GRAY, Maine — Crossbows are better than traditional bows, either long bows or compound bows. Regardless, the majority of Maine legislators on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee don't think they should be used like other bows.

The committee voted that legislation to use crossbows during archery season "ought not to pass" when it is taken up by the full legislature. Bills only rarely pass after such recommendations.

"It's be law someday," said former legislator Gary Hilliard of Belgrade.  

Hilliard, a traditional bow hunter, notes there is opposition to crossbows on several levels.

That opposition comes from various outdoor organizations, including Maine Bowhunters, The Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, and The Maine Professional Guides Association.

MPGA Executive Director Don Kleiner intoned, "There's no judgement about the weapon here.  It's rather this has potential to impact our members who offer fall deer hunts.  It's less of a concern in Southern Maine than it is in Northern Maine where there are few deer."

Currently, a hunter can apply to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to get a permit to hunt with a crossbow during the archery seasons. This petition is based on injury, weakness or disability and is usually granted.

Hilliard notes that 400 people do this while others hesitate to ask for special consideration. "I figured, 'Let's just open it up to everybody.'"