Northern Ireland Field
Archery Association


Field Archery, unlike most other sports, is unique from the point that on every occasion the organisers are presented with new hazards. Most other sports have an arena or building that enables standard precautions to be established and maintained, however by virtue of the sport, this is not possible in Field Archery. As the name suggests, Field Archery is shot outdoors, mainly in wooded areas. In addition to the terrain, the weather can alter any course over a matter of hours, changing safe pathways into obstacles, gentle slopes into potential hazards. It is not possible to cater for all eventualities, but the organisers have a Duty of Care to ensure that all reasonable practical steps have been taken to safeguard the participants, and spectators regardless of changing circumstances.


    Area of Course.

      The area must be thoroughly inspected for natural hazards such as;
      Sloping banks.
      Rivers and streams.
      Loose footings and crumbling pathways.
      Overhanging banks and ridges.
      Fallen trees or broken branches suspended in trees.
      Low, cut or broken branches that could cause puncture injuries.
      Exposed roots and other trip hazards.
      Wasp, Bees and Rats nests.
      Rabbit, Fox and Badger burrows.
      Bog areas.
      Areas of vegetation such as Bluebells that become very slippery when wet.
      Excrement from farm animals and other sources.
      Hidden valleys.

      Other hazards (man made).

      Barbed Wire Fencing.
      Hidden wires from fallen fencing.
      Manholes and underground silage and storage tanks.
      Electric fencing.
      Traps and Snares.
      Stone Walls.
      Broken glass and tin cans.
      Nearby buildings and property.
      Roadways and paths.
      Railways and canals.
      Refuge disposal pits.


    It is not always possible to remove the hazard even with the landowner’s permission; therefore it is the responsibility of the Course organisers under their Duty of Care to mark the area of risk with hazard tape and warning notices. In the case of hazardous slopes climbing aids such as ropes or steps may be provided, but these in turn MUST be safe, so as not to add to the hazard. Verbal warnings of all hazards should be given at the course briefing before shooting commences.


    Building a Field Archery Course requires a lot of Skill in addition to great physical effort. The Butts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, many of which are either heavy, bulky, or both, and have to be man handled into position over varying terrain. Every person who has to carry one of these butts should undertake a Manual Handling Course but this is not always possible. To help reduce the risk from injury, no butt should be carried by one person. Each time a butt requires moved, it should be carried no higher than waist level by at least two persons, physically strong enough to control the weight and movement. They should be relieved of all other equipment and assisted in negotiating obstacles such as slopes and river crossings. Where possible, butts should be lowered down steep inclines by the use of ropes, guided by helpers. All posts should be carried in a suitable manner so as not to cause undue strain to the carrier, or injury to any person. Marking pegs should be contained in a suitable bag or box where, in a fall, can not cause injury. Sledge hammers, post erectors and saws should only be used by a competent person and safety hats, goggles, gloves and boots should be worn whilst installing the butts. No metal supports for the butts may be used, and where possible all stones must be removed from the base of the butt to prevent ricochets of arrows.


    Care must be taken in the placement of Direction Arrows. Although not mandatory in law, they are there for the guidance of Archers between targets in a safe and controlled manner. They MUST not direct Archers, or spectators into areas where there is a risk from flying arrows, or an area that may be considered a hazard due to the terrain. If need be, extra direction arrows must be used, and an alternative route sought to guide those persons away from any hazard, but keeping them within the course boundaries. Where an alternative can not be found, targets must be relocated accordingly.


    Every effort should be made to recover lost arrows on the course. If they can not be found, the course organiser should be notified accordingly giving the target number were the arrow was lost, and the approximate area in which the arrow(s) may be. At the earliest opportunity, a concentrated search should be carried out to recover any arrows, so as to reduce the possibility of injury at a later date to either pedestrians or livestock.


    It is the responsibility of each Archer participating in any Field Archery event to ensure that the equipment they are using is in a safe condition and within the guidelines laid down by the equipments manufacturer, and is capable of withstanding the requirements of a Field Archery Course.
    It is further their responsibility to decline any shot that they consider too dangerous, and report to the course organiser any matter that they deem to be hazardous to the health and safety of any participant or spectator. Participants can also be in breach of the Duty of Care regulations by not adhering to laid down rules and regulations which result in negligence caused by their own acts or omissions.


    Archery can be a hazardous sport both from the equipment in use and the condition of the course. It is the responsibility of each Archer to take whatever steps they deem necessary to ensure their personal safety and protection against equipment failure, in addition to the elements of weather and terrain. In the case of a junior, the onus is on the parent or appointed guardians to ensure those in their care are protected.


    It is the duty of every course organiser to have a FIRST AID STATION, supervised by a competent person, established to cater for all situations likely to occur. In addition a means of communication MUST be present, to enable help to be summoned from emergency Services such as Fire, Police and Ambulance. This can be in the form of a Mobile Telephone or Two way Radio, regardless of which, it must be tested by a competent person to ensure connection to the relevant Services before the event commences.

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