Tree Stand Safety Harnesses Have a Limited Lifespan

Did you know the full-body safety harness you wear when you hunt from a tree stand has an expiration date?


Due to federal regulations, all safety harnesses are stamped with a date identifying when the harness was made. And the effective service life is considered to be five years from that date, although some harness manufacturers say the life of a new, unopened harness is five years from the purchase date.


Certified tree stand harnesses will all have a warning information tag similar to this one attached to some part of the harness.

“We’re making product now that won’t be on a store shelf until next year,” said Jerry Wydner, co-owner of Hunter Safety Systems, which makes harnesses and related gear for hunters. “It wouldn’t really be fair to take that year away from the customer.”

Certainly, a harness can exist in good working condition for more than five years. So what does the expiration date mean?

According to Wydner, all harnesses used for safety – whether it’s one used by a hunter in a tree stand, or by a utility lineman climbing telephone poles – are considered to have five-year life spans. That’s a standard set by most organizations that deal with safety equipment and safe working conditions, including OSHA, ASTM International, ANSI and TMA- the Treestand Manufacturers Association.

“That’s considered to be the normal, effective service life of that harness,” Wydner said. “Beyond that, you should retire the harness.”


The warning information tag for this harness indicates it was built in June 2017. Its effective lifespan is five years from this date, or five years from the date of purchase – assuming it is purchased new and unused.

Essentially, manufacturers are saying their harnesses are capable of doing what they’re supposed to do for five years – assuming the harnesses are maintained properly and are regularly inspected to insure they remain in good condition.

“We don’t know what people are doing with these harnesses,” he said. “They could be exposing them to anything.”

So manufacturers are not saying a particular harness will definitely fail after five years. They’re just saying it shouldn’t fail within five years.

“If you have a $100 harness, and you keep it for 5 years, that’s $20 a year,” Wydner said. “That’s not a lot to pay for something that’s keeping you safe.”

Within the five-year service life, Wydner said any harness should be retired if the user notices damage or excessive wear, or if a fall occurs while the harness is being worn.

Bowhunting Tech Tip: Crossbow Safety

Crossbows are unlike other kinds of bows, and therefore have some unique safety issues. Anyone carrying a crossbow into the woods to hunt or into the backyard to shoot at targets should know how to safely handle and operate their crossbow.

In this video, Lancaster Archery Supply TechXpert P.J. Reilly runs down basic tips for safely handling and operating a crossbow.

He runs through a preliminary inspection of the bow before shooting, proper cocking, proper bolt selection and safe crossbow handling. A unique feature of crossbows is they can be cocked with the string drawn back. A cocked crossbow is dangerous, and archers need to pay attention to where they put fingers and other body parts in relation to the drawn string.

Reilly also covers the proper way to haul a crossbow up into a tree stand, and safe ways to discharge your crossbow to de-cock it after a hunt.

Bowhunting Tech Tip: Crossbow Maintenance

Crossbows are becoming more and more popular these days, as their use during archery hunting seasons expands across North America. One of the reasons they are so popular is they are easy to become proficient with and easy to use, when compared to vertical compound and traditional bows.

Because they are so easy to use, however, crossbows often times aren’t maintained as diligently as they should be. Like other bows, crossbows have to be maintained in order to get peak performance from them.

In this video, Lancaster Archery Supply TechXpert P.J. Reilly runs down some simple crossbow maintenance practices. He covers checking the limbs and cams for damage, waxing the string and cables and lubricating the rail, among other maintenance procedures.

Before using your crossbow, watch this video to learn what signs of wear and tear to look for, and how to address them if you find them.

Bowhunting Tech Tip: Crossbow Safety

As more and more bowhunters pick up crossbows during archery seasons across North America, accidents with them are on the rise. Safety should be paramount for bowhunters no matter what weapon they use. Crossbows present some unique safety issues not found with any other archery equipment.

In this video, LAS TechXpert P.J. Reilly runs through the safe handling and operation of a crossbow. He discusses how to hold it safely, how to cock it safely and how to load it safely, among other issues.

Arguably, one of the most common accidents that occurs with crossbows is when archers place their fingers or hands inside the string track when the crossbow is fired. Many crossbows made today feature finger guards aimed at preventing archers from being able to shove their fingers up into the string track, but accidents continue to occur.

Never place any part of your body inside the string track when the crossbow is cocked. Think of it as a loaded rifle, and handle it accordingly – whether there’s a bolt loaded or not.


10 basic crossbow safety tips

As the use of crossbows during hunting seasons is expanded across the U.S., more and more people are picking them up. Currently, crossbows can be used for hunting big game in some fashion in every state except Oregon.


Compared to compound and traditional bows, crossbows are relatively simple to learn to use and they’re deadly accurate.

But they come with their own set of safety rules. If you’re going to pick one up and take it hunting, then you’ve got to know these 10 important safety tips for shooting a crossbow.


  1. Treat a cocked crossbow like a loaded firearm, whether it’s got a bolt in it or not. Always keep it pointed in a safe direction. Even if there’s no bolt on the rail, a dry-fired crossbow can hurl broken pieces down range.
  2. The North American Crossbow Federation recommends tree stand hunters cock their crossbows on the ground, and haul them up to their stands unloaded. Don’t ever lean over in a stand to cock a crossbow. (The only exception would be if you’ve got a crossbow fitted with a hand crank. You can draw that bow without leaning over.)
  3. To get your crossbow up to your stand, use a haul line that’s tied to the butt end – stay away from the trigger – so the crossbow faces the ground when you’re lifting it.
  4. Keep your fingers below the rail of a cocked crossbow at all times.
  5. Never dry fire a crossbow.
  6. Always check to make sure your bolt is seated firmly against the string before shooting, and keep the safety engaged until you’re about to shoot.
  7. With nearly any crossbow suitable for hunting, don’t try to de-cock it by hand.
  8. The best way to de-cock your crossbow is to shoot it. You can do so by shooting a bolt into a target; carrying a special de-cocking bag to shoot into after a hunt; or by shooting a de-cocking bolt into the ground.
  9. Be sure the foot stirrup is secure before drawing your bow. If it slips out of the bow, the butt end of the stock will hit you as you draw.
  10. Never shoot a bolt that’s shorter than what’s recommended by the manufacturer.

Six Archery ‘Don’ts’ You need to Know

Like other sports, archery is a game of dos and don’ts. There are many of each, but they all don’t necessarily apply to every archer in every situation.

There is, however, a fairly short list of don’ts that apply to every archer, in every level of the sport, in every corner of the globe.

Archery Dontsa

Here are six important archery don’ts:

  1. DON’T ever point a loaded bow anywhere but toward the target you plan to hit. You can seriously injure or kill someone with a bow and arrow. So always make sure your bow is pointed in a safe direction.
  2. DON’T ever dry fire a bow. A dry fire is when a bow is drawn and released with no arrow nocked. The arrow is what absorbs the energy released when the limbs snap back to their resting position. Without one nocked, the energy simply slams into the riser. You can damage a bow beyond repair with a dry fire – not to mention, injure yourself.
  3. DON’T heat a carbon arrow. A lot of points and inserts today are secured in place inside carbon arrow shafts with hot-melt glue. To remove those accessories, you’ll need to heat the point with a torch or other fire source. But don’t let that heat source touch the arrow shaft. It will make your arrow bulge and/or become brittle. Either way, it’s a safety hazard.
  4. DON’T ever shoot a cracked arrow. It’s hard to toss an otherwise perfect-looking arrow into the trash, just because it has a small crack. Do it anyway. Cracks only get bigger, and the arrow eventually could shatter at the shot. That could leave you with an arm or hand full of arrow parts.
  5. DON’T ever draw a bow with your finger on the trigger of a mechanical release. Accidents happen. And if your finger is in the firing position on the trigger, all you’re doing is increasing the odds of an accident occurring.
  6. DON’T ever shoot someone else’s arrow without knowing the length and spine. If you don’t know the length, then you won’t know until you’re at full draw if it’s too short. If it is, it’s going to fall off the back of the rest, and the point could rest against your arm. If you release the string or forcibly let down the bow, that point could cut you. If you shoot an arrow that has a spine too weak for your bow, you run the risk of that arrow shattering at the shot.