Archery safety rules and etiquette, please see downloadable pdf
ARCHERY AND THE LAW
One of the ‘grey’ areas in the sport of archery is the letter of
the law regarding the carrying and use of a bow and arrow.
Is the bow classed as an offensive weapon, could I be arrested for shooting anywhere other than an archery club venue?
Anything at all can be classed as an offensive weapon if it’s been made, adapted or intended to cause injury. Take an innocent length of wood, in itself not an offensive weapon, hammer a large nail through it at one end, in an instant the wood becomes a very dangerous offensive weapon.
The bow is not regarded by law as an offensive weapon. However, should you be stopped carrying one late at night in a public place for instance and could give no good reason for carrying it then you could be arrested for carrying it with intent to cause injury. What if you didn’t have any arrows on you? Doesn’t matter. They could be hidden nearby as far as the officer’s concerned.
As for the arrows, they fall under the Small Blades Act (Pointed and Bladed Articles) and could most definitely be classed as offensive weapons unless good reason or lawful authority were offered in defence. Good Reason and Lawful Authority are the two defences that can be applied to show that possession of a bow and arrows is both legal and inoffensive. Carrying your bow to a club night constitutes good reason. Taking it to an archery shop to be measured for arrows or for repairs etc is good reason. Taking it to your mates for an evening of knocking back Tequila shots and seeing who can hit next door’s chimney pot is not a good reason !
For the bloodthirsty it’s also against the law to injure or kill birds or any animals even if you do so on private land, with the owner’s permission. This constitutes an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
It is perfectly legal however to go on to private land (If it’s fenced all around) with the owners consent to practice target archery. Providing the necessary safety precautions are observed (warning notices set at each access point and at least one Archery GB member in attendance if juniors under the age of 18 are taking part) then all is in order. A parent, providing he/she is an Archery GB member can also supervise their own children. On the other hand, if you pursue this practice without permission you’d be guilty of trespass with an offensive weapon and could well be arrested.
There are a lot of ifs and buts concerning archery and the law. The greatest way of avoiding arrest or prosecution is by applying good old common sense. If it doesn’t feel right or makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t do it.
What about shooting in the back garden is the question often asked when discussing the law. Well, it’s private property and if you’re the owner then there’s nothing to stop you. This is where common sense comes into play. If one of your arrows flies into your neighbours washing or pins their cat to the fence then there’s a high probability that the police are going to be called. Depending on the circumstances there’s a good chance that you could be arrested and charged for damage to property at the very least. It’s the same as chucking a brick over the fence and damaging the greenhouse. Same offence, different weapon.
There’s also the very important matter of insurance to take into consideration. Membership of an Archery GB club includes insurance cover but it has its limitations. One of them being that it doesn’t cover you whilst you’re engaged in a back garden private shoot ! Without delving too deeply into what is and isn’t covered by your GB insurance you won’t go far wrong if you abide by the simple rule of, “If you’re shooting at any club or authorised archery event you’re covered but if you’re shooting anywhere else then make sure you’re bank account’s loaded because you may well need it . . . ! ”
Safety is the key word when considering where and when to shoot. Always be aware that you are handling a weapon that can be very dangerous if mis-used. Treat it with respect and likewise treat anyone or anything within its range with respect and hopefully you’ll have a long and happy relationship with Her Majesty’s Constabulary.
Credits Tony Smith and Bob Price /Bourne 55