Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
I have no idea of how many folks read these columns and of those readers, I really don’t have a clue as to how many of them are hunters.
I’d guess that most of the people who glean through here aren’t hunters. But, I’ve always tried to convey my feelings about hunting and the outdoors in a manner that would appeal to the non-hunters out there. I sincerely feel that even if someone isn’t interested in the hunt itself that they could at least appreciate where I’m coming from when I share my experiences. I always try to present bowhunting and my passion for it in the best possible light.
But, sometimes, we in the hunting community and as consumers of the hunting industry, do ourselves a disservice.
This past week, the annual Archery Trade Association show took place in Louisville. The ATA is an opportunity for the archery segment of the hunting industry to showcase all of its wares and for manufacturers of new products to pitch their goods to vendors. I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot of items at the show that are of interest for a fan of traditional archery and bowhunting, but there are lots of cool products shown each year. Some of the new gear is very useful, some I’d describe as nothing more than gadgets and then some are nothing more than an attempt to make money and will do nothing to positively impact bowhunting.
In fact some of the junk passed off as the next “must have” in reality will do more harm than good to the overall opinion of bowhunting and bowhunters.
One such item is something called the “Air Bow”. In a nutshell, the air bow is an air rifle that can launch an arrow up to 450 per second! It is being marketed as the next big thing in bowhunting. The crossbow of the future. Crossman Manufacturing is behind the push and trying to get this thing into the hands of perspective hunters. The company has done its homework and is trying to make inroads into several different states to get this thing entered into archery seasons.
The rub is, this thing isn’t a bow, and to pass it off as such is a smack in the face to the dedicated bowhunters and archery enthusiasts out there.
The “air bow” is quite literally an air rifle. It has a stock, a trigger, a forearm and a barrel, just like a long gun does. It is cocked like a gun as well. It uses compressed air to send an arrow down range. What it lacks are key elements of a bow. A string, working limbs and the ability to be drawn by hand. Aside from the fact that this thing shoots an arrow, there is absolutely nothing about it that makes it a bow.
As it stands now, it does not fit the definition of a bow and my hope is that states won’t allow it to creep into their archery seasons.
Many hunters from my generation and younger don’t have a sense for the history and tradition that is associated with our modern archery hunting seasons. Pioneers in the sport from the late 1940’s through the early 60’s fought and lobbied hard across the country to prove the effectiveness of bows and arrows as viable hunting tools and eventually, archers were granted their own special hunting seasons.
State fish and game departments recognized the skills needed and the limitations bowhunters faced when those seasons were established. We owe a debt to those early bowhunters that helped pave the way for us today. I am certain that fellows with the names Fred Bear, Glenn St. Charles, Ed Pitchkite, Earl Hoyt, Ben Pearson and dozens of others didn’t fight for the rights of bowhunters only to have something like the gimmick of the “air bow” introduced as archery equipment.
Maybe this isn’t the venue for this topic, but if we as hunters and bowhunters in particular are to keep the non-hunting public in our corner and on our side, we have to draw a line in the sand as to what’s right for the sport and what’s wrong and there is no question that the air bow is wrong for bowhunting.
– David Hewitt