General concepts about the crossbow have been influenced, unfortunately so, by decades of misinformation presented by the anti-crossbow camp. Based on that misinformation, many consumers believe that they are indeed buying the .30-06 that shoots arrows; the very one that we have all heard referred to as the mighty and very deadly crossgun. Then to complicate matters, that same consumer seeks out the most powerful crossbow their money can buy believing that it will allow them to shoot even better than the 3-inch groups at 100 yards they have heard so much about from the folks that demonize modern crossbows. Unfortunately when the new crossbow owner gets home and begins to familiarize himself with the greatest killing machine since the nuclear warhead, he quickly discovers that he has been had.
Receiving calls from folks about to buy their first crossbow happens almost on a daily basis with me and I gladly take the time to share my opinions based on almost two decades of shooting and hunting with crossbows. Adhering to the K.I.S.S. philosophy has always proven to be the best path for me and when addressing those calling about crossbows, I make sure that they understand where I am coming from.
As I watch the new crossbows come out each year with faster speeds and more power, I am more sold on “keeping it simple stupid”. The desire on the part of the consumer to want faster bows with flatter trajectory, enabling them to be able to shoot farther, in my humble opinion is madness.
My advice to you is, “If you want to kill an animal at 100 yards, but a firearm!”
That is what a firearm is for. But if you want to be a bowhunter and successfully get within 20-yards or less of your prey, you do not need a crossbow that shoots your arrow at 400 plus feet/second; a simple 265 feet/second will do the job quite beautifully and very effectively.
To sweeten the deal even more, you will have less mechanical problems with a lesser draw weight crossbow. There will be less wear and tear on your bow stings, servings and bow limbs. It will be easier to cock and uncock the bow, thereby being easier on the body of the shooter. It will be quieter and lighter, while still being able to blow the arrow through any animal on the North American Continent so why I ask, do you need any more power than that in a crossbow
We see the same bizarre behavior with vertical archers, too. They need to go faster and faster so they can shoot further and flatter. Well perhaps what bowhunters should be doing is honing their hunting skills, which will enable them to get closer to their quarry so that it will not be necessary to take the long shots they are trying to make with the newer, high-powered archery equipment.
With a crossbow, accuracy of shots over forty yards starts to become a real problem; not because crossbows can’t be shot accurately beyond forty yards, because they can…with the help of a bench rest. Without one, everyone’s (and I repeat, everyone’s) pattern begins to open up beyond forty yards, probably even sooner for most. The physics of a crossbow are not conducive to pinpoint accuracy at longer distances. The dstribution of a crossbow’s weight makes it frontend heavy, thereby creating bob and weave, which affects dramatically the accuracy of longer shots.
I hear it all the time, “I can make eighty yard shots dead on the money every time.”
They may be able to impress some people with this claim, but I don’t buy it for a second. I have shot too many brands and models of crossbows to get sucked in by this line of bull. Maybe with an inert target and a bench rest, but under normal hunting conditions you are going to miss and even worse, wound animals with this kind of unethical attitude and behavior. Not only is one fighting bob and weave in a long range shot, but his target is also a live and very mobile target; and especially if the game is whitetails, the target is going to react to the extra loud noise made by a crossbow. It is not uncommon to have a whitetail jump out of the way on a 20-yard shot from a crossbow, not to mention one of 40-yards or longer.
The bottom line is that as bowhunters we have an obligation and a duty to make sure the shot we take is the best possible shot we can take to insure a quick and humane kill. If we are taking questionable shots we are hunting in an unethical manner. My favorite shot is a twenty yard shot; the only one I like better is a 10 yard shot. If my target is coming, I will let it come. The closer the shot, the less chance of missing and the greater the rush from the triumph of success.
Several years ago, I took a doe with my crossbow at 8-feet. I was sitting on the ground, behind a larger fallen tree and the animal walked right up to me, tried to figure out what I was. Then as it walked away, convinced after closely examining me of for what seemed like an hour, I launched my arrow from my crossbow as it walked directly into the line of fire just 8-feet away. It was by no means the biggest deer in the world, but the thrill of shooting it that close has made it the greatest trophy I have bagged in the past decade. I have shot bigger deer, but the rush and excitement of being so close to my quarry has yet to be matched. It was a classic battle to remain undetected and most other kills since that doe have been more like simple executions.
If you are looking for a crossbow to hunt with, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need the fastest and most powerful one on the market. That road will be filled with a lot more potholes and headaches than if you chose a good, dependable, light weight crossbow. Get to know it, and become one with it while honing your hunting skills. Remember that being skilled enough to get close to your quarry is the best way to insure a quick and humane harvest as well as a gratifying bowhunting experience.