Compound Bow: What are Some Common Injuries

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Every sport comes with common injuries and archery injuries are one of them not excluded from the list. While football and hockey have a higher risk level, shooting with a bow has a lesser risk factor. However, mishaps occur and following a couple of prevention measures when out in the archery field helps. Nevertheless, before we get to the deterrence of not getting hurt, let us first look at the common compound bow injuries that can happen.

Common Compound Bow Injuries

No matter with which bow you shoot there is always a risk associated with shooting a bow. You can be a newbie or advanced archer and still face frequent injuries caused by your bow and other related conditions. Some of these significant compound bow injuries are rotator cuff, tendinitis, wrist, shooting hand, shoulder abrasion and more. Here is a list of some of the foremost common injuries you can come across in your lifetime when taking up this sport.

Rotator Cuff

As a bowman, you are always pulling the bowstring at high pull weights. While doing this your muscles at the rotator cuff is under strain. By drawing back the string to position the arrow, adds extra pressure on these tendons. In the process, the muscles turn out to be exhausted resulting in strain.

You will find your shoulder pains unbearable during the pulling action, or you may not be able to raise or turn your arm. The best solutions to rest the arms use some ice or non-steroidal medication to help relieve the pain. In some cases where extreme pain occurs, surgical procedures recommended.

Luckily, you can recoup from this commonplace bow string injury with physical therapy or exercise to build the muscles preventing it from happening again.


In archery, tendinitis can take place in the elbow, shoulder, or wrist. You will feel a severe pain as your muscles flex before warming up. A fact is that anybody can get it and not always caused by archery alone. The reason is that the more your muscles age and endures less stress they become less flexible and tear easily. The treatment is medication and rest. The recuperation time varies depending on how severe the sprain is. The average rest you need is up to six weeks.

Muscle Strains

Here you will find the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders pain. As you are tensing up all these tendons during your archery activity, it strains overtime as the muscles tear and cause inflammation. You can suffer much pain and best to place ice on the painful area for up to 72-hours. Make sure you get enough rest and if needed get a massage or take some anti-inflammatory medication to help. Furthermore, you can also apply heat to the injured area to help reduce the swelling.

These are only three of the typical compound bow injuries caused during archery. However, one more can be more than painful than the rest mentioned CONTUSION!

bow injuries

Contusion or Bow String Slap Injury

Whether you are new to archery or an experienced bow shooter, everyone can relate to this experience in his or her lifetime with the sports. String slap is one of those typical compound bow injuries that leave you with an archery bruise,  battle scar or souvenir. So how does contusion happen?

The injury damage occurs when you release the bowstring, and it slaps you along your lower arm as it transits back. The veins under the string break with the force of the string hitting your arm and can result in bleeding beneath the skin. The region swells up and discolors with constant pain

Sometimes it can be severe, and other times it only leaves a bruise that goes away with time. In some occasions, you can fracture your bone or cause severe internal bleeding. For mild cases, the best bow string slap injury treatment will be rest and painkillers. If that doesn’t help, it is best to see a doctor.

What Causes Contusion:

  • The first one is when you hold your bow in a death grip. The best solutions to keep the pressure loose and your fingers relaxed. Further, you should not place your fingers too far around the riser as it can cause string slap. To avoid this injury it helps to learn the proper finger release technique.
  • Secondly, make sure you rotate your elbow correctly. You can do this by extending your arm and rotating the elbow outwards without turning your shoulder or wrist. It does take a lot of practice, and you can do this by placing your hand on a wall with your palms straight and flat against the wall. Now rotate your elbow and try not to move the palm and your shoulder.

What Can You Do To Prevent Archery Injuries

When you start with archery, you need muscular endurance as you are continuously drawing back the bowstring. To be able to do this you need upper body strength. Your lower body needs a strong core to control the bow and balance while your forearms must be strong to provide a steady grip and proper aiming. Therefore, you can do the following archery stretches to help tone your arms and muscles:

The Arm-Up Rotator Stretch

In a standing position, place your arm out with your forearm pointing upwards at 90°. Take a broomstick in your hand and behind the elbow. Now with your other hand pull the bottom section of the broomstick forward.

The Rotating Stomach Stretch

Start by lying face down and bringing your hands closer to your shoulder. Make sure to keep your hips on the ground and keep looking forward. While facing forward rise your body up by straightening the arm and slowly bend the one arm while rotating that shoulder towards the ground.

The Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch

Stand with your back towards a bench or table and place your hands on the edge. Now bend your arms, slowly lower your body, and do this for a couple of times.

Other Preventative Measures:

With the above exercises combined with using the following equipment, you can improve your overall experience when using your bow:

  • Make use of arm guards to prevent string slap, archery bruise and potential sports injuries.
  • Do gradual increases in the draw weight with repetitions done during practice helps to prevent shock in the muscles?
  • Prevent using a too tight grip and if possible stand with a wider stance with your feet apart. Always remember not to bend backward while pulling.
  • Furthermore, make sure the bow you are using is not too heavy to pull as it can also cause muscles strains.

As I have pointed out above, there are certain accessories available that can help prevent injury. You can read more about them by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you can see, different frequent compound bow injuries can happen, but there are also measures you can take to prevent it from happening. However, our followers had some interesting questions to ask here are some of them.

Why is an archer at risk of getting different injuries?

The reason is the repetitive motion during the shooting process and causes different muscles strains from the neck, should, arms, to the back. You should also be aware of potential combat archery injuries, and mitigate risk by wearing some body armour and a facemask. 

What are the signs of archery sports injuries?

You can feel a lot of pain in the wrist, shoulder, and arm, as you need to draw back the bowstring. Further, it can become difficult to hold your bow at a full draw or your range of motions reduced, and you need to take a rest.

Why does the bowstring slap the arm?

This is common with beginners but a bowstring slap on the arm can also happen to experience bow shooters as well. The injury occurs when you place the bow grip on the other side of the line and squeeze the riser as if you are shaking a person’s hand. Both these methods cause bow string slapping.

What causes a compound bows string to break.

Never torque the bow by twisting the line out of alignment as releasing it causes the string to shoot from the cam track and fracture causing severe damage to the bow parts and your arm.

We hope that we have answered most of the questions related to the everyday injuries caused by a bow. By exercising your upper body and wearing armguards, you can prevent these accidents from happening.



I'm Isaac Murphy and at the moment I am a student. I took up archery as a hobby about 3 years ago and built this blog to share some of the things I have learned and to help those starting out in this sport. Check out my bio here

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