Let the Crossbow Commotion Begin

One of the hottest topics in the archery industry right now, and for the past two decades, is the crossbow controversy that continues to rage on.  In spite of the fact that 25 states currently allow the crossbow during the entire archery season, the other half still bans crossbow use, to varying degrees, in some or all of the bowhunting season.  Change is coming however; but it is definitely not moving at breakneck speed.

Todd and Justin have asked me to be their crossbow columnist for the launch of their new and improved website.  My assigned task is keeping you, the reader, up to date on the latest crossbow legislation or any breaking crossbow news and answering any questions that you might have about crossbows and crossbow hunting in general. 

And now for a little background… For those of you that have never heard of me, I am the Editor/Publisher of the Horizontal Bowhunter Magazine (HBM) which was founded in 2001 and is the official publication of the American Crossbow Federation (ACF).  The ACF is kind of like the NRA for crossbow hunters and has been hard at work since its inception in 2001 helping to promote and educate folks about the crossbow while striving to expand the crossbow hunting opportunity for all.

Dan Hendricks whitetail buckThe author with a fine whitetail buck harvested this past season.

When the ACF began, there were just three states that allowed the crossbow during the entire archery season.  Wyoming, which has allowed the crossbow as archery equipment since its very first bowhunting season; Arkansas which made the crossbow a legal option in 1973; and Ohio, which jumped on the very short Crossbow Train in 1976.    

For the next 25 years these three states not only allowed bowhunters to use crossbows during the entire archery season, but more importantly they proved by actual experience and documentation that all of the awful things that the anti-crossbow folks claimed would happen if the crossbow was allowed during the bowhunting season were nothing more than myths and had no basis of truth what-so-ever.  Even today with 25 states allowing the crossbow, not one crossbow myth (we will discuss the crossbow myths in more detail in the months ahead) has come to pass in any state where the crossbow is a legal hunting option… not one!

For a quarter of a century things remained the same and then in 2002 Georgia joined in the crossbow movement.  In 2004 Alabama threw its hat into the crossbow ring followed by Tennessee and Virginia in 2005 and Louisiana in 2008.   In 2009 things picked up as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas jumped on the Crossbow Train followed in 2010 by Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Oklahoma bringing the grand total of crossbow states to 18.

In 2011 Florida, Indiana and Nebraska boarded the train, followed by Rhode Island in 2012; Connecticut and Kansas in 2013; and Wisconsin in 2014 bringing the current total to 25.  So as I write this column the crossbow train is speeding down the tracks half full… or is it really half empty?  Who cares, just as long as it is a whole lot fuller than it was just a decade ago.

During the past 20 years now, it has been my task to help educate, gather information and share the positive side of the crossbow and of crossbow hunting.  My crossbow hunting experience began at Horton’s Camp Opportunity back in 1995 where I successfully missed two deer standing broadside at 20 yards to make my first crossbow hunt one that I would never forget because of the stark crossbow lessons that it taught me.

Since that first hunt however, I have taken deer, antelope, bear, wild hogs, exotics, wild turkeys and predators with my crossbows.  As the Publisher/Editor of HBM it has been my privilege to field test and write in-depth reviews about crossbows from every major manufacturer.  Those hands-on evaluations are always conducted from a bowhunter’s point of view, both on the range and in the field.  Because of my position as a reviewer, once I have taken an animal with my current crossbow-pal, I quickly move on to the next putting it through its paces and analyzing its performance in the field from initial assembly to its first harvest.  Once blood has been drawn, I move on to my next crossbow, starting the process all over again.  As a matter of fact, on just about every hunt, I have a different crossbow cradled in my arms, seldom using the same crossbow for more than one successful hunt.  So many crossbows and so little time.  I am a tramp… The Crossbow Tramp or at least that is what I am called.  It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Dan with antelopeI’ve traveled across North America testing crossbows and dispelling crossbow myths one at a time.

So, in the months ahead, I will share crossbow industry news, some of the hunting experiences I have with various crossbows as I come into contact with them and anything else that I feel you might find interesting about the Crossbow Train as it speeds down the tracks towards the goal of being 100% full with all fifty cars hooked up and rapidly moving across this great land of ours.

And please, if there are any questions that you would like to ask or problems that you think I may be able to help you with, please email me at [email protected] and I will try and assist you in any way that I can. 

Until next time, please take care, be well and God bless.


  1. Tommy Ellis says:

    I have always said that the use of crossbows would do nothing but help our sport. It allows many people to hunt in an ethical, safe way that might not be able to with other archery equipment.

    I simply look at the as another tool for me to use. I have several stand locations that do not allow compounds or traditional bows to be used so it is either my muzzleloader or my crossbow.

    If others choose to limit the tools available to them that is of course up to them but I want to be able to hunt all my locations during all seasons and a crossbow fills that bill.

  2. Well, put Tommy… its too bad that everyone does not have your logic.

  3. This crossbow thing is a wedge issue….too bad.Having said that, let me be clear, I have no issue with someone that has a disability using one. On the other hand, way too many able bodied people are taking the easy way out. I have heard soooo many times, guys would say if they had to use a compound bow, they would NOT hunt archery season.
    If many remember, years ago the archery season was brought in to those that wanted to rise to the challenge of archery. The season was very liberal. Using a crossbow is taking the easy way out. Is this just a stepping stone to allow rifles during archery season ?? Nothing screams "I'm no good at it" as using a crossbow. Crossbows are NOT archery. Now someone will try to use the lame reasoning that a traditional shooter could use the same towards a compound shooter. It's a weak reason because you still have to practice and there is movement involved. Besides….I love traditional archery as well.

  4. Is it true that you have to pee sitting down in order to hunt with a crossbow?

  5. Justin Zarr says:

    Jethro – that's not true. You may have that mixed up with people who leave comments on the Internet without using their real name. So I ask – was the laptop warm on your legs when you typed your witty remark?

    Montec – the argument of "taking the easy way out" holds no water in my book. Easy is a relative term and who are you to judge what is too easy? Did someone elect you, or some other anti-crossbow zealot, as the judge of what equipment makes hunting too easy? We all hunt for our own purposes and reasons. Trying to force your beliefs on others simply because you don't like their choice of weapon is both ignorant and selfish.

  6. Archers know the difference.

  7. Brian Miller says:

    Personally I do not care if someone uses a crossbow. In fact Maryland bow season opens this Friday 9/5 and one of my buddies will be posted up with a crossbow at the top of the ridge from me. I have hunted with both recurve and compound for 25 years and target shot a crossbow a few times. A bow is my preference, doesn't mean a crossbow user is less of a sportsman than me….to each their own. I don't care what you use, as long as you use it well, responsibly and humanely. The experience, fellowship of a hunt and memories are really what it's all about to me.

    Notice I used my REAL name!!!

  8. I love it when "traditional" archers talk about their compound bows! They have not a clue that they are indeed themselves untraditional while in the same breath .. they spew regurgitated ignorance about crossbows.

    Education is the key here people!

  9. You missed a state, New York added crossbows for this hunting season! link to dec.ny.gov
    Now to figure out what crossbow to get…

  10. John Walker says:

    I don't have a problem with crossbows because it got me into archery. I much prefer a vertical bow now as crossbows are just heavy and awkward. If it gets you out in the woods that is all that matters.

  11. Ross Thomas says:

    Dmen, on the idea of "any weapon, any time" I completely disagree. Bow hunting is hard enough without shots banging away at deer 100 yards out when I'm trying to coax them in to 20.

  12. Just eliminate all Specialized seasons and have any weapon any time. As long ss it gets more people in the woods.

  13. Keith Jewell says:

    I don't have a problem with people using a crossbow in any open gun season. But they should not be allowed during archery season unless a person is disabled in my opinion.

  14. You don't have to look very far or very hard to see that the sport of hunting, all hunting, is under great duress. Now, we can bicker among ourselves arguing about what weapon we use to hunt, or we can come together to combat our real enemy… the anti-hunter. Personally, if I am going to expend any of my precious and limited energy it is going to be done so in repelling the onslaught that is being conducted by the bunny-huggers and not by beating up my hunting brothers and sisters just because they choose to hunt with a different weapon… it just does not make sense to me.

  15. chris summerlin says:

    Glad someone is fighting for us!

  16. Steve in PA says:

    I liken using a crossbow to a handicap in golf. Some guys need a little help to make up for not taking time to scout and practice. It makes things even for them to harvest a deer without as much of an investment. Pro golfers don't have a handicap.


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