Crossbow Hunting

One issue happening, probably below the radar for most gun blogs, is the controversy going on right now in Pennsylvania over crossbow hunting.  Many bow hunters are angry at NRA for their support of crossbow hunting in Pennsylvania, which was recently approved by the Game Commission over the objections of United Bow Hunters of Pennsylvania.

I question whether this was an issue NRA should have been involved in, but I think more from a “is it worth the trouble” perspective, rather than because I agree with the bow hunters.   Hunting is in decline.  By many measures, this decline is serious, and is only going to get worse as more hunters die off, or get too old to go afield.  Opportunities for hunting are dwindling.  Anything that opens up more opportunities to get more people into the sport is ultimately beneficial to both the hunting and shooting communities.

The Humane Society of the United States will relentlessly dog hunters until they ban hunting in this country, one species at a time.  They’ve already had success ending dove hunting in Michigan, and we all know about the bear hunts in New Jersey.  They were also instrumental in the California lead ammunition ban, and are supporting a nationwide ban on lead ammunition.  These people are good at what they do, and they are organized and well funded.  In a lot of ways, they make the Brady Campaign look like pikers in comparison.

If hunters want to commit slow motion political suicide by supporting policies that restrict access to their sport, and ultimately reduce their numbers, and their political power right along with it, I’m not sure NRA really ought to stop them.  Perhaps it’s not worth the grief.  But both hunters and shooters will suffer if hunting disappears in North America.  Hunters should get behind anything that expands opportunties for hunting.  Bow hunters are being dangerously short sighted on the crossbow issue.

8 thoughts on “Crossbow Hunting”

  1. That’s the case in most states, I’m pretty sure, and was in Pennsylvania before this change. But think about states like New Jersey, or even California, where they’ve made it a total pain in the ass to hunt with a firearm. If Crossbow hunting can get some people back into the game, without having to deal with all the licensing and stupid regulations that are required to own a firearm in states like California, New Jersey, New York, or Massachusetts.

    Granted, we don’t have that problem in Pennsylvania, but I get the sense that the bow hunters would oppose any crossbow hunting, except by disabled hunters.

  2. While I’m not a hunter, and I agree with you that the bow hunters should accept any growth into their sport, I disagree with you that the NRA doesn’t really have any stake in this issue. Like it or not, hunters are a large faction of both the gun-owners demographic and the sportsmen demographic. I’m of the opinion that a rising tide floats all boats, so the loss of hunters may hurt non-hunting gun owners as well. And yes, I’m aware that many hunters are not supportive of the way many of us view gun rights.

  3. Variable:

    I didn’t argue NRA didn’t have a stake in it, which is why they are involved. But I do question whether this issue, which promotes bad feelings of certain segments of the hunting community toward NRA, is smart to undertake in this dangerous political climate. Philosophically, I agree with NRA, but I think the timing of this is bad. It should have been left for a year when we weren’t looking down the barrel of a gun.

  4. I have to say, I was completely ignorant of any acrimony toward crossbow hunting from the bowhunting community. However, in my efforts to better understand the hunting side of the firearms family, I discovered that there is a rather large rift between bowhunters and crossbow hunters. The size of the rift, and the intensity of the rhetoric, was something that took me completely by surprise.

    It would behoove bowhunters to take a step back and see the bigger picture, from where I sit, but that seems about as likely as peace in the Middle East based on the entrenchment mentality that I have seen so far.

  5. Bowhunters that are opposed to crossbows remind me of the ilk that will support gun bans that do not involve double barreled shotguns.

  6. The only time a bowhunter sees reason on this issue is when the bowhunter in question becomes handicapped.

    Just my experience as a partially handicapped ( left elbow damaged ) crossbow hunter in WA.

  7. I think that crossbows will be legal to be used by able-bodied hunters for deer hunting in New Jersey at the beginning of the 2009 – 2010 season.

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