image
Chris French
Mike Roberts

The sign of the crossbow

“Crossbows? They’re too modern! They’re too powerful! They’re a poacher’s weapon! They shoot like a rifle!”

And the list goes on and on and on.

“Crossbow?” At one time, in some places, just the word “crossbow” was enough to start a barrage of vocal arguments both for and against the use of such a “modern” implement for the taking of wild game in the United States and, especially, in New York State and yes, even here in Connecticut.

As for being “modern,” it’s hard to believe that a weapon believed to have been invented in China during the fifth century BC is modern, but then isn’t it the Chinese who invented gunpowder?

Those opposed to crossbows are mainly bowhunters who feared that the use of a crossbow would allow many hunters who were not archers to enter the woods during the archery seasons because of the crossbow’s design.

Basically, the crossbow uses a shorter arrow (called a bolt) than a regular bow, and the bow is like an undersized bow that is mounted horizontally on the end of what many would interpret to be a modified firearm stock. With today’s technology, most of the stocks are made from space-age materials and come in many shapes and forms, but are similar to a firearm stock.

Before I go any further, I should tell you that I have been a bowhunter since Connecticut had an open season to hunt deer on state lands. I started with Fred Bear recurve bow and then graduated to a Fred Bear Whitetail compound bow that featured wheels and cables almost like a crossbow, but the bow is vertical, not horizontal.

I really enjoy times spent in the woods hunting whitetail with a bow and arrow. Yes, I realize that there is also an anti segment who frown on this type of hunting and have done their best to see it outlawed. However, it boggles the mind to even think of the catastrophic impact this would have on wildlife numbers if they were to succeed.

Like I said, I enjoy the times that I am in the woods bowhunting, and even though I was using what some archery enthusiasts demand that hunting archers use ( a hand-drawn bow) I had no objections to the use of a crossbow by anyone that used one.

At one time I belonged to a New York bowhunting organization vehemently against anyone using a crossbow to hunt deer in New York State. This included many physically impaired hunters. (In Connecticut, physically handicapped archers can use a crossbow if they get a doctor’s certificate stating they should be using a crossbow.)

I once asked a New York Conservation Officer what type of physical impairment was required for a person to legally use a crossbow in that state. His statement that, basically, they almost had to be wheelchair bound left me speechless.

I then wrote a letter to the New York Bowhunters telling them that we had to get new people into the sport of hunting, not keep them out because they were against crossbows. My letter fell on deaf ears. I then relinquished my membership in that organization because of their stand against crossbows.

Many people are under the impression that the crossbow is a “super weapon” that should be classified in the same category as a firearm. Many are under the impression that a crossbow user can shoot an arrow all kinds of distances because of the design, plus the fact that many of them also have a scope sight makes them even more firearm like in their mindset.

While they do release an arrow with a great deal of kinetic energy, the released arrow will drop much sooner than an arrow fired from a compound bow. I personally witnessed this at a St. Jude 3-D archery shoot at the New Haven Raccoon Club one day. They had a novelty shoot at a target out over 85 yards across a pond. We were able to witness the flight of the shooter’s arrows and the crossbow arrow lost its power way before those of the compound bow shooters.

On the plus side, a crossbow used legally and ethically can be a great implement in the management of overpopulating deer herds that abound in Connecticut. Used at the proper shooting distance, they can be deadly and accurate, resulting in clean and humane harvests, and isn’t this what hunting is all about?

Guess what? I now own and use a crossbow for hunting in Connecticut. I got my crossbow certification just before they became a hunting weapon that everyone could use.

I have quite a bit of arthritis in this old 77-year-old body and it was evident that my bowhunting days would soon be over if I was not allowed to hunt with a crossbow. The year after I got my crossbow certification they became legal for all hunters in Connecticut, BUT you still must be bowhunter qualified. In other words, you still have to take an archery safety course and get a bowhunting safety certificate to hunt with a crossbow, and this is the way it should be.

A couple of weeks ago, two Connecticut firearms and bowhunting safety instructors, Pete Arrigoni and Jim Dobensky, both of Meriden, hosted a crossbow seminar put on by Ten Point Crossbow Technologies. Representing Ten Point were two ladies, Barb Terry, a 20-year military veteran, and Kim Metheny, a Hunting Safety Instructor in both firearms and archery. What a 10-star presentation they gave. Terry was the main speaker, but Metheny is also an accomplished crossbow hunter in her own right and, believe me when I tell you, they do know what they are talking about.

The crossbow topics covered the gamut, including:

• Why should I choose a crossbow?

• What is a crossbow?

• Selection, maintenance and range of a crossbow.

• Parts of a crossbow as well as a recurve and compound.

• Sighting system.

• Crossbow arrows.

• Cocking aids.

• Cocking the crossbow.

• Safety and hunting techniques.

The reasons to use a crossbow are many. They are user friendly. They enable youth, women and physically challenged individuals to enjoy archery hunting/shooting when, for whatever reason, they cannot draw a conventional bow back.

Terry told us crossbows date back to the Stone Age and were used in medieval times until overshadowed by firearms in the 1500s.

Terry went on to say, “Modern crossbows use limbs, either recurve or compound, and propel an arrow just like a vertical bow. The limbs are mounted horizontally on a stock, which contains a trigger assembly, arrow groove, stirrup and sight. Although crossbows resemble firearms at a glance, they are still a short-range hunting tool. The high draw-weights for hunting are necessary to compensate for the short power stroke which provides trajectory and hitting power similar to all other vertical archery equipment.”

Advantages of a crossbow include the fact they are easier to master and obtain consistent accuracy for hunting than a vertical bow. When it is cocked, it is ready to shoot and, when hunting in cold weather, you can wear bulky clothing without impeding its use.

On the down side, crossbows tend to be noisier than vertical archery equipment, and with horizontal limbs you need to be more aware of objects to your left and right sides. Also, crossbows are heavier than vertical bows.

Terry concluded, “Crossbows require more maintenance, but it is a superb hunting tool at ranges of 40 yards or less, and practicing with your hunting arrows is important just as in vertical archery. Remember, learn to judge distance and what happens to your arrows at different yardages.”

Barb Terry and Kim Metheny journeyed from Ohio to Meriden for their excellent crossbow seminar. It was a real eye-opener. Thanks, ladies, and also thanks to Pete Arrigoni, Jim Dobensky and the Meriden Rod & Gun Club, where the seminar was held.

FISHING THE QUINNIPIAC

A lot of folks who know him may not know it, but Rick Tompkins of the Sans Souci Restaurant & Lounge up on the Berlin Turnpike is a hardcore fisherman.

Rick tells me he was fishing the Quinnipiac River recently when he hooked and landed a nice rainbow trout that measured over 16 inches. I’ve known Rick for a number of years now and we trade fishing yarns whenever we meet.

Another Quinnipiac River fisherman, Tom “Farmer” Barry, has been having phenomenal luck on the Quinnipiac River catching trout on just about every trip to the river. Barry has always had a love for the Quinnipiac River and the trout fishing it has to offer. Tom said he usually hits the river early in the morning. Last week there must have been a hatch of insects on the river because the water was boiling with trout hitting the surface of the water.

Tom said, “The amazing thing about my fishing trips to the Quinnipiac River is the fact that I’m the only one on the river. I can’t believe there is no one else fishing the river, especially the fly fishermen. They all travel to the Salmon River or the Farmington, and the Quinnipiac is jumping with trout with no one there to catch them.”

Well, maybe after today Tom. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving.



Back to Sports || Back To Top

Latest Comments