Now more popular as a hobby or sport tool, the crossbow has evolved to become a much easier weapon to use, with better accuracy levels and effectiveness at game hunting. Whether used for sport or serious hunting, a crossbow can come with a range of features. To avoid simply settling for the first one you see, do not buy a crossbow without considering these elements.
The consumer can select from two kinds of crossbows according to design: recurve and compound.
The simpler recurve type is older and more basic. It is designed with the limbs or tips facing away from the shooter. Built with a smaller number of breakable components, this type needs less maintenance and doesn’t require the complicated stringing for asymmetric or round wheel compound models. The string is easy to fix if it snaps or breaks in the field. A recurve unit also allows quieter shooting compared to a compound model. The basic design makes the recurve crossbow ideal for first time users, who should learn with a cheaper device first before advancing to a more complicated and pricier weapon. The wide design can be an issue for those who wait for prey in tight spaces.
The recurve model also has no cocking mechanism, which means more strenuous cocking that can result in lower accuracy levels.
The limbs of a compound crossbow are typically shorter, allowing easy shooting in tight places. Some models can even shoot the same weight arrows at a quicker delivery rate than some recurve units. Built with a newer design, the compound bow has pulley-attached shorter strings and limbs. It employs a cam system that allows easy drawing. This specific component also provides a greater ability to store energy, ensuring powerful release and faster travel of arrows or bolts. The integrated cocking mechanism also facilitates drawing. With its weight driven higher due to a greater number of parts, the compound crossbow doesn’t allow repair of any broken components on the field.
There was a time when nearly all crossbows were outfitted with steel tips. Nowadays, crossbow manufacturers use fiberglass or composite material on the limbs, with a range of designs such as thick barrel-stave shapes and long-thin bows. A number of manufacturers have made the limbs of split-limb composite builds, readily equalizing stress and reducing weight. Today’s stocks feature composite plastic materials and laminated wood bolstered by metallic components, a more usual design.
The molded stock enables creation of a variety of designs that can come with wind-up or string cockers in the stock, which can support the firing elements such as the bow and arrow rail and can easily become the unit’s heaviest component. The skeletal stocks on some models offer lighter weight. However, do not be surprised that heavier units are able to provide more accuracy in shooting performance since weight provides stability while the arrow remains in the guide rail.
Typically ranked by pull weights, crossbows on the market can have ranges between 80 and 200 pounds. The tremendousness of the stress can cause the bolts to run up to 340 feet per second. When hunting deer-size game, 150 pounds pull weight should be sufficient. In this specific pull weight rating, the unit should be able to bring down a deer by shooting completely through the prey using a broadside shot.
Shooters of heavier build should be able to hand-cock the 150-pound weapon via a foot stirrup. If you need to reduce the pull weight, there are rope cocking aids that lessen that factor by half. The slower and tedious crank cocking aids need only between 10 and 15 pounds of pressure for handling a crossbow with heavy pull weight.
Noise and Speed
Hunting is supposed to be a stealth sport or hobby, meaning it should allow you to creep up to shoot the prey without startling it away. Therefore, the crossbow should be as quiet as possible, especially during that critical moment of releasing the bolt to let it fly through the air and hit the target. Parallel limbs in crossbows make for quieter shooting. The cam mechanism in a compound model can make it noisier compared to a recurve type of weapon.
For hunters who want the bolts to fly fast and powerful toward the prey, a compound bow is ideal. The design of a recurve unit doesn’t enable it to store energy.
In addition to the design, the bolt will also play a significant part in delivering speed, so go for bolts with the right size and strength suitable for the crossbow. You may get disappointed with erratic shooting if the wrong bolt type is used, such as fitting an extremely light arrow to a strong weapon, which can damage the crossbow. Take heed of the manufacturer’s advice on which type of bolt to use for the specific bow type.
The bottomline here is, choose between noise and speed to make the right compromise in your weapon purchase.
In choosing a crossbow, remember that weight has a crucial part. Extra weight plays a critical role for stability but can weigh you down when you have to go on foot for extended periods on the field. Light units are convenient for effortless tracking. Do consider any physical limitations you may have before deciding on a product.
Scopes contribute to shooting accuracy. A scope can be one of four types: optical (cross hatch); multi-reticle (cross hatch with fine lines); single red dot (one dot); multi-red dot (several red dots).
A rope cocking aid, whether classified as a rope cocking or crank cocking system, ensures accuracy as well by allowing the weapon to be properly cocked. Ropes or straps are common but cranks can be easier to use.
Attached on the crossbow limbs, a noise-dampening tool reduces the noise that normally follows a shot fired by limiting the vibrations.