Making the crossbow a legal option for the modern hunter has been a long and arduous battle that is being championed by a very determined and dedicated segment of hunters. The victories and achievements have been made by educating the masses and proving that the wild claims being made by the anti-crossbow movement are nothing more than myths and emotional conjecture. Nothing can prove that the crossbow is not really a 30.06 that shoots arrows like throwing one up to your shoulder and flinging a handful of arrows from it. Through workshops, trade shows and seminars the general-public is being made aware of the benefits that the crossbow brings to the table for the hunting community. If one studies the facts and documentation gathered over the past three decades of the crossbow’s use, its benefits are clearly visible to anyone who will open their eyes as well as their mind.
This past year has been a banner year for crossbow expansion. The first state to add the crossbow to their bowhunting season was North Carolina. For some unexplainable reason, the southern states have led the movement to include crossbows into their archery seasons. Although Wyoming has always (since the very first day of its archery season) considered the crossbow to be just another piece of archery equipment, the second state to include the crossbow in it archery season was Arkansas in 1973. Ohio was the next state to jump on the band wagon of common sense in 1976.
For the next 26 years, a struggle was waged against a very small and dedicated group of pro-crossbow advocates by a large, vocal camp of anti-crossbow bowhunters. Throughout that time, the crossbow movement gathered facts and figures from the states that allowed crossbow use and used that information to inform and educate not only the general public, but also legislators and game management agencies. In 2002, the growing bloc of crossbow advocates had their first victory when the state of Georgia moved to the crossbow side of the ledger. In 2004 another Southern-sister, Alabama joined the slow-growing ranks of the crossbow camp. In 2005 it was Tennessee and Virginia to throw their support behind the crossbow.
As the struggle intensified things stalled until 2008 when two more Southern states, Louisiana and South Carolina fell victim to mental clarity and added their names to the pro-crossbow roster. That brought the total number of states that consider the crossbow to be just another archery tool to nine.
This year has been a whirl-wind roller coaster ride for the crossbow movement as the names of five more states have been added to the list. North Carolina went first carrying on the great tradition of the south leading the way. The north got busy by adding Pennsylvania and the lower two-thirds of Michigan after long and intense struggles that were intelligently crafted by the local pro-crossbow movements. The South spoke loudly once again, when Texas stepped across the line by legislating crossbow inclusion nearly unanimously in both the House of Representatives and the state’s Senate. The cherry on the sundae in 2009 was the sweet little state of New Jersey, which was the most recent convert to the crossbow cause.
Those victories expand the crossbow hunting opportunity to approximately 2 million additional gun hunters and 618 thousand bowhunters. It is the sincere hope of the movement that the crossbow will also help recruit thousands of individuals that have never hunted before to help replenish the shrinking numbers of hunters nationwide. All in all, it has been a good and successful year for the crossbow brotherhood. One fact is clear, the more direct and personal contact the hunting community has with the crossbow, the more ineffective the crossbow myths are that have been used to malign this unique hunting tool. One thing is for sure, the snowball is picking up speed as it rolls towards the bottom of the hill. There is little doubt in the minds of those that have fought so long and hard for the crossbow and the expansion of the crossbow-hunting season, there will be no rest until all states and provinces accept this unique implement as just one more option for the bowhunting season.