Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Crossbow proposal returns to Assembly

Bloomfield, N.Y. – Legislation that would allow DEC to develop
regulations for hunting with a crossbow has resurfaced in both the
state Assembly and Senate.

And leaders of the statewide bowhunters’ group, New York
Bowhunters, Inc., have once again renewed their unwavering
opposition to allowing crossbows for hunting during the archery
deer season.

A00924, sponsored by Niagara County Assemblywoman Francine
DelMonte, would give DEC the latitude to develop regulations
governing crossbow use by July 1, 2011.

DelMonte, pointing to the expanded crossbow-hunting
opportunities in other states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio,
said in sponsoring the legislation it’s time for New York to fit
the weapon into the Empire State’s hunting picture.

“The sportsmen in these states have realized that the
recruitment of additional hunters outweighs any differences over
hunting tools,”_DelMonte said. “The sportsmen’s cause and the
future of hunting is only enhanced by more people entering the
ranks of active and participating sportsmen.”

The legislation proposed by DelMonte will almost assuredly
mobilize New York Bowhunters, Inc., a several thousand-member group
which has long been opposed to the use of crossbows by any hunter –
even physically disabled – during the archery season.

“Our position hasn’t changed,”_New York Bowhunters President
Gary Socola said. “And that is a crossbow is not a bow. We’re not
against crossbows; they’re a legitimate hunting weapon. But they
aren’t bows. It’s as simple as that.”

Socola said the crossbow issue galvanizes the ranks of the
organization, which actually sees a spike in membership when
proposed legislation allowing crossbows surfaces in the Senate or
Assembly.

But many sportsmen across the state argue that, with just a few
thousand members, New York Bowhunters doesn’t speak for the 200,000
or so bowhunters in the state. They also contend that it’s time to
at least allow physically challenged sportsmen to use a crossbow to
hunt.

“Crossbow seasons… create hunting opportunities for people with
disabilities and those who cannot use a longbow or compound
bow,”_DelMonte wrote in her legislative proposal. “Many people want
to hunt with archery equipment but simply are not able to
physically maneuver a longbow or a compound bow. Crossbows can be
used by these persons, affording them the opportunity they are now
missing.”

Socola, however, says that allowing crossbows to be used by
physically challenged would open the floodgates to hunters seeking
to gain a permit to use a crossbow.

“Four years ago in Pennsylvania, the Game Commission estimated
they’d get about 2,000 applications (for crossbow use by the
physically challenged),”_Socola said. “They issued almost 49,700
permits.”

Pennsylvania is one of the states that is further opening up
hunting opportunities with a crossbow; Socola said it’s being done
despite widespread opposition against crossbows.

New York Bowhunters, in lieu of allowing crossbows for the
physically challenged, favors the use of adaptive equipment such as
a “draw-loc” that would allow a hunter to operate a compound
bow.

Socola said those looking to use the crossbow to overcome their
physical disabilities would still likely have to use “adaptive
equipment” to assist them in cocking a crossbow.

The group’s unwavering stance on the issue is noted on its Web
site:_”New York Bowhunters, Inc. is opposed to the use of any
weapon, other than those bows drawn, held and released by hand in
any archery season or archery only area.

“Furthermore, NYB is opposed to the creation of any new hunting
or fishing season or the extension of any existing season which
will decrease the length of the archery only season or displace the
season into less favorable dates.”

Socola says crossbow manufacturers are pushing for crossbow use
within the existing archery seasons “because they wouldn’t sell any
crossbows to be used only during the firearms season.”

In addition to a movement among sportsmen who would like to see
crossbows allowed at least for those with physical disabilities,
several outdoor writers – notably those in western New York, where
neighboring Ohio already has a popular crossbow season – have long
advocated for the use of crossbows in New York.

Most recently, Ed Noonan, a columnist for the Schenectady Daily
Gazette, wrote that crossbows have been introduced successfully in
other states, and “has resulted in neither decreasing bag limits
nor poaching increases, and that it has been documented as a safe,
responsible and popular means of hunting. And most importantly, it
has created hunting opportunities for people with disabilities and
those who cannot use a longbow or compound bow.”

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