A speargun is an underwater fishing implement designed to fire a spear at fish.
The basic components of a speargun are: A spear, a stock/barrel, and a handle/grip containing a trigger mechanism. Spearguns are usually from .5 m to 2 m (1.5 ft to 6.5 ft) long, round or roughly rectangular from 28 mm - 75 mm (1 in to 3 in) in diameter/width.
The two most common types are:
Rubber powered ones come in two types: those made from wood, and those of sealed tubing metal or composite and/or a combination of these materials construction: referred to as the Stock or Barrel respectively.
Those of a tubular barrel variety have separate "muzzles" fitting in or over one end of the tube, for attaching the rubber bands; whilst others (usually those made of wood), mainly have the bands passing through a horizontal slot in the stock.
A rubber powered gun, besides the barrel, has the following parts:
A Pneumatic gun differs from a rubber model in that it has a thicker spear that goes inside a sealed internal barrel encased in a hollow sealed outer casing that contains the air which is at ambient pressure until it is pumped up by hand to a pressure usually equal to one strong rubber band. The trigger mechanism (which is at the back of the gun) has a handle/grip below it or mid-way up the gun. Once at the required pressure the spear is forced down the barrel to engage the trigger mechanism and is then loaded and ready. There will usually be a strong line at least twice the length of the gun connecting the spear to the front of the gun. When loaded great caution must be exercised as the speargun is now a dangerous weapon. Without a trigger, rubber bands or air pressure the speargun cannot be loaded and therefore cannot function.
Spears and spearguns have various uses:
All spearguns have a trigger mechanism that holds a spear in place along the barrel.
Traditionally, rear-handle spearguns are popular in Europe and mid-handle guns were used in North America, however as spearfishing has developed as an international sport these distinctions have blurred.
South African speargun manufacturers have improved speargun designs with the use of a rail along the barrel that prevents the spear from flexing under pressure from the rubber bands.
The speargun can have:
Here the spear gun is connected to a buoy via a float rope. After spearing a fish, the spearfisher detaches the float rope and uses a speed stick (a metal spike) attached to the float rope to thread the fish onto the float rope through its gills. The fish will then gradually slide up the float rope as the diver swims until it rests underneath the buoy. When shooting larger fish, the diver can let go of his gun and play the fish from the float line, giving the fish more room to tire and preventing it from tearing off the spear or dragging the spearfisher under the water.
Here the spear shaft is connected directly to the buoy. It is loosely fitted to the gun as well while hunting, but after the spear is fired its force of movement detaches the line from the gun. The spearfisher is then able to subdue the fish from the buoy or float line while retaining possession of his gun. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the gun can be used to push off sharks or signal the boat driver, and secondly to prevent loss of the gun should the fish break the line, or should the spearfisher lose grip on the buoy. This setup can be used in conjunction with elastic bungee-style rope and a body board style float with locking cleats. This respectively maintains constant pressure on the fish and allows the spearfisher to rest while being towed around. They can then gather the bungee line as the fish tires and lock it off in order to gradually pull the fish closer.
Here the gun has a line reel like on a fishing rod. After spearing a fish, the reel unwinds, allowing the spearfisher room to play the fish. Reel setups are useful when ocean structures such as built up reef or kelp gardens prevent the spearfisher from towing a buoy.
Here the spear shaft is not connected to a gun or buoy. This is more commonly associated with spearfishing on SCUBA where excess cable or line can be problematic. Also it can be used in the areas with exceptionally clear water, where underwater hunter can track his shaft after firing it. It is not used in turbid waters with poor visibility.
Here, the spear shaft is connected to monofilament or other small high strength line, which is wrapped around the speargun, then connected to a larger, easier to handle rope which the diver holds in his hand. On the larger rope there is a loop on the end big enough for the divers thumb. The rope is placed on the thumb, then wrapped around the back of the hand. In this setup the spear is also totally free from the gun, allowing the diver to work the fish using the large rope, while keeping his gun safe. If the fish is too large to hang on to, the diver can tie it off or release it, only losing his spear and rope. This is used usually when fishing around oil rigs, or other hazardous diving such as hunting larger fish or in poor visibility.
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