As a young girl growing up in central Minnesota, my summers were usually spent down on the water. My younger brother and I did some fishing, but our primary focus was on bowfishing for carp. Not only is this a great way to stay strong and get excellent practice shooting, it’s also a lot of fun!
Over the years, one thing I’ve noticed that keeps people away from bowfishing is the gear. They’re just not sure if their regular hunting bow will work, what they need, or how they can practice. Hopefully this column will answer a few of those questions.
If you have a spare bow sitting around, then set it up for bowfishing and don’t try to make it serve double duty. If you don’t have this luxury, then you can swap out your gear, however, practice with bowfishing-specific accessories is essential.
Sure, you can practice when you get out on the water, and it’s not the end of the world if you miss, but I like to practice ahead of time to ensure all my gear is working correctly. First, I like to add a light to my bowsight pins so I can see them in the dark. (Bowfishing is super effective after dark!) The lights in the front of a bowfishing boat shine so you can see the fish, but I like to still use a pin on my setups.
Next, I remove my standard arrow rest and replace it with a large fish arrow type rest. Finally, I mount a reel on the side of my bow that holds the line that is connected to the fish arrow and fish broadhead. Another step you might consider is lowering the poundage of your bow to accommodate for a lot of shooting when on the water. Once all this is in line, it’s time to get out and practice.
In the past this has been difficult, but recently Rinehart came out with a submersible 3-D gar target (below). This works for both arrows and crossbow bolts, and allows you to practice shooting at various depths with their submersion kit. I took this target out to a local lake to test out my bowfishing setup before a big trip and really enjoyed the unconventional practice on the water.
Once you ensure all your gear is in working order, you’ll quickly learn that part of bowfishing is estimated the depth of the fish. The deeper the fish, the more refraction you face and the lower you need to aim. If you aim where the fish appears to be, then you’ll almost always shoot right over the top. With this 3-D gar, you can adjust the depths of your target so you can get an idea of how low to aim under different scenarios.
After your gear is in order, get out there and have some fun! Bowfishing is a great way to build up your muscles and keep you shooting a bow throughout the spring and summer.
Check out the video below to see how it’s done!
Video and images by Melissa Bachman