Two bowfishermen aim bows and arrows

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Understanding Bowfishing Day 5: You Can Bowfish Points Without Long Barbs

Bowfishermen out on the water at night
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Editor’s Note: Chris James has been bowfishing for about 15 years. “Bowfishing is a sport that has intrigued me for many years. I guess the reason I got into it was because I was looking for something to hunt after hunting season ended. In the fall and winter, I could hunt deer. During springtime, I could turkey hunt until about the end of April or the middle of May. In the summertime, I could shoot 3D archery, but there was a gap in my ability to hunt from the middle of May until about July. I do like to fish, and I discovered that bowfishing was the perfect combination of both hunting and fishing for me. You get to hunt the fish, and you don’t have to wait on them to bite. When I shoot a big fish, I’m very excited when it’s on the end of my arrow, and I have to play the fish down to get it in the boat. I also enjoy the constant action of bowfishing. You never know when or what kind of fish you’ll see. Once you spot a fish, you quickly have to estimate distance, aim instinctively and shoot. My biggest fish ever taken with a bow was a grass carp that weighed about 40 pounds. Often, you have to get two or three arrows in a fish that big to subdue it, but I made a good shot – hitting that fish right in the head and bringing it to the boat. Sometimes people have the wrong ideas about bowfishing. Here’s what I’ve learned.

A bowfisherman shows off his fish

  • “You Can Fish Points Without Long Barbs: Bowfishermen are convinced they need fish points with really-long barbs. You don’t need a long, wide barb to keep the fish from pulling off the arrow. A relatively-narrow point that goes into a fish makes a very-small hole to get more penetration. The barbs on most fish arrows swing freely on the arrows. If you use a wider barb, you’ll make a bigger hole, and there’s a greater chance that the barb can swing back and come out of the fish. Long, large barbs wear out much faster than smaller barbs.A bowfisherman aims his shot
  • “Bowfishermen Think They Need to Replace the Barbs on Their Arrows Too Often: Bowfishermen often think they need to replace the barbs on their arrows too often. Barbs don’t wear out very fast. A better question to ask is, “How often should I replace the points on my arrow?” Muzzy makes two different tips for its fish arrow – a 6-sided carp tip and a 3-sided gar tip The gar tip is a three-sided Trocar tip, just like the tip on most broadhead hunting arrows. This tip is made for shooting tough-hided fish like gar and even alligators. It’s also a good tip to use if you’re shooting fish where the bottom is rocky. If you’re shooting into a mud or a clay bottom, a carp tip that’s designed for soft-flesh fish shoots well. This extremely-sharp tip makes a smaller hole than the gar tip. But this tip also can get beat-up, if you’re shooting in rocky areas. So, if you’re shooting soft-flesh fish like carp over a muddy or clay bottom, the carp tip is best. However, if you’re shooting carp over a rocky bottom, the Trocar gar tip is the most-productive. If you only can have one tip and don’t know what type fish you’ll be shooting or the kind of bottom you’ll be shooting above, I recommend the standard Muzzy gar tip.”A bowfisherman shows off a large fish

Cover: The Bowfishing BibleTo learn more about bowfishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “The Bowfishing Bible,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the book for free. On the right side of the Audible page for this book and below the offer for free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible with one click. To learn more about bowhunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ bowhunting books, available in Kindle and print, “Cover - Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and BowsBowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows” ( and “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” ( You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. When you click on these books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the books for free. To see more of John’s deer-hunting books, check out - Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros

I’ve attended the Muzzy Classic Bowfishing Tournament before and enjoyed it. This year’s 2022 Classic will take place in Vicksburg, MS, on June 11-12, with first-place prize being $20,000, after paying a $300 registration fee to participate. or You also can visit and observe the Classic without entering.


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