First off when you think about buying a crossbow do not get sticker shock when you see a hunting crossbow selling for upwards of $2,000. Prices vary depending on the styles, make, model, construction, weight, accessories, safety features and materials that they are made from. Crossbows can be intimidating but they are also a fun hunting accessory. Price also plays an important part in the quality and performance and can add to the life of the crossbow. Prices for a low end product start at about $150.
Traditional bowhunters think of a crossbow as a rifle that shoots arrows but it goes far beyond that misconception.
Don’t overestimate what a crossbow can do, it may shoot 100 yards, but it’s not going to be a powerful shot. A 30-40 yard shot is more realistic and is the farthest you want to be. Most sights that come with a crossbow package are only designed for up to 40 yards, even though the crossbow can shoot farther. But the farther distance you go, you lose accuracy and power.
An advantage to crossbows, over compound and traditional bows, is that you are able to cock the bow, which holds the string drawn and ready. Unlike a bow where you may get muscle aches or shakes from holding a bow drawn and ready. With the arrow rested on the barrel with the feather in vane-guide all the hunter has to do is simply aim and pull the trigger. So with a crossbow you can sit and wait with it already cocked and ready to shoot, unlike a traditional bow.
Most importantly, there is a direct correlation between distance and speed, it is the bow speed that equates to the distance. Some states may have regulations on the maximum FPS (Feet per Second) that can be used as a legal crossbow. It also affects which crossbows can be used for children, and these are typically lighter and more compact. Be sure to check with your state for complete details on regulations regarding crossbows. Here is a complete list of all the Department of Natural Resources by State.
Crossbows use shorter arrows, called bolts, versus arrows for bows and the bolts tend to be lighter. They are great for short ranges up to 40 yards and very accurate, but after 40 yards, the accuracy drops. Heavier aluminum arrows are recommended and have a down range energy that helps with longer shots. With closer shots there isn’t much difference when it comes to penetration. Carbon arrows (bolts) are thicker, but lighter.
When buying a crossbow consider these factors:
Design: 2 styles are the recurve and compound. Both are similar but the compound has smaller limbs, which allows it to be carried and transported or shooting in small areas easier.
Material Construction: Some crossbows have molded plastic stocks while others are resin coated plywood or laminates. The downside to plastic is that it is lighter, but it gives off more vibration or shock once it’s shot.
Security: Like all other firearms, crossbows must have a safety for protection. Some higher end crossbows come with a dual safety. Be sure to test it out to see how loud it is when you switch it on and off so it does not spook the prey. Another feature is an anti-dry fire that is valuable to prevent accidental releases that can take off a finger or do damage to the bow.
Asking Price: If your just starting out with a crossbow, test some out or get a lower end model. If you like it, then upgrade and add to your collection a higher end that cost a bit more and may be better quality. Sometimes you get what you pay for and quality can transform into more years of trouble-free service.
Sights: Most crossbows are sold with a pre-mounted sight (scope). There are a variety of optics available; red dot sights, tubular magnified or standard pin and peep. If your buying a crossbow package it more than likely will have a 4x scope.
Sling: Slings or harnesses allow your crossbow to be carried over your back as you climb a tree stand or walk a long distance to your hunting location.
Cases: Depends on your needs but just like a guitar or rifle case, they come in hard and soft shells. They allow you to care for your crossbow, great for storage and are for transporting.
Cockers: Can be one of the most expensive accessories to your package and come in 2 styles: rope cocker and crank cocker. Can cost $25 to $200. The rope cocker reduces the draw weight by 50 percent, but the crank cocker does most of the work as a ratchet device that makes more noise.
Packages: A package price often includes the crossbow, sights, quiver and possibly some arrows to get you started. It’s an out of the box – get you into the field starter set that is made for both high end and cheaper bows. By bundling some accessories in a prepackage deal you can save some money.