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Are Crossbows Right for You?


Let the debate begin. As I start to write a story on the use of crossbow in hunting I can already hear the screaming of diehard archery shooters. I have had heated conversations with those who shoot vertical bows who are adamantly opposed to the use of a crossbow during the archery season. Or any season for that matter. “It isn’t a bow” they say. Many of these same people will also say that a crossbow shouldn’t be considered a primitive weapon since it uses a scope or cams to increase accuracy. Some of these same people also shoot inline muzzle loaders with .209 primers and optics.

It does little good to try and educate these people in the history of the crossbow. The fact that it predates every other weapon other than the long bow means nothing to them. Some of these people will argue that a cross bow is not primitive yet they shoot compound bows with carbon arrows, release aids, floating pin sights and use range finders.

Let’s face it the issue of using crossbows for hunting will always have some controversy. Some will be totally against it, others will be loudly singing their praise while the majority of the hunters just don’t care. This is where I fall personally.

I have shot a lot of different crossbows. I have shot recurve crossbows, compound crossbows and even the reverse limb crossbows and for me, at this stage in my hunting career. They are fun to shoot, but I just do not get the thrill out of it that others do. That being said, I recognize that for many, this is the best and most viable option for them. Understanding that those with shoulder injuries, or limited strength because of injury or defects of any kind and who cannot draw a traditional or compound bow should have the option of using a crossbow during any season. The real question remains, “is a crossbow for me?” Let’s look at a few features and see if we can help answer that question.

The first step in deciding this is to go and shoot some. Many pro shops will let customers shoot the different models they have available. And shoot different ones and different configurations. There is a marked difference in the different models. The basic three types are; Recurve, compound with cams, and reverse cams. Shoot all three to decide which is best for you. Most reputable companies have different models in different price points to suit your budget and desire.

Next is to look at the options of the crossbow models. One feature many are offering now that I personally would not do without is the ability to ‘de-cock’ the bow without having to fire it into a target. Many of the brands do not carry this ability. Once cocked, similar to older muzzle loaders, you have to shoot it to release the pressure on the limbs. Many field situations do not allow for this to occur without a lot of effort. Personally, I would never buy a crossbow I could not ‘unload’ without having to shoot it into a target.

Third, is the overall weight of the crossbow, for some reason, these things are really heavy. I have not gotten an answer from the manufacturers as to the reasoning behind this. It is a basic design that seems to all weight as much as a full rifle. I have noticed that the recurve models and the reverse limbs are lighter and more balanced. The main reasoning behind the reverse limbs is to put the balance point more towards the center of the bow than end heavy as so many.

Lastly, look at the overall enjoyment factor. Shooting a crossbow does not give you more range than a vertical bow. It may not give you as much. With the shorter bolt, there is not as much energy down range and may in fact reduce your effective range. They are more inherently accurate. With the shoulder mount, optics and trigger pull. The crossbow is a lot more accurate which can help many who deal with buck fever and make bad shots on deer but still prefer the close range hunting it affords.

Crossbows are not for everyone, but the surge in growth of the industry has been positive for hunting overall. For that I am personally grateful. At this point in my hunting career, I have no desire to hunt with one. But I don’t hunt with black powder either. Still I respect those who find enjoyment hunting with these weapons. As long as it is legal, and brings enjoyment to those who use it, or if it gets more people outdoors enjoying this great hunting lifestyle, I will support it and encourage those to use these weapons.