The Treestand Manufacturer’s Association was formed in 1995 where a small group of key leaders in the industry met during a consumer trade show held in Atlanta, Georgia. Initial challenges included forming a board of directors and building trust. From the beginning, even as competitors, the common interests and goals of the association were to promote treestand safety and also to develop performance standards, test methods, practices, terminology, and promote knowledge related to treestands and safety related accessories for the purpose of reducing the risk of injury to the individual who hunts from an elevated platform or treestand. The first board consisted of 5 manufacturer representatives: Ben Southard (Loc On), Ray McIntyre (Warren & Sweat), Frank Hood (Trail Hawk), John Woller (Summit) and Paul Meeks (API). In 2004 the Association incorporated as a non-profit trade association and in 2005 filed for exemption with the Internal Revenue Service which was granted in 2006 and classified as a 501(c)(6) non-profit.
The initial standards were drafted by the board in conjunction with experienced engineering consultants in 1995 and consisted of 8 test methods that TMA members approved in 1996. Using these 8 standards as a basis for testing, members submitted products to be tested by a third party independent testing firm named LAW Engineering located in Jacksonville, FL.
In 2000 TMA President, John Woller worked with Norb Mullany (Chairman of ASTM F08.16 Archery Sub-Committee) to draft TMA standards for balloting and approval through American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). All 8 standards were approved and published by ASTM in 2001. The TMA Standard Committee continues to work in conjunction with ASTM to develop performance standards, test methods, practices, guides and terminology related to treestands, harnesses and safety related accessories and also to promote knowledge to reduce the risk of injury to the individual who hunts from and/or is preparing to hunt from an elevated platform and/or treestand.
Beginning in 2002 the TMA Board of Directors appointed John Louk as the first Executive Director to oversee the daily activities of the association. His duties to include: maintaining a central office, improve communications between the members and the industry, be responsible for and take a leading role in public relations of the association, directly support TMA Board and its members, and also maintain the web site.
Since 2003, TMA representatives work with officials from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) located in Bethesda, MD to discuss the safety of treestands and the use of Fall Arrest Full Body Harnesses. The interaction between the two agencies prove to be beneficial to all involved and their working relationship continues to obtain a better understanding of what is being done to promote treestand safety and also share the commitment to take a proactive approach to reduce incidents involving treestands.
TMA continues to promote the use of Fall Arrest Full Body Harnesses and supports legislative action for mandatory use. Since 2004 TMA members’ products are required to include a Full Body Harness/ Fall Arrest System that meets industry standards with all treestands. An estimated 18.5 million full body safety harnesses have been provided with products as an integral part of the treestand and/or sold to hunters to reduce the risk of falls associated with hunting from an elevated position and/or treestand.
Since 2004 TMA has published a web site to provide information to anyone interested in learning more about TMA and also to promote treestand safety. The web site maintains a current list of Participating and Supporting members’ with links to their web sites to provide additional resources to inform the consumer and general public. Another feature of the web site lists Members’ Products that have completed the product conformance process. The web site also includes a detailed list of Product Recalls with links to CPSC current recall notices.
Since 2005 the Association has published a comprehensive list of treestand safety best practices entitled “Treestand Safety Guidelines”. The document is available on the TMA web site and copies are being distributed throughout the hunting industry through its members and other industry affiliates who share an interest in promoting treestand safety. In 2014 the document was condensed to 5 of the most important best practices which include graphic illustrations and published as the “Treestand Safety Tips”. Both publications continue to be used by hunter education instructors, state agencies and retailers to teach and also promote treestand safety.
Effective June 2007 membership approved a revision to industry standards that require inclusion of both written and video/DVD instructions with all treestands and harnesses. It is estimated that to date over 10 million copies are in circulation and the royalties paid by participating members have generated over $700,000 as funding which TMA uses to support treestand safety education. TMA has designated 2 video/DVD service providers: Oquirrh Productions and National Bowhunters Education Foundation (NBEF). Both videos are widely used by state agencies and other hunter education instructors to teach and also promote treestand safety.
Since 2007, TMA has offered a Treestand Safety Grant Program for state wildlife agencies to assist with funding and the training of hunter education staff and volunteer instructors. Over 700 students have completed the course which includes the latest treestand safety best practices. 30 states have benefitted from the training funded through the Grant Program and have implemented the treestand safety curriculum into their hunter education programs and publications which teach more than 700,000 students annually.
Since 2008 TMA, Oquirrh Productions and HunterCourse.com have developed and offered hunters the first on-line treestand safety course. The 15 minute course is FREE and can be viewed at: www.huntercourse.com.
In 2009, TMA representatives worked with state wildlife agencies in Alabama and Mississippi to pass new regulations that require hunters to use full body safety harnesses while hunting on state wildlife management areas.
Most importantly, the Association continues to seek new ways to promote treestand safety. TMA solicits involvement from the hunting industry and encourages setting a good example for treestand safety and the use of a Full Body Safety Harness. In 2010, outdoor industry leaders and well-known camouflage brands, Mossy Oak and Realtree, collaborated to create a public service announcement to promote treestand safety. Featuring Mossy Oak’s Cuz Strickland and David Blanton from Realtree, the PSA highlighted the importance of wearing a safety harness when hunting from a treestand.
Since 2010, TMA established and implemented a Treestand Accident Investigation Grant Program for state wildlife agencies to assist with funding and the training of Conservation Officers. Training has been conducted in 11 states with over 325 Conservation Officers completing the course.
In 2010, TMA representatives proposed treestand safety standards to International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) to establish minimum standards for hunter education. IHEA members unanimously approved the standards for all 50 states. The standards were revised and approved in 2014 with a more detailed curriculum for treestand safety.
Since 2007, the association has established the Treestand Hall of Fame to give special recognition to those who have made significant contributions to the treestand and hunting industries and also TMA.