December 12, 2018

Crossbow Not a Firearm, Not a “True” Bow

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I got snickering a bit yesterday as I read V. Paul Reynolds article about crossbows and how certain rules regulating the use of crossbows for hunting have changed. In his article, he states: “The Maine Warden Service considers the crossbow not to be a firearm. The Maine Bowhunters Association (MBA) could never warm up to the medieval contraption, deeming it not a true bow.”

I’m not here to try to convince anybody about whether or not a crossbow should or shouldn’t be used as a weapon to kill certain game at certain times and in certain places. Instead, I’d rather talk about why some don’t like the idea because it ruffles their feathers in some odd fashion…I guess.

The Maine Warden Service, according to Reynolds, believes the crossbow “not to be a firearm.” This one is easy, provided this is the meaning of the comment that it isn’t a firearm and not that it isn’t a weapon that could be used for killing/hunting.

According to the dictionary, a firearm is a pistol, rifle, shotgun, etc. According to the BAFTE, a firearm is any weapon that uses an explosive to propel a projectile. So, technically a crossbow is not a firearm.

I’ve known for some time that the Maine Bowhunters Association has resisted allowing crossbows for hunting. I’ve read some members as saying it isn’t in the same category as “bow hunting” and that even the image of the crossbow somehow dirties the image of bow hunting in general. Oh, come on! Are we playing with the same notion that somehow the looks of a weapon determines its killing capacity?

It should always be remembered that opportunities to hunt are usually a good thing but that those opportunities are always going to be restricted by the desired and actual harvest of the game we are in pursuit of. Whether we hunt with a pistol, rifle, bow, crossbow, or a handful of rocks, biologists and hunting regulators are not going to allow us to kill too many animals.

Some have a problem with the so-called muzzleloader season for deer, believing the muzzleloader, a “primitive” weapon, is not a “true” gun of the modern era. It can and has been repeated that the modern muzzleloader is far from a primitive weapon.

Do muzzleloaders deserve their own special hunting season? Do crossbows deserve their own special hunting season? Do longbows deserve their own special hunting season? Does any weapon deserve its own special hunting season?

I would guess the crossbow is as much a true bow as a muzzleloader is a true rifle.

The longbow – is this the “true” bow? – has been around longer than the crossbow dating back to around 3,000 BC…maybe. Not long after this, the crossbow of a fashion was designed for warfare. Both weapons were designed for and used in warfare killing millions of people over the years.

A crossbow is not a firearm because it doesn’t fire. Why isn’t the crossbow a “true” bow? Probably for the same reason, that to some a muzzleloader is not a true rifle. In other words, they just plain don’t like the damned things.

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