Hook & Barrel
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umarex fishr airjavelin

Abby Casey Bowfishes Tilapia In Florida With The New Umarex AirJavelin FishR Rig

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Give someone a fish, and you’ll feed them for a day. Let someone go bowfishing with the PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) FishR Bowfishing Airgun from Umarex, and you may never see them again. This thing is just that freaking awesome.

Perhaps you count the minutes at your dreary day job until you can slip into a loincloth, snatch up your flint-tipped spear, and go strike out to hunt, fish, explore, and conquer. I was myself raised in the hinterlands of the Mississippi Delta running about like an unwashed wild man. I get it. However, no matter how often you have chased game, drowned crickets, or wet hooks, chances are you’ve never done anything quite like this.

bowfishing with umarex
At the helm, Jason Peters was the professional guide behind this extraordinary adventure.

Bowfishing with Abby Casey

Most states have no restrictions on bowfishing with an airbow at all. It is usually open season for trash fish like carp and gar. For game fish, the rules can potentially be more restrictive, but that’s still pretty rare. In this case, the quarry was South Florida tilapia.

Abby Casey was the primary angler. Some Hook & Barrel readers might know Abby from our Nov./Dec. 2022  issue where she shared with us her outdoor passions and life as a field producer with “American Airgunner.” Abby made her mark as a competitive shooter, chainsaw artist, and social media influencer. Abby and her husband are connoisseurs of wild game, and she was stoked to use Umarex’s new Airjavelin FishR to put some delicious tilapia on the grill. Abby struck out on an airboat with JP Outfitters in pursuit of succulent fish flesh. 

abby casey
Social media influencer Abby Casey was the primary shooter for this outing.

The first surprise of the day is that Florida has a whole lot of alligators. These big toothy lizards were not on the menu, but intense conservation efforts have been lyrically successful. The American alligator has gone from endangered in 1967 to absolutely ubiquitous today. Good for them.

There is a unique technique to bowfishing with  Umarex’s new airbow. After some trial and error, it was found that the optimal technique involved a slow, steady stalk after dark using a handheld spotlight. Letting the boat drift allowed Abby to creep up on her fish unaware. Once within range, it was time to ponder a little physics.

Shooter-Friendly Technology

The surface of the water acts like a lens that bends light in much the same way as your eyeglasses or contact lenses might. That means where you see the fish hovering is not actually where the fish is. Shoot at the image of the fish, and you will miss it every single time. For most engagements, the shooter has to aim way low, like a foot low if the fish is a foot underwater. Like all cool hunting-related skills, this one takes a little trial and error to master. However, it’s not like chasing game fish with a PCP airbow is actual work.

florida alligator

The FishR airgun packs plenty of downrange horsepower. Abby tried the airbow with a spinner reel, a wide-mouth bowfishing reel, and a bottle reel. The bottle reel setup seemed the most user-friendly. In the case of the spinner and wide mouth rigs, if you fire the gun without disengaging the reel first the line will reliably break, even the braided 85-pound test Abby was using. These custom fishing arrows are $35 apiece, so you want to be mindful of that. However, it is a straightforward thing to reel the arrows back in should you fail to connect. 

Abby’s After-Action Report

“Fishing with this new airbow is one of the most exciting things you can do with a PCP,” Abby said. “Bowfishing is fun, FishR fishing is a literal blast. Despite the initial learning curve in mastering shot placement, I found myself hitting my target consistently after the fifth or sixth ‘dang it.’ 

“As someone familiar with airgun hunting, one of my primary concerns was the need to constantly refill a PCP. However, with 65 lethal shots available on a single fill, I never once had to pause and refill my tank. This allowed me to stay focused on the hunt. The only thing that kept me distracted was the Florida state bird … the mosquito.” 

The Pro Points from Innerloc are purpose-designed for this mission. Every fish Abby connected with ended up in the boat. The 1,248-grain arrow is not designed to go all the way through the fish. The barbs built into the point lock in place in the flesh but then rotate 180 degrees for easy removal. 

“Jason with JP Outfitters was a phenomenal guide,” Abby said. “We had a big storm that flooded us in South Carolina and that same rain hit Florida first. I was worried it was going to affect our airbow trip, but JP had a few tricks up his sleeve to combat the deep murky waters that we were facing.”

Running the airbow is a unique experience. One member of the hunting party got multiple shots at the same fish before connecting. Reloads were quick and intuitive. Stalking prey in four dimensions from a silently drifting airboat while taking light refraction into account will undoubtedly elevate your bowhunting game to the next level.

bowfishing with umarex airjavelin fishr

This particular “Umarex Proving Grounds” hunt ended only when the boat got low on gas. Unlike bowfishing with a conventional bow, the FishR was also not so hard on the arms and shoulders. If you can shoot a .22 rifle, you can manage this fish-buster.

The Nuts & Bolts Of The FishR Gun

The Umarex FishR Bowfishing Airgun is a pneumatically powered arrow launcher that is specifically adapted for bowfishing. The gun weighs 6 pounds and includes a full-length Picatinny rail for optics as well as M-Lok slots for accessories. The buttstock is adjustable, and the controls are fully ambidextrous.

umarex fishr

The built-in 155cc compressed air tank manages up to 4,500 psi and is good for around 65 lethal shots on a single charge. There is an 800-psi regulator for consistent performance shot-to-shot, and an integral reel seat on the front of the gun to mount a conventional fishing reel. The airbow comes with one 1,248-grain fishing arrow with an Innerloc Pro-Point broadhead.

Evolution Of The AirJavelin

The Umarex AirJavelin FishR Bowfishing Airgun is the end result of some fairly rarefied mechanical evolution. In case you have been living under a rock someplace, Umarex is the world leader in using compressed air to shoot stuff. Their products span the spectrum from uber-realistic airsoft guns that will pass for the real deal to exotic fare like this dedicated fish-harvesting airbow. 

The Umarex Skunk Works consists of three guys. What goes on in there is off-limits to the outside world. So long as they adhere to safe practices, their sole rule is to develop something innovative that can be sold. The goal is to create new playing fields. 

umarex airjavelin fishr

In the words of Steve Lamboy, the senior director of strategic development, “We study the market and often find solutions to problems that users didn’t know they had. We also build dreams. The FishR was developed in cooperation with Kevin Sullivan of Sullivan Industries, the manufacturer of America’s premier fishing arrows.”

The FishR’s Beginnings

The FishR began life three years ago as a standard AirJavelin. The AirJavelin is a PCP arrow shooter optimized for terrestrial applications. 

“The concept was to develop an air-powered gun with a special valve system capable of accurately sending a typical heavy, solid glass fishing arrow to a target at 100 fps,” Steve continued. “A 1,200-grain solid glass fishing arrow presents much greater power system challenges than a 300-grain hollow carbon hunting arrow. Also, the air reservoir must provide a high shot count to limit the need to refill. The entire gun with all components must also be resistant to saltwater. 

“Powerful, accurate, lightweight, safe, and affordable (less than $500), this new airbow offers a high shot count and was extensively tested by both our lab team and our pros. Kyle Bruso of the Umarex USA research and development team was the ‘hands-on’ creator of the prototypes and proved the design in both the lab and the field.”

Kyle and Steve started with the AirJavelin before indexing to the AirSaber. They then contracted a custom reel mount and had something they could take out onto the water. After several successful fishing trips bagging everything up to and including giant stingrays, they knew they had a winner. And to think it is actually somebody’s job to do stuff like that…

“Growth in bowfishing is held back because not everyone can shoot a bow accurately if at all,” Steve added. “Additionally, the equipment on a fishing bow can be both intimidating and costly. While most people have run an air rifle at some point, none of the current offerings were capable of shooting heavy fiberglass fishing arrows.”

While the launcher is important, the Innerloc arrow is also a critical part of the equation. The design of the Innerloc Pro-Point is rugged and saltwater-resistant for a long life. So long as it is not abused unduly, the arrow should soldier on for ages. 

Parting Shots With The FishR

Steve Lamboy and his team design exotic PCP guns from scratch. Theirs is one of the coolest jobs in the history of jobs. I asked Steve to describe his design philosophy and he said, “Much of what we try fails and fails again. Then it fails even more. We try to fail faster now to get to yes more quickly.” The uber-cool FishR air-powered bowfishing rig is the end result of that remarkable process.

For More Information:

FishR Airgun: umarexusa.com

Abby Casey: acoutdoors.com

Innerloc Broadhead: innerloc.com

Jason Peters Outfitters: jpoutfittersinc.com

umarex airjavelin fishr
Shooting the airbow is as intuitive as running a conventional rifle, except harsh recoil never comes into play.

For some, it is the timeless thrill of the hunt. For others, it is the technical skill required to put a projectile into a very specific spot despite arduous circumstances. With the Umarex Airjavelin FishR Bowfishing Airbow you can develop a fresh set of fieldcraft skills while feeding your family to boot. There’s no better time to take your bowfishing to a whole new level. Fish on! 

The Man With The Coolest Job In The Outdoor World

For the past 15 years, Jason Peters of JP Outfitters has chased everything from fish to alligators to frogs all while speciously claiming it was actually work. Jason is a professional fishing and hunting guide in South Florida. He is also clearly a pretty cool guy.

umarex airjavelin fishr airbow

Jason orchestrated and executed Abby’s outing with the FishR airgun. He called the FishR airgun equipped with a bottle reel, “The safest, easiest bowfishing rig ever devised.” Despite encountering what he described as “The worst weather known to man,” they had a ball exercising the FishR rig. 

After an evening battling howling winds and prodigious waves amidst sprawling freshwater cattail flats, Jason said, “This is a game changer. The FishR airgun literally makes bowfishing obsolete. Everybody in the party landed three or four blue tilapia that ran around four pounds apiece. And that’s in lousy weather. Under good conditions, you could harvest enough fish to sink the boat.”

Jason takes clients out roughly 300 days each year. He is a licensed and insured boat captain with extensive experience in both fresh and salt water. Whether the mission is gigging frogs, landing monster gators, or chasing game fish, Jason Peters is your guide.

Abby Casey American Airgunner
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