Archery hunting used to be a simple sport.
A bow, strong and arrow.
But lately, traditional archery hunting — and I’m not talking about just recurves and longbows but compounds as well, has become diluted.
It’s become watered down and even compromised by gadgets and gear designed to make it easier to kill a deer.
The sad thing is, a lot of these “advancements” are given the archery label even though they have nothing to do with the true meaning of the sport.
Some of them are just plain dangerous, and dumb.
A few days ago a reader sent me an advertisement for an arrowhead that can be loaded with a .38 or .357 bullet, screwed onto an arrow and shot from a bow.
The ad touts the product as “bowhunting meets firearm stopping power” and states that it “delivers lethal force to the biggest hunting targets… hogs, bears, moose and more.”
They should’ve added more, as in they’re not legal in some states, Pennsylvania included, and they undermine what archery hunting is all about.
And, in my opinion, they’re very dangerous.
But first, the legalities. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the bullet arrowhead is considered an illegal “explosive” device and doesn’t meet the criteria for a legal broadhead for arrows and crossbow bolts. They can’t be used during the archery or rifle deer seasons.
The fact that such arrowheads are legal in some states is a total disregard for safety. Every archery hunter knows how a single limb can deflect an arrow in a totally different direction from its intended target. Imagine if that arrow was tipped with a bullet that would fire on the first thing it impacts.
Some may argue that if an arrow tipped with a regular broadhead glances off a limb it could be a safety issue.
But there’s a difference. That arrow still has a limited range and there’s no chance it will send a bullet flying to who knows where.
As far as undermining what archery hunting is all about, or at least should be, I asked Ed Krystofosky, who owns The Archery Zone in Larksville, if he heard of the bullet arrowhead.
He did, and Krystofosky didn’t mince words when sharing his thoughts.
“I think they’re stupid. They’re silly,” Krystofosky said. “I don’t see a purpose in them at all.”
Krystofosky, who is an archery purist and prefers to shoot a recurve bow, has seen all of the new archery gadgets to hit the shelves over the years. Some of the new stuff is good, he said, but more and more there are things coming out, like exploding, bullet-tipped arrowheads, that are doing more harm to the sport than good.
“It’s so people can make money and things like this go way beyond archery,” Krystofosky said of the bullet arrowhead. “Putting those two things together doesn’t make any sense at all. It has nothing to do with archery.”
When it comes to archery hunting gadgets, I think things have advanced to the point where the sport is “dumbed down.”
We’re past the point when new gear was introduced with the sole purpose of increasing the chances for a quick, humane kill. Today, a lot of items on the market aim to make shooting a bow so easy that the basic principles of archery — drawing back on the bow, judging distance, aiming and releasing the arrow doesn’t matter much anymore.
And now, worst of all, with the bullet arrowheads no longer is it that important to aim for the vitals. Just let the arrow fly and the bullet will do the rest.
That’s not archery hunting.