John's Journal...

Bowfishing with Jon Justice

Day 2: Jon Justice on Bowfishing and Shooting Flying Fish

Editor’s Note: Jon Justice from Rockmart, Georgia, has been bowfishing for 12 years. Chuck Belmore, one of the hosts of “The Habit” ( TV show, got him started in bowfishing. Today both Chuck and Jon host “The Habit” TV show.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewJohn E. Phillips: Jon, if you could only pick one trip that was the most exciting and most fun that you’ve had bowfishing, what trip would that be?

Justice: I’ve had so many great trips that just picking one will be tough. But one trip that really stands out in my mind is a trip we made to Mississippi to fish on Chotard Lake near Vicksburg, Mississippi. This lake that once held many largemouth bass tournaments doesn’t anymore due to vast numbers of silver carp, an invasive species, that’s in the lake. The silver carp are those you may have seen on TV that jump out of the water and seem to fly 4 or 5 feet high. When a boat puts in at the boat ramp, the silver carp start jumping and create a problem for bass fishermen trying to launch their boats. There were so many silver carp shot that night I went that we nearly sunk a couple of boats with the large number we’d shot.

Phillips: Were you shooting those carp with your bow and arrow when they’d jump out of the water?

Justice: Oh, yes! And that’s what really made this trip so much fun. We might have 6-10 carp in the air at one time, which was like trying to shoot a covey of quail when they flushed.

Phillips: How do you shoot a carp that’s jumping out of the water with your bow and arrow?

Justice: We had to learn to shoot instinctively, depend on our muscle memory and calculate quickly where the carp would be in the air when our arrow arrived at the point of impact. Because there were so many carp jumping all at one time, I learned to focus on one spot in the air. Then I’d say to myself, “When one of those carp jumps into this zone, I’m going to take the shot.” When a carp flew into that area I’d chosen, I’d shoot and see what would happen. You learn how to lead the carp and when to release the arrow. But to shoot a jumping carp in the air, you can’t think about how you’re going to do it. You just shoot. After you start hitting the fish, then you try to repeat the same action you did when you were successful. Before long your brain learns to calculate distance, the speed of flight of the arrow and the speed of the carp as it jumps. Then you don’t even have to think. You let your muscle memory take over and shoot instinctively.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewPhillips: Where do you take the shot?

Justice: When I would see the carp coming out of the water, I’d start drawing my bow. I’d instinctively know (after quite a few shots) where the peak of that fish’s jump would be. I’d release the arrow, so it would impact the carp at the peak of its jump - the stopping point between the carp going up in the air and falling back into the water. This was one of those unbelievable trips when there were plenty of targets in the air, and the shooting was non-stop.

To get John’s book, “The Bowfishing Bible,” go to To learn more about hunting and fishing from John E. Phillips’ print and eBooks, go to and

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Bowfishing for Two Monsters – Alligator Gar and Grass Carp

Check back each day this week for more about Bowfishing with Jon Justice

Day 1: Jon Justice - From Bowfishing for Fun to Bowfishing for TV
Day 2: Jon Justice on Bowfishing and Shooting Flying Fish
Day 3: Bowfishing for Two Monsters – Alligator Gar and Grass Carp
Day 4: A Bowfishing Team Takes a Monster Grass Carp While Bowfishing
Day 5: The Most Important Ingredients for a Successful Bowfishing Team

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Entry 876, Day 2