Sep 9, 2017

The Crossbow Decision 

Crossbows are growing in popularity and are the source of much debate internally in the archery world.  What I tell folks who ask me is that I choose to look at the crossbow as another tool in my hunting arsenal.  Whether you choose to use a crossbow due to injury, an alternative to a bow or gun, or just by choice, here are a few things for you to think about. 

The first thing to consider is the type of hunting you will be doing.  Will you be hunting from the ground in the open?  From a blind? Or will you be hunting from a tree stand?  More things to consider will be the overall weight of the crossbow, the length, and the width from the widest point of the limbs.  You want to choose a bow that will best match the type of hunting you will be doing.  For example, the Mission line of crossbows features several crossbows: 

The Sniper Lite is a lightweight crossbow, perfect for carrying afield or taking up a tree.    

The Dagger is a shorter overall bow that is perfect for use in a blind. 

The Charge is a great all around crossbow, lightweight, good length and power at 365 FPS. 

The next area to look at is the sight for the crossbows.  Most of the modern crossbows come equipped with a scope or have the ability to add one.   Most of the scopes are set up similar to a compound bow sight in that there are 20, 30, 40 yard marks on the scope.  For some scopes, once you sight in at 20 yards the other marks are also set.  These scopes are generally set based on the FPS your bow is shooting.  Some scopes also come with lighted reticles, which aid in  seeing the crosshairs in low light. 

One of the most common questions we are asked is how far can I shoot the crossbow? 

The answer is simple. Like any other weapon, the answer relates to how much you practice and the conditions you are shooting under.  Realistically, a crossbow’s effective range is very similar to that of a compound bow:  35-50 yards. 

The second most common question is how accurate are they? 

Crossbows can be an extremely accurate weapon. But, like any other bow or gun, it doesn't shoot one inch groups out of the box.  You need to setup your crossbow correctly and practice. I recommend buying it from a Pro Shop so you can be assured it is setup correctly and you have been properly trained in how to use all features of the crossbow.  Then you need to practice, practice, practice.  Spend most of your time practicing at the distance you expect to be making most of your shots. One thing I hate to hear from a customer is that they don't have time to practice with their compound, so they are going to buy a crossbow so they can just go out and hunt. To be proficient with a crossbow you need to practice with them just like you would any other bow. We owe it to the game we hunt to be sure that when we fire that shot it will be on the mark and will make a clean ethical kill.    

There are also many benefits to using a crossbow: 

Limiting movement – When hunting in the open for deer, turkey or other game animals, keeping movement to a minimum puts the hunter in a better position to harvest an animal.  Because you do not have to draw the crossbow while the animal is present, it allows for a more stealthy approach. 

Extending your seasons – I love to hunt late season, but sometimes it is just so cold that I would need to wear clothes that would limit my ability to comfortably draw my compound bow.  With my crossbow I can confidently go out in the coldest weather when the deer are moving.  I also hunt in a somewhat populated area, so using my crossbow keeps my neighbors happy while turkey hunting those early May mornings. 

Continuing archery after an injury – Last year I had severe tendinitis in my wrist and was unable to draw my bow.  I had been seeing a beautiful 8 point buck in late October, but knew there was no way I could get a shot with my compound bow.  I decided it was time to bring out my Mission crossbow and I was able to close the deal after a couple of afternoons in the woods.  Many of us have injuries from Military Service, on the job accidents or just plain getting older, these shouldn't keep us from enjoying the archery season. 

After purchasing the right crossbow, getting it setup, receiving the proper training and getting in your practice reps, you are ready to go afield.  I have harvested both deer and turkey with my crossbow and it is quite a thrilling way to hunt them.    

Now, a few some safety precautions to be aware of: 

This is where the crossbow is most different from a gun or compound bow; because you have cocked your crossbow, you must safely discharge it before putting it in your vehicle.  There are many ways you can do this: 

Carry a small discharge target and bolt with a practice tip.  Get a target specifically for crossbows or you will destroy it. 

Purchase a Nub – these are oversized collars that go onto the tip of your crossbow bolt and then can be discharged into the ground.  The Nub will prevent the bolt from going too deep into the ground. 

Crossbow Defuser – This is a new tool that is available and fits most crossbows, even reverse limbs.  This will allow you to safely de-cock your crossbow without the risk of a dry fire. 

I do not recommend ever using a cocking aid (hand crank for cocking a crossbow) to back down your crossbow – this is risky and can result in injury to you or a dry fire which could destroy your crossbow. 

Crossbows have fueled much debate both good and bad.  The reality is that they are becoming a big part of our archery world and we should embrace them as such.  Crossbows can give us more opportunity to enjoy the sport we love... and what could be bad about that? 

Be safe and have a great 2017 season from all of us at Wicked Archery.