I have to say, as an avid archery hunter, the word crossbow used to make me cringe! Up until recently, the crossbow was actually illegal during archery season here in Pennsylvania. There were special circumstances for disabled hunters (physically not able to draw a compound, recurve or traditional bow) in which a special permit could be obtained. I had absolutely no problem with that. It was the hunters that used them illegally or the ones that would fake an injury to obtain a permit that quite frankly, ticked me off.
Well, in 2010 it didn’t matter if you were disabled or not, crossbows officially became legal in PA to use during archery season! So why did it still bother me? Here are a few thoughts that went through my mind at the time:
- Bow hunting is “old school”, traditional! The introduction of crossbows is going to ruin the sport!
- The challenge is being taken away from archery hunting. (how hard can it be to kill a deer when you are using a bow that shoots more like a gun!)
- They’re not safe! They shoot too fast and too far!
- Archery hunters are just taking the easy way out..
Well, I was obviously way off with my way of thinking back then and I would like to explain why I changed my tune!
Maybe They’re Not So Bad After All
I can remember the first situation that helped me change my mind about crossbows. My father, who is the man who got me into the sport I love so much today, tore his rotator cuff in his shoulder. He needed surgery and he needed it quickly which was, unfortunately, about a month before archery season opened. I never saw him so upset with the reality that he would not be able to go hunting with his boys (my brothers and I) even if it was just for 1 archery season. My brothers and I got together and decided to buy our first crossbow for my dad. A Tenpoint. It wasn’t the best out there, it was what we could afford at the time, but it got the job done! I don’t even remember if he got a deer that season or not, it didn’t matter, the memories we make together every archery season continued that year and that is the most important thing! We were out there hunting together; who cares with what!
The second was a few years later when my oldest, Spencer Jr, turned 12 and wanted to go archery hunting with his dad! And let me tell you, what a feeling that is! To pass your passion onto your children. To have an “almost” teenager wanting to spend time with his father in the outdoors! It just doesn’t get any better.
The only problem was, he wasn’t quite strong enough to pull a compound bow back with enough poundage to safe kill a deer. Well guess what? I made my 2nd crossbow purchase a few weeks prior to archery season. Just enough time to get him out there practicing to a point where he was putting together 3-inch groups at 30 yards. Here are the results of that! Here is a picture of the crossbow both my kids use now that they are 14 and 17 years old:
But besides the fact that crossbows actually gave me quality time with my family, here are some other benefits:
- Great for kids just starting out that can’t pull back a compound bow
- You are basically at full draw the whole time you are hunting. You cock it prior to starting your hunt, not when you are ready to shoot at a deer, so you are ready to go.
- You typically can shoot further than traditional bows although I still recommend not shooting further than you have comfortably and accurately practiced. I would stick to ~60 yards, and maybe ~30 for a beginner
- The crossbows today are very fast and very quiet. Usually do not spook the deer when you shoot
- You can used a rest, as you would a gun, to increase your accuracy
Disadvantages – Are There Any?
I really can’t think of many. The only one that comes to mind is they are slightly heavier and I feel a bit bulkier than a regular bow. But every year the technology improves. Just like most products. So they are getting smaller, lighter, and even faster if you can believe it! Like 450 feet per second fast if you can believe that!
These days I have both a compound bow and a crossbow. There really is no rhyme or reason as to which one I decide to use on any given day. Just as it doesn’t really matter which rifle or shotgun I choose to use on any given day. The bottom line is that you are out there. In the woods, enjoying the peace and quiet that mother nature provides. Escaping the craziness that everyday life can bring on. Whether you are by yourself, or spending quality time with your fathers, sons, brothers or friends, you are out there!
What’s Your Flavor?
What weapon of choice do you use during archery season? Does anyone still have the thoughts I first started out with when it came to using a crossbow? Could this article have swayed your opinion at all?
I hope you enjoyed my story on this topic. Please comment below with any thoughts or suggestions.
Yours in hunting,