The Kill Shot

by David Miner

Knowing where to shoot a fish so that it is killed instantly or dies very quickly is extremely important if you want to be an effective, conservation minded spearfisherman. To shoot a fish in its kill zone requires skill, good aim, and experience. If you think you can just go out and buy a speargun and accurately start shooting fish, you’re sadly mistaken. You must be able to aim your speargun, steady and move your speargun smoothly, maintain proper buoyancy, and know when to pull the trigger all while swimming underwater, with a mask on your face and a regulator in your mouth, not to mention the other fish swimming around and near you and in possibly low visibility conditions. Add these all up, and you have a sport that requires practice and experience to be effective.

Mastering the skills of spearfishing is important for several reasons. First, you don’t want to shoot at a fish unless you have a great shot. If you hit the fish in a bad area, such as its stomach area, it can easily get off your shaft and swim away. This usually results in the fish being injured to a point that it will die from infection or become prey for another species. Second, if you’re a spearfisherman that wants to practice responsible and ethical hunting underwater, then you want to practice good conservation. If you’re unskilled and continually shoot a fish in a bad area and loose it, you’re simply just reducing the reproduction capabilities of that species. In addition, you want to make sure you understand the laws and regulations for your area so that you know when and where to spearfish. Third, if you’re a spearfisherman who goes after the really big fish, such as tuna, amberjack, wahoo, etc. you don’t want to be shooting into the fish’s guts or meaty area leaving it with most of its power while stuck with your shaft. This can cause you great pain and suffering trying to maintain control of yourself while trying to cling to a fish fighting for its life. By shooting the fish in its kill zone, you can stop the fish cold or at least slow it down enough to get control of it while it quickly dies.

So where is this kill zone on a fish? Always aim for the top of the head just above the gills and behind the eyes. This is where the fish’s brain is and instantly stuns or kills the fish when hit correctly. As you can see, this is not a large area and requires special skill and accuracy to hit effectively and consistently. Knowing how your speargun works, how well it aims, how it feels when shot, having good buoyancy characteristics, knowledge about the fish you’re hunting, and only shooting when you know you have a good shot are the skills you need to acquire if you want to be an effective underwater hunter and hit the kill zone every time.