Are Airbows Coming to Your State?

By Brodie SwisherMarch 28, 20239 Comments

It’s been 5 years since the first Airbow showed up, loud and proud, at the annual ATA Show. If you attended the show, you no doubt heard the weapon being demonstrated on the range through the 3-day event. It’s gotta be the loudest weapon to ever grace the range at an ATA event. 

Later that year, we posted an article addressing all the excitement and controversy this new weapon was creating. Some thought this Airbow, which isn’t really a bow at all, would be the death of the archery industry as we know it. Others saw it as nothing more than another non-bow weapon trying to wiggle its way into archery hunting seasons across the country.

So after 5 years, we want to take a moment to revisit this most controversial of weapons to see how states are welcoming, or shunning, its use for hunting purposes. 

Airbows Legalized In Mississippi
What will the future be for the Airbow in hunting seasons across the country? Photo: Crosman

Keep in mind that, while these weapons have been featured at the ATA Show, the ATA does not recognize them to be “archery equipment.” In fact, the ATA recently took a bold stance against their use in a call-to-action letter sent out to its members.

Their call to action came in response to legislative efforts taking place in Oklahoma to legalize Airbows for hunting in the sooner state. 

You can see the Action Alert letter below…


Dear ATA Member,

We need your help encouraging elected officials to VOTE NO on legislative efforts to include “airbows” in archery season! Legislation is currently moving swiftly through the Oklahoma legislature that would allow arrow-shooting airguns to be used during archery season. Click HERE to ask your Oklahoma State Senator and State Representative to VOTE NO on legislation that would allow airguns in the archery season.

Your ATA position on arrow-shooting airguns, often but inappropriately referred to as “airbows”, is that they lack the basic components of standard archery equipment (e.g., a string system and limbs) and should therefore not be authorized for use during archery hunting seasons. The Airgun Sporting Association (ASA), which is the trade association for the airgun industry, agrees! ASA’s “Guidelines for State Wildlife Agency Regulations” clearly conveys that “Arrow shooting airguns should not be considered “archery” equipment”. These sentiments prevail among related industries, constituencies, state legislatures all across the US, and even on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Sportsman Foundation.

As you are likely aware, purchase of archery products have contributed to well over 1 Billion dollars in federal excise taxes since 1973 through the Pittman-Robertson Fund. Last year alone, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife was apportioned over $27 million from this fund to conduct critical wildlife activities across the state. Unlike bows and firearms, airguns (including arrow-shooting airguns) are not included in the items taxed under the Pittman-Robertson Act, and therefore do not contribute to conservation funding in a manner that is consistent with other authorized methods of take. Therefore, conservation funding is at risk should this effort serve to replace archery and firearms hunters with airgun hunters long-term.    

Archery deer hunting has a long-standing tradition, is a highly valued commodity and strong economic driver for Oklahoma and the outdoor recreation industry with over 117,000 archery hunters participating each year. ATA is keenly interested in maintaining one of the strongest archery deer hunting constituencies in the country and we strongly oppose efforts serving to deviate from and greatly diminish Oklahoma’s traditional archery season. The proposed changes could also impact blaze orange requirements during the traditional archery season.

Please join the ATA and other archery hunters across Oklahoma to stop ill-conceived legislation by clicking HERE and asking your Oklahoma legislators to VOTE NO on all legislation seeking to admit the use of airguns during archery only seasons.  

Warm regards, 

Dan Forster

Vice President and Chief Conservation Officer, Archery Trade Association

Airbows launch arrows, but that's about the only similarity they share with archery equipment.

What Exactly Is An Airbow?

To give you a better idea of what this weapon truly is, here’s a look at the specs on a typical airbow, or Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) Airbow, as some prefer to call them. 

The Pioneer Airbow by Benjamin

  • Powered by 3000 psi of compressed air
  • Integrated pressure regulator delivers 8 consistent shots at 450 FPS
  • Bullpup configuration, short 33.5” overall length
  • Ambidextrous top cocking bolt
  • BONUS: Realtree AP camo decals included
  • Comes with 3 custom arrows with field tips, 6×40 mm scope, sling and quiver
  • 160 fpe with 375 gr arrows @ 450 FPS
  • Length: 33.5 inches
  • Weight: 7 pounds

You may recall the video where Jim Shockey put the weapon to use on what appears to be a high-fence bison hunt for testing purposes. After putting two arrows in the bison with the Airbow, his remarks were, “That changes everything.”

But has the Airbow truly changed anything at all? Are states now allowing their use as a viable weapon in archery-only seasons?  

The answer is, no. 

However, there are a number of states that continue to add the Airbow to their list of weapons allowed for hunting, along with other weapons like rifles, pistols, muzzleloaders and others. And, as mentioned above, states like Oklahoma are making a more aggressive push for inclusion of the Airbow into archery seasons.

But best we can tell, at this point, the Airbow is still shunned as legitimate archery gear for archery-only hunting seasons across the country. Exceptions includes states like Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington that allow the use of the Airbow during archery-only seasons for hunters with a disability. And there is an application process for any hunter seeking such classification. 

See the map below for a look at the states that recognize the use of an Airbow for specific hunting seasons (not archery-only seasons).

Are Airbows Coming To Your State?
Here's a look at the states that allow the use of Airbows for hunting.

With that said, another state that is experiencing legislative efforts to push Airbows into their hunting season is Iowa. Yes, Iowa! It’s one of the most conservative states in the country when it comes to keeping things tight on how and when you notch your deer tag.

In fact, it’s one of the few states where the use of crossbows are reserved only for hunters at least 65 years old, or those who have a physical handicap that prevents them from shooting a typical bow. 

Yet, Senate File 138 has advanced from an Iowa Senate subcommittee. The bill was introduced by Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig. The new legislation would allow deer hunters to use weapons that propel arrows with compressed air (Airbow) during their gun season.

However, the move didn’t come without its fair share of criticism. Bowhunters in the state see it as a slippery slope towards further inclusion in other hunting seasons for the state. 

“This just seems like the perfect weapon to poach deer with,” said Fred Long, president of the Iowa Conservation Alliance, which opposes the bill. “It’s silent. It’s deadly for a reasonable distance. I don’t think it compares to hunting with a rifle or a shotgun for distance, and so I question why anybody would want to use this weapon during those seasons. I feel that it’s a slippery slope to putting it in the archery season.”

Is there any problem with Airbows being lumped into a state’s gun season? After all, they are a weapon, and they’ve got to go somewhere, right? 

The biggest concern seems to lie in the push to include these Airbows as archery gear used for archery-only seasons. They are certainly not a bow, and any such move toward inclusion would be an attempt to redefine what archery truly is.

What about you? What are your thoughts on the Airbow? Should they be allowed during archery seasons? Comment below, and let us know what you think. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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