Airbows promise new discussion on hunting equipment

hunter with gun

The next buzzword is “airbow,” the name given to describe the latest innovation in shooting equipment, and a name sure to bring out controversial conversation from proponents and supporters of this space-age machine that flings a traditional arrow at mock speeds.

New term. Emerging from the minds and workshops of some very clever innovators, the term airbow describes a compressed air-powered, rifle-looking, ergonomically-designed, arrow-shooting, mix of materials that looks somewhat like a crossbow minus the bow, and somewhat like a rifle minus the bullet.

Picture this: The owner of an airbow, can shoot his or her new hunting weapon with out-of-the-bow accuracy unheard of. The arrow, just one at a time, please, will get to the target at speeds of 450 feet per second (or more), with little or no noise attached, and with hardly any need to practice.

According to TV famous hunter Jim Shockey, first generation airbows took five years to develop and they represent in his words, a revolutionary hunting weapon. Already several manufactures — all well-known airgun makers — are building airbows.

With one almost effortless pump, an airgun is ready. Slip a traditional arrow down it is armed and trigger ready.

Say “airbow” and be prepared to shell out the best part of grand.

Now read on. At the request of its members and representatives of state wildlife agencies, the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Board of Directors has released a position statement concerning airbows.

The statement was drafted immediately following the organization’s summer board meeting in Washington, D.C., July 11-12. The ATA’s full position statement on airbows is below:

The ATA was asked by its members and representatives of state wildlife agencies for its opinion regarding whether airbows constitute archery equipment. While the ATA certainly recognizes the airbow to be an innovative piece of shooting equipment, the airbow nevertheless lacks basic components of standard archery equipment (e.g., a string system and limbs).

For this reason, the ATA does not consider airbows to be archery equipment. In addition, the airbow (unlike archery equipment) is not subject to federal excise tax, the basic funding mechanism for state wildlife agency activities, which means no portion of the proceeds from airbow purchases contribute to the state wildlife conservation activities supported by Pittman Robertson funds — at least not to the ATA’s knowledge.

As a consequence, airbows do not appear to be treated as archery equipment by the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Currently, state wildlife agencies are considering if airbows should be included in hunting seasons and, if so, the seasons in which airbows belong. In general, the ATA leaves the hunting seasons and regulations governing the use of hunting equipment to each state’s wildlife agency and its hunters.

Yet ATA also strongly supports the long-standing traditions of fair-chase hunting and equal opportunity for all hunters.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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