CUTTING EDGE CROSSBOWS
7 Reasons Why They Rock
Without doubt, crossbows are one of the easiest, most accurate and fun hunting tools ever created. They are growing in popularity each year, and in some states, crossbow hunters now outnumber traditional vertical-bow users! Once dismissed by some outdoorsmen, today’s crossbows are earning a second look. And for good reason!
1) Out-of-the-Box Accuracy
If you bought and unpacked a vertical bow (like the Robin Hood or Katniss kind), it would take you at least several weeks to learn how to use it and be good enough to confidently and ethically shoot at a living game animal. But a crossbow is as close to out-of-the-box-ready as it can be. Some come already assembled, while others may need the limbs or scope installed. Read the directions beginning to end—without fail—and you’ll have a very good idea how to safely shoot it. At that point, you’ll want to find a safe place to shoot, and then confirm it hits where the scope says it will. Then practice, practice, practice, which just happens to be fun, fun, fun. When you are consistently putting those arrows close together from about 15 or 20 yards, you’re ready to hunt!
You have to admit, crossbows are very cool-looking machines! That’s why so many video games like “Minecraft,” “Black Ops” and “Terraria,” and movies, such as “Star Wars” and “Lord Of the Rings,” feature them. Some crossbows have a tactical look and even accept accessories like lights and lasers on picatinny rails. Others, like Mission’s Charge, offer a sleek look that is as functional as it is smart-looking. You’ll notice, too, that each bow has a unique color scheme, although the dominant color is often black. Camo patterns are also popular for hunting, but it’s harder to see it in the woods if you put it down!
3) Efficient Machines
They are ready-to-go. They are cool-looking. But they are not toys. In fact, they are incredibly accurate, powerful, shooting machines that can put three arrows on a dime at 50 yards. Each bow is made to fling arrows at 300 feet per second or more, over and over again. Crossbows are made to deliver more than enough power to get the arrow to the target with extra energy to make a quick and ethical kill. Look for a crossbow that can shoot a 400-grain arrow more than 300 feet per second, and you’ll be in good shape for deer at bow-range hunting. If you can put the arrow where it’s supposed to go, the hunting broadhead will do the rest. People have used crossbows to hunt everything from the dangerous Cape buffalo and bear to coyotes and small game. They have the power needed so you can effectively harvest your deer or turkey or other North American game animal.
4) Easier to Hunt With
We don’t hunt because it’s easy. But there is no point making something harder than it needs to be, and that’s the philosophy of many crossbow manufacturers. Crossbows are just so easy to set up and use for hunting. One of the reasons they’re so user-friendly is that they are quiet. There’s no jarring report when you fire a crossbow, and that is easy on your ears and nerves! For the record, a crossbow is about 90 decibels while a small rifle is a good 130 decibels. In addition to a lack of noise, there is a lack of recoil as well. Since the string pushes all the energy into a relatively light arrow, there is actually some reverse recoil—pulling toward the target! That’s a big difference compared to a rifle or shotgun. Another advantage is that you can cock the bow in advance. You don’t have to wait until a deer or turkey is in front of you before you draw back, which can spook the game.
5) Hunt Anywhere
Rifle and shotgun hunters are limited to where they can hunt because of the distance the bullet or shot can travel, and because of the piercing sound. What’s neat about crossbows is you can hunt in many places where firearm hunters cannot. That could give you a chance at a big buck in a state wildlife management area or a state-sanctioned park hunt. You can find out about unique archery hunts like these at your state game agency website. Keep in mind, you always need to check regulations before you hunt. Some states, for example, allow crossbow hunting in the early archery seasons, others don’t. One state, Oregon, does not allow crossbows at all for hunting. Most states welcome them.
6) Crossbows Are Safe
When used correctly, quality crossbows are a safe hunting tool. Companies like Mission test their crossbows thoroughly and monitor them in the field to make sure they work as designed. I’ve used a crossbow for 10 years now, and have not had any kind of malfunction. Still, you have to treat the tool with the same respect you would a bow or a gun. Similar rules apply:
• Always keep the crossbow pointed in a safe direction
• Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
• Unload the crossbow and de-cock when you are not using it
These are important rules, but see more recommendations at nssf.org/safety/basics.
One more safety issue that’s unique to crossbows involves “thumb down.” When you grip the front end of the crossbow and are ready to fire, keep your fingers low so that they don’t get in the way of that fast-moving string pushing the arrow. Ouch! Keep those fingers down, and you’ll shoot safer.
Sometimes I meet up with gun hunters or bowhunters at camp or in the woods, and they look sideways at my crossbow. The machine is just different, and I enjoy telling the more traditional hunters about the advantages of my accurate, cool-looking and efficient hunting tool. It’s a little edgy, but it’s the next step in the evolution of our great hunting heritage. It doesn’t take up all of our time in our busy world, it’s easy to use, and you can utilize it in many locations. Crossbows are here to stay, and they just keep getting better and more fun each year.