So you’re thinking about hunting with the crossbow, right? But you’re not sure exactly where to start. Well let’s take a look at a few things before you take the plunge so that you make the right decisions for the right reasons.
First of all there is a lot of misinformation being circulated around by folks that really don’t know the first thing about crossbows other than the fact that they don’t like them. For decades, that misinformation has kept the crossbow and those who fancy them cowering in the closet. But in recent years, the truth has been brought into the light and education is breaking down the walls of resistance to one of the neatest and oldest bowhunting tools known to man – the crossbow.
Some of the more common evils that are used to malign the crossbow are that it is capable of up to 100-yard shots, it is too accurate, and it is too easy to shoot. If you believe any of these myths, please continue to read this article. The crossbow IS NOT the long-range weapon that it is often portrayed as. Hollywood and other fairytale tellers have given credence to that fable, but the truth of the matter is that a crossbow is a short-range weapon, more so than the forty-year-old compound. Granted, it can be shot accurately beyond the recommended maximum of forty yards, but shooting at a live animal at that range is not considered to be an ethical shot by the crossbow hunter.
Because of the dynamics, an arrow shot from a crossbow does not have the kinetic energy of one shot from a compound bow. Consequently, the arrow from a crossbow loses its punch and drops faster than one shot from a vertical bow. Since hunting involves live targets that can move very quickly, especially in the case of the whitetail deer, taking a long shot with a noisy crossbow can lead to a wounding shot rather than a quick and humane kill. It is recommended that you keep your shot well under forty yards (20-30 preferable) to insure the most ethical shot possible. Remember for all bowhunters, the only thing better than a twenty-yard shot is a ten-yard shot. Always keep in mind that this is bowhunting and the challenge of bowhunting, regardless of the type of bow you use, is to get close.
When folks claim that the crossbow is too accurate because it is technologically superior, they are demonstrating their ignorance. Because of the dynamics of its construction, it is not as accurate as the compound bow. The heavy weight of the bow is balanced out in front of the crossbow, which creates a “bob and weave” situation that detracts from the bow’s accuracy. For documentation of this phenomenon, check out the tournament results from the IBO and the NFAA shoots, both of which have a crossbow class in their national competitions. To date, crossbows have not been able to shoot as high of scores as the vertical bows have. If crossbows are as accurate as claimed, they would be besting the compounds in every tournament – they are not.
Like any other weapon that you hunt with, a crossbow will require practice not only to become familiar with the intricacies your bow, but also to build confidence and strength, which will enable you to hold it more steady and shoot it more accurately.
The crossbow is easier to master than a compound bow, however with the advancement in technology of vertical bows almost anyone can be shooting tennis ball sized groups with one in a matter of thirty minutes. A crossbow is easier than that, but anyone who thinks that they can head to the field immediately after removing their crossbow from the box is thinking foolishly. One should never even remove the bow from the box until they have read the owner’s manual from cover to cover. Most of the crossbow companies also included an instructional safety DVD as well and this should also be viewed before you assemble your new crossbow.
An hour or two should be spent on the range fine tuning the sighting system and becoming familiar with the workings of your crossbow before you ever consider shooting it at a live animal. If you start by shooting field points, before you hunt, change to the broadhead you plan to use to harvest your first animal. Shoot plenty of shots with your broadheads so that you know each arrow in your hunting quiver will hit exactly where it is aimed. Yes, and that means shooting all your hunting arrows, not just one. If you take each of these steps when you head into the field, you will be as ready as you can for a new set of problems that will arise in a hunting situation, but that is for another chapter at a later time.
Crossbow hunting is just as challenging and exciting as any other form of archery. It is a sport that can be shared by the entire family regardless of age or sex. If you are thinking about taking the plunge, go ahead, but remember do it right and do it responsibly. The rewards for both you and those you hunt with will be far greater if do.