Essay, Research Paper: Bowfishing


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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 approach 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 power 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 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
sense 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 string. 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, depending 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
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