Airbows for Pennsylvania deer hunting?

Posted on: February 26, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Blog--AirbowThe airbow, a shoulder-mounted, compressed air-powered weapon that fires an arrow, was introduced to the market earlier this year.

A new tool might be coming to Pennsylvania’s woods.

State Rep. Marc Gergely, an Allegheny County Democrat, is circulating for co-sponsors a proposal to legalize the use of the brand new Airbow for deer hunting.

The Airbow, for those who haven’t seen it, looks like a sort of high-tech, futuristic rifle. It’s powered by compressed air, like a hunting air rifle. Rather than shooting pellets, though, it fires an arrow, similar to a crossbow bolt.

The Airbow debuted earlier this year. Videos on the Crosman website – the company makes it under its Benjamin airguns brand – show it being used to take down big game.

Gergely said he saw one at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg and thinks it has potential here as a way to get more people in the woods, especially those with physical challenges.

“I think it’s a neat new tool. It’s obviously very efficient. It’s absolutely lethal out to 50 yards, easily,” he said.

He doesn’t foresee legalizing it for use in archery season. Instead, he’d like to see it allowed for use in the firearms deer season. Later, maybe, it might make sense to allow it in the October muzzleloader deer season, too, he added.

“I think of it almost as a muzzleloader, in that it’s a primitive weapon in a sense,” Gergely added.

The Airbow is not currently legal, said Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau, given that it’s considered and air gun. State law prohibits their use for hunting.

Rep. Matt Gabler, a Clearfield County Republican, is sponsor of a bill that would remove that prohibition, though, and allow the commission to incorporate air guns into hunting seasons. Known as House Bill 263, it passed the House of Representatives unanimously and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Neither Lau nor Gergely could say whether passage of that bill into law would make the Airbow legal.

That’s why Gergely introduced his bill, to get things rolling either way, he said.

“Given the increasing popularity of airbows and their effectiveness, this bill will place Pennsylvania at the forefront in actualizing its potential for expanding hunting opportunities and for promoting needed growth in the sport,” he said in his memo.

His bill has attracted interest from other lawmakers, Gergely said. It’s such a new product, though, that some aren’t aware of it.

He’s arranging for the manufacturer to meet with legislators and provide a demonstration.

“I think it’s a pretty neat new way of looking at hunting,” Gergely said.

Those who haven’t seen the Airbow can get a look at it here.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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