I questioned ATA on this subject and extracted the following. Please allow me to share it with you.
The stricter and better known ASTM standards need not also be followed, but if manufacturers don’t, it would open them up to possible legal action if someone was injured with their product. Likewise a manufacturer does not have to follow ATA standards. ATA standards cover a broad range of product issues from draw length to sight mounting hole sizes and spacing. Some of the ATA standards attempt to insure that the public is getting fairer and accurate apples to apples comparison between bows (i.e. speed, poundage, draw length, etc.) and other standards make sure the aftermarket accessories will fit every bow.
Bottom line is that manufacturers don’t have to follow any standards, but they are opening themselves up to a bunch of difficulties if they don’t. Unfortunately speed is always going to be an issue that can be fudged. The bow companies will usually follow the standard requirements of draw length, poundage, arrow weight but nothing stops them from “souping up” their test bows. That is, shortening the cables to pre-stress the limbs, pulling into the stops, fewer strands than normal in the strings and cables, etc. Even if ATA were there to watch every manufacturer test their products, they would not be able to stop them from slightly changing the bow specification to increase speed. Heck, just by pushing forward with your bow arm when shooting through a chronograph, you can add 3 to 5 fps to a bow’s speed.
The key point is the trade association standards are voluntary and only exist to provide a point of reference for consumers. Standards are rarely enforced because there is no legal basis for a trade association to directly impact the ability of a company to do business. If the US Consumer Product Safety Commission enters the game, then they would enforce their standards or guidelines as a matter of federal law. Standard setting by trade associations is a very sensitive topic also, because associations have been sued and have lost significant amounts in legal settlements and fees. When a consumer files suit against a company for a product related injury, and if the product satisfied the industry standards, then the trade association is as liable as the company who made the product. Several associations have gone bankrupt from defending suits. Many in the archery industry really don’t understand the limits of ATA in dealing with standards or some type of certification. Some expect ATA to literally force people out of business or take items off the market for noncompliance with standards. ATA not only can’t do that, they would be liable for damaging the ability of legitimate businesses to make a living in America’s free enterprise system.
The major point is that the industry association can't afford to be held as liable as the manufacturer of a product. This is the main reason major standards that concern bow safety become ASTM standards and not just ATA standards. To date an ASTM standard has never been overturned in court, nor has a company lost a case if they followed ASTM standards. Even so, ASTM standards are not mandatory but do give the manufacturer some protection if followed.
When I queried the ATA on this subject in the past, I was surprised at the answers myself. I now better understand this subject and respect ATA for taking the positions that they do. I don't want this organization getting involved in law suits concerning bow standards. I do want them to recommend, but not to dictate. This way they'll be around a long time to guide this industry.
Hope this helps many to better understand the ATA.
Those who do not comply to standards should eventually be 'found out' or exposed. I can assure you that there are 'watchdogs' out there. Most of the ethical manufacturers have ways of exposing their unethical counterparts. Also, the internet has been a great tool for the exchange of information concerning noncompliance to standards.
Again, you have to refer to the post I made above about the legal ramifications. Some people are 'sue crazy' nowadays and we don't want the coiffures of our industry lead being drained. They have too many other good things to do in promoting our industry.
Congratulations on what I personally feel is the most well-reasoned and rational treatise I have ever seen on the subject. As one of those who has participated in the creation of some of the current ASTM standards, I would be very hard pressed to do as good a job as you did in explaning these matters.
As I see it the AT is run by the major mfgrs and they will not chide or punish a member who pays dues
The pressure will have to come from the buying Public and the network of dealers
I was not thinkignof suit liability By getting a manufactuer to tell the truth about his bow speed and wonder why a company cannot ship a 26" draw length bow when ordered?
Why is a 26" bow more like 27 1/2" draw?
Maybe we could chip in an buy a wooden yardstick and MAIL it ech bow company president Hee Hee Hee
How about a 70# Bow that will only go 68# Brand new out of the box Len?
That is GROSS misrepresentation and borders on Outright Fraud
A forum community dedicated to bow and crossbow owners and archery enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about optics, hunting, performance, troubleshooting, styles, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!