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Chuck Belmore: Equipment for Bowfishing

Chuck Belmore has been bowfishing for the past 35 years as a tournament bowfisherman and a bowfishing guide. The Habit TV, his bowfishing show, has been on the Sportsman Channel for the last four years. This year the show is leaving the network and moving over to the Mossy Oak GO app, to reach more of a target. People can get the show on their phones, tablets, computers and any other devices with internet capability. 

bowfishing at night

I actually have two boats I use for bowfishing, because I need different tools to hunt fish in various types of water. I have a Tracker Grizzly 2072 bowfishing boat from Bass Pro Shops. We use this boat when we’re hunting longnose gar, alligator gar and invasive species of fish that are noise and light sensitive like the silver carp and the bighead carp. We also use an Elite airboat when we’re trying to shoot large numbers of fish like gar and common carp that hold in the shallow water. It also works well in saltwater marshes where the water may only be 6 to 8 inches deep. 

We run small Honda 3,000 watt generators to power the LED lights we have on the fronts and sides of our bowfishing boats. These lights are really bright and need far less electricity than the other lights we had on our boats 5 - 6 years ago. For that reason, we've been able to downsize our generators, which save on gasoline, and they make far less noise than our big generators did. They’re super quiet and really dependable, and we can get a lot of hours of bowfishing off one tank of gas. We use 14, 110-watt LED lights on the airboat and eight on the Tracker boat. We look like a small football field when we’re coming down a lake at night. 

We shoot only Oneida Eagle Bows, because the Osprey model is made specifically for bowfishing. All of these bows have stainless-steel components. So, the bows don’t rust, even though our bows constantly get soaking wet. 

We use Muzzy bowfishing heads (broadheads), because we believe they're made out of the toughest components in the world. We shoot our points and heads into rocks, weeds, wood and anything on the bottom. So, we have to have heads that are super tough with points that stay super sharp. A bowfishing broadhead is not like a broadhead you’d use to shoot a deer. You might arrow a deer with your hunting broadhead, and then throw that broadhead away. However, when we’re hunting fish, we may shoot 1,000 fish or more before we ever consider changing the broadhead. Muzzy also makes replaceable tips for our fish arrows. We use fiberglass arrows that are heavier than hunting arrows, whether the hunting arrow is aluminum or carbon. All your bowfishing equipment has to be more durable than your deer-hunting equipment, because you're getting a lot more shots on a bowfishing trip than on a deer-hunting trip. Shooting several hundred times a night is usually common, if you're in a good bowfishing area where there’s plenty of fish. 

We see more and more hunters and people coming into the sport of bowfishing for the first time. Age, size, strength and skill are not really required for bowfishing. Bowfishermen will set the poundage low on people’s bows and encourage our shooters to shoot at every fish they see that’s within range. They need to understand that they’re going to get a lot more misses than hits, but that’s what makes bowfishing a great family sport - especially for young people. Youngsters aren’t really wired for sitting still for long periods and perhaps not even seeing an animal. Youngsters like action. They want to shoot as much as they can. On a good bowfishing trip, a youngster either will shoot until he or she is tired or wants to take a nap or shoot until he can’t shoot anymore. On a family bowfishing trip, there’s a lot of laughing, giggling and high-fiving. I guess that’s the reason so many of us love the sport of bowfishing, and the reason that bowfishing is one of the fastest-growing archery sports.

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