bY STRAN MIDDLETON
My exciting transition from rifle to bow hunting after 34 years: By Karel.
I’ve been hunting with a rifle since the age of about eight years old and spent a lot of time with my dad in the bush, where he taught me the values of life and how to hunt. He taught me about respecting the animals and the bush, which we so often take for granted. Part of my lessons with my dad were safety, and how to handle a firearm. We hunted every year as often as we could, so I had a great time growing up and hunting.
Now that I am 42 years old, by simply putting the crosshairs on the hunted animal and pulling the trigger on a rifle, doesn’t do it for me anymore. I don’t feel the excitement, or my heart pumping in my head like I used to feel. The challenge of rifle hunting has unfortunately disappeared. It got to a stage that I went hunting just because there were annual hunting trips pre booked.
I went on the last couple of hunts just because my friends were going, and I felt obliged to go.
I bought a bow two years ago, thinking I would be able to try and bring the excitement back into the hunt by using a bow. I started off shooting up to 50 arrows a day practicing as often as I could, but I never had enough confidence to do an ethical walk and stalk hunt with a bow. This year, while hunting with a rifle, I specifically went out on a walk and stalk to see how close I could get to my quarry. I didn’t shoot anything, but after 2 days and more than 30Km, I knew that with a reliable set-up, I would have had an awesome hunt with a bow. I spoke to the PH, Nickus an avid bow hunter from Wilton Valley Hunting Safaris where we were hunting, and suggested that I would like to give it a try with a bow.
The next day, Saturday, after many practice shots, we went out with a bow to quite a busy hide. Within half an hour I had an opportunity on a pig, and could not even draw the bow, the adrenaline rush (Bokkoors) was so intense that I was even shaking. This shot would have been a formality with a rifle. That afternoon I knew this is what I needed to do but lacked the confidence hunting with a bow.
When I got home, I took my bow out and started practicing with my 5-pin sight, after three weeks I was still not fully confident or accurate with the set-up of my sight. I was going hunting the coming weekend and started doubting if this would even happen. I had seen the Sure Sight (a locally developed and manufactured product) at Wildebees hunting and accessory store where I bought my arrows. I heard how amazing this sight was (it is an automatic bow sight that ranges the distance to your target and automatically presents the correct shooting pin to you ) I arranged a test run with the sight.
What happened next totally blew me away. I could not believe it, after about 20 minutes to set up the Sure Sight, I was shooting 4-inch groupings from 20 to 70 yards, which I could never dream of before. The sight is easy to use, easy to set-up and deadly accurate.
All of a sudden I was filled with confidence, and knew this is what I needed to complete the bow hunting package.
The afternoon of the first day out, I had the privilege of feeling the blood rush and my heart pumping in my head when I confidently went to full draw on a 25,1/4 inch Impala ram at 30 yards. It was a great shot, “double lung heart” and exactly where I positioned the little blue shooting dot.
The speed and ease to range, aim and shoot, using the Sure Sight, gives you supreme confidence to hunt with a bow. Since then, in this year I have confidently hunted Waterbuck, Pigs and Impala.
I would say that having the security and confidence when using Sure Sight, and knowing that after ranging, where you put your clear, tiny blue shooting dot is where the arrow will hit. Sure Sight is the key, which gave me back the adrenalin and absolute confidence to achieve this.
Now, when you walk and stalk with a bow, you don’t have to waste time, or separately carry and use a range finder, and then adjust your sight or take a chance on a fixed pin in the excitement of the hunting moment. Sure Sight gives you the opportunity to now Ethically and consciously put your rifle away.
You can now go out there with a bow, experiencing that old adrenalin rush that you felt on your very first hunt. The sight also has the instant and unique ability to switch between various weighted arrows. So, if you are, for instance, stalking an Impala with a +/- 450 grain arrow and you come across a herd of Eland, you can immediately switch to your +/_ 700 Grain arrow, and within 2 seconds have changed your set-up with pinpoint accuracy and total confidence.
Thank you, Sure Sight, for such an awesome, easy to set up and use product, that has now allowed me to make the transition after 34 years, from boring rifle to exciting bow hunting. You have changed my life to want the excitement back to hunt again.
Hi there, my name is Martin Cowan, I started bow hunting approximately 18 months ago. I would consider myself an average beginner bow shot. I enjoy not only the hunting part, but also shooting my bow for relaxation after work or weekends. I preferred a one-pin sight up until now, I found it more accurate than multi-pin sights, however, it is time consuming to adjust for various distances. In 2017 I went for my first bow hunt where I shot two buck, a Gemsbok at 18 meters and a Rooibok at 15 meters. I felt a bit rattled every time, having to try quickly and get the distance with my range finder and then swapping back to the bow.
During the 2018 Hunt Expo, I decided to look at the new Garmin sight. When I had a view of it, I decided to wait because I felt it was overpriced, a bit bulky and it also seemed rather complicated to set up.
In July 2018 we planned another hunt in Kalahari, the Thursday before the hunt a colleague of mine told me about a new sight developed in South Africa, that can not only do what the Garmin sight can do, but even have better capabilities than the Garmin sight. I decided to give Roger and Bevan at Suresight a call that afternoon. They invited me to come and look at their new product.
I was not sure what to expect when I drove to their premises. I arrived at their premises late in the afternoon and they immediately offered to fit one of their earlier prototypes on my bow so that I could try it out. I was a bit sceptic as it was late in the afternoon, there was not a lot of daylight left and I was leaving the next morning for my hunt. I had just set my current one-pin sight up the way I preferred, but I decided to go for it in anyway.
To my utter shock and surprise, it only took 30 minutes to mount the sight and have the basic settings sorted. In another 10 minutes the final settings were done, and I was ready to start shooting. I immediately felt very comfortable with the site and was very impressed how easy and uncomplicated it was. Within the first 10 arrows I was already shooting the same groupings I shot previously with my one-pin sight. It just got better and better, shooting from any distance accurately became as easy as pushing a button, getting the laser on the target and off you go.
Bevan and Roger then suggested I keep the sight on my bow and go and try it out for the hunt. I felt as excited as a kid on Christmas eve.
The next morning long before the first sun, we took the long road to the Kalahari. Seven Hours later, including two hours on a very bumpy and dusty gravel road, we arrived at our destination. As one does, out came all the rifles for the traditional sight setting and brag rights as to whom can kill the bullseye and gong the best at long range before the hunt. We were a group of around 16 hunters and everyone stood around the shooting range waiting patiently to get their rifles sighted.
I decided It would be a good idea to get my new Suresight re-sighted as well, because surely it would need a lot of readjustment after the gruelling drive, but to my surprise, the first shot I took at 20 meters I found the bullseye without any issues, so did the second and third shot. The Suresight felt like a trusty old friend and I felt at ease from the word go. It was not long before I noticed a small crowd that had gathered around me, almost like everyone was hypnotised by the beautiful green laser coming from my new friend. Of course, everyone had to have a look and a try. They had a lot of questions, I suddenly, sounded and looked like the pro I most definitely was not.
The next morning it was time for the big hunt to begin. By 09h00 we were in the hide and ready to seize any opportunity that came along. The conditions were far from perfect, windy as hell and blowing right across us. Low and behold, in came a group of Rooibok, but alas, we were asked not to shoot any Rooibok as the farmer was trying to build up his stock. It did not stop me, from testing if the beautiful green laser would affect or scare the buck in anyway. Sure enough, the herd of buck did not even flinch as I ran the laser up and down and across the herd.
After no more action in the morning session we packed up, went for lunch and then went straight back to the hide after lunch, hoping that the wind would die down a bit. Unfortunately, the wind did not die down, if anything, it had just intensified. The wind made all the animals skittish and we saw no more action for another 2 hours at the watering hole.
At last a beautiful Springbok ram made an appearance, but it was clear that he was very weary with the wind blowing so strong. For almost 2 hours he teased us, walking up and down, then going down for a light afternoon nap, getting up for some grooming, then strutting up and down again, just staying out of range all the time.
Then at last, he came a bit closer, in a flash I had the laser sight on him, 34 meters, I looked at my hunting partner, an experienced bow hunter of 17 years. He shook his head and said it would be a very difficult shot in this strong cross wind, but then he said the words I wanted to hear “But if you feel comfortable and confident, then go for it”. Did I feel confident, hell yes, I did, with my new trusty friend, I sure did. Yes, I took the shot, and even to my own surprise, the most perfect shot, straight through the engine room, through the heart and lungs, through and through. Perfect kill shot.
That night around the braai, my hunting partner could not talk enough about THAT perfect shot. And the star of the show, my new old trusty friend - Suresight. Suddenly, I was a suresight sales person, everybody wanting to know, how do they get their hands on their own trusty old friend.
On Monday, 17 September 2018, my husband gave me the excellent news - I was going to shoot my first Kudu!!
He had seen a beautiful Kudu bull on a property where he hunted with clients & he wanted me to shoot it. He went on to say that this property had really thick brush & a lot of thorny bushes, which meant that walking & stalking would be next to impossible, thus we would have to put up a blind. I have never shot from a blind & immediately thought that I would love to use a bow! There was just a slight problem - I had never shot with a bow before & didn't even own one.
Luckily my husband was able to arrange a bow that I could borrow to practice & even hunt with.The idea was for me to take a few shots to see whether I liked it, then practice & decide whether I would shoot the Kudu with the bow or rather with a rifle (which I have more experience with).
On Tuesday, 25 September, I took my first shot with a Bowtech Destroyer 350 set at 40 pounds. The bow was fitted with a new automatic bow sight called a Sure Sight.
To be honest, before I took the first shot I was nervous about two things (with the little knowledge I had on bows).
1. That I wouldn't be able to draw 40 pounds.
2.That I wouldn't know which sight pin to use when I aim.
Thank goodness the 40 pounds ended up being much easier than I anticipated!
As for the sight - well that was a "no-brainer". How amazing to just push a button, range your target with the laser & "Bob's your uncle"!! I'm pretty sure that using the Sure Sight as a beginner has spoiled me for life - I wouldn't want to use any other sight ever! It is so quick & easy, user friendly & in no way confusing at all.
My first few shots felt a bit shaky, but I hit the target & quite liked the feeling of shooting with a bow.
On Wednesday & Thursday I practiced, shooting 6-10 shots each day at 15 yards with field points. On Friday I took 12 shots at 20 yards using broad-heads. On Saturday, 29 September, we were in the blind by 09:30 - sight ranged at 17 yards from the feed.
We barely got settled in when the first Kudu cows arrived at the feed, followed by some younger bulls & then the big bull.
At first he was out of sight for me, but my husband could see him coming closer & closer to my viewpoint. I thought that the moment I see him, he may be too big & that I would get too excited & nervous to shoot, but when he finally stepped into view it was just amazing! Such a majestic & beautiful creature, I was in awe. I took a few deep breaths & just watched him.
At first he stood to the left of the feed, broadside, perfect for a shot! Unfortunately though, there were several other animals behind him & couldn't take the risk of the arrow passing through & wounding another animal. So, we waited. After about 10 minutes, he got spooked & jumped to the side. When he returned to the feed, he moved in on the right hand side & was slightly quartering towards us. We waited for another 15 minutes before I asked whether I could take a shot.
My husband leaned over to see the bull from my point of view, then explained where I should aim.
I lifted the bow, took a deep breath & drew my bow slowly to make as little noise as possible. It felt surprisingly steady.
A moment later I squeezed the trigger & let the arrow rip through the air! What an amazing feeling!
The arrow hit 3 inches below the center of the body, on the shoulder with a complete pass through, hitting both lungs.
The Kudu ran about 70 meters before he went down. By 12:00 we had him loaded & were heading home.
What an amazing experience!
earlier tests on sure sight version 4
Sure Sight asked Harry Marx, who is the president of SABA (South African Bowhunters Association) If he would test the earlier Version, V4 bow sight. This version had the range-finder and green laser in a separate compartment.
Harry published this article in the "Africa's Bowhunter magazine.