How to Bowfish – Bowfishing basics (Part two)

// November 13, 2015

In part one of our how to bowfish – bowfishing basics series, we covered the basic form and tactics of bowfishing.

Bowfishing is a fun but challenging sport. We talked about where to go bowfishing in our last article. But you should know there are many great reasons to get into bowfishing and the cost to enter the sport is fairly low. More on gear in our next section. In this part of the series we are talking about bowfishing form and technique.

If you are new to bowfishing, keep in mind that the refractive properties of water makes fish appear higher or shallower than they actually are. For this reason, I have adopted the saying when I am teaching new bowfishers the sport, “Aim Low, Think Big”. Most veteran bowfishers don’t believe in using pin sights, lasers, or any other aids for aiming but, instead, shoot instinctively. Although I have used a laser sight before, I too choose this method of aiming down the arrow at the fish as I think you can hone the still of instinctive shooting better this way rather than relying on a sight.

To start off with, the stance in bowfishing is the same as if you were shooting an arrow on land. Start with you feet shoulder with apart and standing sideways towards your target as opposed to facing your target head on. There are several reasons you want to shoot this way. The main reason I coach new archers on this is that if you are standing facing your target head on, you will most likely slap your forearm with the string when you release your arrow. Ouch! Not a fun experience.

Most of the shots you take in bowfishing are called “snap shots”. When snap shooting you are basically aiming down the arrow at the fish as you draw and releasing the arrow soon after you come to full draw. You’re shots will be quick and your retrieve of the arrow should be fast too so you can get ready for your next shot. As with all styles of archery, be sure you have a good anchor point you can reach when you come to full draw. For me, my anchor point for bowfishing is my thumb on the bottom part of my jaw. When you reach this point, you know you are anchored and anchored shots lead to more consistent shots.

Be sure to follow through your shot. This is critically important and many bowfishing archers forget it. Following through is important in just about every sport and bowfishing is no different. Freeze for a second or so after your release your arrow. A big mistake I see a lot of archers make is pulling their head out of the shot or dropping their bow soon after the shot. Accuracy suffers as result of not following through.

Remember, AIM LOW. A common statement for new bowfishers is, “I thought I was shooting super low, like way under the fish!” the first time they hit a fish. It takes some getting used to but the more you do it, the better judge you get to be about exactly how low you should aim. If the fish is deeper, you want to aim even lower. If the fish is higher or shallower in the water, don’t aim as low. A common concept is the 10-4 rule: If the fish is 10 feet away and one foot deep in the water, aim 4 inches below the fish. Change your multiples with distance, depth, and shot placement. I shot a tilapia one time in 8 feet of water near the bottom of the lake by aiming far under where the fish appeared to be. Again, it takes practice but the more you do it, the better you will get.

Stay tuned for part three of this three part series. Thank you so much for reading!


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