Hunting Bow Hunting

Protect Your Hands, Flex Your Arrows (Graphic Image Warning)

Andrew McKean Avatar

Here’s an appropriately terrifying topic for this most hallowed of hunting (and spookhouse) days: hand impalation.


That’s a fancy word for running a sharp object through flesh, and in this case I’m talking not about the simulated violence of Halloween but about the real danger that all of us bowhunters who shoot carbon arrows face every time we draw our bowstring. We risk a shaft failure, with the result that all those sharp shards of carbon slice through our bow hands at a high rate of speed.

Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Then see this link and pay special attention to the photo of an archer with a handful of carbon shards. This sort of incident happens about 700 times every year, but the reason I’m writing now is because earlier this month it happened to one of my good friends.

“I had an arrow break when I shot, and the back half of the shaft hit my bow hand,” says my buddy, who asked that I not used his name. “I suffered much pain and went through 1-1/2 hours of emergency surgery to put my hand back together. The hand surgeon sewed my tendons back together and removed over 100 pieces of carbon.”

My buddy’s experience reminds me of my own. When I first started shooting carbon shafts a decade ago, I religiously flexed each arrow before shooting them. In this way, I followed the edict that’s preached by Gold Tip (and others – here’s a link) about recognizing shaft failure.

But over time I’ve gotten lazy. Because I’ve had no problems with carbon, I rarely flex my shafts now, and as a result I flirt with the same sort of trauma that my friend experienced.

So take heed, and don’t become a real Halloween spook by impaling any of your body parts. Flex your carbon shafts. Invest in a Kevlar glove. Don’t be my friend.