- Updated: 18 March 2012
- Published: 18 March 2012
- Hits: 548
Odds are that if you want to start a heated discussion in any of your clubs these days, all you have to say is one word: Crossbows. There are those that are passionate about them in every club and want to allow their use; and also those that are equally passionate about keeping them out. Both sides have legitimate points, so most of the time there never is a clear winner.
This isn’t anything new to our sport. At the risk of giving away my age, let me say that compound bows didn’t exist when I first took up archery and the sport of bowhunting; and I heard many of the same arguments that I’m hearing with the crossbow controversy today. Compounds were dangerous; they were too powerful for the target butts we were using and shouldn’t be permitted on the ranges; they shouldn’t be allowed to be used during the regular archery season (which was intended to be for primitive weapons) and would make it too easy to harvest deer, reducing their numbers. Nevertheless, compound bows didn’t go away and eventually became accepted (albeit grudgingly). At that time compound bows were only capable of 30% reduction in draw weight, so when archery manufacturers introduced bows with 50% let off, the controversy started again. When manufacturers pushed the envelope to 80% let off, Pope and Young refused to allow animals taken with bows that offered that much let off. We’ve had arguments about mechanical releases, lighted sight pins, expandable broadheads, and the list goes on. More often than not, when innovation comes to our sport, there are those that love it, those that hate it, and a new round of controversy starts anew.
So now we find ourselves discussing the merits and evils of crossbows. Let me say upfront that I don’t own a crossbow; in fact, I’ve never fired one, so I’m not a zealous advocate. However, it isn’t hard for a non-user like me to see that crossbow users are quickly becoming the fastest growing segment of new archers joining our ranks. This fact hasn’t been lost on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, who have made crossbows legal equipment for use during archery season. Neither has it been lost on the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, who has added teaching materials for crossbows to the International Bowhunter Education Program so that instructors can add them to the course curriculum. Having lived through many other such controversies in our sport, my assessment is that new innovations like those mentioned above never go away. It may take time, but eventually they do become accepted into our sport and life goes on. So, like them or not, crossbows are here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity and use over the next several years. This has led the Executive Board to open a dialog with our affiliated clubs - do you want the VBA to lead the way to accepting these new archers into our mist by creating shooting rules and styles for crossbows, so our clubs can welcome them as members? This is certainly within our Constitution, which calls on the VBA to “....foster, expand and perpetuate the use of the bow in hunting all legal game.” Moreover, if the VBA doesn’t accept this new generation of archers, will our rejection cause them to organize on their own, leading to a Virginia Crossbow Archers Association in the near future? In an era when our numbers are declining, the last thing we need is to alienate fellow archers and drive them from our ranks.
So, have your debates, form your club positions, and send your representative to the January VBA meeting with your club’s views. As always, the Executive Board looks forward to using your views to shape your Virginia Bowhunters Association.