Bow Hunting Vs Firearm Hunting
For those not clued in on the nuances of hunting for food or sport, it’s easy to group all hunting methods in the same category. Those more in the know understand it’s a lot more complicated than that and finding your preferred hunting gear is crucial for a successful expedition whatever time of year. Depending on the game, the terrain and location, and the length of your trip, there are pros and cons for both bow hunting and hunting with a firearm. With hunting season already upon us, here’s our definitive guide to bow hunting vs. firearm hunting and which one is the right method for you.
We’re not here to tell you that either bow hunting or firearm hunting is the best, but we can at least give you an idea of which way of hunting is the most suitable the next time you throw on your khakis, smear camo paint over your face, and plan on spending a weekend huddled in the bushes.
Weight – A hunting crossbow is lightweight, which makes it easier and more comfortable to carry on long treks and expeditions. Fatigue is a very real thing that many hunters, especially novice ones, can overlook too easily when making their plans, and the weight of a rifle or handgun plus ammunition plus any additional accessories like scopes, stabilizers, and more can weigh down your hunting backpack and hinder your focus and concentration. When hunting, this focus is crucial for safety and success, so being tired is the last thing you want.
Fair’s Fair – One of the biggest benefits hunters identify about a bow is that is levels the playing field. Because the bow is harder to master and not as effective as a bullet, it gives the animal the fairest chance of survival, which is what hunting should all be about.
Price – You can find a ready-made firearm hunting kit for around $1000 if you’re looking for a basic package, and these usually ideal for beginners. However, to get the same level of equipment with a bow, you’re looking at spending at least double, and that’s even for just a decent option without going even further into the hobby. You must think about bow maintenance, where to source arrows, and more, and while it may not seem too expensive at first glance, these costs will add up.
With hunting, it’s not good searching for a budget bow, as this won’t provide the performance necessary for a successful outing, so it’s best to look for premium options. If you’re on a budget, bow hunting may not be viable for you just yet.
Learning Curve – While most hunters are those who grew up with a firearm strapped to their onesie, bow hunting isn’t as popular, and you’re unlikely to find too many hunters who have used bows all their life. The time required to master bow hunting can frustrate you, and it is easy to get discouraged especially if you’re used to the sharp shooting you get from firearms.
Ease of Use – Simple and straightforward, a firearm is likely the more common tool of choice for hunters. It’s not as if just anyone can use it, and it still takes practice to get your form and technique right. However, there are many, many more opportunities to practice your firearm skills compared to using a bow, so even if you’re a total novice hunter, you can still get your training in more frequently.
Less Demanding – Bow hunting is hard, and for beginners, it’s easy to let your mind wander and spend hours wondering how the more experienced among your party manage it. Conversely, firearm hunting is nowhere near as physically demanding when compared to bow hunting, so if you don’t think you are both physically or mentally prepared for using a bow on your trek, it’s better to go with your rifle.
Volume – Even if you’ve never shot a gun before, you know they are loud, and silencers don’t work the same way you see in the movies or in video games, so don’t think you can overcome the noise level with such tools. For hunters, there are few worse things than tracking an animal for days only to lose it into the trees at the pivotal moment, so volume is a massive factor to think about.
Shorter Seasons – Even if you’re used to firearm hunting seasons and consider them to be the norm, when you realize bow hunting can be done for longer throughout the year, it makes you consider switching over. Shorter hunting seasons mean dealing with more people during a more concentrated period, and if you enjoy silence and emptiness on your hunts, a longer season could be ideal.
Somewhere In Between
As ever with hunting, you also need to consider the ethical implications of the sport. Often, people new to hunting (or those who just plain don’t understand hunting altogether) will bray about the potential suffering of the animal, and sometimes they are correct.
There are arguments for both firearms and arrows being the more ethical methods to hunt with and each can be said to minimize the suffering of the animal, but this only comes down to the skill of the shot.
Experienced hunters with an accurate shot understand it doesn’t matter whether you use a bow or a firearm, if you get the shot right, the animal shouldn’t suffer.
So Which Is Better?
You could ask a thousand hunters a thousand times and each time you’d get different answers. There are some hunters who swear by bow hunting, while there are others who swear by using a firearm.
The fact is, it’s entirely up to you which option you go for. You may want to stick to what you know, but after reading this you may also consider trying something new. Hooray for self-improvement.
Whether you pick out a bow or firearm for your next hunting expedition, it’s important to remember to hunt with respect and consideration. Any time you pick up a weapon, you are responsible for its usage, so take care when handling it to ensure you only aim at what you mean to shoot at.