Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 03:20 AM - SpearfishingSpearfishing has turned into a popular sport around the world. It has enthusiasts from the United States to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Africa, and many other destinations including colder climates. The act of spearfishing requires that a diver be submerged underwater, either on a breath of air (commonly called freediving) or using scuba equipment. While underwater, the diver uses one of a variety of spearing devices to capture their prey.
Some common spearfishing devices are spearguns, polespears, and Hawaiian slings. The spearguns are shaped like a traditional gun, but shoot a long metal shaft, usually powered by thick rubber bands (aka band guns) or compressed air (aka pneumatic guns). On a speargun, there is usually a tether connecting the shaft to the gun, and there are different types of devices on the end of the spearshaft that prevent the fish from coming off. Those same devices can usually be found on polespears and Hawaiian slings as well, the most simple being a single "flopper" that opens up once the shaft has passed through the fish.
A polespear consists of a long, stiff pole (usually 5-8ft.), with a thick rubber band protruding from one end and a short spearing device on the other end. The diver shoots the polespear by grasping the rubber band between the thumb and forefinger, stretching it down the shaft, and grasping the shaft with the same hand that holds the rubber band. When the target is in sight, the diver aims the spear and releases it, hopefully hitting the fish. In some places, like parts of the Bahamas, spearguns are illegal and divers must use devices like polespears or Hawaiian slings for shooting fish.
The Hawaiian sling is almost a cross between a speargun and a polespear. It shoots a shaft similar in appearance to a speargun shaft, but it has no "trigger" mechanism. the Hawaiian sling is usually a small handle, that allows a spearshaft to pass through, and there is a rubber band attached that the shaft is pulled back on. The concept is similar to how a bow and arrow work, but the mechanics are different due to the fact that it needs to work efficiently underwater. Overall, the Hawaiian sling and polespears are simple devices.
The different techniques used to dive underwater vary from region to region. Breath-hold divers are commonly referred to as "freedivers." Freediving is a sport in and of itself and there are many competitive freedivers around the globe. Competitive freedivers compete for diving to great depths underwater on a single breath of air. Freedive spearfishing is very common in many places, and in some countries, it is the only way to spearfish legally. The greatest risk associated with freediving is a phenomenon referred to as "shallow water blackout." Shallow water blackout occurs when a diver has stayed submerged for too long, and upon returning to the surface, their body tissues expand (primarily the lungs) pulling oxygen from the blood. It is important for freedivers to be knowledgeable about the dangers associated with shallow water blackout and the safe practices that can help prevent it.
Scuba diving is also a popular means of underwater diving while spearfishing. Scuba divers breath compressed air from a tank while underwater. While scuba diving gives the advantage of allowing the diver to stay submerged longer, it has disadvantages as well. The bubbles from the escaping air that scuba divers breathe can scare fish off, and scuba divers must obey scuba safety requirements strictly in order to not be susceptible to "bends" or decompression sickness caused by compressed gasses escaping bodily tissues. It is important that scuba divers go through proper training and certification before using scuba equipment.
The underwater world is vastly different from the world we experience daily, and spearfishing can be a great escape that combines the excitement of "fishing" with the excitement of being in the underwater environment. Whether freediving or scuba diving, spearfishing is a popular sport and a great way to get fresh fish for the dinner table. There are many spearfishing websites on the internet where more information can be found, World Spearfishing Guide is a good place to start because it has categorized links to nearly all of the spearfishing sites on the web. Another good way to learn about spearfishing is to talk to others in your area by posting on spearfishing forums. Spearfishing forums provide a place where people from around the globe can talk about their common interest in the sport.
If you are interested in the sport, do a Google search for "spearfishing" to find additional information. There are also many spearfishing clubs around the world. Just like there are "fishing tournaments," in many places there are popular "spearfishing tournaments" where people gather to compete in the sport. The most important thing to do is to learn safe practices, and dive with people more experienced than yourself when getting started.
By: Chris Hartwell
Chris Hartwell is the webmaster for World Spearfishing Guide one of the largest spearfishing portals on the web.
Fishing information courtesy of Resources For Attorneys, a legal resource and lifestyle information portal for attorneys, lawyers and the internet public.
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