I know that I’m a little late on writing about the topic of regulation changes in regard to archery, but trust me, it was not of my doing. Last year, a proposal was sent out to comment on the idea to ban scopes on crossbows. I, as well as others, obviously commented on this idea, making the point that it was not acceptable.
The goal in a regulation change is to meet certain elements or criteria. One is to make hunting more acceptable to the public image. Another is to make hunting more ethical.
In my opinion, the idea to ban scopes on crossbows did not meet these criteria. I know that most customers that purchase a crossbow are people over the age of 40 who do not have the best eyesight to be shooting with open sights. Also, the degree of accuracy and ethics related to hitting your target are compromised without a scope.
As much as we bowhunters may not consider crossbows a part of archery, I believe there is a place for crossbows. I sell a lot to people who have had either shoulder issues or, for the most part, it is hunters who want to extend their season, and what’s wrong with that? I would rather see a hunter pick up a crossbow than a recurve, or even a compound bow, with limited time on the bow and head out, untrained, the next day hunting with a tool that takes a fair amount of training to be proficient enough to be an ethical bowhunter. Do you know how many people I see the week before bow hunting season who have bought a bow at a pawn shop that, first of all, doesn’t fit, and it’s usually over 20 years old, it’s over their weight capacity to pull and, most importantly, they do not know how to use it properly, just one week before the season opens. Then they want the least expensive arrows that I have, and, in most cases, we know they are just out there winging arrows, hoping one is going to hit something.
At least with a crossbow, they can become proficient within an hour or so of shooting; they are far more ethical than the type of shooter I just spoke of.
The other huge factor is crossbows can be used with a lean to steady the bow. With regular bows, we never get to lean. I would say a person with a crossbow and using a lean would outshoot most bowhunters with a lot of shooting experience. However, if you take a crossbow shooter shooting free hand against a compound bow shooter, I would put my money on the bow shooter. Why? Because we practice a lot. We do not shoot bows for the extended season, but for the passion we have for shooting bows, and we practice in the off season as most true bowhunters shoot year-round. Most bowhunters shoot 3D tournaments to learn the art of judging distance; we do not see enough crossbow hunters at the 3D shoots, so that is a skill they do not learn like we do.
We always encourage crossbow hunters to purchase a rangefinder with arc compensation, because we know that making the shot is half skill in shooting, the other half in judging the proper distance.
The reason to want to ban scopes was to keep archery primitive; however, ethics and accuracy trump that thought pretty quickly, in my opinion. I think a better way to look at that topic would be to keep crossbows to under 400 feet per second in BC. It’s the speeds that crossbows are achieving, in my opinion, which is what is making them not primitive anymore. In BC, where we are hunting mostly in thick bush, we do not get an opportunity to shoot beyond 60 yards, so why buy a crossbow that can shoot 100 yards like the bows that are over 400 feet per second? I believe there is a place for those bows and that is Saskatchewan and Alberta where there are fewer trees to hide behind to get within 80 yards before the animals bolt.
So as far as crossbow scopes, I am happy they are still allowed in BC, that better judgment has prevailed.
A topic I have thrown out there before is whether we would like a competency test for archery. I believe everyone that wants to hunt with a bow should pass this test, whether you shoot a crossbow or a recurve or a longbow or a compound bow. In order to hunt with it, you should be able to simply shoot three out of five shots within an eight ring or better on a target at 20 yards. Other countries have this type of criteria to hunt with bows. This would stop the one-timers who are not serious about archery and would force people to practice a bit at least to qualify before they can go out and try and take the life of an animal. It would also fall within the guidelines of why we suggest a rule change in the hunting regulations, which is to make archery have a better image in the public eye, and it would make people more accurate and ethical as hunters. It would be easy enough to administer by having ranges train people to put on those tests and stamp your licence once you have met that requirement and could be done at your local fish and game clubs or at shops like ours with ranges. Just as I had to take a course and test to get to drive my motorhome, I had to get an air brake licence and I hated it the whole time, but in the end I was glad because I learned a lot and realized it’s the right thing to do, so would a test for archery hunting.
I have struggled with bringing this up because I hate more regulation in our lives, but it’s simply being proactive and making good changes before losing rights. Then if we did this as archers, we might ask that one day we get our late mule deer season opened up again. In fact, I and many others would like to see a proposal to open the late mule deer season again for bows and stop the any mule deer buck season in October. If we really want to help reduce mule deer mortality, I think we hunters should stop that season in October and keep it four-point or better, but allow bows again from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10. We know that bowhunters take something like six per cent of kills in BC for mule deer, but I am sure gun season and any buck in October would be well above those numbers.
If you agree with me, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, as I would like to propose that if I see enough support.