Tips for Picking a Hunting Crossbow

Crossbow hunting is an excellent way to try bow hunting without overcoming the learning curve that comes with compound or recurve bows. Crossbows are extremely common among hunters and are mainly used for hunting down deer, elk, bears, and other animals. 

Crossbows are highly versatile. Despite their age, injury, or lack of strength, anyone can experience the thrill of using a crossbow. Its biggest appeal is the high precision and lack of strain needed to use this weapon. There are a lot of different crossbows available on the market, and if you intend to use them for hunting, you must choose one that fits your stature and needs. 

What is a Crossbow?

Man hunting in a forest using a crossbow
Hunting weapons have evolved greatly from basic
hunting knives, and now you can find hybrid weapons, which are accurate and deadly. A crossbow is a long-range weapon that makes use of an elastic launching mechanism. This consists of a prod, which is a bow-like component. The prod is positioned horizontally on the primary frame called the tiller. This part of the crossbow is hand-held. A crossbow is designed to fire arrows called bolts or quarrels like a projectile. This allows it to be accurate, which is its biggest appeal. The mechanism also means that you do not need to put in a lot of strength, so even those who are old and injured can use it. 

The scope is one of the main features of a crossbow that makes it a popular hunting tool. As long as your scope is sighted in properly and you are reasonably close to your prey, you will be accurate in your shot. Other features such as speed, bow weight, and draw weight are not as necessary, but they can help make a difference in a hunt. 

Benefits of a Crossbow

Closeup of a crossbow against a brick wall
Crossbows were invented to be a crossbreed, so they are neither bows nor guns but something in between. This makes it an excellent weapon to add to your
hunting gear. Their cross-shaped mechanism allows you to hold, aim and shoot without straining yourself too much. Other bow systems, such as compound or receive bows, are a little challenging. This is because when you use them, you need to use your muscles to pull back and hold the strings in a certain position. 

Another benefit of a crossbow is that they shoot arrows at an extremely high speed. Their speed is much higher than other bow systems, making them an excellent hunting weapon. They also tend to have a longer accuracy range, which can be highly beneficial. Crossbows are also a lot easier to manage. 

Crossbows can also extend your hunting seasons because many places allow you to hunt using a crossbow during the early archery season and during muzzleloader season. Before you do so, ensure that you check local regulations. 

How To Load and Shoot a Crossbow

A silhouette of a man with a crossbow

Before you set out to hunt using a crossbow, you must know how to load and shoot it. Crossbows are designed to be cocked using a hand crank cocking device or a crossbow rope cocker. Using either, you will be able to draw back the crossbow’s string and lock it in place using your hands. You can also load them manually if you wish.

When the crossbow is loaded, all you have to do is pull the trigger. It is crucial that you have a proper stance, much like when you shoot a gun. If you use crossbows correctly, they can be highly accurate weapons. With just a little practice, you can master these weapons and hunt with razor-sharp accuracy. 

It is also imperative to know how to sight your crossbow. Most crossbows come with a pre-sighted scope designed for crossbows exclusively, but you must still fine-tune it. Whenever you use your crossbow in a new location, you will need to fine-tune the scope. 

You should use a sturdy rest or a shooting aid when sighting your crossbow. Ideally, you should start at a distance of 20 yards and make any necessary changes. These could include changes in elevation and windage. Once you have done so, you can increase the range. 

Different Types of Crossbows

A modern crossbow against a white background

There are three different types of crossbows available on the market. These include recurve crossbows, compound crossbows, and pistol crossbows.

Type of Crossbow Description
Recurve Crossbow Recurve crossbows are the simplest and cheapest kinds. They have a curved bow string that pulls back on their two arms. This position allows it to store more energy than straight-limbed bows. 
Compound Crossbow Compound crossbows are like compound bows but in a crossbow style. They use levers and cams to multiply the force applied to the bowstring. This allows them to be more powerful than recurve crossbows but also more expensive.
Pistol Crossbow Pistol crossbows are very small and portable. They are not as powerful as the other kinds, but you can easily carry them in a pack.

The recurve and compound crossbows are the most used among the three types of crossbows available on the market. There is also a large debate on which type is better. The major difference between the two is the same between compound and recurve bows. 

A recurve crossbow is the more traditional kind and has a basic design. It’s simple design makes it easy to maintain, and you can get the strings switched out from any bow shop. They are also lighter, so you can easily carry them while you hunt. The only disadvantage of recurve crossbows is that they have slower speeds than compound crossbows. This makes maneuvering difficult. 

A compound crossbow is designed to have a narrower frame, which is possible due to the pulley system. This comprises of cams and mods, which makes this type of crossbow extremely powerful. It is also a lot faster and more powerful. They are also a lot quieter.

How To Choose a Suitable Crossbow

Closeup of a man using a crossbow for hunting

Choosing a crossbow is one of the biggest challenges you will face when you start out with bow-hunting. There are many different options available on the market, which can get confusing. Here are a few factors that you should consider before purchasing one. 

1. Power Stroke

Power stroke is your crossbow’s draw length. It is the distance from the rear of the string when pulled back and its coked position when it is uncocked and at rest. Considering a crossbow’s power stroke is crucial as it affects the speed. Most modern adult crossbows have a power stroke under 11 inches. 

The longer the power stroke of your crossbow, the more time it has to accelerate to the bolt. This feature is essential in a recurve crossbow as it primarily increases its FPS by increasing the power stroke. If you want to buy a compound crossbow, then the power stroke is less of a factor to consider. 

2. Draw Weight

The draw weight of a crossbow is a similar measurement to a power stroke, but it measures how much force you need to pull back the bowstring and cock it. The force you put in gets transferred into the bolt, so the higher the draw weight, the more speed, kinetic energy, and power the crossbow will have. 

If you are a beginner, you may benefit from getting a crossbow with a lighter draw weight so that you can get used to the motion. Lighter draw weights are more accessible to cock and maneuver, which is why recreational shooters prefer them. 

If you intend to hunt with your crossbow, you would need a crossbow with a higher draw weight. Typical crossbows have a draw weight of between 75 to 125 pounds. Depending on the kind of animal you want to hunt, you will need a different draw weight. Here is a general guide.

The Kind of Animal You Hunt The Ideal Draw Weight 
Small Game including rabbits and squirrels 125 pounds and more
Medium game including goads and whitetail 150 pounds and more
Large Game including small bears and elks 175 pounds and more
Extra Large Game including grizzly bears and moose 200 pounds and more

3. The Velocity

The velocity of a crossbow is measured in feet per second, and it determines the speed at which the arrow you shoot will travel over 20 to 30 yards. When purchasing a crossbow, ensure it has a velocity of at least 200 fps. The velocity is also determined by the draw weight of your crossbow and the weight of the arrows you are shooting. Suppose you find a crossbow that has the velocity listed beforehand. In that case, it is usually done so using arrows that come with the crossbow itself. 

The fastest fps you can find is 470 fps. Higher velocity crossbows come with two benefits. One, they help with accuracy, and second, they translate into power, which means you can achieve higher lethality. 

4. Energy Output

The energy output refers to how much energy is transferred from your crossbow string to the arrow upon release. The energy output is related to two characteristics: the draw weight and the power stroke. 

The higher the draw weight and the longer the power stroke, the more energy you can transfer to the arrow. This means that the arrow will be deadly. When purchasing a crossbow, do not consider only the energy output. Buying a crossbow with a higher draw weight than you can handle will affect its accuracy, which is very important. Always choose a crossbow that is both powerful and comfortable for you to use. 

5. Size and Weight

When purchasing a crossbow, you may be tempted to buy a larger crossbow, but it may not be the best choice. Although a larger recurve crossbow comes with more speed and power, it has less maneuverability, making it hard to navigate when hunting. If you purchase a compound crossbow, the size is not an indicator of its speed and power. So your first priority should be to ensure you are comfortable holding it. 

To avoid maneuverability issues, you should keep its weight, length, and limb width as low as possible. 

6. Scope

Compared to a gun, aiming your crossbow at a target is much more complicated. For crossbows, you need to have modern optical scapes. These are open iron sights that can help you with accuracy. They are greatly enjoyed by recreational shooters as they introduce an extra challenge to the sport, which makes it much more exciting. 

Since recreational shooters mostly shoot from the same distance each time, they only need one crosshair or dot. Even if you change your distance, you only need to sight in the scope. If you intend to use your crossbow for hunting, you should opt for a multi-reticle scope. This includes multiple dots or crosshairs accurate that can be used for different distances. 

7. Noise

The amount of noise your crossbow makes is an important consideration that you should take into account when purchasing one. Crossbows tend to be noisier than regular bows due to their strings, which tend to vibrate a lot after you fire them. There is also a thunk sound as the bolt leaves the crossbow. 

Even if your crossbow is fast, there will be a delay between the sound and the quarry. This gives enough time for the animal to jump away or get startled. If you are planning to buy a crossbow, ensure it is quiet. Some manufacturers include string dampers to help reduce the amount of noise they make. 


  • What is a good FPS on a crossbow for deer hunting?

If you want to purchase your crossbow for deer hunting, you should ideally use one around 300 to 250fps. Crossbows with such velocities are usually powerful enough to take down larger animals, such as deer, at short distances. 

  • Is a 150lb crossbow good for hunting?

If you are a beginner at hunting with crossbows, you should use smaller crossbows. A 150lb crossbow is not designed for beginners. They are perfect for hunting small game, but you must practice using them. Additionally, they are banned in some countries, so you should be extremely careful before hunting with them. 

  • How far can you shoot a crossbow accurately?

The accuracy of such a weapon depends on how skilled you are. A modern crossbow is a powerful weapon that can shoot as far as 500 yards. If you want to hunt, you will most likely not shoot more than 80 yards away, but if you are a beginner, that might be too difficult. In such cases, you should try not to use your crossbow to shoot a target more than 30 to 25 yards away. 


A hunting crossbow is one of the most popular hunting tools thanks to its ease of use and accuracy. The skills involved make you focus more while you learn one of the closest to satisfying acts in your life. It is not a piece of cake to pull a hunting crossbow and slot home the targets, but the thing needs quality material and training. Due to the variety of crossbows available on the market, you should take note of the velocity, draw weight, noise, and size of the crossbow. These factors can help you purchase a crossbow that best fits your needs.