Who We Are

To stay on course, the best course is just to stay the course.

Two recent letters from Bowhunter readers define a continuing dilemma. The first reads, in part:

"I've been a subscriber to Bowhunter Magazine since its early inception. I may be wrong, but it seems totally hypocritical to ban crossbow information but run advertisements for'¦ bows with rangefinders, lighted nocks and sights, magnetic rests'¦ you appear to have no problem with that'¦ how can you ignore crossbows? It really bothers me that your magazine is so closed-minded'¦ We don't need more censorship. Good luck. It was a nice trip together while it lasted."

The second letter reads, in part:

"I found the following on the Bowhunter site in an update from a bowhunting summit:"Crossbows in bow seasons. A press release following the Summit stat-ed: 'The organizational representatives at the Bowhunting Summit were unanimous in their opposition to crossbows'¦ in bow seasons'¦ except...for qualified physical disabilities.'

"I couldn't agree more, and just want to confirm that that is the official position of Bowhunter Magazine'¦ Needless to say, I can't renew a subscription to an organization that puts archery seasons at risk'¦"

To summarize: The first reader is dropping his subscription because Bowhunter does not publish material about crossbows. The second reader will drop his subscription if we do start publishing material about crossbows. For us, that pretty well defines dilemma.

It is true that times are changing. For many years only three states -- Arkansas, Ohio, and Wyoming -- allowed crossbows during general archery-only seasons. Recently, however, additional states have legalized crossbows. Now, according to TenPoint Crossbows' website, 14 states allow crossbows during archery seasons, and legislation is pending in others.

For the record, Bowhunter has never served crossbow hunters, but let's be clear: We support all legitimate and legal outdoors sports. We support rifle hunting, shotgun hunting, bird hunting, fishing in general -- all outdoors recreation. We are outdoorsmen.

As a publication, however, we have to define our identity and remain true to that identity. Who are we? We have never run stories about bird hunting with shotguns; fishing of any kind; or big game hunting with rifles, slug guns, muzzleloaders, or crossbows. It's not because we are anti any of those. It's because those fall outside the purview of our magazine.

All magazines -- all media -- must make similar distinctions. To draw an analogy, does Fly Fisherman publish articles about spinfishing or crankbaits? No. That's not their identity. It's not what they do. Truth be known, some fly fishermen dunk worms for catfish on occasion, but that doesn't mean they want to read about it in their favorite fly fishing magazine.

Clearly, some hunting magazines draw a finer line than others. One bowhunting publication draws the line at longbows and recurves and publishes no material related to compound bows. Fine. That's their identity. Petersen's Hunting, a general hunting magazine, covers all methods of big game and bird hunting. Great. That's their identity.

At Bowhunter, we write about hunting with longbows, recurves, and compounds. That's our identity. We realize we cannot please everyone. To those who consider crossbows just another form of bow and arrow, we're narrow-minded hypocrites. To those who oppose crossbows, our incorporating crossbows into the Bowhunter mix would brand us as traitors -- or worse.

Frankly, we don't like either alternative. So we will stay the course. Bowhunter publishes stories about hunting with longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows. That's what we've done from day one, and that's what we will continue to do. That's who we are.

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