Hunting Is Safe!

Several years ago the National Safety Council ( published a report comparing reported injury rates of various activities in blocks of 100,000 participants. Based on their numbers, hunters experienced less than eight incidents via firearm-related injury per block, much safer than the injury rates of ping-pong (15), golf (104), tennis (119), bicycle riding (904), soccer (910) or baseball (2089). Any form of organized shooting range activity, such as a match, is even safer than hunting.


Data compiled recently by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have independently confirmed these numbers. From their web site ( the CDC’s WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) is an interactive, online database that provides fatal and nonfatal injury, violent death, and cost of injury data from a variety of trusted sources. Researchers, the media, public health professionals, and the public can use WISQARS data to learn more about the public health and economic burden associated with unintentional and violence-related injury in the United States.


The National Shooting Sports Foundation tallied the CDC’s numbers on WISQARS and reconfirmed what sane people with firearms experience already knew: Shooting and hunting with firearms is safe. In fact, shooting and hunting with firearms is one of the safest recreational activities in America. The NSSF’s report on the CDC’s compiled data shows hunting ranks third in safety when compared to 28 other recreational pursuits, ranging from baseball to wrestling. Hunting with firearms has an injury rate of 0.05 percent, which equates to about 1 injury per 2,000 participants, a safety level bettered only by camping (.01 percent) and billiards (.02 percent). For comparison, golf has an injury rate of 0.16 percent (1 injury per 622 participants), while tackle football topped the list of activities with an injury rate of 5.27 percent (1 injury per 19 participants).


“Many people have the misconception that hunting is unsafe, but the data tells a different story,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of industry research and analysis. “Comprehensive hunter education classes that emphasize the basic rules of firearm safety and a culture of hunters helping fellow hunters practice safe firearms handling in the field are responsible for this good record.”


To put hunting’s safety standing into perspective, compared to hunting a person is:


  • 11 times more likely to be injured playing volleyball
  • 19 times more likely to be injured snowboarding
  • 25 times more likely to be injured cheerleading or bicycle riding
  • 34 times more likely to be injured playing soccer or skateboarding
  • 105 more times likely to be injured playing tackle football.


16.3 million hunters took the field last year and approximately 8,122 of them sustained injuries of any kind (50 per 100,000 participants.) The vast majority of hunting injuries – more than 6,600 – were tree stand-related.


It’s not just in the hunting fields that firearms are being used safely either. The CDC also reports that firearms constitute just 1/2 of 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in the United States, including those in the home.


The injury data NSSF used to compile this hunter-safety report comes from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the Consumer Products Safety Commission 2010 and the International Hunter Education Association’s Hunter Incident Clearinghouse. Activity participation figures are from the National Sporting Goods Association Sports Participation in 2010 report.



Read more in our March 2012 issue. Back issues are available.

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