At least 15 lawsuits have been filed by people who were injured by thumb amputations or other severe injuries after using a crossbow that lacked thumb-guards. In recent years, several crossbows have been recalled because they can fire unexpectedly.
UPDATE: Barnett Faces 30 Crossbow Injury Lawsuits
February 5, 2015 — Barnett Outdoors, LLC is facing about 30 lawsuits from hunters who had severe thumb or finger injuries after using high-powered crossbows lacking thumb-guards, including one lawsuit filed by a hunter in Georgia whose joint was shattered. Click here to read more.
What is the problem?
Crossbows are modified bow-and-arrows that have been used in warfare, defense, and hunting for thousands of years. Modern designs are high-powered weapons capable of launching an arrow at 350 feet-per-second or more.
As you can imagine, any finger in the way of the drawstring is likely to be amputated within milliseconds. However, drawstrings do not actually cut or lacerate — instead, they physically rip through tissue, splintering bones, fingernails, ligaments, and tendons.
The problem is that crossbows tend to be front-heavy, but the forearm stock is often less than 3” wide. When a hunter’s hand is wrapped around the stock, the most comfortable position is with a finger or thumb extending above the rail — into the line of fire.
How to Prevent Thumb Injuries
The simplest way to prevent this is to keep your fingers away from the rail when the string is cocked. However, even hunters with decades of experience can momentarily forget thumb position — especially in the heat of the moment, with a buck in sight.
Another way to prevent thumb amputations is with a thumb guard. These inexpensive, lightweight safety devices can be purchased at retail stores or made at home.
Thumb-guards are becoming more common, but manufacturers are not required by state or federal regulations to sell crossbows with thumb-guards. Instead, manufacturers typically sell crossbows with warning labels, a safety manual, and the option of purchasing an add-on thumb guard.
Dozens of Hunters Injured by Crossbows
Some critics say these actions do not go far enough. A growing number of lawsuits accuse manufacturers of negligence for failing to provide their customers with the most basic safety feature.
In December 2014, News8 reported that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had an “active compliance investigation” into crossbow injuries.
Barnett Outdoors, the largest manufacturer of crossbows, has been hit with at least 15 lawsuits. According to News8, at least two dozen hunters in 11 states have been injured by their crossbows, including the high-powered Jackal, Quad 400, and Ghost 400. Click here to read more.
Cabela’s Hit With Crossbow Injury Lawsuits
June 2012 — The Madison Record reports that Cabela’s, an outdoor sporting-goods store, has been hit with a lawsuit from a man who blames the Tenpoint Phantom CLS crossbow for his thumb amputation:
“Korte claims he was using his crossbow to hunt deer on Nov. 12, 2011. As he fired the crossbow at a deer, the bow string from the crossbow struck his left thumb and amputated it, his complaint says. Korte went to see doctors, who were unable to replace his thumb.”
Thousands of Crossbows Recalled – Can Fire Unexpectedly
On May 27, 2014, a recall was issued by Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE) for the TAC Elite, TAC Ordnance, and Enigma crossbows. According to the notice:
“The crossbow can fire an arrow without the trigger being pulled, posing an injury hazard to the user and to bystanders.”
On June 3, 2014, another crossbow was recalled because it could fire unexpectedly. Mission Archery recalled about 9,500 crossbows in the MXB product line, including the MXB 320, MXB Dagger, MXB 400 and MXB 360. No one was injured, but three incidents were reported. Click here to read more.