The problem with a lot of first-timers in the archery world is they end up using hand-me-down equipment.
This is because getting into bowhunting, or target shooting, can be an expensive endeavor. Most folks don’t want to plunk down serious cash for a new hobby that may not stick.
That makes sense, but it is also a great way to not enjoy the experience.
A bow has to work with an individual in fit and performance, and if it doesn’t, the whole process suffers. This goes for archery in all forms, but especially an overlooked category — bowfishing.
Skewering carp in beach weather while wading through the cattails is about as much fun as you can have with a bow, but using hand-me-down or ill-suited equipment for this task is no fun. It just isn’t.
It’s also not the best way to develop a hardcore addiction to bowfishing, which is entirely possible (and encouraged) provided you have decent spots and the right gear.
Here’s how to find both:
A cool thing about bowfishing is that most of us live near a body of water with a population of rough fish. Whether that might be ponds, streams, rivers or lakes, the places to find a good spot is likely.
If you don’t think so, consider this: I live in the Twin Cities and could bowfish a new spot every day for years and not burn out the best areas. Between lakes and multiple nearby rivers, I’ve got more carp, suckers and dogfish at my disposal than I could possibly need. Tucked between suburban developments and interstates are bowfishing meccas.
You might not have the same opportunities, but you can bet that there are options nearby.
This might be as simple as sitting on the bank along an interior river trying to catch a few redhorse suckers as they spawn, or maybe taking your boat out for a midday carp-shooting session. Either way, what matters is that you identify a few locations where you can legally and safely shoot a few fish. After that, it boils down to the right equipment.
Bows First, Everything Else Second
The thing about bowfishing bows is that they have to be designed for bowfishing. Your old compound hanging in the garage, or the recurve that your grandpa used to stump shoot with will work if you attach a bowfishing reel, but neither will work well.
A good bowfishing bow needs to have no let-off and sport the accessories necessary to allow you to shoot quickly and comfortably all day (or night).This is where options like the Hooligan from AMS Bowfishing deserve consideration.
When I started bowfishing as a teenager, I would have killed for the opportunity to use a rig that is so well-designed and thought out. With its dual-cam, no let-off design, the Hooligan is perfect for smooth drawing and snap-shooting.
It’s also built with the new RAP (Rapid Adjustment Posts) Cam System that means you can adjust it without needing a bow press, so it will comfortably fit just about any shooter.
This matters a lot. The Hooligan offers a draw weight range of 24 to 50 pounds, with a maximum draw length of 32 inches.
You can pick up just the bow, or opt for the Hooligan Kit. This comes with an AMS Retriever TNT reel, which may be the easiest to use and smoothest reel on the market. It’s built with function and safety in mind, which means bowfishers with varying skill levels can shoot away and not worry about line tangles or having to push a button before every shot.
The kit also includes an AMS Tidal Wave Arrow Rest, Orange String Things for perfect and comfortable finger placement, and a fiberglass arrow fitted with a Chaos FX Point. In other words, the Hooligan Kit contains everything you need to get on the water and start chasing scales, and it’s available in left- or right-handed options.
Familiar Fishing Rigs
While seasoned bowfishers would pick up the Hooligan and shoot it without even thinking, newbies might not be so comfortable. If that sounds like you, or someone you might introduce to bowfishing, consider taking your Hooligan to a nearby pond and spending a little time practicing.
This is a no-pressure situation where you can aim at a few lily pads and start to understand the function and feel of your bow.
Spending a little time doing this ramps up the comfort level, and will make things much easier when you’re watching a carp fin its way through the shallows looking for love or lunch.
At that point, with the right rig you’ll be ready to send some fiberglass into the water. And if your arrow finds its mark one time, the addiction will settle in and you’ll be filling barrels with your Hooligan before you know it, which is more fun than should be allowed.