How Four Spearos became Targets!

By: Capt. Chad Carney

Certainly a rare topic, but it’s purpose is to make underwater hunters aware of unique dangers and how to avoid them. No reason to name names. In my 50+ years spearfishing, I’ve seen loaded spearguns fire on boats and kick back hitting the owner in the gut or leg, and damage boats. Mostly the spears missed all, as they were pointed outboard. Only one went off inboard because the captain stowed it in a gunwale rack and a moderate wave bump fired it into his cabin – fortunately empty!  Three of these spearos are divers who have been shot by other spearfishermen and 1 shot himself. Fortunately, all survived and many still spearfish.

#1- A 1980’s ex-buddy of mine, who had a .223 powerhead, minus a safety pin, in the worst place, a BC weight pocket. While removing his pack, the ammo shot to the deck and ricocheted into his thigh and up to his hipbone. (Just a foot away, I helped doff his gear!)

#2 – A very experienced diver and spearo I dove with for years on rigs in LA and TX, but not that day. He speared a big AJ, knifed and strung it and ascended to shallow water, in fair visibility. A spearo shot at his fish but missed and hit his ankle. The shooter freaked out frantically grabbed #2 and bolted to the surface, but yanked out his regulator. Thankfully he had a pony tank. After #2 calmed down he said, “You know, no speared, stoned, strung and hand held fish looks anything like a live fish!” I added, “They don’t blow bubbles either!” When #2’s wife found out who shot him, she decked him in the hospital!

#3 – A long ago story, we met on a Bahamas spearing trip from 1980+. When he took off his shirt I had to ask about a round scar in his chest. He called it his “exit scar” and turned around to show his “entry scar.” He never saw the shooter who speared and left him for dead! He was able to ascend to his boat and pull the Hawaiian sling spear all the way out.

#4 – Last month in Southwest Florida, we were talking spearfishing which quickly turned to fish pics. A proud father, he showed mostly his son’s impressive freediving pics, but he showed me one of him – a CT scan (attached). A few years ago, another diver shot him in his right eye, and he was able to remove it only because the barb did not open. The visibility was about 10 ft and the shooter said he shot a mangrove snapper and the spear deflected off the structure behind. #4 surfaced and was flown to emergency surgery and continues to spearfish with just his left eye.

Warnings: Avoid more than 1 spearo buddy, especially rookies. Many scuba spearos are solo certified TDI/SDI. Freedivers dive 1 up 1 down.  Avoid poor visibility and thick schools of fish like jacks and mangrove snappers. Avoid bubbles, breathing and spearing noises.

Know your equipment and check it with a spearfishing professional.

Spearguns, Hawaiian Slings and Pole Spears are made to only be loaded and fired in the water!  Know What’s Behind or Near Your Shot