USA Archery, the governing body that oversees the Olympic sport, reported that overall membership for its organization more than doubled from 2011 to 2013. Denise Parker, CEO of USA Archery, told NPR the 2012 movie “The Hunger Games” has been the catalyst in America’s new found interest in the sport. Hunters are also picking up on the phenomenon.
A 2012 poll taken by Field & Stream asked deer hunters about their preference when it comes to hunting with a gun or bow. Though more hunters reported exclusively using guns compared to bows, 37 percent of those who use both said they were more passionate about bow hunting. This is compared to 17 percent who said they were more passionate about gun hunting.
The choice inevitably comes down to personal preference. But here are a few things to consider to help you decide.
Training and Preparation
Most handguns and shotguns are relatively easy to learn how to load and fire. Shotguns are more powerful and have more recoil (kick), so it will take some extra time to master shooting them comfortably. Regardless, a gun is still a “ready, aim, fire” mechanism.
Whether you choose a traditional (recurve) or compound bow, a single shot requires several different muscles in your body working simultaneously and precisely. MyArcheryClasses.com points out 12 basic fundamentals to an archery shot. Drawing the string and anchoring are easily the two most important — and most difficult — steps to master. Your fingers, shoulders and elbows will be put in positions you are not accustomed to them being in. The release is also very important with a recurve bow, as you’ll need to learn to let your fingers relax to execute the shot, as opposed to consciously “pulling the trigger.”
Training your hunting dog will be different as well. A gun-shy dog (one that gets startled by the noise) will require extra training time. A bow is silent and thus eliminates that potential extra step. Using a training collar to reinforce commands can reduce overall training time for your dog, but training a gun-shy dog also requires patience and lots of practice
Buying your first gun, depending on where you get it, can feel like buying your first home due to all the paperwork and time it takes to complete the transaction. A bow requires no background check and the only paperwork you’ll need to fill out consists of warranties and other manufacturer requests. Also, bow hunting seasons are typically longer than their gun counterparts. Oklahoma, for instance, had deer hunting season with guns from November 23 to December 8 (about two weeks) last year. Deer hunting with bows, however, goes from October 1 to January 15.
There is really no clear winner when it comes to economics. A brand new Mossberg hunting rifle with a 3X9 scope, for instance, will cost around $350. Likewise, a PSE Stinger compound bow without a quiver or release will run you around $300. Regardless, it is much easier to purchase a used bow for a lower price than it is a used gun. There is also little-to-no paperwork necessary to transfer ownership.
Whatever route you choose to go, its always best to rent and test before you buy. Test out your potential gun or bow and ask questions before making a final decision.
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