Crossbows are becoming a popular weapon for hunters of all ages. Crossbow restrictions have been lifted in more states than ever before. As a result, the popularity and curiosity of Crossbow hunting is reaching an all time high.
Crossbows are broken down into two different styles - Recurve Crossbows and Compound Crossbows. With today’s modern crossbows, both models are extremely accurate and on average have an effective hunting range of up to 50 yards.
Crossbows can be used for backyard fun or for the serious big game hunter. It is recommended that you use a crossbow rated at least 150 lbs. for big game hunting. Some states do have restrictions on the poundage. (Check your local State Laws).
Cocking Your Crossbow:
Method #1: Cocking by Hand
Today’s crossbows are designed with various types of foot stirrups. This would obviously be the most economical way to cock your crossbow. The foot stirrup is either built in or attached to the front end of the crossbow. This provides leverage when pulling the crossbow string into the cocking position. This method is only recommended for people in good health and that can easily dead lift 150+ lbs.
While fast and economical, cocking your crossbow by hand can result in inconsistent shot placement. Crossbows are most effective when cocked in the same position each time. When cocking by hand one might tend to pull either to the left or right depending on which hand is more dominate. This will result in arrows flying either left or right on the target and it is very hard to be consistent. If this is the method of your choice it is recommended that you put a mark on the center of the string where it crosses the barrel(Stock). This mark should be placed in the center of the cocking mechanism each time and will help with consistency.
Method #2: Rope Cocking Device
A Rope Cocking Device is designed to reduce the effort to cock a crossbow in half. If cocking a 150 lb. crossbow, you will actually be pulling approximately 75 lbs. The design of most crossbow rope cockers is simple and easy to use. The Rope Cocking Device method is probably the most popular because of price. They will range from $20 to $35. When sighting in and/or target shooting with your crossbow, this device is well worth the money.
Practical while hunting? That is totally up to the individual. For my hunting situations, it doesn’t seem possible to try to cock a crossbow with a rope cocker in a treestand. So, you better make that first shot count!
Method #3: Crank Cocking Device
A Crossbow Crank Cocking Device is a device that mounts or slips onto the stock and is used to cock a crossbow with minimal effort. Most models do have a crank cocking device available. Depending on the model, the crank cocking devices typically take around 10 to 15 lbs. of tension to cock.
Crank Cocking devices are recommended for handicapped and elderly hunters.
Some of the crank cocking devices on the market will cock the crossbow and can be removed from the stock. On the other side there are some that stay mounted on the bow. Depending on your personal preference this could be a good or bad design. A permanently mounted crank can be easy to get to while the removable design has to be stored and taken back out to cock the bow.
A few of the drawbacks to using a crank cocking device are that it does take some time to cock the crossbow, the mounted versions can get in the way and the removable versions have to be stored.
While it is the easiest method for cocking your crossbow, a crank cocker is also the most expensive. Models range in price from $120 to $150.
Correctly cocking your crossbow is essential in your accuracy and success. Please keep this in mind before you make your purchase.
Most Crossbows on the market today are offered in a package deal including a scope. Scopes can be very beneficial in your accuracy. Crossbow scopes are offered in two designs.
Red Dot Scope:
Red Dot Scopes, whether a single dot or multiple dot would be my choice for hunting up to 30 yards. They are not magnified and offer a wide field of view at close distances. Most models have a “dimmer” dial on the scope that can adjust the brightness of the dot. This is helpful in low light conditions. A great example of this type os scope is the Barnett Premium Red Dot Scope.
With a single dot model your range will depend on the speed of your crossbow, while the multiple dot models can be sighted in a different distances. Personal preference is the key.
Multiple Reticle Scopes:
Powered Crossbow Scopes are also offered with most crossbow package models. These scopes are magnified and offer multiple aiming points below the initial set of crosshairs. These scopes can be very useful while hunting at distances exceeding 30 yards. Most models can be sighted in at 10-yard increments. Powered scopes do offer a better field of view at 30+ yards but can be detrimental to close range shots. With magnification levels ranging from 2x to 4x there is nothing worse that putting your scope on an animal and all you see is hair. Some popular examples are the Excalibur Twilight DLX Crossbow Scope and Leupold Crossbones Crossbow Scope.
The style of Crossbow Scope you choose should strictly depend on your hunting terrain.
Crossbow manufacturers recommend crossbow bolts for their crossbows. These recommendations will fall in line with the total grain weight needed for the crossbow to function correctly. They will also recommend a particular grain field point and broadhead for the same reason. Once you have purchased a Crossbow, the product manuals will explain the weights/grains needed.
1. Crossbows should never be cocked more that one day of hunting. If you have your bow cocked for the morning hunt, you will be fine to leave it cocked for the evening hunt as well.
2. Strings: Unlike Compound Bows, Crossbow Strings should be lubed/waxed after every 5 to 10 shots. This is key to your accuracy and string life. The more time you spend taking care of your crossbow string the longer it will last.
3. Always use the recommended total grain weight for crossbow. Using a bolt and tip that is too light for your Crossbow can result in excessive limb wear, decrease the life of your bow and void your manufacturer’s warranty.
4. Get comfortable making long range shots. We recommend practicing out to the maximum range of your particular crossbow. Whether it be 40, 50 or 60 yards, if you are comfortable taking that shot in practice you will have no problem making a well aimed shot in the field.
5. Check your local and state laws concerning the use of a Crossbow for hunting purposes. Some states limit the poundage and limit scope type.
We hope you have found this crossbow buyer's guide to be helpful. If you have any questions that were not addressed in this guide please contact OutdoorsExperience.com via email or our toll free number at 1-800-536-0446 and a qualified staff person will be glad to assist you..