Interview with AMS Bowfishing
(1) How did you get started Bowfishing?
When I was in College. Cindy's dad had always bowfished and my family had always been big into bowhunting. The first time she took me bowfishing, I was hooked.
Cindy: I grew up bowfishing with my dad. He would go bowfishing all the time and I would always be right there ready to go, or to check out his catch of the day. I have a picture on my office wall of my sister and I standing with dad and a carp that was as big as we were at the time. I shot my first fish when I was about 6 or 7.
(2) What is your favorite Bowfishing memory?
2 years ago when our 2 kids shot their first fish at age 6 & 8 on the same day. I wasn't actually in the boat with them, but Cindy filmed both of them. We have that in our "On the Water" DVD. I don't think we'll get the kids to react like they did, now that they know they might be on our next DVD, they aren't as anxious to talk or look into the camera.
Cindy: The kids getting their first fish was definitely a great memory and the fact that they both shot them on the same day and on film was icing on the cake. But I have many great memories, like the time Jeff's brother and I were thrown in the river (we boat landed on our feet) after I drove our canoes square into a rock. And the other time, that I chose to jump in rather than let the boys sink the boat, when we over-loaded our 14' alumacraft, v-hull with carp and the barrel tipped to my side and water began coming over the bow. And shooting my 210# shark and bringing it in to a dock-full of shark hunting MEN that weren't having any luck. Witnessing my mom take her first carp only a few years ago...shooting red fish in the gulf...sting rays on the east coast...passing up an unbelievable stingray because we were into shark. The ray would've been a record taker ...deciding after two hours of fishing with full barrels to keep going and get the boat dirtier with no place to put anymore fish, but the floor...and the list goes on and on.
(3) How did AMS Bowfishing get it's start? (and when?)
Cindy's Dad, Jack LaSee, was an avid bowfisherman when Cindy was growing up. He invented the Retriever Reel at that time, mainly as an improvement for himself. However, his bowfishing buddy's wanted one and their buddy's wanted one and so on. So he began manufacturing it through his company All Metal Stamping. He marketed the Retriever under the company name AMS and bowfisherman across the country became familiar with the AMS Retriever. Cindy began working for her dad shortly after graduating from college and among other tasks, began changing and updating marketing strategies and techniques for the Retriever, as it was one of her passions. The generic black and white boxes were first to go and the clamshell packages were introduced.
A few years later, Jack offered Cindy and myself to buy the bowfishing business from him. We obviously kept the AMS name as it was well known to bowfishermen across the country. We built our currently facility about 20 miles from All Metal and Cindy began running the business on her own for the first few years while I worked out. It continued to grow and she began demanding more and more help. I had to quit my job and begin working full time in 2001. We've also expanded the facility a few times as our inventory and product line grew and now have a full and part time work force. All Metal Stamping still makes many of the parts for the Retriever, including parts for the new Retriever Pro, our Safety Slide and Shock Pads, and some of our Wave Rest components.
(4) You've Bowfished many different parts of the country. Where is your favorite place to fish and what is your favorite freshwater fish? Saltwater fish?
That's a difficult question. Every place has it's own unique characteristic's, but my favorite place to fish was Chesapeake Bay off the VA coast when we were after cownose stingray. I liked that area a lot. However, my favorite saltwater fish has to be shark, nothing can match the speed and power of a shark.
My favorite fresh water fish is Buffalo.
Cindy: It's all great! Bowfishing for shark is absolutely unbelievable...and can be unbelievably difficult. The weather and the tides have to be just right. Redfish are a blast and GREAT to eat. Paddlefishing in Nebraska is also an experience...and stingrays...and carp...and buffalo...silvers...and big mouth...and gator gar. Of them all, I would probably would have to head south to the gulf. I really enjoy the Redfish...and how tasty they are when they're cleaned up and fried right. The south offers a lot of opportunity.
(5) Do you prefer to fish during the day or at night?
We started out daytime only as night bowfishing was not legal in WI until around 2000, but since then, definately night bowfishing. Daytime does have it's place, however.
Cindy: Night fishing is great, that's for sure, but on a good bowfishing day...as in sunny, clear skies and calm water, going out and goofing off with the kids on the water. Just being out there and being able to see and do everything in daylight on the lake is great fun. It's a toss up for me.
(6) What is the most significant advancement in Bowfishing equipment you have seen?
Over the last 10 years, I think the Safety Slide. I don't want to toot our own horn, but I really think the Safety Slide has helped to change the way people wanting to try the sport look at bowfishing. It gives them an alternative to tying the back of the arrow that is SAFE.
Cindy: The Safety Slides really are key. A very unfortunate incident occurred and really made us open our eyes and study what had happened and why. The shock that what we and many others were doing for years and years, tying line to the tail, had been found to be very very dangerous! The safety slides really changed that and make bowfishing a whole lot safer.
(7) In your opinion, what can Bowfishers do better to promote the sport?
Introduce Bowfishing to new people, especially kids. If you've been bowfishing for a while, you will eventually gather a group of followers that want to try it, take them out.
Also, Be aware of Public Perception! One of the great things about bowfishing is that you can go out and shoot hundreds of fish in an outing. We do it and a lot of bowfisherman do, and that's great, that's what bowfishing is about. Bowfisherman, DNR Officials and Biologist's are glad to see that. However, be aware of the people that don't know or see it as wasteful or over-harvesting. I don't mean anti's, peta's or people like that, just the general public that might not really know how the invasive fish we shoot affect the waterways. Showing off a couple of your biggest fish to people or in photo's will shine a much better light on the sport than showing a pile of fish on the ground with a few people standing behind it.
Cindy: Kids love bowfishing! Introducing kids to the sport is very important. If they get bored, they can still shoot at weeds and things in the water without ruining anything or spooking any game. They just really get into it.
Take out beginners, women, men that are interested and show them how to do it correctly, safely and have fun! We prefer taking new-comers out to tournaments because of the excitement and appreciation they have. We go out when the weather is good and when fishing should be good to give them the best experience possible.
Setting a good example to the public is also key. Bowfishing is messy. Clean up before you head to shore. Properly use, give away, or dispose of your fish. Don't leave any in the water, or in the dumpsters, or at the fish cleaning stations. Take care of your own fish, don't make someone else. They make great fertilizer!
(8) Describe for our readers how your boat is set-up.
We have a 2072 Flat Bottom boat with 28" sides, a tunnel hull and float pods powered with a 150HP Evinrude. The front shooting deck hold 5-6 shooters. It currently has 6 175W Metal Halide lights and a 101lb Thrust Trolling Motor. We plan on adding 2 more Metal Halide lights to the rear with a few halogen lights mixed in before the 08 season. We also hope to change the rear platform on it yet before the season starts and add some camera stands.
(9) How many days/nights do you two get out to go bowfishing for fun or product testing each year?
It seems like never enough for ourselves. When we do go, we are basically like a bowfishing guide that doesn't charge in our area. When we go locally, we try to fill our boat with people we know that are interested in going, and that list is very long. During the spring, we try to get out a couple times a week.
As far as testing things, we do a lot in the shop before it goes to the field. We'll then field test on our own and if it's a significant enough change or new item, we'll send prototype's to our network of product testers across the country. For example, we had people testing different version's of the Safety Slide for nearly 2 years before it ever hit the market. Same thing with the Retriever Pro before we released it last year.
(10) What new things can we look forward to from AMS Bowfishing?
We are always trying to develop new items for bowfishing or our enhancing existing items.
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