Monday, October 22, 2012

The Crossbow Saga Continues

© By Othmar Vohringer

Without fail every year when hunting season approaches a heated debate about crossbows unfolds. These days it is becoming even more so as each year more North American jurisdictions declare the crossbows legal for all hunters, not just the physically challenged.

It never ceases to amaze me listening to the arguments from those that oppose crossbows as legitimate archery or as an ethically unfit hunting weapon. It is interesting to note at this point that when I ask those that are against the use of crossbows, “Have you ever shot a crossbow?” the majority answered with “No”. This makes me wonder how these people “know” that a crossbow is not archery tackle if they never shot one.

Well, as a hunter that uses a compound bow and a crossbow I feel entitled to add my opinion about this controversy. My hope is that I am able to provide the argument with some much need unbiased facts rather then the usual hype and myth that permeates the crossbow discussion.

One of the biggest myths is that the crossbow is not really a bow but rather a gun, because it is styled after a gun. Actually, the opposite is the case. The crossbow in its basic form has been in use for about 1,000 years before the first firearm was invented. With that fact in mind it would be sensible to argue that the firearm is modelled on the crossbow and not the other way around.

The earliest mention of crossbows can be found In China from 4,000 years ago. That would make another argument that the crossbow is not traditional flawed. Four thousand years makes the crossbow more of a traditional weapon then the compound bow and at least as traditional as the longbow.

Some of the most fervent opponents label the crossbow as the perfect poachers tool. Where do they get that idea? Yes a crossbow is silent, but so is a compound and traditional bow. A poacher, being a lawbreaker, most certainly would like to carry a weapon that could be concealed. A crossbow is quite bulky and hard to conceal. A poacher would be better off with a traditional takedown bow or a rifle with a silencer that he can stick under his coat or into a pant leg.

Some say that crossbow hunters have an unfair advantage to compound or traditional bowhunters because they can shoot longer distances. This is not true. A crossbow has about the same capabilities as a modern compound bow. The trajectory of the arrow is about the same of that of a compound bow. However, an arrow shot from a compound bow retains more downrange energy than the shorter arrow of a crossbow. This is due to the fact that the crossbow arrow is lighter than a normal arrow and thus quickly loses killing power at distances over 40 yards. Another “unfair advantage” argument is that it takes less practise to become proficient with a crossbow than with a compound or traditional bow. Like I said, I shoot compound bows and crossbows and I have found that both need equal practice to become proficient with. Since when is less time to become proficient with a hunting weapon an unfair advantage? Has hunting become a sport where "fair" is measured in the degrees of difficulty it takes to achieve the goal?

What really cracks me up is when I hear things like “crossbows are unethical”. Ethics seem to be the magical word used for everything that is being opposed when in fact it has more to do with personal opinions. A crossbow, like any other hunting weapon, is an inanimate thing. It has no mind, no heart and no feelings. How can it be ethical or unethical? It’s not the weapon that is unethical, it’s the people using a given instrument that have to make the conscious decision to use it in an ethical or unethical manner. There is no evidence whatsoever that suggest that a hunter with unethical tendencies chooses a crossbow over every other hunting weapon.

Here we are in times where hunters and hunting face extremely serious challenges that will decide the survival of our hunting heritage and all we can do is vilify our own for no other reason than for the choice they make in pursuing the same happiness we do. What really disturbs me is the fact that when we’re hardly capable of maintaining our numbers, let alone gaining new hunters, bowhunting organizations find it necessary to feed the controversy with unfounded myth and hype about the crossbow to further their own short sighted and selfish agendas. Yet these same organizations keep complaining that bowhunter numbers keep dropping without an end in sight. Would it not be wise then to endorse other styles of bowhunting rather than utter nonsense like: “If crossbows are permitted in the regular bowhunting season we will loose our quality of the hunt and the woods will be to crowded.” By the way, in American states and Canada where crossbow hunters take part in the regular bowhunting season this “overcrowding” and “loss of quality” (whatever the heck that means) factor has not occurred. The majority of bowhunters that share the woods with crossbow hunters claim that there is no noticeable difference. Enough said!

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