Crossbows 101: A Buying Guide

by Lindsay H April 24, 2017

Crossbows 101: A Buying Guide

It’s no secret that crossbows have been gaining in popularity.  Whether you are looking to purchase one for hunting, target shooting, or competition, knowing the type of crossbow you need is essential.  These answers to common questions can lead you into the right direction!

What is a crossbow?

In order to understand if you need a crossbow, you need to grasp what one is and what it is used for.  Crossbows are a modern form of a bow and arrow. Many, many years ago their primary use was for war but currently, their main uses are hunting and target shooting.  They are specialized in shorter range shooting and are much more precise than any other types of bows.  Another advantage is that the draw of a crossbow is much easier, therefore making it an excellent choice for elderly or children that cannot draw a traditional compound bow.  Many people prefer to hunt with crossbows as you can have the bow already set and loaded for shooting and there is a speed advantage. 


They sound great!  Are there any disadvantages?

Crossbows are generally heavier and bulkier than other types of bows.  This can make hiking to a hunting spot or climbing a tree a bit trickier.  They also are a noisier shot due to the heavier draw weight. When shooting big game you want to be sure to not shoot too far away or the animal could hear the bow before the arrow gets to them.  Another thing to consider is reloading, a traditional compound bow will be a quicker reload than a crossbow and sometimes in the woods, every second counts.    

What types of crossbows are there?

There are 2 main types of crossbows, recurve and compound.  Deciding which you need is entirely up to what you will be using it for. 

A recurve crossbow curves away from the archer and tends to be better for more seasoned shooters as it can be more difficult to draw and steady.  While it is a lighter bow, it is generally wider so keep that in mind where you are deciding to shoot.  A recurve bow also shoots slower than a compound.


A compound crossbow is narrower and shoots faster than a recurve.  The power for shooting is all in the pulley system and therefore is an easier draw and a quieter shot.     


What size should I get?

The size of the crossbow is entirely up to your preference and what you intend to use the bow for.  When purchasing your crossbow, be sure to have it fitted properly while also taking into consideration your arm strength for the draw weight.  Some companies now have draw assists so that the draw needed for large game will not feel heavy.  Pertaining to draw strength, take into consideration the bows power-stroke.  The power stroke assists in the speed of the arrow but if you have short arms, the longer the stroke, the harder it will be to draw.  Most of all, you want the crossbow to feel comfortable and all parts easy to access.  Try a few out before deciding as once you are using it, you will find that comfort while shouldering and utilizing is the most important to be the most effective archer.

 Ready to try one out and see if it’s for you?  Check out your local archery range and see if they have any to rent.  Trying out different types of bows is the best way to know what you will work best with.  The idea of a crossbow can be intimidating but many easily fall for the quick and accurate shooting that they provide!    


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Lindsay H


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