By Chris Larsen
Relaxation of crossbow regulations are not without controversy. However, crossbows advocates are slowly winning the war and more people are taking to the woods with horizontal bows. There is no doubt there are advantages to using a crossbow over a compound bow. But there are several things you need to know before hunting with a crossbow.
The are numerous benefits to hunting with crossbows. Once they are sighted in, anyone can use them. It doesn’t’ matter if the shooter is right-handed or left-handed, young or old. Once a crossbow is cocked, it’s easy for anyone to fire. That’s what makes the crossbow so handy for introducing kids to hunting. They don’t have to have super strength to pull back a bow string and the bark and kick of a gun is absent in a crossbow. Manufacturers are creating crossbows with built in cocking mechanisms for ease of use. Parker Crossbows has recently released a crossbow with an automatic cocking mechanism powered by CO2.
The most obvious advantage of hunting with a crossbow is being able to be perfectly motionless while waiting for a deer to move within range. The bow is already drawn. No need to stand up and risk being spotted while pulling a bow back. Crossbows are also ideal for ground blind hunting. One of the issues with hunting out of a ground blind with a vertical bow is being low enough to avoid hitting the roof of the blind with the cam. Crossbows are being made more narrow than ever. There are several models on the market measuring 18” or less limb-to-limb when cocked. The other big advantage is the scope. Compound bows are usually sighted in for an individual. Once a crossbow is sighted in, just about anyone can shoot it as long as they are steady.
It may sound like crossbow hunting is a piece of cake, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. First of all, many opponents of the crossbow see horizontal archers hitting targets as far away as one hundred yards. You may be able to hit a target at that distance but a deer isn’t going to sit around and wait for an arrow to travel a hundred yards. If you practiced that shot with a compound bow you could make it too. Big game needs to be just as close, if not closer, to be within ethical range of a crossbow. Crossbow bolts are often fifty to one hundred grains heavier than compound bow arrows. Bolts drop much faster than arrows over long distances.
Crossbows have a few more moving parts and typically make a little more noise when fired than compound bows. This makes jumping the string more likely with a crossbow than a compound bow. Just another reason why it’s important to wait until game gets close before pulling the trigger.
Like any other weapon, there also safety precautions that need to be followed. The first thing a crossbow hunter should do is read their owner’s manual and fully understand how their particular crossbow works. The safety should always be left on until you’re prepared to fire. When firing, it is imperative that your hands remain on the stock and below the rail of the crossbow. The string could literally take off a finger. For a short demonstration, check out the video below.