The first time I saw someone spearfishing, I was intrigued and wondered out loud how hard speargun loading would be. A friend heard me and said, “I’m sure you can do it. It’s probably more about technique than brute strength.” He was right.
It’s not uncommon to struggle to load your first speargun, and you might suspect they made the bands too short. If you give it some time and use the right technique, it will become easy. First, some safety tips:
1) Never load a speargun out of the water.
2) Keep the safety on until you intend to shoot a fish.
3) Even with the safety on, treat it like a loaded weapon, never let the tip point at anyone.
4) Use tip protectors when not in use, so you don’t scratch anything.
Some spearguns are loaded by resting the butt of the gun on your hip and pulling the bands toward the shaft notches. Others are loaded by resting the butt high on the middle of the chest and pulling the bands toward your sternum. Hip-loading spearguns are commonly used by scuba divers, as chest loading can be difficult when wearing a buoyancy compensator vest. Freedivers are less constricted by gear, so they normally use chest-loading spearguns. These have longer range because the shaft tabs sit closer to the butt of the gun.
Now, some loading tips:
1) Wear gloves and wetsuit to prevent slips, scrapes or bruising. Some wetsuits have a loading pad built into the chest.
2) Don’t look down and hunch over when loading the bands. Push forward with your chest and pull the band swiftly with your arms, so the shaft tabs are pushed forward to meet the incoming band.
3) Use a loading tab (if using a wood gun). This simple device makes things much easier by allowing you to first hip load the band to the loading tab and then raise the butt to your chest for the final pull. Although it’s a two-step process, it can be done quickly and will feel much easier.
4) If your bands are still too hard to load, use three longer bands.
5) Work out, lift weights, work on core and upper body. Try bench presses, seated rows, bent over rows, pushups and pull-ups. Bands and dumbbells can be incorporated into your workout routine, whether at the gym or home.
If you want to see a band loading video, check out Coastal Angler online. And remember—you can accomplish anything you set your mind to!
Sheri is a world-record holder, host of “Speargun Hunter,” and producer of The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.