Are Crossbows Becoming Too Efficient for Archery Season?

In a time when hunting recruitment and retention are at all-time lows, it’s difficult to bring up the highly controversial topic of full inclusion crossbow use during the archery season. If you read enough articles and peruse the online forums, you can’t help but get sucked into the debate. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the discussion. Crossbow sales continue to rise each passing year. Twenty-seven states now allow full inclusion crossbow use during the archery season. Is it possible that vertical bows and crossbows can share the same season? Should they? Are crossbows becoming to efficient for archery season altogether?


Are today’s crossbows too efficient for archery season? Do they deserve a season of their own?

According to Merriam-Webster, archery is defined as the art, practice, or skill of shooting with bow and arrow. When one digs into the history of archery, you will find it is one of the oldest art forms still practiced today. In both of those instances, the common denominator is art and practice. The purists argue that crossbows are eroding the essence that makes hunting with archery equipment so special and unique. In order to be a successful archery hunter, you must practice and perfect your craft. Repetition, muscle memory, mental toughness are a few adjectives that depict the art of archery. There is fear that full inclusion during the archery season might put too many hunters in the woods and thus make the bowhunting season like what some states experience during the firearms season. And what the states that already include crossbows in their archery season? Crossbow technology has changed rapidly since some of these states added them to the archery season roster. Are these technological advancements making them a weapon that should now be reconsidered for inclusion in archery-only seasons?


Love it or hate it, the popularity of crossbow hunting is booming.

Since I do not own a crossbow, I recently spent some time at my local archery shop to get hands-on experience with these “easy” to shoot bows. The TenPoint Nitro XRT, Mission Sub-1 XR and the Ravin R20 are some of the hottest crossbows on the market this year. The TenPoint Nitro XRT is the fastest bow on the planet with speeds up to 470 feet per second. The Mission Sub-1 XR and Ravin R20 are very similar weapons with both touting 430 feet per second and accuracy up to 100 yards. The Ravin R20 is fully adjustable up to 200 yards (but Ravin does have the discretionary statement against any ethical shot at that distance). I wanted to see if these bows were as easy and as accurate as I have read. I asked my local bow technician to accompany me on the range to give me a tutorial on operating one of these bolt launchers. After a brief introduction, we were shooting bolts down range. Two minor adjustments to the scope that comes equipped on these bows and I was firing perfect shots. It really was almost too easy.


The TenPoint Nitro XRT is boasting speeds up to 470 feet per second. Does this kind of performance deserve a season all its own?

The states that allow full inclusion crossbow use during archery season, argued that it would increase hunter participation and open the sport to a wider demographic. Younger hunters, female hunters, disabled hunters and older aged hunters would all have the opportunity to hunt when previously, they might not have been able. Hunter recruitment was the basis of their argument. However, the most recent data shows that hunter, and especially bowhunter participation, continues to fall. What is changing in the states that allow full inclusion crossbow use is the number of gun hunters that are also bowhunting. Ohio has had full crossbow inclusion for 35 years. According to the 2018 Deer Summary conducted by the Ohio ­Department of Natural Resources, 70 percent of gun hunters also hunted the archery season. The statistic that really sticks out in my mind is the season harvest comparison. Over 5,000 more bucks were killed during the archery season than during the gun season. In 2017, 39,362 bucks were killed during the archery season. Of that harvest total, 65 percent of those bucks were taken with a crossbow. Data from both Michigan and Wisconsin (two other states with full inclusion) show that more hunters are now using crossbows than vertical bows.


The Mission Sub-1 XR is one of the hottest crossbows you’ll find at the archery counter, easily capable of sub-1 inch groups at 100 yards.

Several states allow the use of crossbows during the archery season with stipulations. For example, in my home state of Minnesota, crossbows are allowed during the archery season if you have a disability or if you are over the age of sixty. The crossbow federation has been pushing for full inclusion over the past few years, but the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association continues to vote it down. In the spring of 2017, 70 percent of the membership voted against full inclusion crossbow use during the archery season. Minnesota does allow crossbow use during the firearms season by any legal age hunter. Also, crossbows are allowed during the spring bear season and during the spring and fall turkey seasons. However, you cannot purchase an archery turkey hunting license and use a crossbow (the archery season runs the entire length of the turkey season). If using a crossbow for turkeys, you must purchase one of the firearms seasons. This applies if you are under the age of sixty and not disabled.

crossbows too efficient for archery season - TenPoint-Nitro-XRT


Kentucky and New York both provide a season just for the use of crossbows. This allows the crossbow hunters a longer season but does not overlap the entire archery season. I could see this model becoming more acceptable with the remaining 23 states that do not allow full inclusion crossbow use during the archery season.

Crossbows are an extremely effective hunting tool and have their place in the hunting world. The baby boomer generation is retiring from the workforce at an alarming rate. They are also retiring from bowhunting. My own father just retired at the age of 61. He is the person that instilled this passion (my wife calls obsession) of bowhunting into my existence. He hasn’t bowhunted in close to ten years. When I asked him what he wanted for his retirement gift, his response was a crossbow. The years of working construction have taken a toll on his body, especially his shoulders. It’s difficult for him to draw and hold a vertical compound bow. In Minnesota, he can use a crossbow for the entire archery season (because of his age). He now has an abundance of time on his side and can rekindle that passion for bowhunting…just with different equipment.

crossbows too efficient for archery season - Successful Crossbow Hunt

The crossbow is a great way to keep the older generation in the game long after their ability to draw back a bow fades.

Crossbows and vertical bows are different functioning weapons. It’s acceptable to acknowledge that fact and treat them separately. It’s also acceptable to allow them both to have their place in the hunting woods.  I am a firm believer in championing hunting, conservation, hunter recruitment and retention. I also feel the hunting industry needs to rally around each other and eliminate the bickering and bantering amongst the community. That being said, I feel the tradition of bowhunting must be protected. My children are being raised with the opportunity to learn the art, practice and skill of shooting bows. They will get to experience the practice and preparation it takes to become successful bowhunters. Once successful in the field, they will ultimately feel the reward when all that practice, repetition and muscle memory pays off.

What do you think? Is the efficiency of today’s crossbows pushing them into a category of their own, beyond the standard archery season? Should crossbow hunters have a season of their own?  Comment below and let us know what you think.

Take a closer look at the new TenPoint Nitro XRT in the video below…

Travis Lange

Travis Lange

Architect / Project Manager at Benike Construction
Travis has been bowhunting various states for more than 25 years. He is an Architect / Project Manager for Benike Construction in southeastern Minnesota. In his free time, he enjoys writing about hunting and various outdoor activities. Travis lives in Saint Charles, Minnesota with his wife and three children.
Travis Lange


  1. I think cross bows are getting way to advanced to be considered full archery equipment.. I to live in Minnesota and it wouldn’t be good for this state.. just because of the amount of hunting pressure during gun season and the winters we have. There fine for people who have disability and old people who can’t pull a bow. But if you healthy and able you should suck it up and shoot a bow hunt like a real man or woman. Shooting a deer with a bow is awesome!!

    • mr. camo says:

      yes, cause a real man can use a carbon riser and the latest and greatest cams with no beneifit???? with a laser range finding “bowsight”

      thanks for confirming the caveman genetic code still exists hypocrite.

      • WV Deer Hunter says:

        Yea, right. The day my Hoyt shoots 470fps you can make your argument. I’ve been shooting compound bows for 20 years and as well as I can remember compounds were shooting anywhere from 280 to 300fps back then, maybe even a little more. Today top of the line bows by Mathews and Hoyt are only 340ish max. But I suppose you’re out there with your recurve cursing us compound hunters…. lol!!! I agree that crossbows should only be used during the full length of archery season by seniors or the physically disabled. I’m from WV so I wouldn’t be against allowing crossbows (by everyone) to overlap with the archery season like 2 weeks before rifle season starts. That gives bowhunters all of October before crossbows come into the picture. That’s just my opinion. No need to be calling anyone a cave man though. We are all outdoorsman here.

        • Bucky Badger says:

          Who cares what anything shoots as far as speed?? Is that now the criteria for seasons… brutal argument dude.

  2. Dennis Pawlowski says:

    Todays crossbows are are way to advanced. Stick a thermal or night vision scope on a Sub 1 and you can only imagine what someone could do with a 100 yard range at night. The seasons need to be separated!

  3. A crossbow is a bow…period. All of you “Real Men and Women” shooting 95% letoff bows wouldn’t like it if recurve hunters decided your fancy compound bow is “too advanced” to be considered a bow. I have hunted with the same compound for 30 years, did I get extra credit for using an old bow with aluminum arrows? The crossbow doesnt work food plots, hang stands, get up in the AM and drive an hour to the property, sit long hours on stand or make the shot when needed. So lighten up, hunters numbers are on the decline, we need all the hunters we can get. My son and daughter use them, probably wouldn’t hunt otherwise. Arrogant pronouncements that crossbows are not real bows are not what we need to reverse the trend of declining hunter numbers..

  4. I feel the same way, I live in Michigan and it is legal for anyone to hunt with one. There would be a lot more deer surviving the archery season!

  5. I agree with Mike. I don’t choose to use a crossbow now, but the draw and/or shot is only the last step of a long, difficult, careful process to get the right animal in front of you at the right time. I know crossbow folks that have missed good deer because they didn’t see a branch and the bolt deflected just the same as a bow-driven arrow does. It’s not the same as a firearm. It’s simply another option and doesn’t take away someone’s accomplishment in my eyes. We should celebrate that option, then choose the one that’s right for YOU.

  6. John Torchick says:

    Lots of good information here and the debate goes on, ad infinitum. While reading the thread, I noticed the disclaimer about shooting at 200 yards with the crossbow, making an ethical shot up to the individual. Someone will try it, I guarantee. OK, 200 yards is a long way off! Let’s compare the 200 yards to the effective/accurate distance for a 12 gauge rifled slug, sabot, or whatever you want to call the solid projectile. Note that I’m not versed completely in that realm of ballistics for slugs but wanting to call attention to the scenario. Recently, the idea of the air bow has cropped up. This is an arrow or bolt that is launched by an air system similar to a pellet gun, if I understand the principle. The reality of the declining numbers of hunters is another thread for discussion.

  7. Bucky Badger says:

    I see where your going with this – crossbow contingent cutting into “your time” and “your deer”. Dumb argument. Same song when “archery” was in its infancy (ie late 1960’s and 1970’s). Opposition stated then as you are now that the equipment was too advanced and these hunters were shooting all the deer. Let me be clear – no group has preferred status in regards to season length and time in my opinion. If you feel threatened by the crossbow hunters well that’s on you — they have every right to pursue deer during the same time as the “traditional” bow hunters. Get over it – it’s here to stay (at least in Wisconsin).
    So let’s all “play well together” and enjoy the great outdoors!

  8. Allen A. Berkebile says:

    I believe that to many deer are being harvested during our archery seasons now. I’m not sure. but do believe that crossbows are taking more deer than vertical bows our here in PA. In PA, where we only have a six week early season. It always goes out at around the 9th to the 16th of November. This is very frustrating! I have always hoped that the Game Commission would extend it into our rifle season. With the introduction of crossbows, and the increased harvest’s due to them, I doubt we will ever see it. I’m not against crossbows. but think that they should have a separate season. Except for disabled, elderly and children under 14 years old.

  9. I personally was bowhunting and selling archery equipment prior to compounds entering the scene. When they did appear, we all thought they were a dumb idea and would not sell. We were very wrong, and when the hunting population made the switch, the recovery rate on whitetails went WAY up. When I made the switch, I found that I enjoyed hunting with the compound every bit as much as the recurves. And, it was MUCH easier to shoot accurately at mu ch longer distances. About 10 years ago, my shoulders became so bad I had to switch to a crossbow or give up bowhunting. I was very unhappy about it but since bowhunting has been my life long passion, I switched. Guess what, I enjoy the crossbow every bit as much as the compound or recurve. I have always shot year round. Prior to the advent of 3-D it was bales and cardboard animals. So where this long story is leading is to my experience. The crossbow is a major disadvantage to carry around the mountains, still hunting a cornfield, shooting close to trees or skinny blinds. Can you teach someone to shoot it well easier than a compound, absolutely. Can a decent compound shooter shoot a 3-D course as well as a decent crossbow shooter, absolutely. And the BS that I’ve listened to time and again about crossbow bolts being more damaging to 3-D targets, is exactly that BS.
    So my life long experience tells me, that if states want to separate archery seasons, any bow with wheels or cams should be where the seasons split. They are not anywhere close to being conventional. Or, we can allow hunters to shoot what they enjoy and not be jealous.

  10. Started with a vertical bow in the 70s. When my shoulder went changed to an excalibur. Really, the cross bow predates the Romans. The amount of technology in a new compound bow and arrows removes them from the old recurve family. Shooting from a rest is one thing, hump a crossbow to a climber and then negotiate up in a tree and you don’t have a great advantage. Plus they can be noisy.
    I miss pulling a bow but I should not have to give up bow season.
    Not necessarily on topic but the greater travesty is the number of states that are allowing killing deer over bait. In many of the bow hunting programs the deer are being shot over corn!

    Learn how to hunt. I’m fair hunt fair chase. No bait, no trail cameras. Try that, it’s much more rewarding.

  11. Allen A. Berkebile says:

    The bottom line is that too many deer are being harvested with them . They are very efficient, and YOU DONT HAVE TO DRAW THEM when deer are approaching! Comparing recurves to compounds isn’t near as contrasting as compounds to crossbows, that are now capable of shooting 100 or more yards. with exceptional accuracy. Somebody has got to draw the line here. What is next? 500 fps? 200yards? You guys that have physical disabilities should definitely be able to use crossbows during the entire archery season!

    • Who decided that the requirement to draw is the dividing line? I reject your requirement and state that any bow with a letoff more than 65%, such as my 30 year old Miles Keller Legend XI has, isn”t actually a bow. I dont actually believe that, my point is that you are drawing an arbitrary line that puts you in a club of superiority where you get to say other hunters aren’t really bowhunters. Why? If they are following the law, you should welcome them to the club, not make them feel inferior. Look it up in the dictionary, a crossbow fits 100% the definition of a bow.

      • Jesse A. McDaniel says:

        Tired of hearing crossbow users try to defend there positions. If coumpound bows were just as deadly than why are you using a crossbow. It’s plain and simple, you know you have the advantage, you know they are way easier, you know they are supreme. Way far apart from any argument between traditional and compound bows. Everyone knows. It’s the easiest thing in the world to see. The data also backs my claim up. Just face it, you have sold out to one of these things. Crossbow industry, insurance company, personal greed, sheer laziness and lack of patience. A generation of hunters that just want easy Street, a trophy for everyone. That’s not early season archery. You guys are destroying what real bow hunters have loved for generations. I will continue to oppose the use of crossbows in early archery season in my state of Michigan by able bodied hunters. I will not by into the argument of hunt your hunt. If that were so, than why not just have firearm season open Oct 1st. Yeah, you crossbow users would throw your crossbow aside. Don’t lie. Michigan hunter here strongly oppose to crossbow in early archery. If you feel the same help petition crossbows out of early archery in Michigan.

        • Tired of people like you making the completely illogical argument that a crossbow isnt a bow. It’s in the name! Ever hunted with a crossbow? I am sure you haven’t. They are NOT a rifle, you cannot shoot a deer at 100 yards with them and a crossbow bolt will deflect off a branch, just like an arrow. Believe what you want, but the dictionary, the state of Michigan where you and I live as well as basic logic prove you wrong. I hunted most of archery season this year, but on rainy days I used my crossbow because the rain messes up the FEATHERS I use on my ALUMINUM arrows. You want to unilaterally decide that those days I used a crossbow I wasnt bow hunting, go ahead, but its nonsense.

          • Jesse A. McDaniel says:

            We are not going to agree on the crossbow so there really is no use arguing back in forth. But I have to ask? You bought a crossbow to use because the rain messes up your feathers on your aluminum arrows.???? That makes no sense to me. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy an arrow with a different fletching and stick to the your bow rather than buy a cross gun even though we know it’s easier that way. Sounds like excuses to stalk around with a cross gun in the rain to easily pop a buck out of regular bow range to me. But whatever. You do you, it’s legal. I hope that soon it changes and like I said, I will sign every petition that comes my way opposing the use of a cross gun by able bodied hunters in early archery and I hope more follow that direction. Sorry you don’t agree.

        • Bucky Badger says:

          Lol!! What you fail to realize is that “your true bowhunters” brethren are shifting to the crossbow and all your petitions talk etc is foolish. ITS NOT YOUR DEER— they (dept of natural resources) aren’t obligated to give you “alone time”. Quit being such a whiner and hunt it up ! Good luck to all

    • When 2+ month bow seasons were established the original concept was that the length of the season would be longer because the method was a less effective way of taking game. When the method becomes more effective then it’s totally reasonable to question if it should be allowed to be used for the duration of the season. A crossbow is not a gun, but it is a weapon that any person can remove from a box and have it ready to kill deer in under 30 minutes. The price of entry into vertical bow archery is months of practice in order to perfect form and consistency. If you know how to shoulder a gun and avoid the dreaded branches you above commenters lamented then you can easily kill a deer with a crossbow. In our world of instant gratification it’s pretty obvious why more and more bow hunters are making the switch. I’m not knocking crossbows but I do think it’s a bit much to subject our deer heard, especially the public land deer, to 2.5+ months of intense pressure.

      • Bucky Badger says:

        Ummmm… correction needed. As I have started in an earlier post the number of deer harvested do not support the idea of too long of a season or over harvesting. The net gain of xbow harvest has come from less vertical bow harvest. In other words the archery harvest has been unchanged since the law changes allowing xbow use.
        Again we are at odds as what “efficient” exactly means. You lean to as its “too easy”. To that I say that the xbow is a very effective and efficient weapon. Perhaps this author could dabble in his next article on how many deer are wounded and not recovered by the “traditional” vertical bow hunters — to that we might ask if vertical (traditional) are efficient ebnough?

  12. Allen A. Berkebile says:

    The topic isn’t about crossbows being a bow or not. It’s about their efficiency. I have nothing against them, as long as they aren’t increasing the harvests. I stated the fact of them being pre drawn because it’s a big advantage. I personally have had deer bust me as I attempted to draw my bow! Some of which were pretty good bucks. I’m sure that with a crossbow, my chances would have been much better. This is only one reason that they are so effective. If the crossbow harvest’s continue to increase, I’m afraid that the seasons will be shortened. As I stated above, here in PA we only have a 6 week season that ends in the middle of the rut. I’m always hoping for an increase in our season but highly doubt that will happen now! What it all boils down to is, if a weapon (any weapon) is too effective, something has to be done. I don’t know the answer. I just wish we could all hunt together without any problems, but overharvesting is a problem!

    • You can draw your 95% letoff bow while the buck is still behind cover and wait for him to step into the opening. A stick bow hunter has to draw while the buck is in the opening, I am sure they get busted more than a compound hunter. Compounds are more efficient than a stick bow, and I am sure they increase both percentage per opportunity and total number of deer taken. Literally every argument that you make about compounds was made by stick bow hunters when compounds came on the scene. Crossbows were made legal for deer in Michigan a decade ago. I have seen no discernable decrease in deer numbers. I dont know much about Pennsylvania hunting other than it is considered one of the top whitetail states. The facts are that fewer people are hunting year on year. If crossbows allow more people to hunt during archery season when the weather is better and the deer are still moving naturally, the more the better IMO.

  13. It’s not about deer numbers or harvest percentage. The article is about efficiency. If you stop with the “95% let off” crap you’ll realize that game seasons are designed on weapon efficiency. The more efficient the weapon, the shorter the season. A scoped, already cocked crossbow is much more efficient than an average compound bow. If you look at the TenPoint above, you can adjust the scope to arrow weight eliminating the need to change your scope when your arrows change. Changing arrows with no need to spend range time adjusting your sight pins. If you think scopes on a rifle-like platform don’t change the efficiency of a weapon you are being dense. Last light shooting with a scope vs a peep is a GIANT difference. All the arguments about “this is the same stuff said as during the introduction of compounds” does not apply. The practice and skill required to become proficient at 25yds for compounds is infinitely more than shooting a crossbow at 25yds, which you can do using a Xbow that someone else set up, sighted in and you’ve never used before. Add that you can buy a good crossbow, practice for a week and be efficient enough to shoot a deer at 50-60yds – a distance most compound shooters will never be good enough for ethical hunting shots – and it’s clear a modified season should be used. The fact that it’s not recruiting NEW HUNTERS but just adding gun hunters to the archery season to hunt the rut and it’s obvious to an impartial observer. If you want a state with decent – not good or great – deer potential then keep crossbows for all of archery. It eventually will have an effect similar to firearm rut seasons. Eastern Kansas has much better trophy potential than Missouri due to the timing of its firearms season, not because of bag limits or available nutrition. If your idea of archery hunting is picking up a crossbow in the fall and shooting a buck at 55-60yds that’s great but it’s not bowhunting – traditional or compound. Knock on let-off all you want, at least you draw back all the weight and hold a percentage at full draw with a compound (more likely 70-75% not 95% LO, everyone is not shooting PSE evolves) compared to simply lifting a crossbow (probably on a Caldwell Dead Shot so it’s like a bench) and pulling the trigger while using a scope. XBows should get 2-3x the season length as firearms, in my view, while kids, seniors and handicapped can shoot it all archery season.

    • Bucky Badger says:

      It’s all about the so called “traditional” not wanting to share. Stop the bickering and whining- it’s tired.
      If anyone has a bitch it probably the gun hunters who just go in the woods for that season alone. They could say “hey our season (in Wisconsin) is just 9 days – why do the bow hunters get 90+ days? “ Maybe bow hunters should also just get 9 days to hunt to be fair to all?
      I see the same elitist attitude with the “let em go let em grow” crowd. When a person buys a license for whatever species for whatever weapon of choice and as long as they are proficient in using such weapons they have just as much right to harvest game as the next person. Does a crossbow kill more effectively than a “traditional” bow ? I believe it does – my question back “is this effective weapon bad for hunting?”. Not in the least.
      My advice- shut up and hunt.

  14. No Buck says:

    I have been reading all the defrent post in regards to crossbows being allowed during bow season and have come to the conclusion that we all have a right to hunt with what ever weapon you so choose during that period that each state has made legal. Now , I’m a bow hunter, a crossbow hunter and on occasion a gun hunter. Did you notice I said ( Hunter). So those of you out there that think you deserve a right to be the only one in the woods because you shoot only a bow during Archery season, Is in my book not much of a sportsman or woman . You need to , Suck it up big boy, because I’m going to hunt with whatvever I feel like hunting with, as long as it’s legal , and don’t care what know one thanks. I been bow hunting now for 15 years and got me a crossbow to boot. I’m using both , pending on my stand choice. Why not!!! It’s legal. It’s still hunting my friends. Yes I know we have free speech to say just about anything we choose to say, but some of you out there just go over board. I think God that we have a choice to hunt with all deferent types of weapons during a particular time of the year. That way, I can enjoy the great out doors that much longer. And for the ones that only choose one weapon. That’s fine with me. What ever makes you happy is the way I see it.

  15. Allen A. Berkebile says:

    It’s not about sharing! it’s about over harvesting, which is a direct result of efficiency! I have no problem hunting with crossbow hunters. As long as we aren’t taking to many deer. You guys don’t seem to get it. You have to manage deer harvest by season length and by the efficiency of the weapon. If you continue to over harvest, something has to be cut. Either your season or the weapons. Everything was fine until they started allowing crossbows in archery season. So why should we pay for something we didn’t start! Now that’s not FAIR! As for your comment regarding the length of rifle season matching that of archery season, come on now, do you really think that a deer herd could withstand that long of a rifle season. We have to use some common sense here. You mention fairness. You don’t manage deer by fairness,nor by the general hunting public, or politicians! You do it by experienced biologist’s and deer managers! In reality there isn’t much of anything that is fair anymore.

    • Bucky Badger says:

      Fact is this – the total harvest (Wisconsin) has virtually been stagnant at about 325,000 total deer for the past 7 years – about the time crossbow hunting was introduced. IF the total was approaching 525,000 as was in 2006-7 I would say you might have a leg to stand on.
      So if the harvest has been static at about 325,000 how can you logically say that crossbows are affecting the harvest and we are now over harvesting the resource? You can’t because it isn’t. What is happening however is the shift of the harvest— crossbow hunters have exceeded the harvest of the “traditional” bow hunters. So what? It just is saying that a lot of vertical bow hunters have traded in for a crossbow. Again the total harvest of deer hasn’t really changed since Xbow came into play — just more jumping at a chance to use the Xbow instead of a vertical bow.
      So now we are back to the initial question of are they “too effective” which really is an asinine question. Are they better at harvesting (killing) deer? I think yes. Is that somehow bad? Is less deer getting wounded or lost due to poor shot or inferior equipment bad? I have been hunting for about 40 years. I’ve seen the evolution of equipment. The crossbow is one of the best weapons I have used to deer hunt- period.

  16. Russ H. says:

    I live in the state of Pa.. Here crossbows have been legal, and have been for several years. I began hunting in the middle a970’s using a recurve bow, and then moved to several different compound bows. I now own an Excalibur Matrix 380. Through the years I have taken many many deer using vertical bows. Currently I have taken seven(7) deer with my Excalibur crossbow. When I compare the efficeiency of my crossbow, and the skill set required to use it–well there is now comparison period. Doing the math for arrow weight where some of the modern crossbows are shooting an arrow/bolt weighing around 400 grains at speeds nearing, and over 400 feet/second the amount of KE, and momentum speaks for itself. Math doesn’t tell fibs. Also the accuracy of them, and the ability to to also use a rest to steady the shot–the crossbow is extremely efficient in it’s power, and accuracy down range. No modern compound can compare to the high end crossbows as far as power, and efficiency period. Simply do the math, and it’s clear–combine this with extreme accuracy, and we have a machine that is extremely efficient for it’s purpose. In my own personal comparison of archery tackle throughout using a recurve, compound, and now a modern crossbow–it’s apples to oranges for me. The crossbow wins hands down with efficiency. I feel like a sniper sitting in the woods with it. Fifty(50) yards, and in for me, and any deer I have shot using Rage two(2) blade heads with my Excalibur Matrix 380 has never made it 30-50 yards from the shot. It’s like shooting an arrow gun for me. The law says I can–I am NOT breaking a single law. I wanted to see what it was like to hunt, and take deer with a crossbow–so I bought one. It’s a far superior, and far more efficient arrow shooting device than anything I have hunted with before. I have over 40 years of bowhunting under my belt, and many deer taken. The crossbow was, and is a total game changer for me—extremely accurate, extremely powerful at longer ranges, extremely efficient, and extremely easy to use. Am I right, or am I wrong for using one??
    I don’t know–I’m just sharing my personal experiences as I have progressed through the years of hunting using archery tackle. I now choose to set up on the ground using a stool, and leafy, or ghillie suit to level the playing field a little(my opinion). I have had great success doing this. I figured since I am using what I feel is a far superior, and efficient tool in archery season that I can at least level the playing field by not using a treestand. Maybe thats just a goofy opinion on my part, but after taking game with a crossbow, and it’s efficiency it’s very hard to want to choose a weapon that is less efficient, and go backwards.
    To all–I say this–no matter your choice, or opinion on crossbow efficiency, and effectiveness—-stay within the laws of your state, and get out there, and hunt. No need to berate, and bash one another over weapons, and gear choices. My staet says I can use a crossbow so by God I am, and ccould care less who hates me, and bashes me for doing it.

    • Mike Peasley says:

      Oh HELL yeah! Exactly my point.

  17. Russ H. says:

    I realize in my post that at the end it may seem a bit arrogant. To say I do not care what others think of the fact I have tried a crossbow simply to see what it’s like to use, and hunt with one may offend some. I have target shot some older models not belonging to me, but in the past never hunted with one until the past few years. One of things that sticks in my mind is that no matter what many think there is an undertoe of attitudes with crossbow use these days. There are those that still downplay the efficiency of the modern crossbow. It’s a simple fact that by nature the crossbow can be shot with much easier repeated form that results in a much more efficient, and accurate outcome that can be repeated even with a novice using it. We simply cannot over estimate, and expect that a crossbow is like using a firearm–it’s not–it’s not a rifle. It is however shot using very similar methods of shouldering it, and using a scope, and even a rest in some cases.
    The cold hard fact is that in many states they have been made legal to use, and for some they/we are looking backwards asking ourselves–“Is the crossbow being allowed in regular archery deer seasons a mistake?” “Is the crossbow too efficient?” “Will we end up taking too many bucks prior to, or during the rut with such a efficient weapon?” “Down the road will season lengths need to be shorttened due to higher harvest rates?”
    These are some of the questions I hear asked, and thought upon as we move into modern times in our sport. What I contemplate is the fact that many state game management agencies have legalized certain weapons, and it will be mighty hard to go backwards when, and if that time arrives where the state agencies say–“We gotta do something because harvest rates due to modern more efficient methods, and weapons are resulting in herd numbers being too low, or at a level where they say they are in managed numbers at this time. The old saying–the horses are all out of the stable–how are we gonna get them all back in now that we turned them all loose comes to mind. We all know it will deeply anger many if, and when established seasons have to be shortened, or certain weapons have to be taken out of a specific season, or maybe specific shortened seasons would be established for certain weapons.
    Down the road I see this getting very interesting. With all of this in mind I would like to say, or ask all who love to hunt to think about where we are at in the world of hunting in regards to ‘EFFICIENCY”—Now more than ever we see how our sport has progressed with very efficient high tech gear that wasn’t there, or available not so many years ago. We have folks planting massive food plots, we have better treestands, we have game cameras that allow us to scout 24-7-365, we have drones, and things keep growing, and moving further ahead with the “EFFICIENCY” to allow us to be more successful when we go into the woods.
    For many we ask the question–How much, or how far should we go-Is there, or should there be a line drawn with the “EFFICIENCY” aspect of things?
    For me it comes down to a personal choice. I can take, or leave it–I can choose what tools, weapons, and methods I will use as outlined by my own personal set of hunting ethics in which most likely will not look like, or be like those of other hunters. In the end I really do not know where the “EFFICIENCY”, and more modern devices will take us when it comes to hunting. For many it’s a huge moral dilema. For me I will, or can simply make my own personal choices to embrace, and use the technology available today, or simply choose not to use it, and continue a more tradtional way of hunting.
    Let’s face it–now more than ever before the technolgy, and efficiency with gear, and equipment continues to take leaps, and bounds as we move forward.
    Notice that I capitalized the word efficiency at times in my post. I did this because the subject matter here is in regards to efficiency of the modern crossbow.
    Now more than ever before efficiency of the equipment avalable to us to use for hunting has never before been at a level in which it is at now. How far it takes us-who knows, but I for one will stay tuned to see how it all plays out.

  18. What’s the criteria then??

    • A bow is a weapon that propels an arrow using stored energy from a string and a curved piece of wood or other material. Any attempt to say a crossbow is not a bow is just silly and wrong. Anyone who says they are the same as a rifle has never hunted with one. Ya’ll hunt your legal way, I will hunt mine.

      • Ralph Harris says:

        Anyone who says a crossbow is a bow, is just kidding them selves.
        If they were the same, no one would be shooting one.

  19. Bucky Badger says:

    The real title of the article should be “Vertical Bow Hunters vs Xbow Hunters…room in the woods for both?”. Fact is guys and gals that we are really all one segment of the equation in deer management. “Traditional” bow hunters look down on Xbow Hunters and that is a shame because more than likely one day they also will “evolve” into Xbow hunting as well. Age has a way of making a hunter change his or her approach. I unapologetically state that I hunt with a Xbow as I no longer feel confident with a vertical. But it’s more than that – I no longer can shimmy up a tree 20’ like I could when I was younger. Cold affects me more than before so I use a buddy heater and appreciate the warmer days of October as opposed to the biting winds of November. I didn’t Bowhunt for about 15 years and then was introduced to the xbow about 5 years ago. It has allowed me to get back into the sport that I loved and missed. The Xbow has also introduced many kids into the sport as well – and for a tradition on the decline this is tremendous!

  20. Ralph Harris says:

    Bottom line. Crossbows are killing the archery industry.
    Archery shops are closing by droves, archery sales are dying on the vine.
    Why? Simple.
    People who want to hunt, will choose the easiest, most effective weapon available and legal in the season they are hunting. If there is no love of archery, but a love of hunting, then the choice is a simple one. Crossbows require no practice, are sold ready to shoot, extends the average shot range by a factor of three for most people, and are lethally accurate. Compared to a compound bow, which requires hours of practice, requires specialized set up, with sights, rests, arrows, releases etc. and is a 30 yard weapon at most for the average hunter. (note: On average a crossbow is shot 12 times in it’s life, after initial sight in, once for each season it is used, when a deer is taken}

    The Result?
    Archery manufacturers are going to go out of business in a wholesale fashion, as 90 percent of archery sales are hunting related. Archery innovation will disappear along with the manufacturers, archery associations and clubs will disappear, as archery becomes the niche sport it was before the Compound bow came along in the late sixties.

    If you have a love for the sport, you will recognize these facts, not having anything against crossbows, but rather against seeing the sport you love disappear as we knew it a few short years ago.

    Allowing crossbows in archery season, is no different than allowing magazine fed shotguns in muzzle loader season would be. In a very short period of time, only aficionados of muzzle loaders would be using them, as 90 percent of the hunters would trade up to shotguns. Because they are a more efficient weapon….same with crossbows. They are killing the archery industry as faster than they are a deer at 70 yards.

    Most people may not care. After all they are now killing deer, they never would have with a bow.

    • Bucky Badger says:

      Yawn…You couldn’t be more wrong. IF most bowhunters switch over to crossbows guess what ? The Mathews and other manufacturers of the vertical world will switch over as well. You speak as though using a vertical is somehow primal and sacred. Let me know when you switch to a long bow and wooden shaft arrows and you will get some credit. Crossbows allow the sport to continue as most bowhunters are no longer able or want to shoot verticals — you talk of manufacturers going out of biz I agree that is quite possible. It’s called either adapt or collapse. Geeze if I’m a bow manufacturer and I’m not making crossbows already call me stupid. Your argument is that they come ready to shoot and don’t need rests, sights, releases etc.and are ready to hunt without endless practice – wow… who would want that?! “If you love your bow you can keep your bow…” but to try to strong arm the crossbow season to be shorter or at a different time isn’t going to happen nor is it right.

  21. I saw a story on a hunting show last weekend about a new bow sight that is an angle compensating rangefinder in one. It has a lighted dot that is your aiming point no matter the distance or angle and they claim that it learns arrow trajectory over time. It will accurately sight out to 100 yards. Add that to a 90% letoff bow, carbon arrows, 2 inch expandable broadheads that shoot exactly like field points and any claim to “archery purity” and condescension is unwarranted.. Also, anyone who says you can shoot a whitetail deer at 70 yards with a crossbow has probably never hunted with a crossbow. Crossbows shoot in the 400FPS range. To hear some, they shoot as flat as a.22 at a hundred yards. NOT the case, plus, most are really loud. I will switch to my crossbow once it gets cold as my 53 year old body doesn’t respond like it used to in the cold. I will start the season with my Miles Keller Legend XRG circa 1990. Easton ALUMINUM arrows, 4 inch left helical Turkey feather fetching and the same Thunderhead 125s I started using in the 80s. If you are trying to put an arrow through a deer… it’s bowhunting!

  22. Russ H. says:

    I have read through the replies after my last reply. I will again say that it’s a choice. As I said I own recurve bows, compounds, and a Excalibur Matrix 380.
    After taking seven deer with the Excalibur just to see what its like my choice is still my Blacktail recurve bow. All of my equipment is legal to use, and my point is simple–I, or you-anyone can choose the legal weapon of their choice, and go hunting. For me the crossbow provides me with no sense of accomplishment what so ever when taking game–thats me–not anyone else. I love my traditonal equipment, and fully realize that the law says I can choose any of the arrow shooting weapons that are legal. I’ll run my own race/hunt my own hunt all while remaining within the laws laid forth by the states in which I desire to hunt. I do have a true at heart opinion that sadly many no longer want to take the time to practice with regular vertical bows anymore, and I find that sad. I also understand some may not have the time to shoot a lot due to work, and family commitments that simply do not allow for the time required. It’s also human nature to take the easiest path to success–this isn’t just an archery thing. It’s the way we as human beings are to some extent. Me-I like to truly challenge myself when it comes to bowhunting. Each person as long as they remain within the law will define for themselves what they desire to receive from participating in the sport. For me–when I’m using my crossbow I am deer killing. When I use my recurve I am deer hunting. No matter what there will always be an ongoing dark under belly within our sport. From the day H. Allen, and T. Jennings got together, and put wheels on a vertical bow–the opinions, theories, ideas, and all kinds of arguments began. To this day as equipment advances the arguments continue. Heres my idea on it all—Choose a legal weapon, and abide by the laws laid forth in your hunting area, and get out there, and hunt. If, and when you tie your game tag to your animal doing it all while doing it within the law, and you feel like you accomplished something–guess what–If I were there I would take my hat off–extend my arm, and shake your hand, and say–congratulations being happy with, and for you.

    • Bucky Badger says:

      Well stated. I think the whole recurve vs xbow is not needed and undermines archery as a whole. I think part of the argument lies in the recurve proponents feeling threatened by crossbow hunters and in turn demean their accomplishments. I’m sure that if I was younger (under 50) I may very well feel the way some of the current recurve hunters feel about crossbows. Fact is this – being older and having a chance to be out in the woods with a xbow rivals any of thrills of my younger recurve hunts. I’m just happy to make it thru to each fall as you really never know when your last hunt will be. Be safe and have a great bow season.

  23. The biggest reason in my opinion that “traditional bow hunters” and I use that term loosely are against crossbows is greed and selfishness. More hunters in the woods with deadly accurate equipment means a lot more big brutes are being shot by somebody else. A tricked out compound bow is good out to 80 yards or more and with 95% let of you can hold draw for an eternity, that’s not much different than a crossbow anymore. What about all the other gimmicks that make it easier to bag game? Scent lock clothing, WiFi game cameras, buck lures, rattles, grunts etc.. If a crossbow is not “traditional” neither is that stuff. Go get a recurve and sit on a stump because at one time hunting from a stand was considered cheating too. I personally think the bow season in Wisconsin is 2 months to long. Let people use their bow of choice but the season should run for the month of October then close till the 9 day gun season and remain open till the end of December. Give some of them nice mature bucks an opportunity to breed that’s it. For what it’s worth that’s my 2 cents.

  24. Bagboy23 says:

    As a traditional archer in NY State I can tell you that the Crossbow season was created by reducing the length of the regular archery season.

  25. Are crossbows archery equipment?

    Obviously not, since they were originally invented to eliminate archers, for medieval armies, as skilled archers were to difficult to find and maintain.

    The crossbow allowed all soldiers to be deadly with a projectile driven weapon.

    Modern Crossbows are very good and efficient weapons, and are no different than any other deer hunting tool. They should have been evaluated, and placed in their own season, by trained biologists.

    This is not what happened.

    When the compound bow came onto the market, it brought millions of people into the sport, biologists soon found, that success percentages did not change appreciatively from recurves, deer herds grew, seasons lenghthened, and an entire industry was created, complete with it’s own trade show and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sales, and innovation that is driven by competition.

    Through it all, crossbow manufacturers saw the millions in sales, and wanted it.

    They began lobbying dnrs, politically, selling the idea licensing sales would increase, just include them as archery equipment.

    And it happened. Without a thought of being evaluated by biologists, and seasons bring created.

    What most people do not realize, is crossbows are replacing archery bows, and the archery industry is dying.

    And crossbow manufacturers are getting rich.

    When it is all said and done, the long archery season will be gone, as crossbows are at a minimum 3 times more effective than archery, the season will become a 2 to 3 week crossbow season, before firearm season….unless crossbows are given a season of their own.

    But since 80 and 90 percent of new “bow” sales are crossbows, most people will be happy with turning archery season into a short crossbow season.

    Regardless, those are the facts.

  26. bucky badger says:

    In Wisconsin crossbow does have its own season — it starts the 2nd Saturday of September of each year and usually runs thru the following January. It coincidently runs the same time as the vertical archers = thus its called the Archery Season. It astonishes me (not really) how the article morphed from the title “are crossbows too efficient” to the vertical crowd crying foul and wanting to punish those that use crossbows to a shorter season, and to try to somehow try to make those that use crossbows less of a sportsman. Hilarious.


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