Tag Archives: Bowhunting

Wow! Most Accurate Crossbow Ever!

I just got an ad from the Bowhunters Superstore for “The most accurate long-range CROSSBOW. EVER.” Apparently their excitement caused them to lose control over their type case and punctuation, but I guess we can forgive them for that.

So, what about this beast?

The Vapor RS470 from TenPoint Archery is an impressive piece of kit, I think. The ad focused almost entirely upon the telescopic sight that comes with the bow and says very little about the bow itself. They did, however, supply the MSLP, which is a whopping US $3,999.99. I wonder if anyone will be fooled by that “one penny under” pricing and think this is a $3000 bow.

Now, as to its claim as the “most accurate ever,” well that is bunk of course. Bows do not supply accuracy . . . archers do. Bows are not accurate . . . archers are. Bows supply one thing primarily and that is a consistent launch speed for an arrow or bolt. If you point it in the wrong direction, you miss.

There are many legitimate reasons for shooting a crossbow, but when you take a crossbow to this stage, by including a “wonder scope” with a built in rangefinder, it makes this an experience closer to shooting with a rifle (or a computer-aided missile system, maybe).

When hunting with a bow, part of the appeal is supplying the energy of the projectile as opposed to letting gunpowder do that when rifle or pistol hunting. You draw the bow, loading it with potential energy and then release the arrow providing it with kinetic energy. There are limits to how much energy you can store in a bow. (I once tried to draw a 100# longbow and it felt like trying to pull on a piano string.) Since “fast” crossbows are now drawn with aids that have cranking devices or which allow you to pull with both arms, it is hardly an intimate process as standard bowhunting is.

And for US $4000 you can buy a very nice rifle.

Addendum Woo hoo, I just found that you can get them discounted to US $2,999.99! Again, I wonder if anyone will be fooled by that “one penny under” pricing and think this is a $2000 bow.

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Compound v. Recurve Bows for Hunting

I was perusing an online article entitled “A Primer on Bowhunting.” By and large it was quite good but under the topic of bow selection I encountered the following:

“For the purpose of the rest of this article, let’s assume you’re in the market for a compound bow (which is highly recommended for a new bowhunter). The advantages are numerous, but the main ones are:
• increased effective range (usually 50+ yards)
• more accurate
• easier to hold in the drawn position (giving you time to wait for the perfect shot)
• faster arrow speeds/greater kinetic energy (resulting in a quicker and more ethical kill)”

Allow me to address the bullet points, point-by-point.

  • increased effective range (usually 50+ yards)
    Uh, most deer are taken within 25 yards, for example, so this is possibly a detriment. If a hunter thinks he is dead on accurate out to 50 yards, he may actually be enticed to take such longer shots. The problem here is the feeling of “dead on accurate” usual comes from experience at practice on an archery range, free of obstacles. In the field, however, there are branches in the way as well as other obstacles (cramped stances or no stance at all, etc.), and the farther away the game is the more time they have to react to a sound from the hunter (look up “jumping the string” for examples).
  • more accurate
    Uh, just no. The bow affects consistency, but not accuracy. Accuracy falls strictly under the archer’s responsibility. While there are aspects of bow design that do affect accuracy somewhat, it is up to the archer to use any advantage in every case.
  • easier to hold in the drawn position (giving you time to wait for the perfect shot)
    This is the primary, #1, bestest, mostest advantage of a compound bow. Because of designed in “letoff” the draw force at full draw is a small fraction of the peak draw force. Bow designs typically remove 65% to 80% of the peak draw force, often leaving less than 20 pounds of force to be held at full draw. More time means more time to aim. Recurve bows and longbows reach their peak weights at full draw and aren’t going to be held long because of that.
  • faster arrow speeds/greater kinetic energy (resulting in a quicker and more ethical kill)”
    Again, uh, . . . no. Arrows kill by cutting blood vessels that result in the animal bleeding to death. Ethical bowhunting requires the hunter to aim for the largest blood vessels, using an arrow fitted with a “broad head” which is not only broad but is very, very sharp. Larry Wise once calculated what arrow speeds were necessary to inflict lethal penetration on a deer and it came out to about 240 feet per second (fps) for a typical hunting arrow. Compound hunting bows are now promising arrow speeds of 300 fps to 350 fps. Higher arrow speeds result in what are called “pass throughs” that is the arrow penetrates the prey’s body and comes out the other side. Arrows that have left the body of the animal do no further damage, so are not any more lethal than slower arrows. (It is different for rifle hunters as faster bullets carry more energy (just as faster arrows do) but bullets kill through shock, not blood loss from severed blood vessels and there is less “drop” so longer rage shooting become easier.)

I am not a hunter. I gave up hunting when I was 18 and hunting squirrels. But I have been around hunters my whole life and I listen to them and read what they have written (a good book to educate yourself is Timeless Bowhunting by Roy S. Marlow). This allows me to work with bowhunters who are seeking archery advice and also for being able to communicate with target archers who also bow hunt.

 

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Why are Target Archers Served So Poorly?

In 2012 the Archery Trade Association (ATA) sponsored a landmark survey of archery participation in the U.S. People in all 50 states, thousands of them, were surveyed via telephone as to archery and their participation in the sport. Last year they repeated the survey, somewhat expanded, and discovered a quite large increase in participation, which is probably no surprise to archery coaches. The new survey estimates the total number of adult archers in the U.S. at 21.6 million adults (plus uncounted scads of youths!).

The ATA for quite some time has been little more than a bowhunting marketing organization, so it is not surprising to see the report pull out a bullet point that “A little more than half of all (adult) archery participants in the U.S. (55%) bow hunt.” (p8) They got that result by summing the segments labeled “Bowhunting but not target archery” and “Target archery and bow hunting.” They did not, however, pull out a bullet point that could have said “More than three quarters of all adult archery participants in the U.S. (81%) participate in target archery.” I got that by summing the “Target archery and bow hunting” segment and the “Target archery but not bowhunting” segment. Possibly saying that there are more adult archers participating in target archery than bowhunting doesn’t fit their usual narrative. When you add in the fact that it is highly likely that the millions of youths participating in archery are way more likely to be target archers than anything else, the size of the “target archery market” is substantially bigger than the size of the “bowhunting market” when you consider just archery equipment (bows, arrows, sights, etc.)

The size of the ‘target archery market’ is substantially bigger than the size of the ‘bowhunting market’ when you consider just archery equipment (bows, arrows, sights, etc.)”

Way more than a few archery manufacturers sneer at target archery as the unprofitable weak sister of bow hunting. This is regrettable because when you look at look at the prices for target gear and compare them with hunting gear, the target gear tends to be more expensive, which means if you are selling to a dedicated target archer, vs. a dedicate bow hunter, you are looking at greater sales, not less. My estimation is that target archers spend more on archery equipment than do bowhunters. Bowhunters spend a lot more on their “bowhunting” but much of that is on ATVs, tree stands, travel, lodging, deer tags, licenses, camping gear, camo clothing, tracking cameras, etc. etc. things that manufacturers of bows and arrows do not make.

So, why the negative attitude toward target archers? If you look at sales of target equipment, they pale in comparison to the hunting gear. Why is this? There are more target archers than bow hunters. They are willing to spend more on archery equipment. So, why are sales so poor?

Could it be that target archers can’t find things to buy? Even in archery “pro shops” it is often the case that target equipment is either not to be found or very, very limited in scope. Those same shops also do not seem to have target archery specialists to help with buying decisions.

So, now that the Archery Trade Association has shown … twice … that the number of target archers is very, very much larger than anyone thought, where are the programs and outlets to market goods to target archers? Why aren’t the bow and arrow manufacturers pressuring the ATA to expand marketing to this previously unnoticed huge market? Is it because a manufacturer of broadheads, used only by hunters, have as much clout as an arrow manufacturer? Why are target archers not served better than they are? Why?

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