The Benefits of Ballasting your Speargun
Everyone wants a magical speargun that is light-weight and maneuverable but also hits like a freight train. The answer is proper speargun ballasting. We will be discussing the challenges of trying to have the best of both worlds. The reality is there are no spearguns that have solved this problem perfectly. The simple answer is to try and find a speargun that meets your needs of both maneuverability and power.
The Weight to Power Challenge
Spearos used to just add more bands to a speargun in the hope of increasing power and range. The problem with this is, that by itself, this causes inaccuracy in your shots. Too many bands can cause the muzzle of the speargun to jump up before the shaft leaves the speargun. This causes the back of the spear to be razed up and pushes the front of the shaft down, causing the shaft to shoot low from where it was aimed. That is one way recoil can impact a spear. Roller spearguns, double rollers, and inverted rollers have all tried to solve the problem, and have moved the bar forward in adding power while reducing recoil.
The old-school method of compensating for more power, or larger spear shafts is to simply add more mass to the speargun. It is simple physics. The same amount of force applied to an object with larger mass will affect the larger object less. The challenge with these larger spearguns is that they are harder for the diver to move in the water as well.
Another challenge of adding more wood is that most wood floats. And while we want our speargun to float without the spear shaft, we want it to sink with a shaft in it. The answer to this is to add internal lead ballast to the speargun. This lead can additionally help balance the speargun and help make larger spearguns more maneuverable. Speargun builders identify the best location to place however much lead they need to place through careful practice over time, but once the speargun is built it become much more challenging to properly adjust the ballast internally. There is another solution.
External ballast is a great solution to add mass to a speargun, and it can help to balance the speargun in the water and increase its maneuverability. For spearguns that are already the right level of buoyancy there are neutrally buoyant ballast options. These simply add mass to enable more power on the speargun.
Proper ballasting is an often underrated and underappreciated aspect of how a speargun should operate. It can dramatically change your speargun for the better. Next time you are in the water with your speargun lay it flat on the water and let it sink a foot or two and see how it reacts. Proper ballasting could turn your speargun into a fish slaying, dinner retrieving machine.