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If there is one practice that can be traced back far in time, it’s hunting.
Hunting is a tradition for many families.
While you may find it in the history books as part of the aristocracy, it’s still very much alive in the worlds of both the poor and the rich.
In fact, hunting has become an “elite” sport anybody can practice.
There are two main weapons that are used to take down prey: Firearms and bows.
If you’re new to hunting and want to decide on which discipline to follow, read on to learn what makes them so different.
The Basic Difference Between Gun and Bow Hunting
I’ll be blunt:
Whether you choose to hunt with a gun or a bow is very much up to you and your personal preferences.
The individual hunter has to make the choices to which way they turn when it comes to hunting.
Comfort and confidence are key in the hand of the hunter, and whether they are hunting for big game or small prey it does make a difference.
However, there is no wrong or right choice as long as you follow safety precautions.
There are two considerations that are most important when it comes to choosing whether you hunt with a gun or hunt with a bow.
Time is one of them, and cost is the other.
Generally speaking, bow hunting takes more of your time. Gun hunting costs more money.
This doesn’t always apply, however.
For example, if you’ve inherited your grandfather’s hunting rifle, that’s a large expense out of the way.
And many people practice archery for the fun of it.
But if you have nothing pushing you one way or the other and neither cost nor time are big impediments, the choice may not be easy.
So, let’s delve into the pros and cons of both hunting methods in the hope that you’ll be able to make the choice yourself.
What Is Bow Hunting?
Bow hunting is as it says; you use a bow and arrow to hunt for prey.
Some hunters feel that using a bow and arrow is more natural and more comfortable while others will argue that it is more authentic to the outdoor experience.
It allows them to focus and feel the movement of the bow in their hands, drawing that energy through the arrow and into the prey they are aiming for.
A lot of hunters will discuss what it means to feel that adrenaline rush when using a bow and arrow to hunt1.
To be able to hunt with a bow and arrow, you develop and hone your fine motor skills while also learning how to aim very precisely.
You will need to spend time strengthening the muscles of your arm because drawing back an 80-lb bow isn’t all that easy to do without practice.
Some bow options are quite heavy, which means there is a lot of stamina involved in using a bow and arrow for hunting, which may be a drawback for people with physical limitations.
However, a benefit for bow hunting for some hunters is that it levels the playing field between the hunter and prey.
This could actually improve your skills when it comes to stealth.
Hunting with a bow is a challenge if you are new at it, as it takes some time to learn how to do it accurately.
It can actually take a few years to become skillful at using bows for hunting animals, particularly big game hunting.
Related: Different Types of Archery Bows
Bow Hunting: Pros and Cons
Pros of Bow Hunting
- Bows are a silent method of hunting, so you won’t disturb anything other than your prey or any people around you
- There is a longer hunting season for bow hunters in most states throughout the US
- You will improve your motor skills
- If you primarily hunt down stationary animals, the bow is the perfect tool for the job
- You can reuse arrows
- Bow hunting requires more stealth and you learn to be very quiet when you are using a bow and arrow
- Some bows can be heavy, but you have to become stronger to use them, improving your physical fitness
Cons of Bow Hunting
- It can take a very long time to properly learn how to use a bow and arrow
- Shooting from a long distance more difficult with a bow
- It’s not the best tool to use against moving animals
- Wear and tear of a bow means that you are replacing cams and strings more often
- The weather can affect your accuracy
- A fancy compound bow isn’t particularly cheap to buy
- You generally only get one shot; if you miss, the animal will flee
What Is Gun Hunting?
When it comes to hunting, guns are efficient, effective, and expensive.
They have been around for over 200 years, not nearly as long a lineage as traditional bows.
They have evolved massively over the years, and with modern advancements it’s very easy to see why people choose guns when it comes to hunting.
The mechanical structure of the gun makes them easy to use so you can become very good at hunting with a rifle in a much shorter period of time than with a bow.
If you want versatility while you hunt, gun hunting is a fantastic option.
You can kill more prey both at rest and when they are moving.
Many hunters choose gun hunting over bow hunting.
Gun Hunting: Pros and Cons
Pros of Gun Hunting
- Guns shoot much farther than bows
- It’s so much easier to learn how to use a gun than a bow and arrow3
- You can gain more accuracy and precision with a gun
- They’re more durable than bows
- Versatility is higher with guns
- Follow-up shots are easier if you miss with your first shot
Cons of Gun Hunting
- There is a much shorter hunting season for guns
- Hunting season can become crowded when gun hunters are hunting is limited to specific spaces
- Rifles and their accessories can be fairly expensive
- Firearms make lots of noise, which can scare away potential prey
- You are more restricted in where you can gun hunt
- Ammunition is not reusable
Which Is Better?
Honestly, there is no “better” option between the two hunting methods.
Getting the very best from your trip means that you have to choose between which suits you as a hunter.
If you prefer to be stealthy in your hunting, then a bow and arrow will be the better option.
If you want better accuracy and a longer range, then gun hunting is the better choice.
No matter which one you choose, you are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of those around you.
Finally, this isn’t an either/or choice!
Many hunters pick up both gun hunting and bow hunting so they can take advantage of the entire hunting season.