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Rac-Em-Bac puts a bullet in your bow


June 16, 2013

Bow Mag increases the striking power of your arrow with the insertion of a .38 special or ...

Bow Mag increases the striking power of your arrow with the insertion of a .38 special or .357 Magnum handgun cartridge

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Many archers in adventure stories and comic books use arrows with unusual heads. These include the standard explosive and grappling hook arrows, and the not-so-standard boxing glove arrow, Greek fire arrow, handcuffs arrow, and the ever popular atomic warhead arrow. While real archers generally have to make do with target and field heads, Louisiana-based archery company Rac-Em-Bac is now providing some spirited alternates.

A hunting arrow shot by an archer will on average have a kinetic energy about equal to that of the lowest energy .22 short cartridge and momentum about three times that of the .22 short. Still, some bow hunters might want a bit more bang in their quiver when up against an animal as tenacious and well-armed as a New Mexico javalina (collared peccary) or the latest costumed criminals. For these folks, and others simply interested in unusual archery ammunition, Rac-Em-Bac of Southwest Louisiana offers three rather atypical arrowheads.

The first, and arguably the strangest, are the Preloaded Scent Arrowheads (PSA), which serve to set the scene for the hunt. They come in ten scents, some of which are far less pleasant than others, and disperse their scent in a three to five foot (1 to 1.5 m) area centered on their impact site. The object is to place a scent that will attract game, or at least be sufficiently interesting to make game animals stop and sniff, so that the hunter can shoot at a stationary target.

Rac-Em-Bac's Preloaded Scent Arrowhead

By dispensing the scent via arrow, there are no traces of human scent leading into the scented area. I'm sure that an enterprising urban crimefighter could adapt these to contain Russian knock-out gas, but I suspect that the smell of rutting bears would be sufficient for most uses.

The second is the Bow Shot, a preloaded arrowhead quite similar in design to the PSAs, but containing #7 steel shot instead of scent. There is no powder charge to propel the shot so relies on the kinetic energy of the arrow to dispel the shot. The overall effect is rather like a Glaser Safety Slug, a prime self-defense handgun round which releases a cargo of #6 or #12 birdshot (#12 is half the size of #7) when it hits a resilient target.

However the Glaser releases its shot at perhaps 900 ft/s (275 m/s), many times faster than shot would be released from an arrowhead. This brings the #7 shot into the realm of truly tiny energy (about 1/1,000 of a .22 short bullet, which limits its use to hunting small game and vermin.

Finally, we reach the powerhouse of the Rac-Em-Bac offerings, the Bow Mag. The concept here is that you attach a hollow plastic arrowhead (the Bow Mag) to your arrow after inserting a .38 special or .357 Magnum handgun cartridge. The Bow Mag has certain similarities to the 3D-printed Liberator, as the construction is all plastic save for a metallic firing pin. The other distinction is that the Bow Mag is not intended to survive even a single shot.

The Rac-Em-Bac Bow Mag arrowhead

It may reasonably be asked what difference exists between launching an arrow tipped with a Bow Mag, and launching an arrow tipped with a powerhead? A powerhead is a specialized firearm that is used for underwater protection and hunting. It consists of a short tube, within which is chambered a round of firearm ammo together with a firing pin. The firing pin may be spring-loaded so that the powerhead fires when it gently touches the target, or may be inertia-fired, which requires a stronger contact.

To this casual viewer, there is no difference whatsoever between the Bow Mag and a spearfishing powerhead when both are attached to an arrow. Powerheads are more expensive, as they are usually made of stainless steel, which also allows them to be reused. They also have a safety, which seems a good idea.

The Bow Mag has only an inertial safety of sorts, which is strong enough that the Bow Mag often fails to fire when it impacts a target, as can seen in this video. In both cases, the added killing power is provided more by injection of the propulsive gases from the fired cartridge into the prey than by the bullet, which will be moving very slowly indeed in the absence of a barrel.

There are some potential legal issues, particularly with the Bow Mag. While most oddly garbed crusaders tend not to sweat the small things, the US laws about weapon restrictions for hunting are different in each of the 50 states, and often vary for localities within a state. Rac-Em-Bac states in their FAQ section that, "It is important to check with your local or state game warden before hunting with the Bow-Mag, although it is legal to hunt certain types animals, such as wild hogs, coyotes or other nuisance animals."

There are other potential issues, as powerheads are considered firearms if not permanently attached to a speargun shaft. As with all unusual weapons, the purchaser should do their homework before parting with their cash.

In the end, do the Rac-Em-Bac arrowheads make hunting easier or the kills more humane? Time may tell, but I can't make a forecast. Reports will come in as serious hunters try out these devices, but I am most interested in hearing the exciting tales of those who bravely wear the heroic unitard.

Source: Rac-Em-Bac

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.   All articles by Brian Dodson

IMHO (confirmed by comments on firearms/hunting relatead blogs) serious hunters will just steer clear from something that is more likely to injury the prey with a loud bang instead of killing it in the shortest time possible (with a suitable broadhead).

Personally I'd prefer the opposite approach: http://www.laruetactical.com/ruger-10-22-deluxe-arrow-conversion-kit

Giolli Joker
17th June, 2013 @ 03:00 am PDT

It is my understanding that some 50% of archery hits are not clean kills; they're just wounding hits and the targeted animal can suffer for days at a time with an arrow in it's body. How incredibly painful would that be? Wounding hits are nothing less than cruelty to animals. Have you seen the pic of a deer with an arrow through it's nose and exiting it's muzzle? It took days before that deer died. Archery ranks with trapping as the cruelest acts perpetuated on our wildlife. Hopefully, as a supposedly civilized society, we'll eventually ban archery hunting as well as trapping.

17th June, 2013 @ 05:02 am PDT

It is illegal in many states to put explosives on arrows for hunting.

MPB, there are archers and good archers; trappers and good trappers; gun hunters and good gun hunters; city slickers and good city slickers. Visit a slaughterhouse and then talk about how cruel archery is.

17th June, 2013 @ 06:27 am PDT

Are they kidding with this, or what? This has got to be one of the dumbest ideas ever conceived.

Tom Phoghat Sobieski
17th June, 2013 @ 06:54 am PDT

MPB, I'm confused by your statements. The problem I've seen with most archery hunting isn't the weapon as usual it is the operator. It takes skill to use a bow to hunt. The reason so many hits are not clean is more because the operator failed to learn to use the tool before taking it to the field. Unskilled operators will result in terrible pain and suffering regardless of the tool used to apply it. I've seen deer with awful scars from buckshot and badly aimed rifles too. So maybe we should ban firearms from hunting as well. Having banned firearms, traps, and bows that pretty much leaves no hunting whatsoever, which is not going to happen. The 2nd amendment crowd would die of collective apoplexy, or lynch the lawmakers, before it reached law. Making prospective hunters take a competency test, regardless of the tool used, before issuing a hunting license would improve safety and reduce woundings.

I sincerely hope though that your wish is not fulfilled banning bow hunting. Bow hunting happens to be one of the only ways to deter wolves without practicing genocide. If you use an arrow with a strong human scent you only have to kill a single wolf to deter the pack for three generations. If you use a firearm you have to kill every member of the pack to prevent them coming back. It has to do with wolves being learning animals. Wolves cannot see the connection between loud bangs, humans, and death. If you use an arrow they can see it originate with the human, kill the pack-mate, and the scent tells them human. They then connect human scent with death and stay away from it. You do have to leave a potentially valuable carcass to rot as the pack will come back for their pack-mate and seeing it dead and reeking of human strengthens the connection. The pack then teaches its pups to fear humans for at least three generations.

On a technical note I'm confused by the statement that arrows only have the kinetic energy of a .22. I'll have to go research that as I was always told that modern bows and x-bows especially hit harder than most rifles. That came from a crowd that hunts with a 30/30 for large game so they would not have been comparing it to a .22 anything.

17th June, 2013 @ 07:58 am PDT

MBadgero, you're just trying to rationalize the torture of wildlife. You're not even acknowledging the worst of the archers, hunters and trappers out there.

I'm an ex-hunter, live in grizzly and wolf country, climb mountains and know how to survive so don't give me any crap about being a "city slicker."

Without question, shooting arrows into wildlife and trapping wildlife with snares, leg hold or conibear traps is cruelty to and torture of wildlife. PERIOD.

There are some clean killing rifle shots but where I live, idiots with AR-47s fire multiple shots into elk herds, wounding many. They're frigging slob hunters. I think the ethical long barrel hunter is a dying breed - slobs have taken over.

17th June, 2013 @ 08:59 am PDT

Hey there MPB... the "Non-Cityslicker" and avid outdoorsmen-informed ex-hunter... Ummm you end with a comment about "AR-47's"... I think you mean either "AK-47's", or "AR-15's"

17th June, 2013 @ 10:26 am PDT

No, MPB, I am not rationalizing torture of wild animals. But I believe killing animals, wild or not, is justified for food, clothing, or protection of life or property. There are more or less humane ways to kill, but none are perfectly humane.

As for the crap about being a city slicker, all I know about you is what you say, and you claimed that 50% of archery hits are not clean kills. Maybe where you live, but not here. And your comments about trapping are totally off the topic of this article.

17th June, 2013 @ 12:12 pm PDT

VirtualGathis, you fail to realize that as we hopefully evolve as a species, we will eventually learn to live with wildlife instead of killing wildlife for idiotic reasons, such as trophy hunting. Numbers of hunters of all methods are in a serious long term decline in the U.S.A., and that's a good thing. If the American public really knew the torture that hunters and trappers force upon our wildlife, they wouldn't tolerate it at all, NRA, congressional reps and everyone else be damned.

Your statements "If you use an arrow with a strong human scent you only have to kill a single wolf to deter the pack for three generations" and "The pack then teaches its pups to fear humans for at least three generations" are absurd and have no basis in reality. Show me the science behind your statements. You can't do it.

Wolves have a valuable place in a healthy ecosystem. Remove privately owned cows and sheep from our public lands, e.g., OUR BLM lands and OUR National Forests and the issue of wolves taking livestock suddenly disappears.

I'll say it again: I hate archers, trappers and most hunters.

17th June, 2013 @ 02:17 pm PDT

I would like to see arrows tipped with tranquilizer darts. Great white hunters could shoot animals, tranquilize them, cure disease, vaccinate, and take data and videos to show off their manly hunting prowess and release their "trophy" for another to "hunt". Archery gives hunter's prey more of a fighting chance than guns do.

Hunters tend to kill trophy animals, the best examples of the species. This harms the species' gene pool. Predators usually cull the ill and less well adapted, enhancing their gene pool instead. In fact, meat hunters would do better to cull young, better tasting animals rather than older musky trophy animals.

17th June, 2013 @ 02:28 pm PDT

Given the same skill level a weapon/ammunition that does more damage "should" increase the likelihood/speed of a kill.

If you want to eat, then use a bolt action rifle fit for purpose and take clean shots only.

Hell, I don't even use dogs when pig hunting, sneaking makes for the best eating :P

Bows are more about the challenge etc etc I guess, they're good fun but I wouldn't shoot an animal with one. Why chance putting all that effort to waste? And an animal full of adrenaline tastes rubbish.

Also... aluminum shafts are hollow and percussion caps can fit on the end. Don't shoot it at an animal, but give a tree a fright.

That'll satisfy your bang bang craving if you're bow mad :)

Craig Jennings
17th June, 2013 @ 02:51 pm PDT


"On a technical note I'm confused by the statement that arrows only have the kinetic energy of a .22. I'll have to go research that as I was always told that modern bows and x-bows especially hit harder than most rifles. That came from a crowd that hunts with a 30/30 for large game so they would not have been comparing it to a .22 anything."

The article is right.

The kinetic energy is given by (half) the mass of the projectile and the SQUARE of its velocity and a 22LR bullet although much lighter, is at least 3 times faster than the faster arrow...

This doesn't mean that arrows cannot take down large game: their sharp heads do not lose energy by deforming, so they penetrate deeply cutting muscles and organs.

Maybe your hunter friends just meant that arrows can kill large game as rifles, and that it's true.

Giolli Joker
18th June, 2013 @ 12:00 am PDT

re; all the anti-hunters

Without harvest the wildlife population exceeds the carrying capacity of the land and results in mass starvation die off. The would suffer from poorly aiming human hunters is no worse that the wounds inflicted by animal predators.

The city based anti hunting crowd always changes it tune when it is their children being killed by the wildlife.

18th June, 2013 @ 03:48 am PDT

Hardly a new idea, was doing this sort of thing when I was a kid 50 years ago (I am sure I was not the first either). I gave it up when one time the explosion fired the arrow back and narrowly missed me. I always wondered why that never happened to Rambo.

18th June, 2013 @ 05:01 am PDT

Actually, MBadgero, you are rationalizing the torture of wild animals. But I'm not interested in arguing that point.

I agree that killing wildlife for food or protection of life or property is justified, as long as the method is as humane as possible. But the protection of life or property instance is quite rare. And I'm totally against killing wildlife for "sport" or trophy.

My statement about some 50% of archery hits not being clean kills is based off one or more archery sites I visited years ago. How would you like to see your dog, with an arrow in it's body, suffer for days and die a slow, painful death?

18th June, 2013 @ 06:11 am PDT

Slowburn, nothing you said has any basis in reality.

With natural predators, such as wolves, grizzlies, coyotes, etc., wildlife populations follow the natural curve nature intended: prey populations rise, then the predator populations rise to meet the supply. Prey populations decline, then predator populations decline. Prey and predator populations are always in flux. Hunters and "wildlife management" agencies hate that and want a steady supply of wildlife available to be killed. We've removed or surpress most of the natural predators from our landscapes, and THAT'S when prey (you said wildlife) populations explode.

Prey being eaten alive goes into a state of shock so being eaten alive would not be as painful as suffering for days with an arrow in the body and dying a slow, painful death.

"The city based anti hunting crowd always changes it tune when it is their children being killed by the wildlife."

Really? Give me one example, one source, one article about "children being killed by the wildlife."

18th June, 2013 @ 06:20 am PDT

re; MPB

Predator animals do not always kill that which they attack. Many of the prey animals are injured but escape.

Your right I said wildlife I meant prey species but until you reintroduce the predators that use to live in your area back into your neighborhood Don't tell me to reintroduce them into mine.


Except in vermin killing the meat is usually harvested.

18th June, 2013 @ 12:32 pm PDT

If the cartridge is driven several inches into the prey before the charge is fired the amount of damage done is going to be much greater.

When I was taught to hunt. It was stressed that if you wound an animal you track it down and kill it.

18th June, 2013 @ 12:42 pm PDT

"...until you reintroduce the predators that use to live in your area back into your neighborhood Don't tell me to reintroduce them into mine."

Okay, fine. We've reintroduced the predators that used to live in my area, e.g., wolves and grizzlies. I have wolves and grizzlies where I live as well as black bears, coyotes and more. According to what you said, I can now tell you to reintroduce them into your area. Go ahead.

Allright, with Wikipedia you've got a good source of "...children being killed by wildlife." Since 1890, there's been approximately 8 children worldwide reportedly killed by cougars. I maintain your statement "The city based anti hunting crowd always changes it tune when it is their children being killed by the wildlife" is inflamatory and has no basis in reality.

"Except in vermin killing the meat is usually harvested." Prove it. I disagree.

18th June, 2013 @ 08:51 pm PDT

Comparing the power of an arrow to a .22 or 30/30 is more about the transfer of energy rather than the quantity. A five gallon plastic bucket filled with sand will easily stop a soft point 30/30 while a broadhead arrow launched from a modest 60 pound bow will cut right through and out the other side. Change the target to a 1/2 piece of plywood and the arrow is quickly stopped while the 30/30 easily passes on through. The low energy arrow's impressive game killing power is due to the fact that it cuts through soft tissue just like the bucket of sand. Usually the arrow passes cleanly through a deer sized animal unless hitting a large bone.

As far as the cruelty argument goes, would you rather be quickly dispatched with a bullet or arrow OR be chased to exhaustion, torn apart and eaten alive by a predator? Maybe you would prefer freezing or starving? This time of year as I observe nature I am constantly reminded that the number one predator food is the young or baby animal. Nature is beautiful but incredibly cruel. By comparison hunting is usually much more humane.

19th June, 2013 @ 07:11 am PDT

Bob, your premise about the "cruelty argument" is flawed. Certainly, a human or animal would rather be quickly killed (the word "dispatch" softens the reality) than be eaten alive. But not 100% of archery or bullet hits are quick killing. It is my understanding that some 50% of archery hits are wounding hits, not killing hits.

How would you like to see your dog, with an arrow in it's body, suffer for days and die a slow, painful death? I read a recent article about a dog, trapped in a leg hold trap, that chewed it's paw off in order to return to it's owners.

We have laws against cruelty to domestic animals but none regarding wildlife. This must and will change.

19th June, 2013 @ 11:32 am PDT

re; MPB

I like your use of the old and worn moving goalpost trick. You asked for "Give me one example, one source, one article about "children being killed by the wildlife." I gave you a link to the confirmed kills from one species and you mock it. Given that you can not change the mind of someone that ignores the evidence. Have a nice day in your fantasy world where the animals are good and virtuous and people are evil.

19th June, 2013 @ 04:42 pm PDT

Slowburn, I'm not moving any goalposts. I said you had a good source. I didn't mock anything.

I still maintain your statement "The city based anti hunting crowd always changes it tune when it is their children being killed by the wildlife" is inflammatory and has no basis in reality.

And I don't live in a "fantasy world where the animals are good and virtuous and people are evil." I happen to believe that yes, God did give us dominion over animals but along with that dominion comes responsibility for those animals. In other words, we shouldn't abuse or torture them.

There's some great people on the face of the earth as well as sick, sadistic assholes who enjoy torturing animals, both domestic and wild. And they can go to hell.

19th June, 2013 @ 08:44 pm PDT


I don't know any hunters or trappers who intentionally wound or torture animals. Rifles and bows have never been more accurate or efficient than they are today. Leg hold traps have been almost completely replaced with more humane versions. Your examples are tragic and no doubt true but obviously picked to make a blanket condemnation of hunting. A dog with an arrow in it wasn't done by a hunter. If you read a hunting article about animals not being cleanly killed, the purpose of the article was to educate new hunters to be more responsible and always try to take the best shot or avoid the shot. No hunter wants to make a bad shot. How about you? If you own a cat or dog and let them outside, they will quickly kill and torture any small wildlife that they find. Probably shouldn't own a pet. Hit a bird or squirrel on a trip to the store for cigarettes? Outlaw cars and trucks.

20th June, 2013 @ 08:11 am PDT

How would you deal with a mis-fired arrow where the bullet does not detonate?

I guess with a normal lost or unretrievable arrow you could abandon it, but it would be a bit irresponsible to leave 'live ammunition on a stick' laying about everywhere.

2nd July, 2013 @ 05:45 am PDT

First off, this product would be illegal to use. Explosive arrows are strictly forbidden, be it Rambo, or Dukes of Hazard style.

second, For the most part, only Slowburn has any real idea what he is talking about. (if I missed any rational people in this slew of anti-hunter drivel, please forgive me.)

i have been a hunter, nearly as long as I could walk. I hunt meat, not bones. If it has a rack, that is just a souvenir of the journey. I hunt with longbow, compound, crossbow, shotgun and rifle. I know what I am doing, and i was trained as Father to Son, as have many generations of hunters. There ARE training and testing in place for new hunters, there have been for more than 20 years. you must pass the "Hunter safety" class to even buy a license.

Using an arrow that destroys itself, even if legal, would be stupid. My arrows, are trimmed to fit my draw length, weighted to be exactly identical, tuned to fly straight, timed to match flight characteristics, and cost me (even on sale) roughly $10.00 each (minus the razor-head/ twice that with the heads).

I track every hit animal, for a quick and humane death, and no wasted meat. Even trophy hunters are forbidden (by law) to waste the meat. There are "Hunter's Against Hunger" programs in every state now.

For those of you who deplore hunting, unless you are a true vegan, you are a hypocrite.

It is no different than going to the market for beef, or pork, or chicken, raised in a pen and slaughtered by a butcher for you. I'm just cutting out the middleman. So try to get past your knee-jerk reaction, and learn something.

I am a hunter, and proud of it!

5th July, 2013 @ 01:56 pm PDT

One hundred sixty-one bowhunters participated in the NSFIH hunting program during 1989–2006. One hundred and four bow- hunters (65%) hit 908 and recovered 746 deer within 24 hours. This represents a recovery rate of 82 ± 2.5%. The corresponding wounding rate was 18 ± 2.5%. The mean number of bowhunters was almost 27 per year (SD 4.1), with participants hunting a mean of three seasons (SD 3.3). Hunting events averaged 459 per season, or about 5.1 hunting events per day. Total bowhunting effort was 26,163 hours for 8270 events, an average of 3.2 hours per event. Bowhunters averaged 35 hours of hunting effort per recovered deer. The average bowhunter density on NSIFH was 0.37 hunters/ km2.

Brad A Birmele
12th September, 2013 @ 01:30 am PDT
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