Stance on the Crossbow
When ads in the early 1990s started showing up in catalogs and magazines in New York State depicting the crossbow as a legitimate hunting implement it was time for New York Bowhunters, Inc. to address the issue. We needed to determine if the crossbow met the definition of a bow or if it was in fact a superior hunting implement when compared to the traditional longbow, recurve and compound bow. Some ads in New York State depicted the crossbow as a device with a unique instant-adjust range system with a maximum hunting range of 60 yards. This type of ad was in direct contrast to what the public was being told about the crossbow today. Because of this new awareness with the crossbow in NYS we began a research project on the subject. It should be noted that this was not a project taken lightly by the organization. We looked at the information available objectively and with an open mind. The pluses and minuses that the crossbow could provide to hunters within NYS were evaluated, as well as its effect on bowhunting within the state. One of the first official acts we performed in our research was to actually purchase a crossbow and to shoot it as described by the crossbow manufacturer. Many hours were spent deciphering data and reading present and prior research on the crossbow and after a thorough investigation and actual shooting experience, it was determined that the crossbow was not a bow and NYBs official Statement of Policy on the crossbow was developed. Why is it that when the crossbow was first introduced into New York State, it had an effective range of 60 yards but now after over a decade of technological advances in crossbow technology by the crossbow manufacturers, it was been reduced to having an effective range equal to a modern compound bow? The reason is simple, NYB exposed the truth about the crossbow and the crossbow manufacturers have softened their marketing in an attempt to fool the general public.
NYB’s Stance on the Crossbow
NYB was not formed, nor exists today to be the anti crossbow organization. NYB was formed in 1991 and grew to almost 4,000 (mostly compound bowhunters) in response to a growing tide of anti hunting sentiment. Anti hunters recognized they may not be able to put a stop to hunting in its entirety and therefore were putting their efforts and large amounts of money into attacking bowhunting. Spreading propaganda to the non hunting public that bowhunting is nothing more than extreme cruelty to animals being carried out by bloodthirsty camo clad goons. NYB fought and continues to fight those misconceptions that the general public is often led to believe. Our decision to oppose the crossbow as being considered archery equipment was based on several membership polls. The overwhelming majority of our membership felt the crossbow, with their rifle stocks, telescopic scopes, ability to be shot from a rest, the fact that they are not hand drawn and hand held and their considerably longer effective range, does not qualify it to be defined as “Archery” equipment. Now that crossbows are legal during the last two weeks of bowseason, NYB is glad the issue is over.
Perhaps the letter written below by an NYB member sums up feelings shared within NYB;
“Why Do I Care About What You Hunt With?”
For more years than I care to remember I have been listening to discussions regarding the allowance of a superior implement, the crossbow, into archery season. The argument used to be, “They have the same limitations as a compound!” Very few still claim that a crossbow isn’t easier to use, or that it requires very much (if any) practice. Very few would still defend the intended range is the same as conventional bows when almost 100% are equipped with a scope. Over the past few years the argument has shifted away from technological superiority and instead focused on implying that anyone who opposes superior implements during archery season is waging a personal attack on their fellow hunters. I keep hearing, “How does what I hunt with effect you personally?” or “Why do you care about what I hunt with?” Interesting questions and I know those of you, like me, that don’t believe a crossbow should be considered archery equipment have had to deal with similar inquiries. I’m sure you’ve also heard, “Why can’t we all get along?” or “Guys like you are causing in-fighting among sportsmen and we all need to stick together.”
Is it reasonable to allow some exceptions for those legitimately physically restricted from pulling low poundage bows? Although I feel that a draw locking device would satisfy most of these concerns, I’ll go so far as to say perhaps some additional allowance for crossbows could have been examined, if necessary, for a select group. However, I know full well this controversy has never been about physically restricted archers, the elderly, kids or women. One only has to watch scope mounted crossbows literally flying off the shelves in hunting stores across America to know the truth. The impetus behind this trend has always been about the money to be made by every major archery manufacturer and their desire to tap into the wallets of the entire hunting community, who, even during times of economic depression, spend a lot of money on outdoor recreation. The Archery Trade Association created this love affair, not the bowhunting community.
Some people point out all “bow” implements are “primitive” and should be treated equally. Looking at the origins of the crossbow, we see it gained popularity in its application for war. Longbows required much more skill to use accurately. Experienced archers were hard to replace and the crossbow found its place in battle. Making “primitive” comparisons between the bow and the crossbow for hunting applications is comparing apples to oranges.
Back to the question of, “So they’re superior, so what, why is it your concern?” I found a copy of an extensive study done in Canada many years ago (the only such research I can find). The results were a disturbing forty percent wounding rate for crossbows! (Compounds were approximately twenty percent and recurves even lower.) One does not need a study to realize that by the very nature of all the variables and physics that can effect a broadhead tipped shaft in flight, the further it travels through the air, the higher the rate of missing its mark (due to wind, obstructions, movement of target, aiming and holding, etc.). Not only does regular archery practice assure limiting wounding loss, but just as important are limiting the range of the shots we take. Dedicated, ethical archers not only diligently practice, but due to the nature of hand holding and aiming, must limit their effective range. They become masters of close up shot selection in relation to their quarry’s anatomy.
Besides the variables mentioned above, there is another factor. We would all have to agree that regardless of what propels an arrow or bolt, if speeds of 370 feet per second could be reached (most are far lower), that would be considered extremely fast. However even at that speed, it would still only be one third the speed of sound (which travels at 1,100 feet per second), a sure recipe for high strung deer to “jump the string”. As shot distance increases, not only will more misses occur, but unfortunately so will higher deer wounding rates (whether admitted or not). I submit that due to all the variables mentioned, long shots should not be attempted with anything that propels a broadhead tipped shaft at game, despite an archer’s skill at practice. I doubt anyone wants to debate that a telescopic sight equipped crossbow is not meant to encourage shots at longer ranges than has become the “norm” for conventional archery equipment. Back to the question of “Why I care about what you hunt with?”, keeping wounding rates as low as possible is my concern, and should be every hunter’s.
Even if I could overlook my concerns about the inevitable wounding rate increase, there is more to hunting deer with conventional archery equipment that goes to the very heart of the matter. Why do I care what you hunt with and why do I see the popularity of crossbows as the start of the decay of archery season as I have known it?
The first time I bow hunted was almost forty years ago. Having had a few years of success hunting deer with a rifle during regular season, I was looking to extend my season and did so by adding the challenge of archery. Two things happened that first season when I expanded my time afield with bow in hand. The first was in early November 1976 while I was checking tracks in the snow around a long abandoned but still productive apple tree on a very cold day. I was unprepared for the materializing doe being chased by a small buck approximately seventy yards away. They were rapidly heading straight for me but at about forty yards the chase stopped as they got distracted by hidden food in the snow below their hooves. After several minutes of pawing and feasting, they resumed their journey directly toward my location. I knew forty yards was way beyond an ethical shot for me and the only thing I had done in the previous few minutes was drop to one knee in a poor attempt to look smaller. I was kneeling out in the open with no cover. The doe walked past me before she stopped and realized I did not belong and went into her head bob, foot stomp routine. The trailing buck stopped within a few yards of me and watched her antics. I was staring at him, he at her, and she at me! At this distance, I could count the buck’s eyelashes. Not only was I getting a close up view of the pieces of apple he was chewing, which fell to the ground, but was almost engulfed by the steam-like condensation of his warm breath being expelling into the cold air! The encounter lasted only a few seconds before they bounded off, leaving me staring down at the bow and nocked arrow in my hand. I felt no sense of failure or frustration, my brain was screaming, “WOW!! UNBELIEVABLE!!” Had this been a firearm, or anything else that was meant to shoot at that range, the story would have ended at forty yards and I would have never experienced bowhunting as I discovered it was meant to be. This incident ignited the urge to hone the skills needed to deliver an arrow at a deer at a very close range, and somehow, someday earn the right to call myself a bowhunter.
The second incident that helped shape me into a bowhunter happened a few days later when I had my first opportunity to take that shot. As I crouched behind a bush, an unsuspecting doe, broadside at a little under twenty yards away, was my objective. I can still feel the excitement as my fingers curled around the string and I became aware of my back muscles squeezing together during the draw. I remember feeling my index finger touch the corner of my mouth but don’t recall exactly what I did in my head as some kind of aiming process took place. Upon release of the string, I watched my arrow sail over her back and was overcome with a rush of excitement. The deer, never aware of my presence, nervously departed and I quickly realized two things that would shape my definition of bowhunting. Number one, although I thought I had practiced to an acceptable level of efficiency, I needed to really master this thing. The risk of wounding an animal is always there but I needed to know beyond a doubt that I did everything in my power to eliminate injuring a deer. The second thing was the overwhelming epiphany that emotionally hit the core of my soul during the two seconds of watching my arrow fly. My inner voice yelled: “I DID THAT!!!!” I used my body to load the bow with energy, aimed at a big game animal and released the string that held my arrow. The quick flight of that arrow immediately attached me permanently to all those that have done the same thing for tens of thousands of years.
From that day on, whenever I go afield with a bow and arrow in hand, I feel an attachment to our past, my link to man’s first method of storing energy. I also think of Saxton Pope and Art Young who, just after the turn into the twentieth century, had to convince society that hunting with a bow and arrow was effective and ethical. I appreciate Dr. Paul Crouch who had to convince NY state officials in 1948 to allow a “special” archery season. I think of lifelong bowhunter from New York, Bill Wadsworth, who in 1967 took it upon himself to assure bowhunters would be knowledgeable, ethical and safe by developing the Bowhunter Education Course that almost the entire nation adopted and still uses today as it developed into the National Bowhunting Education Foundation (NBEF).
Many have pointed to the “in-fighting” that occurred in the early seventies when compound bows began showing up in the “traditional” world and compare it to today’s crossbow debate. This is an inaccurate and unfair comparison. Did the advent of compound bows change bowhunting? The answer is “Yes”, as far as it helped introduce a lot more new people to the sport of hunting. But studies have shown the overwhelming majority of new crossbow hunters are “crossovers” from existing hunting ranks, mostly from the firearm market. Although hunting in general continues to experience a decline in participants, bowhunter populations (prior to crossbow acceptance) has steadily increased throughout the last few decades. The crossbow was not necessary to bring in new hunters. While the compound bow may have increased the average distance by a just a few yards to that of the stick bow, its appeal always lied in assisting the archer at full draw, something they still had to do by themselves. After over forty years of compound bows dominating bowhunting, according to the NBEF, most deer are killed with a bow at a distance of only fifteen yards! Just the fact that an implement has a scope on it tells me its appeal lies in drastically increasing the range at which shots will be attempted. The whole point of using archery equipment, besides the archer drawing and holding, is to get as close as possible to the game we seek. Isn’t bowhunting meant to be a challenge? It is to me and evidently a lot of you. According to an NBEF study, the majority of those entering this sport claim “challenge” as the number one reason.
Obviously there are many effective and enjoyable ways to kill a deer and who do I think I am to be the one to define bowhunting? Has society accepted a new definition of bowhunting than the one I discovered? I guess so. Unfortunately when I look at today’s culture which spews an “everybody wins” attitude, I see a generation that needs instant success. I see an ever increasing emphasis placed on everyone who plays gets a trophy. I see greed driven manufacturers spending untold money on marketing, convincing hunters whom otherwise might have chosen a bow and arrow that a crossbow will make them a bowhunter. I am proud that I still believe there is something left that must be worked for. I define “bowhunting” differently than just “the how big” or “the how many” or “the how far” I can kill with a bow and arrow.
Why do I care what anyone else uses to hunt? Is it crazy for me to feel that I am carrying the torch of archery hunting as it is meant to be? Put legality aside for a moment and search your hunting soul; would you have a problem with someone shooting turkeys or swimming waterfowl with a 30-06? If so, why? Suppose I didn’t want to use a shotgun? Who are you to tell me I can’t shoot a turkey with my rifle? Why would you have a problem with that? Or maybe you wouldn’t.
Bowhunting to me is about the journey, not the kill by any means available or legal. My success has been measured by the bowhunting friends I have made that have similar values and passion and with whom I’ve spent countless days afield. My trophies are the individuals I’ve taught archery to and personally exposed to bowhunting. If I feel successful upon the taking of a big game animal it is because of the thousands of arrows I have shot every year during practice and the months before and after hunting season spent on scouting, all in preparation for that one magical moment when fate causes archer and game to cross paths.
Luckily, I’m not alone in feeling that archery is meant to be done with a hand drawn, hand held bow with some sense of extreme closeness to game and a large degree of practice. The definition of bowhunting and the opinion that a crossbow is not archery equipment is shared by the eighty plus statewide organizations that belong to the North American Bowhunting Coalition, as well as the Pope and Young Club and the Professional Bowhunters Society, to name a few. As I mentioned earlier, perhaps some exception may have been able to be worked out for those legitimately physically challenged or with severe permanent ailments, however the debate was never really about them. For me, I will continue to believe what my heart tells me. I know that I spent my life not only hunting with a bow and arrow but sharing my passion with others. If I find myself someday unable to draw a bow and decide not to take advantage of available adaptive equipment, I will be satisfied knowing I lived my life as a bowhunter. I will have earned that title. I will continue to share that knowledge as a mentor, taking as much enjoyment in the successes of the next generation of bowhunters as I would for any future kills I may no longer be able to personally make. I will look back on a lifetime of standing proud for, and speaking up for, all those who have pulled energy into bow limbs with their God given strength and put arrows into flight.
Submitted by NYB Member, Richard Kirschner
New York Bowhunters Inc. Statement of Policy
New York Bowhunters, Inc. (NYB) is opposed to the use of any implement; other than those bows drawn, held and released by hand in any archery season, or archery only area.
Furthermore, NYB is opposed to the creation of any new hunting or fishing season or the extension of any existing season which will decrease the length of the archery only season or displace the season into less favorable dates.
While NYB recognizes and supports the rights of hunters who chose to use other implements in separate hunting and fishing seasons, we will oppose any effort to establish hunting and fishing seasons where the ultimate aim is inclusion in the archery only seasons or archery only areas.
Please see the Equipment Comparison Table depicted below for a comparison of the modern firearm, crossbow, compound bow and traditional bow.
(Click on the image to enlarge.)
As can be seen from the above table, the crossbow more closes resembles a modern firearm than a traditional or compound bow. In the fall 2004 issue of CROSSBOW Magazine, the author of an article entitled The Scoop on Crossbows states Due to the crossbows rifle-like nature, it takes less time and practice to attain or maintain sufficient shooting skills. At least this crossbow author understands the relationship of the crossbow when compared to a rifle or conventional bow. We believe that when presented with the accurate crossbow facts, a majority of all individuals will do the same. For additional comparisons, please review the following photos of crossbows, firearms, compound and traditional bows. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Modern Compound Bow * Traditional Long Bow * Traditional Recurve Bow
Information for Crossbow Discussions
Bowhunting was meant to be, and is a difficult and demanding sport. It requires a high level of dedication from its participants. Today's modern compound bows, coupled with sight pins and mechanical releases, have done much to make it easier for archers to reach and maintain levels of proficiency necessary for hunting. The crossbow is simply a superior implement that is much easier to use than archery equipment. Many archers have taken up the sport because they love and appreciate the commitment that is required to shoot a bow and arrow correctly, accurately and proficiently. This same attitude is why some fishermen decide to fly fish over conventional type fishing or why some hunters choose to use a muzzleloader during the regular season instead of using a rifle or shotgun. It is the added challenge of using an implement with limitations that drives many bowhunters and the crossbow simply does not challenge a hunter like a compound, recurve or longbow does. Frankly, an inexperienced individual could literally pick up a scope mounted crossbow and with a few adjustments to the scope be shooting a crossbow with extreme precision. This same level of accuracy would take much more time for an archer to achieve and we accept and embrace this. In these times of fast food, disposable products and reduced time for all things in life, the dedicated bowhunter embraces their bow and looks forward to the hours of enjoyment that shooting it will bring. The Pope & Young Club will not accept entries taken with crossbows and the Professional Bowhunters Society is opposed to the use of the crossbow in any archery season worldwide.
The crossbow does not fit into the category of archery equipment. It has a stock, cheek plate, trigger, and rifle style sights. The crossbow can be fitted with a telescopic sight, carried cocked, shot out of a vehicle window, and has an average effective range of 69 yards (Marlow Report).
The argument that bowhunters do not want to share the woods with anyone is totally untrue. Technical improvements in modern archery equipment make bowhunting accessible to almost everyone but the severely handicapped. The bowhunting season is not a closed season. Anyone who wishes to accept the challenge and complete the necessary education course may take part.
Some archers bowhunt for the challenge of close range encounters with game, others bowhunt to take advantage of the early season and the additional opportunity to bag a deer. But what all these bowhunters have in common is the dedication to learn their equipment and to accept the challenge of getting within ethical range of their game.
The presence of any superior implement defeats the purpose of the archery seasons. The crossbow manufacturers will argue that the crossbow will bring more hunters into the sport. They are absolutely correct; the crossbow will bring people into the sport that are not interested in bowhunting, they are only interested in taking advantage of the early bow season. Any one can pick up a crossbow and pull the trigger. Shooting modern archery equipment requires a moderate amount of practice and dedication and shooting traditional equipment requires almost constant practice to maintain proficiency. Bowhunting takes commitment and dedication; virtues that our society is throwing by the wayside all too often these days.
The crossbow manufacturers, especially those active in NY, have millions of dollars to make by allowing crossbow into the archery seasons. These manufacturers are attempting to open new markets by alienation of the sporting public against the bowhunter in order to achieve their goals. These same manufacturers when speaking to potential crossbow hunters will push the speed, power, accuracy and superior range of the device. If they speak to bowhunters or archers, they will say it is ineffective beyond 20 yards due to the noise and poor trajectory. Some crossbow manufacturers even have a Dial a Range system that allows the shooter to zero in on a target out to 65 yards. If the crossbow is ineffective past 20 yards, why then, would a crossbow manufacturer have such a system?
Bowhunters as well as other sports persons must step forward and stop the manufacturing community from dictating the future direction that the sport of bowhunting will take. If we are to continue to enjoy the status of a primitive season, we must place restrictions on our equipment in order to in fact keep them primitive.
Crossbow manufacturers can change their sales literature and institute catch phases such as the horizontal bow in order to try and persuade public opinion. They can continue to promote the crossbow for the youth, women, elderly and the Physically Challenged but when presented with the scientific facts as available the public can only come to the same conclusion as drawn by New York Bowhunters, Inc. and so many others and that is that the crossbow is simply not a bow.
Additional Crossbow Information Sources and Definitions
THE POPE & YOUNG CLUB
The Pope and Young Club (P&Y) was
founded to promote bowhunting and to record for posterity
the outstanding examples of North American big game animals
taken solely with the hunting bow.
A hunting bow is defined as a longbow, recurve, or compound bow that is hand held and hand drawn, and that has no mechanical device to enable the hunter to lock the bow at full or partial draw, other than the energy stored by the drawn bow, no device to propel the arrow will be permitted.
The P&Y Club does not consider the crossbow to be a hunting bow and will not accept any trophies collected by crossbow hunters. Furthermore, the club considers the use of the crossbow during bowhunting seasons to be a serious threat to the future of bowhunting.
Therefore, the club recommends that the crossbow not be considered for use in any bowhunting only season. The club strongly recommends that crossbow hunting be abolished from all existing bowhunting only seasons and the use of the crossbow for hunting be restricted to firearms' seasons.
For more information, contact the Pope & Young Club, 273 Mill Creek Road, Chatfield, MN 55923.
THE PROFESSIONAL BOWHUNTERS SOCIETY
The Professional Bowhunters Society (PBS) is opposed to the use of any weapon, other than those bows drawn, held and released by hand, in any archery-only season.
Furthermore, PBS is opposed to the
creation of any new hunting season or the extension of any
existing hunting season which will decrease the length of
the archery-only hunting season or displace the archery-only
season into less favorable dates. While PBS recognizes and
supports the rights of hunters who choose to use other
weapons in separate hunting seasons, they oppose any efforts
to establish hunting seasons where the ultimate aim is
inclusion in the archery-only season.
For more information, contact the Professional Bowhunters Society, P. O. Box 246 Terrell, NC 28682
THE MULLANEY REPORT
Mr. Norb Mullaney, a professional
engineer, is recognized as the leading authority on the
physics of bows and endows. He states that "The hand held
bow has one characteristic that distinguishes it from a
crossbow or any type of firearm. The internal ballistics are
a function of the shooter, his or her physical geometry and
capabilities, shooting form, consistency and reaction to
stress and trauma. In the crossbow and firearms, the
internal ballistics are fixed. The action of the shooter in
triggering a release of energy does nothing more than
initiate a process that is consistent and repetitive. The
hand held bow is different. Every action of the shooter
contributes something either positive or negative to the
interior ballistic process. As the interior ballistics vary,
so do the exterior ballistics. Shooting the hand held bow
and arrow is much more complicated than aiming a fixed
system of ballistics and touching off the energy discharge.
The total energy to draw, hold and release the bow must come
directly and unassisted from the shooter's muscle power."
Copies of the Mullaney Report can be obtained from Mr. Mullaney, Engineer, Writer, 8425 North Greenvale Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53217
THE MARLOW REPORT
The technical information on equipment contained in the "Marrow Report" was compiled by Roy S. Marlow and associates; titled "The Modem Hunting Crossbow-- A Study of it's Effectiveness Compared to the Hand Held Bow, 1989".
Roy S. Marlow's areas of expertise are
in design, theoretical analysis, and experimental evaluation
of structural and mechanical systems. He holds a BS degree
in aerospace engineering, an MS degree in mechanical
engineering, and an MBA degree in management with a
concentration in the management of research and development
activities. He is a member of several national engineering
societies and scholastic fraternities, is active on
industrial committees, and task groups, and has written
widely on technical subjects. In 1984 he received the Eugene
W. Jacobs Award, which is awarded annually by the American
Mechanical Engineers for technical excellence.
The Marlow Report concludes that the crossbow is technically superior to the modem hand held bow in almost every category of comparison. Further, the report concludes that the crossbow is more similar to a fireman than a hand held bow and that crossbows should not be considered as archery equipment. The crossbow which is always cocked, shoulder held, shot from a rest, fired by a trigger and has over twice the effective range of a bow is closer to being a firearm than a hand held bow.
Copies of the Marrow Report can be obtained from R.S. Marlow & Associates, 12503 Chapel Bell, San Antonio, TX 78230