Statistically speaking, archery ranks as one of the safest sports in the world and sits next to swimming, golf and baseball. When things go wrong, however, things can go extraordinarily bad in archery.
What might happen if an arrow is too short? Shooting too short of an arrow, the arrowhead could aim directly at your hand. In one example, not only did the arrow impale the archer’s hand, it impaled his middle finger. Even getting treatment from a doctor, your hand may never recover.
If you’d like to learn more about how to stay safe from shooting too short of an arrow, keep reading.
How Short is Too Short?
Too short refers to when the arrow drops behind the arrow rest as you pull it to full draw. The arrow when released could run along your forearm and through your hand. It happens commonly when people shoot too short of arrows. You will likely lose the use of your hand after this injury. Not only that, but you have a real risk that you could bleed to death. Never shoot too short of an arrow. As I highlighted in this article, too long of an arrow is much better than too short of an arrow, but you want to find the ideal length: not too short but not too long either.
Beware of Everyone: Even the “Professionals”
Let’s say that you head to an archery shop and the clerk behind the counter hands you too short of an arrow. Don’t shoot it! Always beware of this because you never know how experienced even the person behind the counter is with the sport. You have had cases where the clerk was the one who handed the short arrow to the archer. None of them were experienced, which led to a serious injury.
How Well Does the Arrow Fly?
Unless the arrow falls off the rest, you don’t have to worry too much. Instead, pay more attention to how the arrow flies. Every bow will have an ideal arrow length that works best. You learn this through trial and error. Look at the manufacturer’s chart to get an idea, but don’t depend on this too much. You still have to fine-tune your shooting to get an arrow to the correct length.
Can Any Other Injuries Arise from Shooting Too Short of an Arrow?
Lacerations, punctures and tears to the hands are the most common injury from shooting too short of an arrow. You won’t encounter much else. That said, this type of injury is plenty to worry about. You don’t want to encounter it, and you can avoid it by not shooting too short of an arrow.
The most common injury from shooting short arrows is to put the arrow through your hand, forearm or wrist. Imagine if you were using a broadhead, and it severed the artery in the wrist….
Firing too short of an arrow will also put your shooting accuracy in the toilet. Shorter arrows have better accuracy than longer arrows, but not when they become too short. Not only does it threaten your future archery sessions, but it proves to have horrible accuracy. You don’t get much from it because of poor arrow flight.
How to Avoid Injuries in Archery
The most common injuries in archery slant toward shoulder and arm injuries because you make the most use out of these body parts in archery. Through the correct technique, you can prevent most injuries in the sport. For example, never dry fire a bow if you can help it. Most bows can withstand one of two accidental dry fires, but doing this continually becomes incredibly dangerous, and you shouldn’t even risk it once.
Maintain correct form when shooting because failure to shoot with the correct posture can lead to a condition known as tendonitis or archer’s elbow. If you can’t maintain the correct shooting posture, you may have to lower the draw weight.
Expert Tip: You can especially injure yourself from using poor form and not doing strengthening exercises before your archery sessions. Rotator cuff exercises have proven helpful to many archers before doing archery because it prevents injuries. Having a lighter draw weight on the bow prevents many injuries that would have happened, otherwise.
General Rule for Checking Too Short of Arrows
You can avoid shooting too short of arrows by applying this rule of thumb when shooting. The shaft of your arrow should pass the arrow rest by 3/4 to 1 inch at full draw. Important to note, you don’t have a set rule for arrows that may or may not be too short. You have to go on instinct in some cases.
A telltale sign of having too short of an arrow is when the arrow falls off the arrow rest. The spine of the arrow dictates everything, and you should pay special attention to how the arrow flies at its current length. Arrows that feel too short, probably are. Use common sense.
Short Arrows: Dangerous to People in Close Proximity
Not only does shooting a short arrow risk that it will punch straight through your hand, but anyone nearby could suffer the consequences. Too short of arrows could fall off the rest as you shoot them, and they could go right into someone else.
Arrows gain stiffness the shorter they become. Let’s take the example of a pencil broken in half. Break it again. Can you do? Probably not because it becomes much stiffer, and the same happens with arrows. While a short arrow improves accuracy, too short of arrow is dangerous to you and everyone in your proximity.
Buy New Arrows if Too Short
Don’t fire arrows if too short. You can hurt yourself badly. Instead, buy some new arrows that fit the specifications of your bow. If you don’t believe it can happen, Google “Archery arrow hand,” and you will see some graphic injuries and a shining example of what happens when you fire too short of an arrow.
How to Avoid This Injury
To avoid this injury, make sure that you have arrows of the correct length on your bow. You could even start with arrows much longer than necessary. Anywhere from 2 to 3 inches longer isn’t a bad thing, but it can negatively impact your accuracy. Still, as a beginner, it’s more important to learn the foundational principles and stay safe while shooting.
As a beginner to archery, you will want to learn essential skills to the sport, such as proper drawing technique and proper anchor position.
Expert Safety: Even when in the bow shop, make sure that your assistant is behind you before letting loose on the arrow. As beginners, we get excited and can forget proper bow safety. Like with a firearm, you should never have someone in front of you when firing a bow.
Have an Expert Help You Find the Ideal Length
Speak with an expert at your local bow shop. You want to talk with people who know bows, and they understand how to get you the proper arrow length. Each manufacturer will have different ideal arrow lengths, but you have to take some of this with a grain of salt. You have to fine-tune it to your own specifications and what works for you. A bow chart from the manufacturer is only meant as a general rule of thumb. As a beginner, there’s nothing wrong with having the experts find the right arrow length for you.
Hopefully, this clears up what can happen if you fire an arrow too short for your bow. The danger of too short of an arrow comes from as it falls off the rest. Your hand is in the direct line of fire, and you don’t want an arrow released at full force straight into your hand. It ruins a good day at the range for you and everyone else who happens to be there.