Elk NetworkHunting Among Safest Activities in America

General | July 15, 2020

Hunting offers an opportunity to foster a greater appreciation of nature, wildlife and conservation. Turns out it is also among the safest activities for participants.

According to information provided the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), hunting with firearms* ranks second only to billiards as the safest activity in the United States.

NSGA data from 2018 covered 28 different activities ranging from basketball, cheerleading and martial arts to snowboarding, swimming and weight lifting. Ranking behind billiards and hunting in safety is bowling, archery (target), waterskiing, exercising with equipment, tennis, mountain biking (off road), fishing and golf. The top ten least safe activities are football (tackle), basketball, skateboarding, soccer, wrestling, bicycle riding, cheerleading, in-line roller skating, baseball and softball.

Excise tax collections on firearms and ammunition totaled nearly $3.6 billion from 2014 to 2018. Of that total, officials apportioned more than $724 million to states specifically for the purpose of hunter education and safety training. Combined with a strong network of 55,000 hunter education instructors, the funding helps make hunting one of the safest activities in America.

Of the 17,500,000 people who hunted in 2018, an estimated 4,700 injuries took place which equates to 27 per 100,000 participants, one injury per every 3,723 participants or .03 percent per 100 participants.  By contrast, a person is 65 times more likely to get hurt playing basketball than hunting or 149 times more likely to be injured playing tackle football than hunting.

“In addition to hunting being a safe activity, so too is target shooting, an activity enjoyed by millions of people ranging in age from youth to adults,” according to NSSF communications. “Unintentional fatalities connected with target-shooting are rare. The emphasis on firearm safety at shooting ranges, competitive and recreational matches and from sport shooting organizations all contribute to target shooting being a safe activity.”

*NOTE: Hunting with firearms total injuries/incidents include Consumer Products Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System injury data for tree stands, as well as estimated injuries from International Hunter Education Association Hunter Incident Clearinghouse. The vast majority of these incidents were neither fatalities, nor serious injuries.

(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)