Bowfishing is an amazing activity that combines fishing and hunting. Standing in the water, waiting for the fish to come and catch it drives adrenaline through your veins. But many beginners fail at the most basic bowfishing question: “Where to aim when bowfishing?”
Knowing the answer to this simple question means the difference between going home empty-handed and going home with a trunk full of fish. When you are bowfishing, always go with the rule called “10-4”. Let’s say your fish is 10 feet (3 meters) away and 1 foot (30 centimeters) deep in the water. In this case, you have to aim 4 inches (10 centimeters) low (in front of the fish). When doing so, you can expect to hit the fish right where you want.
Bowfishing tips on aiming
If you are new to bowfishing, you probably don’t know much about bowfish aiming. But there are some really important bowfishing tips on aiming you should keep in mind.
Firstly, you have to know that what your eyes are telling you is not the truth. The fish is not exactly where you see it. The reason for that is simple physics. When light travels from one surface to another, it bends. The fish you see is actually the refracted image of the fish in the water, the so-called apparent fish. So if you aim at the fish you see, you will hit the apparent image of the fish and you will surely miss it. The arrow will fly over the fish or as bowfishers say, you will “go high”.
The real fish, the one you are going after, is a bit deeper in the water. That’s why you always have to aim a bit before the fish or “low”. But how to know where to aim when bowfishing? There are some easy tricks that will help you master this type of fishing.
1. Use the 10-4 rule
This one and simple rule will make sure that you always hit the fish you are after. It’s really simple and easy to remember. This 10-4 rule says that if the fish is 10 feet (3 meters) away and 1 foot (30 centimeters) deep in the water, then aim 4 inches (10 centimeters) before the fish.
If the distance or depth is doubled (20 feet/6 meters away or 2 feet/60 centimeters deep), then you should also double how much before the fish you will aim. In this case, you should aim 8 inches (20 centimeters) low.
2. Aim before the fish
The second really useful rule is that if you are not sure how far away from the fish you are, you should aim 6 inches (15 centimeters) before the fish for every foot (30 cm) of its depth.
Also, you should always aim in the front half of the fish. Remember that when you are bowfishing, you are going for the kill. Catch and release is not an option here. So make sure that when you shoot, you kill the fish. Vital organs and brain of the fish are in the front half so always make sure you aim for this part. If you miss, there is a good chance that fish will swim away and you won’t get a second chance.
How to improve bowfish aiming?
Before you can really master where to aim when bowfishing, you have to know how to correctly handle and aim with your bow. Mastering your bowfishing technique is really easy but it requires plenty of practice.
First, make sure you know how to aim. Do this on the land. Set a few targets (some smaller and some larger) and stand 15 feet (5 meters) away. Then start aiming and shooting arrows. When you hit the target every time, move away for a few feet (half a meter) and do it again. When you see that your aiming skills are perfect, move to the next level, aiming in the water.
Take a few soda bottles and sink them in various depths and start shooting. Try changing your distance from the targets to see how different depths and distances create different light refractions. Now you can start using the 10-4 rule and with enough practice, you will quickly know how low you should aim without thinking about the distance to the fish and its depth.
What is also important when bowfishing?
Picking the right place for bowfishing
Picking the right place for bowfishing is extremely important. When bowfishing, always remember to pick clear and shallow salt or freshwater. My favorite places are ponds, shallow beaches, and bays, where water is not deeper than 4 feet (1.2 meters).
Remember that water slows down your arrow. So hunting fish that’s deep in the water means that arrow will hit it with less force, giving fish much more chance to get away unharmed. Bowfishing in deep water is less efficient than in shallow water so always go for the second option.
Picking the right time for bowfishing
Knowing where to go bowfishing is important but knowing when to go is also of vital importance. Picking out the right time is crucial so make sure you know when your fish are rolling. A great time is spring, when fish are spawning and also late summer or early fall, when waters are clear. Switching from daytime to nighttime bowfishing can also make a difference. At night, lights will help you lure the fish (and also the insects!) and give you better chances. But at day you will see much better, especially if you are wearing the right bowfishing glasses.
Knowing these rules and tricks on bowfish aiming is what every great fisher should do. To know where to aim when bowfishing, also keep in mind that you should do regular aiming practices, both on the ground and in the water. Only that way you can improve your aiming skills and make sure that none of your hits miss the target.
Do you have any other tips, tricks or answers on this topic? If you do, post them in the comments and help other beginners improve their aiming skills.