Crossbows From Small Game to Elephants

As more and more people discover the challenge and excitement of crossbow hunting, hunters are heading off for destinations around the world in pursuit of wild things with crossbows in hand.  Although perhaps the most common quarry for crossbow hunters is the whitetail deer, some who are able to afford it and long to pursue bigger and more exotic game with their crossbows are traveling to the far reaches of the earth to hunt with their crossbows.

The crossbow can be used to hunt any game that is harvested with vertical archery equipment or a firearm.  It is being used successfully for varmits, for bowfishing and for a cornucopia of small game, as well.  Those that fancy the crossbow are quickly establishing the fact that this often misunderstood and maligned hunting tool is just one more challenging option for the modern hunter and should be considered nothing less.

Bill Troubridge used a 225 pound draw weight recurve crossbow to take this African Elephant.

For most hunting situations involving small to medium sized animals like whitetail deer, a crossbow with a 150-pound draw weight will prove more than efficient enough to get the job done.  For larger game, the conscientious crossbow hunter will desire additional poundage.  And if Elephants, Hippopotami or Cape Buffalo are the targets the prudent hunter goes with the maximum poundage available.  With a range of 150 to 225 pounds of draw weight, any species or special set of circumstances should be able to be easily met with today’s crossbows.
Even with the higher poundage crossbows, however, one must remember that it is still a short range weapon and just because you may be shooting 225 pounds, that does not automatically guarantee you one hundred yard shots as some individuals claim.  Because the crossbow arrow loses its energy more quickly than that of one shot from a vertical bow, you must still get close to your target to insure adequate penetration, as well as a good clean and humane shot. 

Kathy Janczak used a 200 pound compound crossbow to bring down
the 1-ton American Bison in Montana.

It is also important to match your arrows and broadheads with your crossbow based on the game you pursue.  For crossbows with heavier draw weights, you will want to use heavier arrows.  For the super-sized quarry like large African animals you will also want to increase the weight of both your arrow and your broadheads.  You will loose a bit of speed, but the shocking power of your projectile will improve penetration insuring maximum damage to your target.  Elephants have thick skin and you don’t really want to irritate them especially after you have already irritated them by sneaking within thirty or forty yards of their position for that “crossbow-close” shot.


Hunting for the largest of big game animals requires that you use a heavier arrow and broadhead with fixed blades for maximum penetration and shocking power.

Expandable broadheads are great for small to medium sized game animals, but fixed-bladed, cut-on-contact points should be used for larger game.  With expandable heads too much energy is absorbed as the blades open.  On the largest of big game species you will need every ounce of energy you can muster.  Some of the industry leaders are recommending broadheads as heavy as 150-grains, which both improve consistency of arrow flight and the shocking power upon impact.  Most importantly, no matter what species you pursue, make sure that you blades are as sharp as they can possibly be to guarantee maximum penetration and clean cutting. 

Crossbows give everyone a chance to hunt regardless of age or sex. Five year old Courtney McCowan used a 150 compound crossbow to bag her buck.

For small game hunting, Judo points or other small game specific heads work just as well from horizontal equipment and they do from vertical gear.  Many hunters use regular field tips for small game, but the Judo points will prevent your arrows from flying off into oblivion and make recovery of them much easier.  Regular bowfishing points work well out of a crossbow, but no particular company that we know of is manufacturing a reel that is especially made for a crossbow – yet.  Consequently, it will be necessary to jury-rig something with your crossbow using one of the spools or reels manufactured for a vertical bow.

It is critical that you study the anatomy of the animal you intend to pursue so that shot placement is the best and most effective that it can be.  Many of the animals from Africa, for an example, have vital areas, which are located further towards the front of the body than most North American animals.  A killing shot on a Whitetail deer could be a wounding shot on an Impala.  It is important that you know and understand the exact organ location of the animal you’re hunting in order to insure maximum effectiveness of your shot.  If you are hunting with a guide, discuss this subject with him and go to school on his knowledge of the beast.  Good, knowledgeable information will insure the best results and enhance the quality of your hunt.


Know the anatomy of the animals you are hunting.  Kathy Troubridge with a Zebra taken in Africa.

Because the crossbow is such a new phenomena, there are some species of wild animals that haven’t ever been taken with a crossbow yet, at least not according to public record.  A new record book (the ACF Big Game Register) has been established for trophy animals taken with crossbow by the American Crossbow Federation.  It accepts entries of all species, worldwide, as well as accepting entries taken by an arrow from any kind of archery equipment.  
Crossbow hunting is the fastest growing segment of modern hunting and new adventures are being spawned for hunters on a daily basis, both young and old alike.  If you are looking for new hunting experiences that can be shared with the entire family, consider the crossbow challenge.


  1. would a 150grain broadhead be too big gor elk and moose i have a barnett quad with 160lb draw and planning a hunt for next season for elk and moose

  2. A 150-grain broadhead would be perfect for elk and moose. You will lose a few feet per second, but gain on flight stability and impact force.

  3. caldwell says:

    wow – big men -shooting deer and whatever else turns you sad cases on and from a safe distance! –
    just in case they turn round and savage you!
    pathetic -do something really brave like save a life,preserve a species etc…too boring I guess

  4. Excuse me Caldwell but I really feel that your comment has no place here or serves any purpose other than attacking those who wish to practice their god given right to engage in the age old activity of hunting. You critically claim that us hunters are cowards and imply that we are decimating species of earths animals. Both are myths that many hunters, including myself take offense to. Off of what basis are you claiming our cowardice? Secondly, it is thanks to the very strong efforts provided by

  5. hunters every year, that many species have succeeded to carry on in this world. Hunting licenses, tags and stamps all benefit the wildlife. Hunters do a great deal more for wildlife than you could ever imagine. Furthermore, calling hunters pathetic for minding their own and hunting is rediculous. However, you my friend, are pathetic in the fact that to fill some sense of self satisfaction you find the need to go to a hunting article and throw around lies in order to feel better about yourself by

  6. trying to hurt other people. Until you have done research and can back up your comments while providing a bibliography with credible sources to your absurd statements, I would ask you to stop this harassment toward hunters. There is no need for it. Especially due to the fact that you visited the page. If you are truly offended by the material presented here, don't come back. We are not forcing you to read the article. Nor are we forcing our views upon you. Therefor I believe I speak for the majo

  7. majority of the hunting community when I say that we do not wish for you to force your anti-hunting opinion onto us. Please do not come back unless you have credible sources to back up your statements.

    ps I apologize to everyone else for taking up so much space.

  8. Mr Caldwell, I would just like to address your comment. I am an avid hunter along with being prior military and currently a police officer. I believe with all my heart that I owe the fact that I am alive and well today and able to continue protecting people like yourself to the fact the my father and grandfather took me out to the woods every year and taught me to shoot what I would eat that winter. So before you judge someone walk a mile in their boots.

  9. Diamondback says:

    Outstanding Article!!!

    Thank you Staff for posting this Article. The modern crossbow is an awesome Tool matched in the right capacity for the game hunted.

    It is quiet compared to the sound of Rifle Hunting.

  10. what did this caldwell idiot say about US hunters? it is not showing up my computer. thanks

  11. Mr cauldwell i agree with you 100% these guys are monsters, how dare they kill a living animal? oh wait, where is the sarcasm font i wouldnt wont anyone to think i was serious, hunting has always and will always be a part of human behaviour, as long as we have our instincts and our position at the top of the food chain, if you would like to give up that position mr cauldwell then do so by all means but respect our right not too…

  12. I think that put the child near the dead animals – is blasphemy! Cruelty instilled since childhood! This destroys their children's psyche. Do not believe me – see for yourself link to what the scientists say, and just smart people. If men go – to hunt, then let go. Why show this to children?

  13. Hey truth, regarding the kidl. I think it's entirely appropriate to teach kids where their big macks come from. I won't call everybody that lets others kill their meat for them sissys, but sometimes I wonder.

  14. Jaco Bester says:

    What Excaliburs did the Troubridges use on the Elephant and Zebra? Equinox and Exomax?

  15. what joy does it give someone killing an elephant? i can understand a deer or something, but seriously, why kill such a creature for fun or whatever it is. Does it make you feel good and proud to do so?

  16. my name is spud and i live in australia. i've been brought up with hunting and i'm a perfectly normal person.i have gained abilities such as being able to dress my own meat to cook and eat and i'm only 14.i go bowhunting and i have learnt valuable skills in doing so. and i say to mr caldwell or whatever his name is to go hug a tree or save a seal or something useless that you greenies do.

  17. Hunting deer and well populated species is extremely challenging and fun. But I think certain animals should not be hunter because their populations are too few. For instance hunting an elephant in my opinion should be highly illegal. A good example is the tiger populations in the wild – some 3,000 left. Whats the fun in hunting an animal into extinction?

  18. taking out a hunter at a distance of 900m with a
    Lapua 338 magnum,gives so much satisfaction.

  19. This is ugly. Hunting for pleasure is a wrong doing. God sees everything….

  20. What the heck is your problem!!!!!!! Are all so mean!

  21. You are MEAN! Go away and don't come back!

  22. Barack Obama says:

    The American Goverment is giong to find all of you people who did this and put them in jail.

  23. Random says:

    Steven Harper will get you. :(


  25. Hunting helps prevent overpopulation of species, which in turn prevents large die-offs from disease and starvation during hard winters and drought, according to biologists.

    The money that goes toward an elephant hunt benefits some of the poorest people in the world, and they get the meat from the hunt besides. Elephant hunting is only done in certain areas to prevent LOCAL overpopulation to ensure that the habitat can continue to support the herds.

    Please go out and get some facts from sources on BOTH sides of the argument before you come to a conclusion about these topics.

  26. Bushhawg says:

    Good post Mike. Most of these trolls need an scientific education in game management, not what they read from Greenpeace.

  27. To Ola, "Upon the which when I had fastened my eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beast of the earth, and wild beasts, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice say unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat." Acts 11:6-7

  28. Thomas says:

    Genuine question: can anyone who has done it explain the pleasure that they get out of shooting inedible animals?

    I understand that some species need to be culled, but that could simply be left to professional rangers. The fact that people want to spend their own time and money to do it means there must be some other motivator.

  29. all things die i have seen a deer eaten by coyotes it took three days to complete the kill (in deep snow) which is better

  30. WickedSenseOf Humour says:

    Mike comments:(Hunting helps prevent overpopulation of species) I assume by species we are included in that as we are too of the animal kind. 2050 Greenies cameoed up in hunting gear hunting the hunted – how Bizzar. Would make an interesting Movie – "evolution of species", history has it, 'there will always be blood on the floor'

  31. chill yur asses down says:

    i see nothing wrong with hunting..i myself crossbow hunt and it is statistically one of the most humane ways an animal can die.. if i were a deer i would rather die from lack of blood circulation to the brain (basically bambi passes out) then be torn apart by wolves… and for all of you religious people out there.. look what do u think jesus ate? ill tell u rite now it wasnt tofu…god ment for animals to die…for people to die…and in the end we are all gonna be chillin with jesus anyway and i know that hunting can seem scary and h arsh but in reality it is one of the easiest ways to die (to drift away slowly in a place as beautiful as the woods)but i understand i was hesitant about hunting too … but mabie some day u will understand

  32. God did not mean for people to eat meat he only told Noah to start eating meat when he was on the boat and after that we never stopped, but before the great flood people didn't eat meat.

  33. Hunters should suffer….. Ugly fat souless bastards!!!! I piss on your faces low life scums!

  34. Outlaw says:

    All the naysayer can all go to hell I'm gona hunt weather u guys like it or not and there's nothing u guys can do about it and all u haters are going to do is piss and moan and cry and talk crap but guess what there an't nothing u piss and moaners and crybabys can do about it. Ha ha ha ha!!!!

  35. friend of the fallen says:

    i honestly wish hunters would kill each other instead of animals. do people not remember the thylacine? if hunters were given permission to kill each other the world would be such a better place.200 species gone in 3 years and people think its a good idea to kill animals? elephats, dolphins,lions,cheeetas, tigers, sharks,all neccesary animals in danger.

  36. amack070 says:

    It truly amazes me, how individuals can be so hypocritical about hunting when they themselves eat steak, pork and chicken that have been slaughtered in slaughter houses in some of the most inhumane conditions known to man. Also, wishing other men would kill one another shows how inhuman a person can be, taking presidence of a lower life form over human life. In the Noahic Covenant, God gave man permission to eat meat but not to consume the blood of the animal because the life of the.creature resides in the blood. What was also given in the Noahic Covenant is the penalty for shedding man's blood, the penalty of death for taking another man's life. If you look at the law of Moses (the first 5 books of the Holy Bible) you will see all the animals that God gave man to kill for sustenance. Something has to did in order for us to live. And even greater than that, Jesus Christ died that whosoever believes in His sacrificial death, in our place for our infractions against God's moral law, woul


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