Perhaps you have read another one of my bowfishing articles regarding the future of bowfishing, but in this article, we want to offer up some bowfishing tips that our team member, Alex Brandt, thinks every bowfisher should know for this new-age of the “eOutdoors” (the term is a slight exaggeration, but hopefully it drives home the point).
Each tip will be followed by a brief discussion of solutions to the issues cited and how we can follow the rules.
A big step in this growth process of bowfishing is gaining acceptance and coordination within the outdoor community before broadcasting to new audiences. To do this, we need to improve our reputation collectively.
These first two tips (“rules”) are dedicated to improving the reputation of the sport of bowfishing. And, if you’re new to the sport, these first two are especially important. But, even if you’re a seasoned bowfisher, a refresher is certainly always helpful.
Tip 1: Don’t dump fish in public areas or boat ramps.
Dumping fish in these areas gives bowfishers a bad reputation. Additionally, doesn’t help make the public water access points smell particularly inviting.
One alternative solution would be to find local farmers who may want to use the fish for fertilization purposes. Another option is to dump them on a large plot of personal private land where the smell would not bother anyone.
If you want to get really creative, look for a local organization that may be interested in taking on the fish. For example, some local zoos encourage bowfishers to donate excess fish to feed birds and other animals.
You could also eat the fish. But, if the sound of gar fish doesn’t exactly sound inviting to your taste buds, it’s good to know there are still options.
Tip 2: Know the laws in your area regarding species, bag limits and seasons
There are plenty of legal pitfalls when it comes to bowfishing, and you want to make sure all of your ducks in a row so no one is enjoying the sport illegally.
Be sure to call your local game warden, and they will (usually) be more than happy to let you know what the bowfishing laws are in your area before you have the chance to make a mistake.
If your game warden isn’t accessible, or the thought of doing so seems like too much of a hassle, there are tons of online resources you can find on the subject with a quick Google search.
The final tip relates to all bowfishers both old and new. This is one that was relevant years ago, but it is especially critical now. Not only does it involve preserving a positive reputation for bowfishing in the outdoor community, but it involves setting a positive example for the rest of the world as well.
Tip 3: ALWAYS be mindful of your surroundings.
Guess what? With the rise of smart phones, everyone has a camera on them all hours of the day, and the internet loves to amplify bad choices.
We lecture kids on this topic quite a lot, but they are growing up in a social media-centric world and it’s just modern-day life. To be honest, adults need a refresher in this course just as badly as the younger generation does.
All it takes is one video of someone doing something they’re not supposed to for public opinion to shift on an outdoor activity like bowfishing.
This tip has a second relevant component as well. Try to avoid fishing heavily populated areas (especially at night). And, if you must be near houses on a crowded lake, try to be conscious of where you are shining your lights.
The same can be said about music. By all means, play whatever you like until your heart is content, but be sure to turn it down for temporarily when you are near houses at night, or when passing another group of boaters.
These things are simple, common courtesy. And, as human beings, we should really try to bring more of this back into this divided world. Lead by example and don’t follow the norm, especially if it’s not the standard your parents raised you by.
Now that we have covered the “dos and don’ts” of bowfishing in this new age, let’s talk about what you need to get started.
If you’re already an avid bowfisher, you can probably skip this next section. But, if you aren’t already bowfishing on a boat surrounded by LED lights and a pricy bow, you may want to stick around.
One of the big concerns we hear with bowfishing is that it’s expensive to get into. However, this is not necessarily the case. Below is another three-step process for getting into the sport.
First, all you really need to get started is a bow with a reel and string, an arrow or two, and some polarized sunglasses. Rather than investing in a boat right off the bat, you can “test the waters” by simply finding a bank to bowfish from.
Next stop: A boat
Secondly, once you and your buddies are comfortable with the sport of bowfishing and know it’s something that you will continue to enjoy, you can start the process of looking for a boat.
Obviously, boats can be expensive. But, you can keep things pretty cheap if you hunt for deals on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
Once you have acquired a boat, all you will need is a trolling motor and some cheap LED lights you can buy off Amazon to put on your new boat (even if it’s used, it’s new to you, right?)
A quick search shows us you can get a two-pack of 40-Watt LED lights for around $40. Buy three of these, and you are all decked out and ready to go!
Share your content
Now that everyone is ready to bowfish, here’s what we hope you will do… Create great bowfishing content and share it with the world!
The great thing about the evolution of technology is that you can get your start creating content with your smartphone.
You don’t have to start off with fancy cameras and GoPros. Just download some editing software onto your phone and start making movies about your life. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this, then you can invest in some nicer equipment.
If you make videos, we guarantee it will be worth the investment.
When we started 573 Outdoors, we sat at a kitchen table and realized that documenting our lives wouldn’t just be for other people. All of our biggest catches, failures, and unforgettable experiences in the outdoors could be for us to cherish forever as well.
It is something we can show our kids someday and say, “look how ridiculous we were.”
You can’t put a price tag on documenting memories with your best buddies.
You can still send in your favorite clips to different pages to promote (and we definitely love to see that content pour in), but it is important for you to start stitching together your own videos as well.
Our fans are who have built us up so rapidly, But, we feel like it would be selfish to suggest you should send all of your experiences only to us. We care more about the longevity of the sport of bowfishing than we do our own business.
The path forward
We started 573 Outdoors to celebrate our friendship, become a part of a fantastic community, and to start a revolution in the world of bowfishing. To do that, we can’t be the only ones out here. We want to create a lasting impact on the sport.
While we love amplifying other people’s content in conjunction with our own, we don’t want to be the only ones (or one of an elite few) shouting to the masses forever.
If we can get people on board with this and gain some traction, the money will arrive and be put into the sport, leading to more popularity and more eyes.
Maybe there can even be a Major League Bowfishing tour someday as there is with bassfishing. It all starts with this next group of content creators, and if we leave a good reputation and try to make a difference, we can leave this thing a heck of a lot better off than we found it, and our sport can grow for the better.
Now, who is ready to jump into the sport of bowfishing with us?
The hand-made box that each broadhead comes in is the definition of quality. The broadhead lies flat in the box on a felt background. It’s really impressive.
But enough about the box, it was time to start checking out and testing the broadheads themselves.
Firstly, even to the eyes, the Iron Will broadhead screams quality. I have tested many broadheads and there are some that you can hold before testing and just know, “this isn’t going to be very good.” However, the broadheads from Iron Will made me go, “OK. This is top tier for sure.”
You are paying for them to be top tier, so you would expect them to be. But, these broadheads literally fit the bill.
Head Design And Construction
The Iron Will broadhead is made of A2 Tool Steel that has been triple heat-tempered as well as cryogenically tempered to produce incredible hardness.
It has Rockwell hardness of 60 but also has an incredible resistance to impact.
Its Charpy C-Notch score is multiple times higher than a typical stainless steel. So, it has a really good resistance to impact and it has a fairly good resistance to wear which will make a difference on edge retention. The bottom line is that it is top-notch steel.
Another thing I like is that it is a “cut on contact” tip, which aids in penetration. It has two larger blades followed by two smaller bleeder blades. Both the main blades and the bleeders are really thick (0.063 inches). All the blades are replaceable as well, which is nice. It also has a solid steel ferrule.
When you take a look at the tip of the broadhead itself, you’ll notice it has a chisel tip, even though it’s a 2-blade head. The chisel tip provides extra lateral strengthening as the ferrule goes up high towards the tip.
There are a few things about the Iron Will broadhead that are not my favorite. These are observations regarding design.
First of all, with the 2-blade tip and the A2 steel, the benefit is that you are going to get great penetration. But, you’re not going to get the lateral support that you would get with a real chisel tip or a 3-blade tip where all 3 blades come together. It structurally cannot be as supportive. So, while it’s a plus for penetration, it’s a minus on durability and hard impact.
And, then the protruding ferrule… again, there’s a plus to it in that it strengthens the blade going up pretty high. But, it has a little bit of a lip to it, and I can imagine that it could get stuck, not on flesh but maybe on bone, if it splits bone or a hard material.
Additionally, it’s a component head. And again, this is a trade-off. So it’s several pieces. The set screw has no tension on it that would go against the arrow itself and into the ferrule. But, you have multiple pieces.
Now, the plus side of that is that each piece can be stamped, ground and hardened to extremely high specifications with fine-tuned machining. The negative the the multiple pieces is that, in theory, is, it’s just not going to be as strong as a one-piece broadhead, especially a CNC machined head.
Iron Will Flight
In addition to the appearance and construction, I like the flight. I got to shoot these out to a hundred yards and it is extremely forgiving. I’ll put the Iron Will up there with the best heads I’ve ever shot in terms of forgiveness, if not the best.
I can pop balloons with this broadhead at 60, 80, and 100 yards fairly readily, and it groups extremely well.
But, how would the Iron Will perform in penetration, durability and hard-impact testing? I decided to test it against the best-selling 3-blade head on the market: The G5 Montec.
Penetration and Durability | Iron Will vs. G5 Montec
In my first penetration test, shot the Iron Will Outfitters broadhead into about 60 layers of cardboard with a Rinehart target behind it just in case.
Penetration Test #1: Layered Cardboard
First, I tested the G5 Montec broadhead and then the Iron Will.
For the first penetration test, the Iron Will shined. It penetrated a couple of inches further into the cardboard than the Montec.
For that first penetration test, you really can see that the penetration of the Iron Will shined. It went through 7 layers of cardboard, which was about 1-1/4 inch further than the Montec. Afterwards, the Montec’s blades just slid right across my fingernail. They obviously had been dulled. However, the Iron Will still bit into my fingernail. That’s A2 Steel for you.
Penetration Test #2: Compressed Fiberboard
In the second penetration test, I shot both broadheads through three layers of compressed fiberboard.
The Montec has a diameter of 1-1/6 inches as does the Iron Will. But the Iron will also has 0.75 inches in the cross bleeders. The Montec has only three blades. So, the Iron Will has roughly 1.8 inches of cutting cut, versus 1.6 for the G5 Montec.
Even with the larger cut of the Iron Will, it buried about a 1/2 inch further than the G5 Montec.
After this test, the Montec was again already dulled somewhat and would not catch on my fingernail. The Iron Will, even after this second test, shaved my fingernail and was still sticky.
Additionally, the Montec ferrule bent during the test and wobbled during spin, whereas the Iron Will still spun true.
Durability Test #1: 16-Gauge Steel
For the durability test, I shot the Iron Will into a 16 gauge steel plate.
The Iron Will had good penetration into the steel plate, but the top of the ferrule got stuck somewhat and was slightly chipped away. (Other broadheads that I have shot into the steel plate have suffered significant damage).
The tip of the broadhead held pretty firm. There was a little bit of a dent on it, but not as much as was expected. The Iron Will did really well compared to all the other fixed blades I’ve tested on the steel plate. The only one that has tested better is the Bishop Holy Trinity, with its 3-blade design of S7 Tool Steel.
The bleeders got a little thinned out and dinged up, but can be replaced.
Durability Test #2: Cinder Block
For this test, I shot another Iron Will broadhead into a cinder block to see how it performed on hard impact.
The Iron Will penetrated well into the cinder block. The bleeder blades did not make it into the block, so it was a relatively small area, but penetration nonetheless. The head got dinged up and the ferrule was cut, but still spun well post-testing.
Durability Test #3: Steel Flat Bar
For this final test, I shot the Iron Will at a 1/8-inch fixed steel flat bar. I have shot other heads into this flat bar before and the only ones to survive it have been the Bishop Holy Trinity.
The Iron Will made made a nice cut in the bar and actually penetrated the other side. The ferrule we talked about was actually embedded into the steel bar.
The head itself did not fare too well. It also did not penetrate far enough for the bleeders to touch. The blades just disappeared; I’m not sure where they went, but they are somewhere in my backyard. While the Iron Will punched a hole in the steel bar, it didn’t endure it.
The Iron Will was very forgiving, flying very well at long range out to a hundred yards.
In the penetration testing, it out-penetrated the G5 Montec, which has a smaller cut than the Iron Will does. The head also did really well against the 16-gauge steel plate. It did better than all the other fixed plates I’ve tested with the exception of the Bishop Holy Trinity.
And then in terms of a concrete or the cinder block, it did really well, sticking deeply into the block with the two main blades, remaining strong.
The only place that it failed (and you can’t really call it a failure) was when it was shot into the 8-inch steel flat bar, where it just kind of fell apart.
But overall, I have to give this head an A+. I put this broadhead up there towards the very top.
I listened intently as a popular outdoor podcaster explained, in great detail his disdain for rifle hunting – and rifle hunters. He pontificated for 30 minutes about its inherent lack of challenge and illegitimacy in the deer woods.
Promptly following his passionate albeit exhaustive diatribe, he said, “but that’s okay. Not everyone has to hunt the same way.”
His ending statement came too late – at least in my mind.
Days later, I listened to another show where several minutes of banter were dedicated to the lameness that is hunting with an outfitter. Here, you got the impression that, anything short of traversing public land with not much more than a bow and climbing sticks, was a “short cut”.
I’d never felt so lazy in my life (not really, I’ve got pretty thick skin). The negativity and chest puffing seemed to increase with the sound of each new cracking beer tab in the background.
Though these are guys that consistently provide a lot of entertaining and useful hunting information, they are like many other outdoorsmen – they’re not pro hunters…
A Pro Hunter is…
So, by now you’ve probably figured out that this article has a misleading title.
It’s no secret that hunting numbers are down in North America. Indeed, it’s a pivotal time for our hunting heritage and future. Obviously, the anti-hunting sentiment plays a large role here for sure. However, it’s obvious that many members of the hunting contingent are intent on eating their young.
A recipe for disaster – outdoor future thwarted.
What is pro hunting? Yes, it has a lot to do with expertise, accomplishments, and positive contributions to habitat, and the like. However, in this vernacular, to be a pro hunter simply means to PROmote.
Promote the way you prefer to hunt, your weapons of choice, or other philosophies.
In my mind, problems arise when people become “con” hunters. So, what about this word con?
Definitions include “against” or “contrary.”
Maybe you’ve heard comments like, “I get irritated with guys that shoot the first buck they see – if I see one more photo of a guy posing with a young 8-pointer, I’m going to explode. They have no idea what they’re doing.”
Now there is a con I hear often. How about just promote hunting?
Cons can of course also be good if offered up in a non-confrontational or non-combative manner. After all, independent thought and respectful discussion and debate is healthy.
It’s a slippery slope though and some folks have a hard time maintaining a healthy balance.
“Slinging mud doesn’t get anyone anywhere. When we have problems with fellow hunters, hunting policies, or anything else, resolving issues the right way is a must,” says outdoor writer, Josh Honeycutt.
Arguably, mental wrestling matches regarding hunting issues are healthy. However, it’s a fact that, like in any community, the entire hunting collective doesn’t play nice.
So, perhaps it’s best to develop (or stick with) your pro hunter side (or at the very least, emphasize it). It can slow the momentum of the negative trends inherent in the current hunting and the outdoor culture.
Put differently, embrace the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it” mindset. Consider approaching social media channels and deer camp fire pits as a pro hunter.
Michael Waddell once said, “I don’t care if you hunt with a recurve, crossbow, rifle, or anything else as long as you’re safe and legal.”
A pro hunter statement if I ever heard one.
This may all sound trite and dramatic, but it’s worth thinking about. Perhaps it’s best to concentrate on our pros.