How do you define bowhunting?

Recently, Pope and Young, Professional Bowhunters Society and Compton Traditional Bowhunters released a statement defining bowhunting. Clearly, the statement notes these organization’s stance on cross bows.  I don’t know how wide the document was disseminated so I wanted to ensure the readers here had an opportunity to read it and voice their opinion.
Press Release
April 2012
Recent history has seen the image of bowhunting as a challenging undertaking by individuals striving to harvest an animal utilizing one’s wits and skills – in close quarters, with minimal equipment – morph into another sport of technological domination over the quarry, thereby rendering everything that attracted pioneers of the pastime and its simplistic pursuits to an almost unrecognizable shadow of its former self. Fueled by industry competition and fed by the natural tendencies of human nature to “solve” the inherent difficulties of its primitive practices, many fear bowhunting’s future holds dim hope for any continuity of its original intent and the corresponding opportunities allowed as such.
In light of such concerns, three of the nation’s most respected and premier bowhunting organization have come together to remind and state to all just what bowhunting is supposed to be. Recently, in a joint effort, members of the Professional Bowhunters Society (PBS), the Pope and Young Club, and Compton Traditional Bowhunters crafted a mutually accepted definition of what constitutes bowhunting in its original intent.
“Bowhunting big game is an activity that, when compared to other big game hunting activities, offers the animal the greatest opportunity to escape. Therein bowhunting is considered a close range activity that necessitates entering into the proximity of an animal’s defensive senses, thereby risking the discovery of the hunter and so providing the greatest opportunity for the game animal to flee and escape. In concurrence with the teachings of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) and the field experiences of those who created its literature, shots should be limited to reasonable and responsible distances within the hunter’s personal limitations, keeping in mind that bowhunting is getting as close as possible before taking the shot. Under the umbrella of Fair Chase, we define bowhunting archery tackle to be selfbows, longbows, recurves, and compounds that are designed to be shot vertically and are held in the hand, and of which the string is drawn and held by the shooter’s own muscle power. Electronic devices attached to the bow or arrows are not bowhunting equipment.
We believe, for reasons of safety and responsible hunting, that arrows should be weighted and matched in relationship to the hunting bow’s draw weight in order to effectively transfer sufficient energy to the arrow so as to achieve good penetration and ensure quick and humane kills.”

In their roles as leaders among bowhunting’s finest organizations, and as role models to state organizations and game and fish departments across the country, these three organizations’ hope and intent is that this definition will help in guiding good management decisions and thoughtful considerations into what constitutes acceptable bowhunting equipment and practices.  Furthermore, it should stand as an example to industry innovators and marketers, and advertisers and PR professionals alike, that bowhunting’s image must remain true in its focus and practice if it is to survive for future generations as the distinctly primitive fair-chase endeavor it was intended to be, and not blur the boundaries that separate it from other hunting pursuits.

5 responses to “How do you define bowhunting?

  1. This is an interesting article.
    Unfortunately here in Ontario the crossbow is king. Crossbows have become common place and synonymous with bowhunting. The manufacturers have done an amazing job in marketing these things through the various hunting shows, etc. If you go to Bass Pro Shop here in Ontario and start talking about bowhunting people will automatically think you are talking about crossbows.
    People seem to want to have a quick fix for everything. Rifle hunters use them because they get a longer season. That is the only reason. There is absolutely no skill required to shoot one. Fifteen minutes at a range will make you proficient.
    Not thrilled by it all.


  2. I have an osage self bow that my grampa built and hunted with in 1923.He hunted all his life,when he was in his late 80s he bought a crossbow.I would not have cared if he hunted with an AR-15, he still had the drive to hunt and i was proud of him for that.Sure would have hated to tell him you can’t hunt because your not a real bowhunter.

    • I concur that there is a place for crossbows – handicapped and disabled hunters, but the larger issue from the game and fish departments in many states is controlling the wildlife numbers. They are advocates of more hunting to control the numbers.

  3. Jimmy – I totally agree if you aren’t holding it on your fingers you aren’t bow hunting – I don’t care if you hunt with a crossbow but, you aren’t bow hunting.


    • I am not a fan of crossbows, never owned one nor do I have a desire to own one. Neither do I think they belong as an accepted weapon for archery hunts. Heck, I don’t even think compound bows should be allowed for archery seasons, but I’m an old hat kind of fellow. 🙂 Why?, because most, if not all, state’s archery seasons were established prior to compound bows coming into existence and to afford the traditional archer an opportunity to harvest big game. The authors of these archery seasons recognized the difficulty in harvesting big game with traditional archery equipment (as compared to firearms) and gave them seasons prior to regular firearms seasons. Ifa person wants to hunt with a crossbow then by all means do so, just not during a recognized archery season or hunt.

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