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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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August 01, 2017

BOWFISHING ON A BUDGET: For Beginners & Beyond ~ Part I of IV: Bows & Draw Weights

by Bob Banfelder

After many years as a fisherman and hunter, I had bowfishing on the brain and on my bucket list. I thought why not combine my two beloved sports, fishing and hunting? I have maintained the tradition of hunting white-tailed deer with a slug gun while growing up in New Jersey, later on Long Island as well as in Central New York. I have also hunted whitetails with a compound bow for many a moon, most recently with a handgun. Of late, I have my sights lined up for hunting both small and big game with a crossbow come fall. During this spring/summer interim, I've delved into bowfishing, which can prove rather frustrating for folks new to the game, not only in terms of the hunt, but in selecting gear as well. Referencing equipment, it was an easy and inexpensive transition for me because I had a couple of vintage Stemmler 45–60 draw-weight compound bows collecting dust from days of old. Realizing that compound bows, both old and new, are predrilled to accept virtually any type of bowfishing reel, it seemed the natural way to proceed, and indeed it was.

Vintage Stemmler compound bow initially used for deer hunting, converted to a bowfishing setup ~ Muzzy Mantis arrow rest ~ Muzzy (new for 2017) bracketed model #1069 XD Pro bowfishing spin-style reel ~ simple tools for conversion ~ Muzzy Classic Bowfishing Arrow with AMS safety slide.

Vintage Stemmler compound/recurve bow also initially used for deer hunting, converted to a bowfishing setup ~ Muzzy Mantis arrow rest ~ Muzzy (new for 2017) bracketed model #1069 XD Pro bowfishing spin-style reel ~ simple tools for conversion ~ Muzzy Classic Bowfishing Arrow with AMS safety slide.

First, a bit of background information in addition to savvy advice regarding draw weights as they pertain to bowfishing in general. You do not need a 60–70 pound draw-weight bow to impale a scale for carp, which is the species that we are limited to legally shoot in our local New York State waters. A 40-pound draw weight would be perfect. Back in the day, I could easily handle a 70-pound draw weight compound bow for deer hunting, so I ultimately upgraded from those 45–60 Stemmlers to a more modern Mathews 70-pound draw weight SoloCam compound bow before eventually downsizing to a much lighter Mathews 50-pound draw-weight Z7 Magnum SoloCam compound because age was creeping up on me.

Regarding those dated yet venerable Stemmler compound bows, they would prove sufficient for bowfishing because I could back them down 10 to 15 pounds if desired. They worked well. But compound bows, with their cams and wheels, become messy as they tend to collect mud, blood, fish guts, vegetation and such. I thought about and thoroughly researched traditional recurve bows designed specifically for bowfishing. No cams and/or wheels to act like a magnet for attracting a virtual mess. Keep in mind that a good many traditional recurve bows do not have predrilled inserts (bushings) installed to accommodate bow-reel seats or integrated bow-reel brackets. Hence, a specifically designed bow for bowfishing would be the answer. But what bow and what reel would serve my needs? I wanted to keep things simple, so simple is the route I took. Simple as well as inexpensive. I had done my homework.

Unless you are going after gators or game with scales referencing the size of arapaima (world's largest freshwater fish), the Muzzy Addict takedown recurve bowfishing setup is the best bet for a beginner. As a matter of fact, it will serve admirably as your mainstay weapon for local waters, both fresh or salty, as I target practice on a partially submerged plastic container in the suds. I leave my takedown bow permanently set up, meaning its limbs and reel remain attached to the riser. This way, I can string the bow and be ready at a moment's notice.

While we're at this juncture, I'd like to point out that stringing a recurve bow without the aid of a bow stringer is not wise, especially when you get up into the 40-pound-plus draw-weight category. Why? The answer is because you will be putting undue stress on the limbs in the wrong direction, and they will eventually warp over time from twisting when using the step-through method of stringing a bow, particularly those limbs and tips comprised of a laminated wood material. Also, employing the push-pull method with a bow of a heavier draw weight requires a good deal of strength to put the limbs under tension. Too, the position of the limb's tip against your foot, near or on the ground, invites trouble. Slip and you've at the very least marred the tip. In a hurry to string their bows, I have witnessed folks smack themselves in the head or damage a limb tip. A bow stringer is easy to use and the safest way to string and unstring your bow. One of the best stringers I found is the new adjustable limb-saver recurve bow stringer from Selway Archery, Inc. Easy to use and comes with simple instructions. Cheap insurance for around $12.

Selway Archery, Inc. Limb-Saver Recurve Bow Stringer

Tomorrow we'll take a close look at two Muzzy bowfishing reels designed for the Muzzy Addict takedown bow. Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host: Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Several of My Crime-Thrillers Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top Row ~ Left to Right:

The Richard Geist Trilogy

Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate

The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series
The Author
The Teacher
The Good Samaritans

Middle Row:
Trace Evidence – inspired by the Robert Shulman serial killer trial in Riverhead, N.Y.

Battered – based on the true story of an abused woman who murdered her husband; also, her subsequent trial and experiences in prison

Bottom Row: Nonfiction
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Must-Have Guide for Writers

Now available on Amazon

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