Crossbow bills resurface in Legislature
Albany — Legislation that would expand crossbow use into the entire archery season has resurfaced in Albany early in the 2017 session.
The bills are essentially identical to those that died in committee during last year’s legislative session, New York Crossbow Coalition President Rick McDermott said.
“We received information that ‘Same-As’ crossbow bills have been submitted into the Senate and Assembly and were referred to their respective Environmental Conservation Committees awaiting action,” he said.
If approved by the Assembly and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the legislation would allow crossbow use during the entire archery season. Several areas – Suffolk and Westchester counties as well as the archery-only areas of Albany and Monroe counties – would remain as “crossbows prohibited” areas.
The bills – Senate bill 1386 and Assembly bill 479 – were sponsored again by Western New York Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh.
This time around, the legislation may get some additional support, however. Buried within Cuomo’s 383-page State of the State booklet released earlier this month is a single sentence calling for an expansion of the popular National Archery in the Schools program to teach children proper use of bows “and expand use of crossbows.”
What role the governor’s office plays in advancing the legislation remains to be seen. But McDermott says the New York Crossbow Coalition is again gearing up to push for its approval.
“We are committed to seeing the crossbow classified as a legal bow for the use of everyone, including youth, women, seniors, handicapped, disabled veterans and all the citizens of the state that hold a valid New York bowhunter privilege (license) through the entire bow season and in all areas where archery equipment is permitted,” he said. “The choice of which bow one uses should be an individual choice.”
The legislation also ties crossbow use with the bowhunting license. That means if approved crossbow users would be required to take the state’s bowhunter education course before heading afield with a crossbow.
Currently, crossbow users must purchase a muzzleloader license to use the implement, which are allowed during the latter portion of the state’s archery season as well as during the firearms and muzzleloader deer and bear seasons.
The legislative proposals would also:
• allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt big and small game with a crossbow. Because the implement is currently linked to the muzzleloader license, crossbow use is restricted to a 14-year-old minimum age. Hunters age 12and 13 can currently hunt with a compound bow.
• eliminates the current 200-pound maximum draw weight restriction. That portion of the law was widely criticized by crossbow users and by shops that sell the implements, since it was put in place after crossbows were first legalized for use in during the late muzzleloader season. And it was imposed after some hunters purchased crossbows with draw weights above that limit.
• permits crossbows to be used within 150 feet of a dwelling – the same setback requirement as currently exists for compound bows.
• removes the restriction on minors and their mentors using a crossbow to hunt from the ground.
• permits bowfishing for carp with a crossbow.
• eliminates the 17-inch minimum width restriction on crossbows.
• allows anyone wishing to use a “draw-loc” – typically senior or physically challenged hunters – device to do so without the need for a special permit.
New York Bowhunters, Inc., the statewide group which has long opposed crossbow use within the archery season, is also expected to again mobilize its membership in opposition to the bill “Although the crossbow is effective at killing deer, it is NYB’s position that it more closely shares characteristics of a firearm (stock and trigger, preloading, telescopic sight, ability to shoot from a rest, etc.) to that of a hand-drawn bow,” the group said previously in an email to its members.