Airbow’s arrival triggers debate, questions
In case you haven’t heard, Crossman has introduced the Benjamin Pioneer Airbow, a device for firing full-length arrows and full-weight broadheads, without the need for strings, limbs or cocking devices. The device can be cocked and decocked with only two fingers and fires eight shots at a blazing 450 feet per second in the same amount of time it takes to fire three from a crossbow, and it’s being endorsed by no less a personality than Jim Shockey. According to the company, “the Pioneer enhances everything enthusiasts enjoy about archery hunting while making the sport safer and more accessible.” Oh, really!
A company press release states that arrows from the Pioneer stabilize quickly, giving shooters an expanded kill range for any game animal. Its accuracy is not affected by canting and it does not require the complex maintenance of crossbows. The company goes on to say that the Pioneer Airbow is driven by 3000 PSI of compressed air. An integrated pressure regulator delivers eight shots at a consistent 450 FPS and the convenient fill nipple makes refilling quick and easy. In addition, Benjamin offers a High Pressure Hand Pump and 4500 PSI Charging System as filling solutions.
Believe it or not, the airbow is currently legal for hunting deer in four states, but again, according to the manufacturer, it is legal for hunting any game species on game preserves in New York and Pennsylvania.
Clearly, this new hunting device is causing controversy and 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 the Airbow. The statement was drafted immediately following the organization’s summer board meeting in Washington, D.C., July 11-12.
The ATA is the organization representing manufacturers, retailers, distributors, sales representatives and others working in the archery and bowhunting industry and they feel this device lacks basic components of standard archery equipment (e.g., a string system and limbs). Consequently, the ATA does not consider an airbow to be archery equipment. The organization goes on to state 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, the airbow does not appear to be considered as archery equipment by the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Currently, some state wildlife agencies are considering allowing the airbow to be included in some hunting seasons and are mulling over the seasons in which the airbow may belong. While they’re at it why not consider allowing spear guns to be used in some hunting seasons as well? Can that idea be too far behind? After all, an arrow could just as easily be propelled by strong rubber bands as it could by compressed air. For crying out loud, what’s next? Call me old fashioned, but these devices certainly do not belong in the archery season or any other season for that matter. However, I’m concerned as to what the future may bring.