Is the American hunting population ready to use the airbow for hunting in the US?
We as hunters, sometimes, are hard to allow the arrival of innovation. Innovation can exist within camouflage like Sitka's Optifade Elevated II pattern, or in the use of rangefinders like Nikon's Arrow ID 3000. But innovation sometimes doesn't bother people until you put under the category: Archery.
The archery industry has moved mountains when it comes to innovations including bows like the Diamond Edge SB-1 where you basically don't even need a pro shop to set up your bow. But what happens when you mix innovation with completely new. What happens when you cross an airgun with an arrow and form a new term called the 'Airbow'.
Well, just like many archers had mixed emotions on the introduction of crossbows, many have mixed emotions of the pneumatic airbow.
However, when it comes to many new things, there are many things you just can't knock until you've tried. Regardless if you agree or disagree with it's presence, there are some pros and cons when it comes to hunting with the airbow that you just cannot deny.
As long as you aren't breaking or losing arrows every time you shoot, over time the cost of one arrow becomes much less than continually shooting conventional ammo from a firearm.
The airbow allows you to take several shots off one filling. Approximately 8-10 shots can be made before accuracy is compromised.
Faster reload (than crossbow)
There's no doubt the airbow will forever be compared to a crossbow. When doing so, reloading airbow arrows is much faster and with less effort than having to load and set a crossbow.
This is in theory based on what I've read and have discussed with those in the industry who have used them, not based on personal experience. The theory is that the air pushes on the tip of the arrow rather than the rear of the arrow giving the arrow flight more accuracy. The theory seems reasonable and when explained makes sense. Better accuracy means better shots on big game, better odds of a quick kill, and possibly less wasted meat when compared to other forms of bowhunting.
So maybe the PCP airbow isn't as quiet as your brand new compound bow or a more traditional recurve, but it sure is much quieter than most guns on the market. If this replaces a single shot muzzleloader for some people, this may just allow more time for a second shot for some.
A bow like the Crosman or Benjamin Pioneer Airbow is capable of some seriously blistering speeds thanks to that high-pressure air tank. We are talking near 450 fps. Granted some of those advertised specs may be from field tips rather than broadheads, but still, these weapons have the speeds to take down big game.
Limited air supply (within the unit)
In order to shoot the airbow, you must have compressed air within the unit. Kind of like an air rifle. In order to obtain that, you either need a hand pump or a compressed tank with adapters. Eight to ten shots may seem like a lot but if you forget to refill or bring your hand pump, you can be stranded with no way of shooting the airbow. Some of these bows come with a charging system or cocking lever in the field. However, for hunters with disabilities or arthritic problems, it may not be feasible for these shooters to use them. Especially when you are in a treestand with limited space.
Compressed air (in general)
Like paintball, if you shoot a lot, you will need an abundance of air supply. A simple home compressor won't do the trick and many times you will have to find yourself having to find a local fill or cascade system to fill a portable tank. This may not seem like an issue but if you shoot your airbow as much as many archers practice target shooting their compound and crossbows, you may be in for several trips to your air supplier.
No matter if you are for or against the airbow, you can't really complain regardless if it's even legal to hunt with in your state. Like all footnotes, be sure to check with your local regulations to see whether or not it is legal to use where you are hunting. According to the latest information we have, only around seven states have legalized them for all game. Some states have given the green light only for things like feral swine. Other states may only allow them during firearms and not during archery season.
This means if you purchase the airbow, you may not be legal to hunt with it within your state. There is a substantial amount of more states that do allow you to hunt coyotes and predators with it however not all states are on board with the airbow just yet.
Much like anything, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, for the airbow, there are many extras that you may have to purchase just to shoot it. A scope, arrows and the extra air tank or hand pump can add up. There is no denying that a sight for a bow, quiver, rest and a release don't make archery expensive as well, however many of the package bow deals for beginners can start well under $600. For airbows like the Crosman Pioneer Airbow your starting price comes in at just under $1000.
Regardless if you choose to hunt with the airbow or have negative feelings towards the idea, there are still many benefits to using it. There may come a day when the airbow begins to slide under the rug like the negativity surrounding crossbows by some.
Regardless of how you plan on hunting this season, be sure to introduce new people into hunting and help grow the sport and if you choose to use the airbow, be sure to share your success photos with us here at Wide Open Spaces.
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