Here is an article I wrote for BowAmerica's February Issue on Bowfishing. Enjoy.
I read a book a long time ago called Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, who was a German philosopher who taught in Japan in the 1930s. In his book he describes that in archery hitting the target is secondary to the focus and awareness the archer brings to the task. It is not about the target, but about everything that builds to that point where you release the arrow and accomplish your target. First, I am not a Zen Buddhist nor do I pretend that I am a master at archery. I do recognize though there is a valuble lesson to be learned from Herrigel’s book, especially when it comes to Bow Fishing for carp, Gar, Gators or whatever your taste of fish is.
I’ll admit that I have had days where nothing goes right and I could not hit the ground with my arrow if I dropped it. If you want a painful laugh watch my video Day of 20 Misses and you will see my worst day ever behind a bow. That is a day that I will never forget to say the least. It was also the day where I remembered Heir Herrigel’s book and some of the things that he said. I had let the fish become the goal for me instead of the bow, the water and the art of bow fishing. I had been clouding my head with the need to rack up the fish counts and film big fish getting drug on shore and for what? Was it because someone on Youtube I watched or something a guy on a forum said that carnage is the true sign of a Bowman? Was pride creeping in and blood lust taking over? Not sure to be honest, but one thing I do know is I missed a ton that day and I had to shame myself by posting it.
Bowfishing to me truly is about the skill, timing and understanding your target. Stripping down all of the unfiltered muck that clouds what we are and do helps us to realize that we are perusing an animal that lives in another world and his whole being is trying to evade us. Really that is Bow Hunting at its core, hunter looking to our smart prey that is trying to survive at all costs. They say that a trout has an IQ of 2 and that a carp has an IQ of 4, they are not dumb as far as fish go for sure. I think that you need to be able to realize that we are not out to fill a bucket or barrel. But rather we are out to fulfill something greater, to make us better archers and people. Patience, thought, and the understanding that we are there to enjoy the day or night and let the Art of Bowfishing take over. For me I know when I am in that spot when I am not thinking. I turn off everything else in my mind and I am simply focusing on releasing the arrow. It is a wonderful place to be for sure.
I’ll be honest, duck season is almost over, deer and bear season is long gone so my attention is now devoted to fish (and pigs but that is another post). I am really excited to start walking the banks and drifting the rivers and lakes in search of carp. Anytime I can get ready to go hunting by putting on a pair of sandals and a short sleeve shirt I am really excited about. So as the silt starts to clear up from the lakes and the rivers are starting to flow again I am looking to my Matthews MQ1 and my homemade PVC bow to shape me into being a better archer. I am sure I will miss and miss and then miss again, but I know that if I walk with one or two fish in a session it has been a good day. Though if I come back with 20, I will not be complaining either.
Peace be the Journey,
The Bearded Boar