Legislative leaders held a hearing in Albany on Wednesday and took comments from attendees during a nearly two-hour morning session that could have lasted through the afternoon.

Comments came from presenters across the state; so many participated that the 10-minute presentation allowance had to be reduced to five minutes to accommodate all who chose to make formal statements on crossbow issues.

Four legislators, Sens. Patrick M. Gallivan and David J. Valesky and Assembly members Sean Ryan and Aileen M. Gunther, heard all presenters; all spoke in favor of legalizing the crossbow for hunting.

Bill Connors, a Poughkeepsie-area outdoors writer, offered the most succinct summation of suggestions for re-establishing crossbow use for hunting. A previous crossbow law only allowed for its use during hunting seasons that were not established archery seasons; that legislation included a sunset clause that ended Dec. 31, 2012.

Connors presented suggestions that crossbow rules should be left to the Department of Environmental Conservation, rather than ongoing legislation. He added that crossbow use should be granted during all seasons for both big and small game hunting.

Another key archery concern is the area allowed for discharge of bow-hunting gear. Archers currently must comply with a firearms discharge distance of 500 feet from an occupied building. Connors asserted that the rule should be amended to 150 feet for archers including crossbows.

The most important entry for renewed crossbow legislation would be to eliminate the sunset provision and allow the legislation to continue as passed. Connors echoed the feelings of sportsmen across the state that assured crossbow use would encourage more hunters to invest in the gear when they knew crossbow hunting would be in place during years to come.

“They are hesitant to buy crossbows if they can’t be sure they will be able to continue using them after they invest $500 to $1,500,” he noted.

While no opposition to crossbow legalization was expressed, Connors and other supporters voiced a concern that despite statewide support for its use, during the last legislative session, Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, successfully tabled crossbow legislation that was presented.

For details on these issues, check with Gallivan at 907-4076 or Ryan at 885-9630.