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Chuck Belmore: How a Bowfishing Tournament Is Run

Chuck Belmore carp bowfishingI’m often asked about the biggest carp I’ve ever shot. The biggest common carp weighed 40 pounds that I shot in Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. The largest Bighead Carp I’ve ever shot weighed 70 pounds, and I took it on the Tennessee River in Kentucky. I’ve also shot a 77-pound grass carp and a 73-pound buffalo carp.

An average bowfishing tournament fields 60-80, four-man teams. But at a big bowfishing tournament, like the Bass Pro U.S. Open event, there were 200, four-man teams. I have to say that the number of people who show up for a tournament generally is due to where the tournament’s held.

Today fishing a bowfishing tournament requires four men per boat. Thirty years ago, bowfishing tournaments usually had two-man teams. Once fuel became more expensive, and people started traveling further distances to participate in a tournament, the tournaments began allowing three-person teams. Also this number of folks per boat helped up the purse of prize money bowfishermen could win. So, instead of two-man teams paying $25 each to participate in a bowfishing tournament with that money going into the prize pot, the prize money available then was $75 per team. However, when fuel went up to $4 per gallon, the tournaments allowed four men on a team to split expenses four ways and have more money in the pot.  

Usually the captain of the team is the competitor who owns the boat. Some of the most competitive teams will have four captains – with each owning his own boat – but fish with all four captains on one boat, so each captain can run the boat, as well as shoot the fish. That means that one person drives the boat, and three shooters are on the shooting deck. So, when someone shoots a fish and gets the fish off the end of his arrow, he can start driving the boat, and the previous captain moves up to the shooting deck. Then all four men have chances to drive the boat and shoot and have fun bowfishing.

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