Skip to content

Hit or Miss: Pros and Cons of Hunting with a Crossbow

So far this year we’ve set up shop at quite a few sports expos and trade-shows. We’ve had the opportunity to see the latest and greatest in traditional bows and camo, but one thing that has been swiftly gaining popularity are crossbows. While crossbows were originally designed to assist disabled individuals while hunting, due to their increasing popularity many states are changing their laws to permit their use during the general bow hunting season or during the general firearms season.

Another reason people are beginning to love crossbows more and more is their learning curve. Unlike a traditional or compound bow, learning to properly aim and fire a cross bow is much simpler making the learning time much shorter. Add in the fact that they generally have great overall performance and it is not surprising they are swiftly rising in the ranks of preferred hunting methods.
There are most definitely some great pros and some serious cons about using a cross bow. So, let’s check them out:

Pro: No Draw Time
Unlike with a traditional or compound bow, there is no need to concentrate on making a full draw while maintaining your aim to make your shot. Once a crossbow is cocked, a mechanism maintains full draw until the trigger is released. This not only conserves energy for the hunter, it allows him to focus solely on his or her target and properly aiming their shot, increasing overall accuracy. Though it is always good to consider the potential for a poor shot, or for nature to rear her head whenever you’re on a hunt.

Con: They Can Be Heavy
Traditional and compound bows are generally relatively light-weight, making it easier to carry them while you hunt. Unfortunately, while there have been many advances in overall construction to make crossbows lighter, the reality is they are still quite heavy. While all the complex parts and pieces give the crossbow quite a bit of power and make aiming more accurate, it also makes it significantly heavier than a traditional bow.
The increased weight also tends to make crossbows much louder, and in a sport where stealth is your friend this is a big disadvantage. Luckily, we noticed at the ATA show this year that manufacturers have been hard at work improving the overall designs and decreasing the weight, making them much quieter. A great example of this can be seen in Ravin Crossbows.

Pro: High Velocity
Thanks to the mechanical systems in the crossbow, these guys are little, but mighty. While a traditional or compound bow will have a draw of around 70 pounds, crossbows often have draw strengths of at least 100 pounds with some of the newer models slinging arrows with up to 200 pounds of draw strength. This increased strength also means an increase in velocity, allowing your arrows to fly at up to 450 feet per second. Higher speeds and more power also means deeper penetration, increasing your odds of a kill shot. However, you should always be prepared in case you have a poor shot or nature decides to rear her head.

Con: Long Reload Time
With traditional and compound bows, a good hunter will have an incredibly short reload time, allowing them to send off several shots within 1 minute. Since the only requirement to reload a bow is to slip the knock onto your string and draw, you are not only able to maintain aim while reloading but can reload with just one hand. Reloading a crossbow has many more steps. You must set the shaft, pull the draw until it locks, raise your crossbow, sight in your target, correct your aim, then you are able to let off another shot. This more involved process can easily cost you your animal.

Final Thoughts
Crossbow hunting may not be for everyone, but they most definitely have their place. Providing novices, younger individuals, and those who are disabled with a reliable, and accurate, method to bow hunt is amazing. We welcome any additions to our hunting community that allow a broader range of people to experience one of our favorite past times. Though, we do concede it is very important to research the crossbow you wish to purchase to make sure it coincides with your skill levels and abilities. With any luck, more advances can be made in the upcoming year to further improve upon this awesome hunting addition!

You might also enjoy: