Fishing is a passion for millions of people around the world, but using a bow and arrow instead of a fishing rod is not a common practice.
The sport of bowfishing may not be a sport everyone is familiar with, but for those like Oakland City native Kent Miller, it’s a passion that also becomes competitive.
“When I was in sixth grade, I started bowfishing. My uncle took me bowfishing on the Ohio River. I shot my first bighead carp and that’s when that obsession started,” Miller said. “I love the adrenaline rush every time my arrow hits a big fish and I just love being able to be outside. I love taking new people bow fishing and introducing them to the sport.
Not only is bow fishing a sport that is supposed to be fun, but it is also good for the waterways. Bowfishers target invasive Asian carp species that can cause serious harm to native fish populations in the lakes and rivers they infest.
“It’s an outdoor sport based on taking out invasive Asian carp and other fish species,” Miller said. “We’re trying to clean up the waterways, so we don’t have to worry about these invasive Asian carp species.”
For beginners, bow fishing is far from easy. “I love watching people shoot for the first time,” Miller said. “How does the bow work, there is a bow fishing reel attached to the bow, and the bow string is attached to a steel ring or plastic slider on the arrow to ensure that she does not fall.
“When you shoot, you make sure your arrow is hit correctly and is on the arrow rest correctly; then, to wind it, you pull your lever which allows you to wind the string.
Once a fish is caught after the difficult process, it’s not quite the same as just pulling it off the rod like when fishing for a day on the lake.
“To remove the fish from the arrow, you unscrew your arrowhead and fold your barbs over the arrow and the fish will slide right off, then you screw your arrowhead back on when you’re ready to shoot again,” Miller Explain.
Although not well advertised, competitive bowfishing is a sport enjoyed by thousands of Americans, including Miller, who competes for the Gunpowder Bowfishing team named after his grandfather Steven ‘Gunpowder ‘ Miller.
Last year, Miller competed in the Cajun Bowfishing Tournament in Newburgh. The tournament brought together 80 to 100 teams.
“I won the biggest gar prize for catching a gar (freshwater garfish) weighing 17.4 pounds,” Miller said.
Last June, Miller and Gunpowder Bowfishing took part in a tournament at Kentucky Lake.
Not only does Miller share his passion with a team, but also with his son, Carter Miller, who is an up and coming junior at Wood Memorial High School who played baseball for the Trojans last spring and went bow fishing the last weekend in Newburgh.
Miller and his team will be back in action on August 14 when the Cajun Bowfishing Tournament returns to Newburgh.