Bow issues. How to you break them?

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Well-known member
Apr 9, 2008
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Hickory, MS
I'd like to get an idea of what types of things go wrong with your bowfishing bows. A buddy of mine tells me he is constantly replacing his bows and I've seen other Pros breaking their equipment as well. What keeps breaking? I'm interested in all bows wood, fiberglass, even compounds. Please give me some feedback.

I have done quite a bit of bowfishing in the past and have never broke a bow. bowfishing arrows are heavy and this helps lessen strain on the bow. Strings can break but regular maintenance is the solution to that. If people are shooting over rails they may be hitting the rails with the limbs of their bow. Action can get pretty fast and furious at times and equipment can get mistreated or abused, which never helps. I always use an older compound bow with a AMS retriever and a cable system to prevent line tangles,and has always worked good here for large carp and gar. I say get a cheap bow and go for it.
I use an old Fred bear whitetail hunter compound, with ams retriever and it never breaks. Usually pretty rough on the equipment.. Now arrows and halo light bulbs is another story...
I actually build bows, (recurves mostly) and was wanting to get an idea of problems people have with bows. I've heard stories of de-laminating limbs, dropping a bow in muddy water and losing the bow entirely, stepping on a bow thereby breaking it.

Things like that, So I can come up with solutions while building and designing bows.
Truthfully, laminated or wooden bows don't have any business being around water, especially in a boat where they may be dropped in the water. As the wood is exposed to the water, or even the humid night air, the glue in the laminations can weaken. This could lead to a broken bow.

Admittedly, when I began bowfishing, I used a 30# recurve bow, and did pretty good with it, too. Much lighter than a compound bow, for sure! But as I said, wooden bows, just like wooden stocks on rifles, don't have any business being used in a hostile environment, like staying damp or wet. This is why they use synthetic stocks on rifles, and why they use composites for a lot of bows intended for bowfishing.
Exactly. I've had people up in Michigan tell me about ruining $600 recurves by bowfishing with them! I build my bows from heat treated plastic. They are, as far as I've tested, weatherproof. They are also bouyant so If you drop it overboard, you can grab it and keep shooting. They are also a good bit shorter than most recurves which should help out in a boat.
Bowfishing bows don't typically get the love that hunting bows enjoy. If they get broke, it's because of something outside of just shooting. Maybe hitting rails or getting stepped on....something like that.

I like compounds because that's what I hunt with and they are compact and maneuverable. But, even a youth compound like I have can wear your shoulder out after a day of holding it.
I shoot the same bow for every season. Deer, fish, squirrels, targets, whatever. I used it for deer season then a solid summer of bowfishing before I had to replace both limbs, string, most of the bolts, and the rest. Ever heard "rode hard and put up wet?" Story of my bows life. I had a friend slip in the mud while carrying my bow. He landed on the bow and the cams/string side went into the mud with all his weight on it. I gave it a good examination before using it again but I didn't notice that he had bent the pins that hold the cams to the limbs. Next shot split the limbs. Luckily it did not "blow up" on me, it just cracked the limbs. Martin offers free limb replacement in such an event so it ended up not being a big deal. Even if you don't get covered in fish guts and mud, just being in a boat can damage your bow. Exposure to sunlight caused all the camo paint (factory paint, not a homemade spray job) to fade and flake off. Spray from the water causes rust. My advice would be to use anti-corrosion products (WD-40 and string wax) after every outing on the water. Wipe down the entire bow and remove all bolts and screws that you can and wipe them down too. The bow shop I had mine repaired at said that my bow was "the most used bow that was still in one piece" that he'd ever seen. Of course, if you spend enough time on the water you will lose equipment overboard. It's amazing how quickly you decide that shelling out $350 for a new bow is far worse than diving into whatever snake hole it happens to be sinking in to retrieve your stuff.

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