The prevalence of crossbow ownership, and crossbow usage for the purpose of hunting, has grown immensely in the past decade. This exponential growth has brought the idea of hunting with a crossbow out of obscurity and into mainstream hunting culture. Legions of loyal crossbow hunters can be found in virtually every state, and include those of every age group and walk of life.
As the crossbow continues to find favor with an ever-growing number of hunters, questions continually arise regarding its appeal, and why this form of hunting has exploded in popularity. If you were to ask this question to ten different hunters, you would likely receive ten different answers. However, a handful of reasons for this level of widespread appeal stand out above the rest.
Recruiting the Younger Generation
Much of the crossbow’s popularity stems from the value that it offers when introducing the young outdoorsmen and women among us to hunting. Children, especially those that are relatively young, are often unable to comfortably pull a compound bow. Others lack the time necessary to consistently practice shooting their bows, especially in the modern “on-the-go” era.
A crossbow can be a wonderful way to introduce our youth to the world of archery. The same mystique offered by the flight of an arrow still applies when fired from a crossbow, just as it does a compound bow, and this can be especially captivating to a child. The use of a crossbow allows children to take to the woods at a younger age, and participate in many of the same tasks that go hand-in-hand with vertical bow use, such as being selective when waiting for a shot, judging yardage, and blood trailing game.
Keeping Aging Hunters In the Woods
Aging, and the aches and pains that come with it, is a normal fact of life that we must all, one day contend with. As we age, our muscles weaken, our physical limitations grow, and many activities that used to require little effort, turn into monumental tasks. Prior to the rise in popularity of crossbow hunting, many bowhunters were effectively forced to hang their bows up, due to the physical limitations posed by the aging process.
The difficulty presented in attempting to sustain hunter numbers through new hunter recruitment has been well documented, and we are quickly losing many of the aging generations from our ranks. This has caused a consistent downturn in the number of those going afield. However, crossbow use has shown extensive promise toward keeping aging archers in the woods, and has allowed many of these individuals the opportunity to continue doing what they love.
Expanded Seasons Offer Additional Opportunity
A great deal of crossbow hunting’s popularity, especially in the last half a decade, can be directly attributed to the expanding opportunities offered by many states for crossbow use within their season structure. A number of states have made crossbow use permissible during all archery seasons, while others offer lengthy crossbow-specific seasons. This has created an abundance of opportunities for crossbow use, where little previously existed.
No matter your preferred method of going afield, we as hunters always strive to maximize our time spent pursuing game. These extended seasons have led many hunters to pick up a crossbow in an attempt to extend their seasons, even if they have not previously hunted with a vertical bow of any type. In many cases, these archers eventually take interest in vertical archery as well, with crossbow use serving as a catalyst to this interest.
Gateway To Land Access
In a time of urban sprawl, and ever-shrinking rural expanses, it seems that there are houses and subdivisions in every direction that one might look. This has caused significant hardship for hunters when seeking land access. Many hunters are denied permission to properties based upon the grounds that a property owner “does not like people shooting rifles around their home.”
However, it is always surprising to see how many landowners still look at any form of archery pursuit as a novelty. Even in once rural areas where development has begun to take root, land access is still often readily available for bowhunters. This has led many rifle hunters to discover that crossbow use is often a gateway to previously unattainable access. As land development does not appear to be slowing anytime soon, this factor is likely to play an ever-increasing role in crossbow popularity.
Increased Prominence Within Media
The extensive coverage of the crossbow in recent years within various forms of outdoor media has also played a notable role in its rise to prominence. We, as hunters, typically love our gear and always have our eyes open, searching for all that is new and interesting within the industry.
We pay attention to what is featured within the pages of hunting publications, study the latest reviews that appear on the landing pages of our favorite sites, and take note of products showcased on outdoor programming.
As crossbow hunting began to gain steam, the hunting industry was quick to take note. Articles were written, reviews were conducted, and several hunting shows began to feature footage of crossbow hunts. This coverage only intensified, as debate raged in many states as to whether or not crossbows should be legal for use during general archery seasons.
Concerted marketing campaigns by a number of crossbow manufacturers also started to circulate around this same time. As a result, a number of hunters gravitated toward the appeal presented by the increasingly popular crossbow.
The Rise of the Crossbow
Depending upon whom you ask, the drastic rise in the crossbow’s popularity is either long overdue, or not justified. The debate rages on as to whether or not states should allow crossbows to be used during general archery seasons. However, one can rest assured that crossbow hunting’s popularity will only continue to grow, as the crossbow is here to stay.