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How Effective Is Crossbow Hunting?

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Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more or his work at The Weapon Blog

Modern crossbows are very fast and accurate. Nowadays, they are powerful enough to take the largest game in the States. However, if we are considering hunting with a crossbow, we need to understand certain basics first. From how to set up a crossbow to various factors that can improve your crossbow performance.  

 Crossbows rely on momentum. Unlike kinetic energy, momentum increases with speed and mass. This is relevant because it means speed is not a decisively more important factor in setup than the mass of arrow. Indeed, speed can increase the momentum of your arrow and there are fast shooting crossbows. However, faster-moving arrows also have a higher drag force, slowing it down at a faster rate. Initial arrow speed is going to play a part in distance from which you can shoot. 

 The other factor in momentum is the weight of the arrow. The weight of the arrow can be altered by using heavier shafts and heavier broadheads. A heavier arrow will have more inertia, therefore the drag force will not slow down as rapidly as a lighter arrow. Heavier arrows also have a lower chance of being impacted by a crosswind. 

 When it comes to accuracy, the biggest factor is, naturally, the shooter’s abilities. However, the quality of the crossbow can influence accuracy. Crossbow with quality components and crossbow optic is going to shoot more accurately. Fast shooting crossbow will be more accurate because the arrow leaves quicker and has less time to be influenced by the movement of the shooter. Most crossbows shoot bolts or arrows at 350 fps. Several can push them to 375 or even 400 fps. However, even a well built and tuned crossbow with the best quality components will still be affected by the wind. If you are shooting in perfect conditions, crossbows are very accurate to 100 yards or more. However, most hunters seem to settle on a maximum shot distance between 40 and 50 yards. Going beyond 60-yard shots is considered on the long end of the spectrum. 

 When it comes to drawing weight, regulations vary from state to state. It can range differently depending on the state. Some range to 90 while others can range to 175 pounds of draw weight. Some of them can top out over 200 pounds. The bigger the draw weight the faster. However, in some states, such as Ohio, the maximum draw weight allowed is 200 pounds. When we make nowadays top-rated model comparisons, most of the crossbow for hunting go over 290 pounds of range. Take for example the latest Excalibur Matrix 405. It came in 2020 and it has a velocity of 405 fps and draw weight of over 290 lb. 

 Although rare, there are still some crossbows with open sights. It is highly recommended for beginners to use the scope. For magnification, it is something that should go to individual preference. There is a reticle. There are many crosshairs configurations for crossbows and they can be adjusted to all hunting area needs. Their fixed distance is usually 20 yards. Besides, a modern laser rangefinder can give the exact distance from you to the target. They cost between $300 and $400 and they are absolutely a worthy investment.

Even though they don’t make them, crossbow companies sell arrows. They are made for them by arrow manufacturers. Make sure to check the proper length. Aluminum arrows are standard. The higher quality arrows are made from carbon. When it comes to broadhead, the most expensive is always the ones with the highest tolerance.

 Crossbow needs regular maintenance. You should always check the string and cables for wear. Keep the cables and serving clean and well maintained after each session. Make sure you lubricate the center serving. The rails should also be regularly lubed per manufacturer’s instructions.

For starter, you can buy crossbow packages that include everything needed for hunting. A few arrows and arrow points, a scope sight, cocking device, and quiver. It can cost about $800 to $1.500.

Unlike bows, once the crossbow is cocked, you can keep the crossbow at full draw and fully concentrate on aiming. This gives a great advantage to young or disabled hunters, especially from a rest position. Also, Crossbows are far stronger than bows and compound bows, especially the top rated models. Even the most experienced archers can’t produce momentum which nowadays crossbows can achieve. Crossbows are aimed in the same manner as a riffle, which means they can be shot from a rest, which greatly enhances accuracy and precision. They work quite well with telescopic sights. Riffles are very loud which can put of younger generations. There is something very attractive when holding a modern crossbow. There is that nostalgic medieval sense combined with a modern, almost sci-fi environment. Their designs have drastically changed compared to their predecessors and it is certainly rising in popularity among the new generation. When we look at their design and performances, it certainly does feel like something from the future when we compare to performances a decade ago, not to mention their predecessors. Even with packages which are considered beginners friendly, such as Barnett Jackal Package, performances are still outstanding. It has a velocity of 315 fps and draw weight of 150 lb. Another big advantage is that they can be custom made to individual needs. Especially for disabled hunters, which greatly contributes to spreading this unique sport.

The biggest disadvantage would be its size and weight. They are quite large and weigh around 6 to 7 pounds. Their large and bulky shape also makes them more difficult to carry. The extra weight can also make difficulties when shooting without some sort of rest. However, using a rest comes with a whole new set of challenges. They can be noticeably loud and since they are still short-range weapons, all hunters are familiar that minimizing the noise is paramount when hunting. Animals tend to jump at the noise of the string. Luckily, each year there are fewer and fewer negative factors. Manufacturers keep improving crossbow performances every year. With the new materials implemented, crossbows keep getting lighter, faster and stronger, overcoming more and more obstacles with each new design. Manufacturers keep revolutionizing crossbow accuracy, speed, power, and most of all, safety.

The popularity of hunting with crossbows continues to rise every season and so do the crossbow performances and their technology.

Hey… I’m Aiden Williams, a die-hard gun enthusiast. I started my journey quite early playing around with fake toy replicas and shooting nerfs at my friends. I soon realized my passion for guns and started reading up on them. You can imagine my passion as I had to scour the library for books because there was no internet back then. Still, I did so happily. I basically read all these books until they were dog-eared.


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