Under the Sea – Speargun Basics


Like enthusiasts of any sport, if you stay with spearfishing long enough, you become intimately familiar with every detail of your equipment. Here’s an overview of what a newbie might want to know before buying that first speargun.

Most spearguns are powered by bands, normally between one and three bands. There are two main types. The American style is recognized by the wood stock and is durable, sturdy and easy to load. The Eurogun style has a tubular shaped barrel, rear handle, and a thinner shaft well suited for free diving and smaller fish.

In either case, spearguns are equipped with a trigger mechanism. The back end of the shaft engages into the trigger mechanism. Once the bands are loaded, the trigger is pulled and the shaft flies out due to the pulling load of the bands. You do not want to overload a gun by putting more bands than what it’s designed for as it could make the gun inaccurate or unsafe.

Sheri Daye descends with a Wong speargun.

Most spearguns now include a reel. This is especially needed if freediving and/or spearing larger fish, so the gun is not yanked out of your hands. If spearing a very large fish such as a tuna, which could spool your line in a matter of seconds, a line and float are required so the diver can pull it in from the surface.

Shafts come in different lengths and diameters to match the gun, and spearos look for the perfect shaft—one that will not bend, not rust, fly straight in the water, and with a barb that will hold the fish securely. It’s wise to always carry a spare shaft or two on the boat, in case a shaft gets bent or lost.

Like shafts, the bands are also replaced periodically, and it’s a good idea to carry spares in case one breaks. When bands get old, they start to get crack lines, or the wishbones can begin to fray, so it’s best to replace them before one snaps.

There’s a wider variety of speargun brands than ever on the market. These include: Wong, AB Biller, Riffe, Hammerhead, Cressi, SEAC, Mares, Rob Allen, Koah, Mako, JBL and more. If you want help selecting your first gun, see if you can find a mentor to help you select one that matches local conditions.

Dive shops that specialize in spearfishing can also help. These include Austin’s in Miami, Fla.; Freedivers in Palm Beach, Fla.; James & Josephs in San Diego, Cali.; Freedive Shop in Sacramento, Cali.; and others.  There are also custom gun builders who will work with you directly, give you advice, and design a gun to your specs—such as Wong Spearguns from Hawaii or Sea Sniper from California.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.

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