Technology giving outdoorsmen a hand - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Technology giving outdoorsmen a hand

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Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 10:20 am | Updated: 7:25 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

On one side of the lake is an avid fisherman equipped with all the latest in technology such as a fiberglass pole, artificial lures and a fish finder.

On the other side of the lake is a throwback with a nightcrawler dangling on the end of his cane pole.

Who has the better chance of landing a whopper?

You know the answer to this extreme example. Bet on Mr. Modern.

The example illustrates, though, that equipment for fishing — and hunting and camping — has changed drastically over the years.

Many of those equipment advances will be on display Friday through Sunday at the fifth annual Arizona International Sportsmen’s Exposition at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. The expo features equipment for fishing, hunting and camping as well as information on guides and resorts.

If you attend the expo, it will readily dawn on you what a big business equipment for the outdoors is — and for good reason. According to a 2001 federal survey, approximately 1.5 million people hunt, fish and view wildlife annually in the Arizona outdoors, including 419,000 anglers and 148,000 hunters. Those hunters spend $212 million per year and the anglers $336 million on equipment.

So do you need to drain your bank account to have a chance to catch a fish or bag an elk? Not really.

"You can still get a world-class rod for $19.99," said John Kirk of International Sports Exposition, the company from Vancouver, Wash., that puts on this weekend’s expo. "The changes are to make products more reliable and safer."

That is no more evident than in archery, according to Ed Hightower, the owner of a sportsmen’s store, Bear Mountain Sports in Mesa.

"The equipment that you see in archery is dramatically improved over even 10 years ago," Hightower said. "The bows are faster, stronger, they’re lighter, their performance for accuracy is better. We literally have people that can come in now and pick up a bow and in a half-hour be proficient. Before, it took a lot more work.

"In optics, technology has improved quite a bit, although there have been pretty good optics for the past 100 years. Now you can get very good optics at lower prices. You can get better stuff on the high end and you can get much better stuff on the lower end."

Hightower also said a big change is the availability of Global Positioning System devices that allow you to navigate via satellite.

Like Kirk, Hightower said you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy an outdoor experience. But sportsman Jim Harris of Tempe said opening your wallet can lead to better success.

"There is a fine line between fishing and just sitting there," Harris said. "Good equipment helps."

As long as you know what you are doing.

"You can have all the best equipment," said sportsman Mike Mueller of Tempe. "In reality, the best tool for success is experience."

If you go

What: Fifth annual Arizona International Sportsmen’s Exposition

When: Noon-7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix

Admission: $10, children ages 12 and younger, free

Featured: Fishing, hunting and camping equipment as well as demonstrations by experts

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