Scopes on Bows during Bow Only Seasons

Regulation Number: 
Regulation Type: 
General Open Season
Limited Entry Hunting
Closing Date: 
January 19, 2020 at midnight
Decision Statement: 

This proposed regulation change was not approved. The recent regulation that replaced the October 1-8 bull moose bow only general open season with an October 1-19 bull moose bow only LEH season combined with pending improvements to the data collection/hunter survey to include questions on weapon type will provide further information and help to inform any potential proposals in the future.

Current Regulations: 

There are currently no regulations that prohibit the use of a scope on archery equipment during bow only seasons.

Proposed Regulations: 

Prohibit the use of scopes on bows during bow-only seasons


This proposed regulation was requested by the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team. For more information on the process that led to the request refer to the “Additional Information” section at the bottom of this page.

Crossbow technology has advanced in recent years and their operation has become easier; some users consider a modern crossbow to be more similar to a firearm than a bow. There is mixed support for crossbows during bow only seasons; many jurisdictions have prohibited crossbows during bow only seasons. In B.C., crossbows are still permitted. As a compromise between permitting and prohibiting crossbows during bow only seasons, it is proposed to reduce the effectiveness of modern versions of these weapons by prohibiting scopes.

Bow only seasons are intended to be short range (i.e. around 40 yards) hunting opportunities, and often allow hunting for classes of species (i.e. any buck or antlerless deer) that are not open through general open seasons when firearms are permitted. Historically, this opportunity was in place simply because the success rates of bow hunters was much lower than that of hunters with firearms. Advancements in crossbow technology has increased the range of crossbows closer to 100 yards, which was not considered when instituting short-range hunting seasons in the past. Prohibiting scopes on bows is thought to bring crossbows back into the short-range weapon category.

Under this proposed regulation the use of scopes on bows would only be prohibited during bow only seasons; scopes on bows would continue to be permitted during general open seasons.

Additional Information: 

A sub-committee of the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team (PHTAT) with representatives from the B.C. Wildlife Federation, Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., B.C. Trappers Association, Wild Sheep Society, Wildlife Stewardship Council, and United Bowhunters of B.C., conducted a review of various hunting practices (methods, tools, and tactics), evaluated those practices against a set of criteria that reflect the principles of fair chase, and recommended management actions for specific hunting practices. These recommendations were accepted by PHTAT and were forwarded to the Province for consideration.

Factors that influenced or informed the Management Action Recommendation included:

  1. Does the hunting method, tool, or tactic:
  • Negate wildlife’s ability to avoid detection?
  • Negate wildlife’s ability to escape once it has detected a threat?
  • Lead to an inhumane treatment of wildlife?
  • Lead to increased wounding loss/jeopardize a hunter’s ability to retrieve the wildlife?
  • Jeopardize public acceptance of hunting?
  • Result in higher harvest rates/reduced opportunity in the future?
  1. Estimated difficulty in enacting a regulation.
  2. Regulatory enforceability.

The Management Action options available for each hunting practice included:

  1. Encourage/discourage the hunting practice through education and/or training
  2. Regulate the hunting practice through legislative prohibitions
  3. Monitor the hunting practice over the coming years to see if it becomes an issue in B.C.
  4. Defer; not of concern and no specific management action or monitoring is required.