Useful Crossbows fundamentals for Hunters and Target Shooters

Both hunters and target archers are turning to crossbows in greater numbers. There’s little question that they are simpler to operate than a compound or recurve bow. They can hit bolts with incredible accuracy from long distances. You can attach scopes and hold them as if they were a rifle, but there are some drawbacks. In this post, we’ll discuss crossbows’ many types and aspects. We’ll go through the specifications, accessories, features, and everything else in this article. We will discuss it all at the end of our tutorial to see if you know more about crossbows than you did before you started reading!

Types of Crossbows

Recurve Crossbows

Recurve Crossbows

There are a few things to know about a recurve crossbow before you start using one. This is a basic form in which the bow’s arms curve first towards the shooter and then retreat away from him. A recurve bow’s limbs must be longer than those of a compound bow, but the finished item is considerably lighter. It allows for faster target acquisition and a more precise shot. The bow has fewer moving components, so it needs less upkeep other than for the string’s wear and tear. However, string replacement is a breeze.

This recurve crossbow is also incredibly quiet, making hunting a good idea. The main disadvantage is that the arrow speed to draw weight ratio is smaller. This makes drawing it difficult, so if you don’t have adequate shoulder muscles, it may not be a good idea.

Compound Crossbows

Compound Crossbows

When shooting, the strain of the weight is relieved only when drawing the bow, as opposed to a standard compound bow. Zero draw weight is assigned to any crossbow after it is cocked. Another benefit is that the bow is little, making passage through thick bushes or aiming around tree branches easier. A single limb or split limb compound crossbow is one of the most divisive topics among hunters. It’s generally agreed that there isn’t much of a difference. The difference is that the split limb may be more accurate, lighter, and simpler to adjust with age.

We’ve already discussed the weight difference between a recurve and a compound when drawing the string. The recurve bow is generally quieter and lighter than the compound. On a recurve, the trigger mechanism is more likely to fail over time, but the rest of the design is more durable. If you have to replace the string, you’ll almost certainly need to go to a bow shop for a compound. A recurve bow is more versatile for most scenarios. If you only need a little more power than your body can supply, a compound might be your best bet. Otherwise, I think that you should use a recurve bow.

Pistol Crossbows

Pistol Crossbows

I also have one of these and adore it. Before I got my full size, I purchased a pistol crossbow because it was less expensive, more portable, and a lot of fun. They are typically accurate up to about 30 yards, which is shorter than that of a real crossbow. The bolts are also quite light, so they’re fantastic for target shooting but not ideal for hunting. At 15 yards, a bolt bounced off of a rabbit hide. Squirrels and bullfrogs appear to be unaffected by them. My acquaintances would rather shoot the small handgun than the standard-sized version. I believe it is less intimidating for those who have never handled a crossbow before.

Specifications for Crossbows

Specifications for Crossbows

Draw Weight

This is the amount of weight needed to draw the bowstring back to a cocked position without the use of any assistive equipment. To put it another way, a pistol crossbow has an average draw weight of 50 pounds. You’ll want a draw weight of approximately 150 pounds for animals ranging from big rabbits to white-tailed deer. You’ll want a draw weight of around 200 pounds for animals that may charge you, such as bears or moose.

There are various draw assistance solutions accessible to supply you with a mechanical advantage if you’re attempting to draw more than 150 pounds. The one I have is similar to a pulley system in that your foot holds the bow front down, and two handles pull the drawstring back. The state determines the draw weight on a compound bow, so check with your local hunting regulations to verify. Of course, any draw weight is appropriate for target shooting. If you’re having trouble hitting long-distance targets, boost your bow’s draw weight for a quicker arrow speed.


Let-off is a common subject when discussing typical compound bows. This is the draw weight reduction felt as you approach the conclusion of your draw so that you can sustain it for longer. This is critical for bowhunting with a normal bow. With a compound crossbow, however, the entire weight of the weapon is contained in the trigger mechanism. The draw weight does not matter once the bow is cocked. Crossbows, therefore, are not subject to let-off.

Crossbow Width

For years, it was believed that the distance between a recurve’s arm tips or between a compound bow’s axles makes a significant difference in accuracy. However, according to most recent studies, this is not the case. It has been discovered recently, however, that this variable makes little difference at typical hunting or target distances.

Power Stroke

This is one of the most essential yet least understood aspects of a crossbow’s design. The distance between the resting position of the bowstring and the fully drawn point of a crossbow’s bowstring is known as a power stroke. It is the same as the draw length on a regular bow. To put it any other way, the longer your draw length, the quicker your arrow speed. This is especially true of recurve crossbows. However, there are numerous other elements that influence arrow speed. It’s a tough calculation, so comparing bows by looking at the power stroke is much simpler.


When assessing a bow’s performance speed, there are two separate measurements to take into account. The one is arrow speed, which is measured in Feet per Second (fps). It simply displays how fast the arrow is flying away, and it remains consistent no matter where you shoot from. The typical arrow speed is between 200 and 400 frames per second. The second factor to consider is kinetic energy. This is calculated in Foot Pounds of Kinetic Energy (fpke). This indicates how much energy is transferred to your target from your arrow instead of arrow speed. As your range grows, kinetic energy decreases. This must be taken into account. The amount of kinetic energy varies from about 30 fpke to 125 fpke.

It’s worth noting that the grain of the arrow has an impact on both the arrow’s speed and kinetic energy. This is why it’s critical to use arrows of the same weight when comparing bows on these dimensions. Crossbows are typically tested with 400-grain arrows.

Here’s a chart to assist you in figuring out how much faster your arrow will fly with a heavier arrow:

  • 425-grain arrows will be shot at ~97.5 of the initial speed
  • 450-grain arrows will be shot at ~95% of the initial speed
  • 475-grain arrows will be shot at ~92.3% of the initial speed
  • 500-grain arrows will be shot at ~90% of the initial speed
  • 525-grain arrows will be shot at ~87.8% of the initial speed
  • 550-grain arrows will be shot at ~85.5% of the initial speed
  • 575-grain arrows will be shot at ~84% of the initial speed
  • ​600-grain arrows will be shot at ~82.5% of the initial speed

For every 10 yards beyond your intended target, you may anticipate a drop in kinetic energy of three to four percent. As a result, if you start with 100 fpke and then aim for a 30-yard target, you may expect around 90 fpke.

Depending on your skill level, any amount of arrow speed or kinetic energy is acceptable for target practice. The more distance there is between you and the target, and the slower the arrow flies, the greater the arc of your shot will be. This might make it more difficult to shoot, so it all boils down to personal taste. Hunting, on the other hand, is a very different story. The amount of kinetic energy required for a clean kill is dependent on the size of your game.

  • A game as small as turkey or groundhogs should be maintained at a minimum of 20 to 25 Fpke.
  • Between 30 and 40 fpke is required for medium-sized games such as deer and antelope.
  • You’ll need between 45 and 60 fpke for big games like elk or black bears.
  • Between 65 and 75 fpke is required for larger, more hazardous animals like grizzly bears or moose.


A crossbow uses bolts to shoot arrows, which are significantly different than those used in a regular bow. Compared to most standard arrows, these bolts are shorter and thicker. The average length of a crossbow is 14 to 20 inches long, but each model has its own suggested size. A 20-inch bolt is most likely the most frequent length. Depending on your taste, you may get three-inch or four-inch fletchings for your bolts. Bolts are made of either 175-grain or 125-grain field points, along with a 400-grain combination (175 grain by itself).

I like to use a heavier weighted point. You intend for your arrow to fly true ahead of you, so it’s important that it be heavier to the front. You may get aluminum bolts, although I like carbon fiber. Always check your crossbow’s sights before hunting with broad-heads. On a field point, you’ll notice a significant difference in the flight of a bolt compared to a broad-head.

Crossbow Weight / Mass

The drawback of utilizing a crossbow is that, in comparison to a vertical compound or recurve bow; it weighs approximately twice to three times as much. Although this does provide more stability, it can also harm your arm if you must keep the bow raised for an extended time. Some people find that a bipod or a straight stick helps them to handle some of the weight. There are times when I take a rest and other times when I don’t. If I’m planning to take a shot beyond 30 yards, I’ll most likely use a rest. I draw my shot otherwise. This also depends on how exposed my activities will be. I’m not nearly as concerned if I’m up in a tree surrounded by greenery. I’m more concerned about being discovered while on the ground leaning against a tree, so I keep my crossbow on a bipod.

A sling, on the other hand, is a very different situation. This harness is constructed to allow you to carry your crossbow over your shoulder while trekking. When I hunt with my crossbow, I frequently have a long hike to get to my tree stand. Carrying my crossbow in both hands quickly tires out my arms, and my hands are not free for anything else I need to accomplish. I use a sling to carry my crossbow across my shoulder, relieving the strain on my arms and allowing me to keep both hands free. When I’m hunting, I always carry my sling.

Stocks and Cheek Pieces

The stock is almost always the heaviest component of a crossbow. They’re made of wood or plastic with steel reinforcement. The heavier stocks make the bow more dependable because of their extra stability, but they are more difficult to carry in the woods. Cocking mechanisms are present in certain stocks to assist draw back the bowstring.

Skeletal stocks are available to provide the same level of strength while reducing weight by a vast amount. One of the most difficult tasks of using a crossbow is maintaining a firm grip on the bow. It’s critical to choose a proper stock length and cheek-rest combination. Custom cheek pieces and stock extensions are also available due to this.


Crossbows make considerably more noise than regular bows, on average. However, there are a few things you may do to reduce the noise. The problem is that the sound of your crossbow will reach your targeted animal before the bolt itself arrives. If the target flinches before the bolt reaches it, this is known as “jumping the string,” and it can be quite annoying. You must first think about the sort of crossbow. Recurves are often quieter than compound bows.

After that, you may change various settings to reduce noise. Sound dampening mechanisms can be added to any crossbow; some come with one already installed. To minimize noise, silencers can be added to the string itself. Usually, these are small rubber component that absorbs the shock. Finally, one of the most thunderous noises your crossbow can produce is when you switch off the safety. To keep the switch quiet, carefully press it with your thumb and forefinger. Maintain gentle pressure on the switch as you move it forward to prevent it from making any noise.

Cocking/ Decocking

Crossbows are cocked in three distinct ways. One option is to use both hands and pull the string back into a cocked position. This might need a lot of strength, and it can result in irregular cocking, which lowers precision. A rope cocking mechanism is also included in most crossbows. Just like an ordinary pulley system, this one uses a pulley to reduce the amount of force required to cock your bow by 50%. If yours didn’t come with one, they’re inexpensive and small enough to carry in your pocket. This technique of cocking eliminates the danger of misaligned cocking, and I make use of it every time.

The crank or lever technique is the newest approach to cock. This technique gives you a considerably greater mechanical advantage since all you have to do is crank a lever to draw your string. However, the system is considerably bulkier and more expensive. This device is wonderful for anybody with a physical disability that limits their strength. When it comes to decocking your crossbow, I’ve been told that you just shoot the arrow into a target. You may also buy a target that is specifically built to be light and portable, which you can utilize as a crossbow launcher. It is dangerous to try and return the bowstring down. It’s possible to snap the bowstring or break one of the arms if you dry fire a crossbow.


On a crossbow, there are three main types of sights. You’re using the old single-pin design that’s common among traditional bows. However, most crossbows now include a scope of some sort. Reflex sights are another choice, but they need to be added later. Reflex sights and the pin system are intended for short-range shooting, while reflex sights are ideal for fast target identification on moving targets. A scope is perfect for me since I don’t take many moving shots.

When it comes to optics, the rule I’ve always heard is that you should spend as much money as you can afford. A poor optic may make you doubt even the most simple shot, and a great optic can provide the confidence to take shots that you would normally pass up. Examine your product evaluations and focus on magnification. You won’t be shooting at a distance of more than 100 yards, so you don’t need a nine-power scope. I’m currently using a four-power scope, and it’s working well.


The trigger of a crossbow is one of the fascinating elements of a crossbow, and it’s different from firearms in design. It’s far easier to get a smooth release with a crossbow than it is with a regular bowstring. However, not all triggers are the same. Crossbow triggers have specific weights, much like a firearm’s trigger. This is the amount of pressure required to activate the trigger and send your arrow flying. If the arrow’s weight is insufficient, you may fire it prematurely. If the trigger is too heavy, you could inadvertently jerk it, which might cause your shot to go astray. Modern crossbows include a safety mechanism to assist prevent an early discharge.


As is the case with any sort of bow, you may spend a lot of money or a little. I’m still utilizing the very first big crossbow I’ve ever owned, and it cost me about $200. I’ve had to purchase some replacement parts, but I don’t mind fixing things. It’s been amazing for deer season. If I were to tackle a larger game like elk or black bear, I would most certainly want to upgrade my crossbow ahead of time. In fact, I’m thinking about a black bear hunt this fall, and I may very well do it.

You may easily spend more than $1,000 on the finest grade crossbows, but you don’t have to. My little beginner crossbow has been a tremendous help.

Maintenance and Storage

If you want your crossbow to endure, you must take good care of it. A protective case for your crossbow is a good idea since the smallest impact on an arm, cam, or scope can send everything haywire. You may have to have your compound crossbow bows sharpened from time to time to keep them accurate.

Crossbows, however, require the most attention when it comes to bowstring waxing. Every time the bow is fired, the draw-braces rub against the frame of the bow. The tension put on the string by this technique is tremendous. You should wax the entire string, including the eyelets, every five times the crossbow is discharged. In addition, keep a spare string on hand and be ready to replace it after 50 to 100 firings. Your string may endure longer than that, but you should plan ahead. I also bought a tool for my recurve bow so that I may easily replace the string myself.


A quiver is one piece of equipment you might wish to think about for your crossbow. I have one that hooks to the bow, but I find it increases weight, so I seldom use it. Instead, I use a hip quiver that works just as well. In actuality, my crossbow is so accurate that when I go hunting, I only bring two or three arrows with me. I’ve yet to shoot a deer twice. Another item you might want to consider buying is lighted knocks for your bolts. This feature displays the flight path of your arrow so you can see where it hits or misses the target.

As previously noted, a good scope, noise-damping technology, and a sling are all beneficial for transporting the weight. You’ll need a case and bowstring wax to maintain the crossbow in excellent working order. I prefer mechanical broad-heads for hunting since they fly more similarly to a field tip. Stationary broad-heads on crossbows are frequently out of whack.

Finally, when hunting, due to the weight, I bought a hook to attach next to my stand so I may hang up my bow until a deer came by.

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