shafts, it’s extremely important to carefully inspect them for any defects and replace any shafts that show signs of wear or damage.
If a carbon arrow is nicked or damaged, it can weaken the wall of the shaft and the arrow might explode under pressure when drawn. Some carbon arrow manufacturers strengthen their shaft walls with additional materials so they are perfectly safe, even when damaged. But many common carbon shafts are just that–carbon. When a carbon arrow is damaged, it can splinter and literally explode.
I know this firsthand. A good friend of mine in Montana had it happen to him. He was shooting carbon arrows to prepare for the upcoming elk and deer season, and in the middle of his practice session, one exploded. It sent the back half of the shaft behind the bow handle and through his hand. The fletching was buried behind his thumb up to the vanes, and he had to make an excruciating 1-hour ride to the nearest hospital. He was lucky–his has regained almost all the mobility in his hand, but arthritis sets in when the weather changes.
So, how do you avoid potential problems? First, check all your carbon arrows before you shoot. If any have noticeable nicks, scars or damage, toss them. Next, never shoot at the same target twice. Make sure your target has multiple bull’s-eyes, and shoot one, and only one, arrow into each. This will prevent any arrow from hitting another. Do the same with your 3-D deer target– shoot only one arrow at a time into the vitals. Do this, and your carbon arrows will continue to be dependable hunting tools every season.
It’s spring, and many of you are itching to start practicing for the upcoming deer season. If you’re shooting with carbon arrows, reel in that spring fever and shoot wisely.