Spearfishing is becoming an increasingly popular activity across the world. This extreme sport attracts eager fishers and thrill hunters alike who are keen to get underwater, get up close to fish and make the catch. Spearos need strength, patience and determination to prevail but the experience is never short of buzz.
While some spearfishers use breathing gear, the most traditional way to practise the sport is without. And although the success of the hunt will always depend on the diver, a piece of fundamental equipment is the speargun. Traditionally, these guns were made with wood and rubber bands but as the sport has grown in popularity and technology has advanced, there’s now a wide range to choose from.
Whether you’re a professional spearo or looking for a slice of the action, here’s a guide to the two dominant types of speargun on the market:
The band-powered spearguns are most widely used across the world. Evolving from the use of rubber bands in traditional guns, these guns are very powerful, very accurate and almost silent when fired. The guns include open muzzles to provide a clear view of the shaft path and enable the diver to make an easy aim. The power of the gun is increased or decreased with the addition or removal of rubber bands.
Band-powered guns have an average shaft size of 7mm and are available in lengths of between 50 and 130cm. The barrels are usually made of carbon fiber, wood or aluminum and although they are loaded by hand they can take quite a while to load, depending on the level of power that is required.
No matter what the depth, these spearguns maintain their power and they require very little maintenance throughout use. However, the thin spear shaft is a disadvantage as it is more susceptible to bending when fired at larger fish. This limits the species that spearos can target with the band-powered gun. Additionally, the rubbers used to load the gun will only usually last up to 12 months and will need to be replaced.
Pneumatic spearguns use air to push the spear out of the shaft. These guns are high power and as they have minimal recoil, they can make long-shots with a higher degree of accuracy than the band-powered gun. Air is loaded into the gun through a pumping action and the gun’s power increases with the amount of air it contains. As loading requires human strength, larger guns can be quite difficult to load.
These guns usually have a thick and strong 8mm spear which enables firm penetration into the fish. They are available in lengths of between 55 and 135cm with the smaller guns in the range allowing for quicker and easier loading. An advantage of the pneumatic speargun is that it has a lot of power for its size and it is more powerful than the rubber-powered speargun in shallow waters.
More advanced pneumatic spearguns include a Hi-Lo power actuator which allows spearos to shut off the main reservoir of air to make closer shots. This setting also makes it easier for guns to be loaded at higher pressure and provides a trouble-free discharge before the gun exits the water.
Overall, pneumatic spearguns are powerful, compact and reliable but they do have their disadvantages. These guns are harder to aim, noisy and can lose power at deeper levels. They also require servicing every one to two years and more than a band-powered gun maintenance throughout use.
For all of your free-diving and spearfishing equipment, visit www.apnea.co.uk.