Oklahoma Set to Legalize Airbows for Big Game
It's not a bow and it's not a gun. It's something in between—and Oklahoma is poised to make it legal for use on big game
It looks like another state is going to allow the use of airbows for hunting big game. In Oklahoma, Senate Bill 1571, currently awaiting action in the legislative body, would permit the use of airbows for hunting during any rifle season.
Airbows, introduced to the U.S. hunting market in 2016, are where airguns and archery cross paths. Keep the air, the gun, and the arrow, and you’ve got it (no bullets, no bows, no strings). Configured much like a rifle, the “firearm” features a piston inside the barrel that slides into the arrow shaft. When a hunter pulls the trigger, 3,000 psi of compressed air activates the piston and launches the arrow toward its target. Airbows fire with more speed (450 feet per second) and more accuracy (shooting 2-inch groups at 50 yards) than typical hunting crossbows or vertical bows. And they can be cocked with two fingers.
Airbows are currently legal in Oklahoma for hunting small game and hogs. The new legislation, however, would add deer, elk, bear, pronghorn, and turkey to the list. There are technicalities that the law would address. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation legislative liaison Corey Jager explained to The Oklahoman, “They are not technically classified as firearms and they are not technically classified as archery equipment.” As such, they are not subject to the federal excise tax. So, Jager said, to offset the loss of department revenue, Oklahoma hunters would have to buy a $20 permit to use the equipment for big-game hunting if it is legalized.
Mississippi passed a bill permitting the use of airbows for hunting whitetail deer last month, joining 11 other states that allow them for big game: Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Washington. In Georgia, Florida and Texas, they can be used to hunt feral hogs, while more than 30 states permit them for use in hunting coyotes and other predators. Georgia and South Carolina allow them for alligator hunting.
By permitting the use of airbows use rifle season, the Oklahoma legislation sidesteps a point of controversy in other states where the hybrid hunting device has been legalized. Can the airbow be considered a primitive weapon and therefore be used during bow seasons? Oklahoma, like many states, may need to address the question as the popularity of the new device continues to grow.