Bowathalon – Is this the next big thing in the bowhunting and competitive archery world?

You are probably wondering what a bowathalon is.  You are not alone; Wikipedia isn’t sure, and Google doesn’t really know either.  Both of those sources will try to point you to a biathalon, which is close.

“Bowathalon” is a term being used by the guys from Bowcast to describe an event at their upcoming Bowcast at the Bird 3D shoot.  The bowathalon event is a timed competition in which archers will compete against one another, in real-time, on a course that includes several shots at 3D targets.  The competition is part foot race, part obstacle course (it is being taken place in rugged mountain terrain), and part 3D shoot.

The Bowcast guys aren’t the only ones trying their hand at this type of event.  My buddy Steve has teamed up with the Train to Hunt crew and put together a special competitive course for the upcoming Bogus Challenge 3D shoot.  I’ll let the guys from Train to Hunt explain the course…

If you don’t see the video above, please watch it here.

I am sure that many of you would think that this type of event is right up my alley.  After all, I am all about bowhunting  and running, right?

To be honest, I am not sure what to think of this “sport” yet.  I definitely think it sounds like fun!  I am excited to see it take shape, and excited about what it could become, but I also have some reservations about the impact that it may have on the bowhunting world.  I will probably write something soon about why I think it is good, and conversely, what reservations or cautions that I think we should consider, but for now I want to hear from you?

Do you think this sport will grow?

Do you think that the growth of this sport would be good for bowhunting?

Do you think it is a good test of realistic hunting ability?

Would you be interested in participating in such an event?

Let’s hear it!  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • Ben Adams

    Sounds pretty interesting! I’ll be curious to see how it turns out. The real challenge is going to be trying to slow down after running to shoot at the targets. 

    • SoleAdventure

      Ben, I think that slowing down and executing a shot will be a big challenge. Actually, I think that is one of the most realistic and beneficial aspects of participating in this type of event. Shooting with an elevated heart rate is a great practice. Running and “buck fever” are two different things, but they do share some similar challenges when it comes to executing a proper shot.

  • http://www.thewilltohunt.com/ Will Jenkins

    I think its pretty cool. It promotes two things that I love, fitness and bowhunting! With anything there is a possibility for it to got the wrong way but I think in it’s most basic form it’s good for hunters and the hunting community. Part of the reason is because I think it can be a venue to showcase to non or anti hunters the dedication we have. That we don’t stroll through the woods with a shotgun and six pack and plop down on a tree stump and wait for a deer. Anyway, I’m definitely interested to see how it develops as well as seeing more of your thoughts Mark!

    • SoleAdventure

      That is a great point, Will! Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/IDBoneCollector Dustin Jones

    I like this a lot. I think this is a great start. I know that it is a newer idea and all but I think this will catch on! With all the archery hype right now with The Hunger Games and other archery shows coming out, I think people are looking for a way to get into archery and this is definitely a great way and it introduces them to the hunting aspect of it also. And come on… who doesn’t like a little challenge?

    I agree with Will in the fact that this is a great way to show how committed we are to our sport and the physicality that it requires. I know that it is a little on the extreme side in the fact that I don’t ever recall a situation where I ran for half a mile then shot at an animal, but like you and Ben mentioned the fact that it requires you to try and control your heart rate and breathing similar to a live situation. The thing that I find may be a problem is that participating in an event like this may give someone the misconception that it is still OK to take a shot even if you aren’t under control. A long distance shot while you are panting, out of breath, and your heart is beating out of your chest is not one that anyone wants to take until they are under control. I understand that it is about the challenge and to push you but sometimes newbies (and old fogies) go to archery shoots and some of the shots at the shoot are some you may not take in the field. They are challenging and push you a little but may not be the most ethical shots. I think if they take those shots at the shoot and hit them, they feel they are able to take them in the field. 

    Sorry for the long response but yes I think it is a great idea and it will catch on. I’m fortunate enough to be able to visit The Bogus Challenge in June and experience this first hand. I’ll be sure to post my thoughts on my first hand experience with the event.

    • SoleAdventure

      Dustin,

      You bring up some great points.  I think that this “sport” can definitely benefit from the rise in interest around archery, combined with the rise in interest in things like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, etc.

      I can definitely understand your concern about folks taking shots in a hunting situation that shouldn’t be taken, and I can see how this event could lead to that.  Most people know better, but I can see how maybe surprising yourself by nailing a shot in the competition could lead to some false confidence in the field.Enjoy the Bogus Challenge!  Steve has worked really hard on putting together some great courses, and some great sponsors.

  • http://twitter.com/SoCalBowhunter Al Quackenbush

    This is definitely an interesting concept and I am going against the grain here a bit as an old school bowhunter. Ok, just an older bowhunter. Keep in mind, I am no bowhunting or fitness expert. I think this will definitely grow, but not on a crazy level. This is definitely not aimed at the new bowhunter, but as one that may take on some crazy hunts or challenges on a hunt.

    Do I think that the growth of this sport would be good for bowhunting? I don’t think it’s going to be good or bad. For those who want to do it and challenge themselves more and more this will be a tool for success, provided you prepare yourself physically AND mentally.

    Do I think it is a good test of realistic hunting ability? Not really and here’s why. It’s in a high altitude situation and it’s run-n-shoot. I know that while I hunt the foothills out here in SoCal, workout regularly and bust my hump hiking that the altitude change from sea level to up there would kick my a$$. Would I love the challenge? Sure thing, but is it realistic, I don’t think so. For the guys who hunt out of a treestand, I doubt you are going to find guys sprinting up to a target with 25 lbs. on their back to shoot a deer or bear. Remember, the questions was is it a good test of ‘realistic hunting ability’.

    I’d be interested in it if there were more details laid out. While the Train to Hunt guys don’t want to give the course details away, a responsible bowhunter would want to train to some ability for this course. You can dig around to find elevation details and such, but more information should be given out, especially seeing that this is the first challenge of its type. Give the altitude, some of the challenges and explain if medical personnel will be readily available. You are talking about taking on a challenge that your body may not be used to and if you push too far you could be in trouble. Without medical personnel there and knowing what I was getting myself into, I’d be hard-pressed to take it on with a family at home counting on me.
     

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Al.  Your comments definitely have me thinking.  I would agree that running/sprinting alone isn’t going to be anywhere near realistic for most hunters.  However, as I mentioned in one of the previous comments, I do think that taking a shot with an elevated heart rate is good practice.  

      The more that I think about this type of event, the more I realize that the major benefit, and really the major test, is all mental.  When it comes down to it, can you lay all of the exhaustion and distractions aside, find the “zone”, and make a calm, properly executed shot in the heat of the moment?  In a hunting situation you have a different type of distraction, a different type of “my heart is racing” experience, but it is still about mentally finding the zone and executing a shot.

  • Austin”AMP” Pierce

    I’ve been keeping up on the bowcast guys for a while and I love the idea… Also it is called the 46rail mountain mile, it just happens to be set up with bowcast at the bird… In case anyone is having trouble finding details on it…

    I love the idea, granted something’s will wok while others won’t… It’s just a matter of figuring it all out! I hope to see it grow and I hope to get over my broken leg enough to become a true competitor sometime!

  • http://twitter.com/FoggyMtnMeander Justin M.

    Although I love the idea of this and would like to take part in something like this, I am on the fence about it. As Will said, I think this would show case the dedication that some bow hunters have for the sport! Yet as a whole for the sport I don’t think this will have a huge impact positively or negatively. As if does get to put your endurance to the test as well as your mental focus, it doesn’t replicate hunting. It’ll be a great tool for those that take part, but I don’t see this becoming something that will become a huge part of archery, bow hunting, or the sport as a whole.

  • http://twitter.com/_Up_and_Adam Adam Brister

    Now this is cool! It’s definitely a far cry from the 3D shoots around here where you have people carrying along chairs and stools so they won’t have to stand while waiting for other groups of archers to finish. The added realism of an elevated heart rate while trying to take a challenging shot in the field is what is missing from 3D shoots, in my opinion. Is this particular setup from the Train to Hunt guys over-the-top or unrealistic for the majority of bowhunters? Maybe. However, the basic drive behind training for hunting is training harder than the conditions you expect to face in the field. Maybe you won’t have to sprint a half mile before taking a shot at your deer. I don’t see a negative to training that way. I do have to agree with Al that the high altitude where the challenge takes place would be brutal for us guys who typically train at low elevations.

    As for the shots presented, I think there will always be those who take unethical or low percentage shots in the field, whether they shoot 3D or not. This comes down to personal accountability and I don’t think these guys are necessarily condoning that behavior. It only adds to the challenge of the course.

    I think this could grow, but I don’t think it will be on a large scale, at least initially. I think it will gain a following among a select group of hunters, those who are already devoted to a regimen of fitness training. The Hunger Games may contribute some, but I think the core competitors will be hardcore hunters. Another thing to watch is whether they organize other events in different parts of the country. I’m rather envious of Dustin, since he is so close to the location the shoot is being held! As for whether it’s good or bad for the industry, I don’t think it’s going to have a tremendous effect either way. If it affects anything, I see more good than bad. Within the group of hardcore hunters that are likely to jump on board, I think there is a lot of integrity and respect for the game and the sport that will channel the competitive nature of this new shoot in positive directions.

    I’d love to fly to Idaho for the Bogus Challenge, but a prior commitment here at home is going to prevent me from going. Hopefully it will be a success and more Shoots will be scheduled in the future. I’d love to see if I’m up to the challenge!

    • SoleAdventure

      Good thoughts, Adam. I think that once folks from across the country have a chance to see and understand these events, then they will be doing their best to “bring them home” and you will see them popping up sporadically.

  • David Beasley

    I think this could be a good idea. At least in part. I had been thinking of something very similar and had pitched to the Outdoor Channel as something of an alternative to watching someone sitting in a tree and getting excited about a deer walking up to within shooting range. While this is an effective way to harvest animals and puts food on the table, it really gets boring watching the same thing time after time. What I had suggested is having a 3d type shooting course through the woods with pop-up targets. The archer would walk the course, as if stalking the animal, for time. If he went too fast, he might miss a target popping up. If he skips the target, he is penalized. But when the target pops up, he would have something like three to five seconds to shoot the target before it went down. Scoring would be the acuracy of the shots as well the time for completing the course. I doubt they will go for it as I don’t think there are any tournaments out there like this. There is for pistols, rifles, 3 gun, and the like, but not for this. While the 3d shoot is good for getting ready to hunt, it’s not very realistic. I don’t know of many animals that will give their predator two minutes to shoot at them. Anyway, that is my two cents worth. OK, a nickels worth. But I think it would catch on. Like the rest though, I think it might take awhile. Take it for what it is worth.