Bowfishing

Bowfishing

Not many people know about a sport called bowfishing. When people think of bowfishing, they think that you must lose a lot of arrows because the archer has no way of retrieving his or her arrow after launching it off its rest. This is a very big misconception in a very misunderstood and mysterious sport. As most people don’t understand about bowfishing, then don’t know that most bowfisherman rely on the darkness of night to cover them as the appproach their prey. A specially rigged bowfishing boat with archer aboard the pvc platform, as the floodlights gaze onto the water’s edge, the archer draws back his arrow and settles its sights on the unsuspecting Asian carp, the archer releases the arrow to hear a sound only too familiar as the arrow breaches the soft skin of the spawning carp. After the adrenaline ceases, the archer reels in his prize for the evening. Only a true bowfisherman can feel the poower it has to know that he controls the lives of the prey he takes. This feeling can’t be described in words, but can be felt with the utmost power and audacity of a life being saved or taken. Bowfishing is

s a sport that requires both hunting and fishing skills as well as knowledge of each sport. Bowfishing is similar to hunting because of it’s use of the archer’s favorite weapon, the bow. The bow is considered to be one of the most difficult weapons in any hunter’s arsenal. Along with it’s light weight and easy maneuverability, it also boasts an extreme challenge to whomever uses it to it’s full potential. Whether you decide to walk along the primal side and use a traditional bow or a recurve bow, you achieve the most out of your sport without using sights, a rest or release. Or if you choose a more modern and faster method of archery, you will achieve a seense of accomplishment with either of these great weapons. A traditional bow is mostly what the Indians used when they made their first movement to this great land. It is a straight “stick” that is slightly bent back towards the string. A recurve bow is a more modern version of the traditional bow. It is massively bent at the end toward the riser or rest, and when at full draw, the tips of this bow are in line with the st
tring. Upon the other hand, you could move up with technology and acknowledge the existence of a compound bow. The compound bow in many people’s minds have upgraded the sport of bowfishing to a more technological standpoint. Although compound bows have been around for quite a while, over the last three years, they have boosted themselves to an unbelievable height. From back in 1975, the average speed of a bow was about 175 feet per second. About a year ago, I bought a magazine the showed the emphasis and excitement of the “new bows” of which claimed a whooping 300 feet per second. These days, in the recent magazines, have showed new and recent studies on a 400 feet per second bow. These technologies can be measured in many ways to their successes and failures. The positive side to a bow this fast is that your arrow can get to your target quicker without spooking it. The negative side is the infamous question: Why would anyone require that much speed? There is really no other answer but the fact of “bragging rights” and that you don’t spook your target. In this sport of bowfishing, you use an average of 75 to about 150 feet per second, de
epending on where you are fishing. If you decide to let your prey reside in a more of a pond setting or a small lake, then you need less speed. If you require quick shooting in a big lake or the ocean, then you should decide on more speed, because if you decide on slower arrow release then you have a chance of missing your target. My current bowfishing bow is set at about 100 feet per second, because I maintain target by shooting at small rough fish such as: carp, catfish, gar, and small turtles. Bowfishing is similar to fishing in the respect of your target. Along with it being similar because of fish, it also maintains a similarity to the reel that it uses. The tools of this trade lie in the number of items you can fit on your bow. It also depends on which type of bow you are using. If you shoot a recurve or traditional bow, then you require less items. With a traditional or recurve bow the archer has lost the use of sights, a rest, and other implements. A compound uses the implements such as: sights, a bowfishing rest, and optional release, and a
nock saver. The required items on a bowfisherman’s list should be as follows: a custom bowfishing arrow, a special cabling system, special bowfishing string, and a reel. Without any one of these items, a bowfisherman would be not be able to complete his art. The arrow is one of the most important items on the archer’s list, it is the single most important thing in the sport of bowfishing. It is like a normal arrow in looks, but when broken down it is made of fiberglass instead of graphite or aluminum. One end of the arrow is similar to regular bowhunting, that is of course, the nock. A nock is a plastic piece that is glued to the end of the arrow and has a notched end, of which holds the arrow on the bow cable or bow string. At the other end of the arrow is tip that contains two straight barbs, which keeps the fish from coming off the arrow while the fish is being played. After the fish is played, the archer can, on some types of tips, turn the end of the tip which releases the barb’s straightness. As this happens it lets the barbs point upward, and the archer can then push the fish off the arrow without much resistance. As it’s not required by some archers, but is next to the most important for others, is the cabling system for an arrow. This contains the “life support” of the arrow. I firmly believe that without this system, you would lose a lot of arrows, unfortunately I know this from several personal experiences. The cabling system consists of a stainless 800 pound test steel wire, 2 beads, a swivel, and two crimps. The wire slides through two pre-drilled holes in the arrow, then wrapped around the arrow’s shaft, the into the crimp, and then crimped. After sliding the bead, the swivel, and the other bead onto the arrow, the wire slides through the other pre-drilled hole and then again crimped. The archer’s string is then tied onto the other end of the swivel, completing the cabling rig. This allows the tension not to rely on the string, but the cable, and also it allows the string to move along the arrow without friction. The next very important part of the archer’s list is the string. The string comes in a variety of strengths, mostly for bowfishing, an average of 300-400 pound test braided line. This is used for most applications, although when fishing for 150 pound alligator gar in southern Texas, you would need around a 600 to 900 pound test line. An option on string is color, a lot of bowfisherman prefer a neon colored string. For ease of sight and for finding an arrow that has snapped it’s cable, it is a wise choice for neon colored line. A new string has just been developed for night bowfisherman, it has a fluorescent “glow” when a black light is applied to the tip of the string. The last, but certainly not least important, is the reel, there are several types of reels, the drum reel, which is a cylinder that the string wraps around it and feeds off in the same manner. The second type is the AMS retriever reel, it is one of the most sophisticated reels, it uses a finger brake and “fishing” type crank. It is made especially for bowfisherman. The third kind is the Zebco 808 or the 818 models, these are regular fishing reels, but also double as bowfishing reels. They are mounted on a 12 or 18 inch rod the is screwed into the stabilizer hole of the bow. This rod and reel combination is the closest related to the sport of fishing. The last method of using a reel is that it doesn’t use a reel at all, but is just to lay the string on the ground and hopeing that it doesn’t tangle when the arrow is released or get caught on an exterior appendage of your body. Water diffraction is one of the worst problems a bowfisherman can encounter. Water diffraction is what occurs whenever something is in the water. If you stick a rod into the water, as soon as the rod enters the water it gives off the appearance that it’s bent. This is the water diffraction at work. Especially when night bowfishing, water diffraction takes place, because most of night bowfishing is when the target is several inches or feet underwater. Since the target is underwater, then the archer must decide how deep is the target. Although it may look on the surface it can be several inches underwater. The formula for bowfishing is for every inch underwater the target actually is, the archer should aim at least 3 inches below the target to defeat water diffraction. If an archer can accomplish this skill within seconds of sight of the target, the bowfisherman can start to consider himself well on the way to mastering the sport. Most bowfisherman seek targets as small as carp and gar, but a lot of archers seek bigger challenges. Alligator gars, rays, skates, sharks, alligators, and several big predators maintain a large portion of bowfisherman’s time. In some remote areas of Texas, videos have arisen of bowfisherman landing 150 pound alligator gars. These massive creatures are taken by the initial arrow of the archer. This arrow is very different from most arrows, as it has a break-away float or jug that detaches from it’s position on the bow. This floats along the top of the water as the large creature glides on the bottom of the river or lake. As the archer nocks a second arrow, when the crew members pull up the creature to the top of the water, the archer lands a second and possibly a third arrow into the creature before it’s decent into the water. This process maintains for sometimes hours, waiting for the creature to tire and raise to the surface close enough to the boat so that a crew member can put a gaff into it’s lower jaw and pull it’s massive body onto the boat. Sometimes this has come with a very heavy price. In one instance, an archer had seven arrows into about a 175 pound alligator gar, and as they tried to pull the fish onto the boat, the sheer weight of the fish overturned the boat and everything was lost except for the lives of the crew and the fish. This can be a very dangerous sport in it’s own right, so not all bowfishing hunts are as nice as others, there are several dangers in this sport. There are recorded instances where bowfisherman have traveled the earth in seek of the great alligators and crocodiles. In one of these instances, a bowfisherman had shot several times at 10 foot alligators with the aid of his guide. Unfortunatly he landed as many gators as he had come with. As the guide pointed his light to a 14 foot gator, the archer landed a perfect shot, but as the archer went for a second arrow, the gator started his death roll underwater and “cranked” in the string. This motion would have been alright, but as the float was not attached to the archer’s bow, but just sitting on the floor of the airboat, the archer had no control over his float or other equipment. As the spinning action seemed to reel in the string on the archer’s line, he nocked a second arrow, unaware of the danger he was in. As he was about to release his second arrow into the beast, the line which was wrapped around the archer’s leg, tightened and jerked him into the water, but not before the shot was anchored into the gator’s massive head. As some quick thinking by the hunter, he grabbed his boot knife and cut the line loose. He grabbed the boat as a loud bang went off and the gator started his final decent to the bottom of the river, dead. As the archer looked up and saw the his guide, with smoking rifle in hand, and climbed aboard the 14 foot airboat. They pulled the massive creature aboard the boat and went home, but never forgetting the memories of the almost fateful night that could have costed the bowfisherman his life. Bowfishing, as the name implies, is the sport of hunting and shooting at fish with a bow and arrow. The arrow has a barbed point and is tethered to the bow with a braided line. When the arrow is fired from the bow, the line feeds out of a bowfishing reel, which is attached to the front of the bow. When the arrow strikes a fish, the barbs hold in the fish, and the fish is played by hand. Another option the bowfisherman may choose for playing fish, is an 18 inch rigid fishing pole which holds the reel and attaches to the bow. From the small three pound carp or gar, to the 150 pound alligator gar in Texas and the sharks in south Florida, bowfishing is a sport that has no equal to the adrenaline and fun that it provide

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