By Marilyn Bentz, Executive Director of National Bowhunter Education Foundation

Hunters love gear, gadgets and widgets. Give us a multi tool and we are fascinated for hours! An accessory that is new or different will make its way into our backpack. But truly, some are not ‘accessories’ at all… they are essential to being a safe, responsible hunter. One such essential item is an FAS (Fall Arrest System). In fact, the National Bowhunter Education Foundation doesn’t refer to an FAS as an accessory. An FAS is an integral part of an elevated stand. Since 2004 every stand manufactured must come shipped with an FAS manufactured to industry standards. Even aftermarket vest FAS are not accessories. They are an upgraded FAS; an item which is essential to using your elevated stand.

The issue with calling an FAS an accessory is that most accessories can be left at home without causing any life-or-death consequences. Accessories may be nice-to-have but not a necessity. Multi-tools can be an extremely useful item but somewhere in the depths of your pack, you may have those same tools just as a single knife or screwdriver. But where do you have another FAS? Many people have a favorite premium vest FAS they choose to wear but they also keep the FAS that came with their tree stand in their hunting vehicle just in case. It’s recommended that you put on your FAS at home when putting on your hunting clothing – and have a backup plan. Remember to read manufacturer’s instructions and follow them closely.

Along those same lines, the latest trend in elevated stand usage is actually not a ‘stand’ at all. They are called Hunting Saddles. You might be tempted to use a Hunting Saddle as an FAS. DON’T! That is not the intent of a Hunting Saddle and may present additional challenges when combined with other elevated stand usage. Currently, the Hunting Saddle industry is working on establishing ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for their manufacture and use.

Form good habits which will result in not only being a safer hunter but a more successful hunter. I encourage people to practice shooting with their FAS on just like they are hunting. Become accustomed to wearing it to the point of actually missing it if you don’t have it on. And when you are getting out those tree stands to inspect for wear, don’t forget to check the condition and date of your FAS… time flies when you are having fun hunting!!

Appeared in The Outdoor Wire September 7, 2022 and The Archery Wire September 6, 2022