History Compound Bow
Hunting with a bow and arrow dates all the way back to prehistoric times. Archaeological evidence indicates that hunting animals with a bow and arrows began 25,000 years ago. As was the case with the discovery and application of fire and the wheel, this weapon stimulated human progress. Bow and arrow hunting has been and continues to be popular on virtually all continents.
During the Middle Ages, this common weapon was elevated to a powerful weapon of war, with the militia deciding battles. Consider the battle of Agincourt (1415), in which a French knight army was defeated by a smaller English army dominated by archers.
The bow became extinct with the invention of gunpowder and remained so until the early 1900s. In the United States of America, a chance meeting between a dedicated hunter and a native American Indian named Ishi resulted in the modern bow hunt’s inception.
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Since then, bow hunting has become indispensable in the United States, and an increasing number of countries are following suit. Wisconsin’s first bow hunting season began in 1936. Yugoslavia was the first western nation to follow, followed by Denmark and others. At this point, the list has become quite lengthy. France is the market leader and the country par excellence for bow hunting in Europe. As a result, many of their compatriots regard France as the perfect country in which to pursue their passion. In 1995, France legalised bow hunting at the behest of hunters who had already been hunting with bows and arrows without proper legislation.
Bowhunting laws in France are evolving as a result of technological advancements. Wildlife conservation is also making its way into several instances of bowhunting. Another advantage of the bow search is that it causes much less disturbance to the biotope. A bowhunter is almost completely silent, and the effective range of a hunting arrow is less than 50m; this makes bow hunting ideal for hunting or combat in heavily populated areas and recreational zones.
All information about bow hunting in Europe, including the countries where it is permitted, as well as an additional explanation about legislation and implementation, can be found on the European Bowhunting Federation’s (EBF) website, which also includes a separate map of Europe with the current status of bowhunting.
All game is ideal for bow hunting, which means that any form of hunting can be conducted safely with a bow and arrow. Bowhunters are put in the drift, specifically in treestands 3-7 meters above the ground, and shoot game that slips through the net mesh during the drift search. Bergen or lure hunting are also excellent options for bowhunters, but they require a high level of familiarity with the game and landscape, as the average shot distance is several times shorter than that of a rifle. According to an American study in which each bow hunter was required to fill out a data card when stretching game with the bow, the average shot distance was 16 yards on an annual basis (just under 15m). This demonstrates one of the primary distinctions between the bullet and the arrow: a bow hunter must not only be a skilled shooter, but also approach his prey far closer than a gun hunter does. And it is precisely in this increased complexity that many people find bow hunting challenging.
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Another significant distinction is the manner in which a hunting arrow fitted with a hunting point dispatches the animal. In most situations, a hunting arrow will fully pierce the animal, even though its kinetic energy is several times smaller than that of a hunting bullet. By severing the heart, arteries, and lungs, the animal rapidly loses a significant amount of blood, faints, and dies. Good bow hunters are intimately familiar with each game species’ critical zone and will often place a leaf shot on the lungs and heart for optimum efficiency and a swift kill.
When rifle hunters meet a bowhunter on the same hunt, they are often pleasantly shocked by the efficiency of a hunting arrow. A simple test that persuades some is to drop a bullet in an open hand and then ask if they would like to do the same thing with a shooting arrow fitted with a hunting point with surgically sharp blades. The vast majority of hunters forego getting their hand pierced by a dropping arrow. A hunting arrow is extremely powerful even at low kinetic energy. Another test involves shooting a hunting caliber bullet through two buckets of sand lined up behind one another. Any hunting caliber will discharge its kinetic energy into the first bucket and become lodged there, but a hunting arrow will pierce even the second.
Training on the bow yachtHow are we to do this? Since the beginning of 2013, the International Bowhunting Education Program has trained four Flemish bow hunting instructors (IBEP). This is a globally recognised organisation whose mission is to educate and train ethical and responsible bow hunters.
These instructors in turn train responsible bow hunters, and only those applicant bow hunters who pass both a theoretical and practical examination and thus show their proficiency as bow hunters can earn the IBEP certificate. They provide information about bow hunting to anyone who requests it. At the end of June 2013, the first IBEP course for aspiring Flemish bow hunters was held. This course sold out fast, and as a result of the high level of interest, we will be offering a second and possibly even a third IBEP training in 2013. This demonstrates the widespread interest in this novel method of hunting.