Crossbow is a type of ranged weapon. It is based on the traditional bow and arrow structure. Instead of a vertical structure, crossbows have a trigger that resembles a rifle.
Buying a crossbow is not the same as buying groceries from the store. We need to research it, find out which one is the best, why is that crossbow the best, is it good for me, etc. So many questions. Before we get started with any of it, let’s get to know crossbow a bit better.
A Brief History Of Crossbow
Crossbow exists from long before any of us were born. According to history, the crossbow was invented in China during the 5th-century BC. It didn’t take long for the Europeans and others to adapt to them. Even the Greek had crossbows in their arsenal.
Long before the crossbow was even a thing, archery was a form of skill. Only a selected few trained from birth could get the role in their national army. Archery is not an easy skill to acquire. Even now archery is well praised. Olympic event also has archery.
Crossbow paved in its way to make archery simple. Don’t get me wrong, you still need the skill to hit the target consistently. But the motive behind the crossbow was to make archery easier.
In old times, crossbows were a significant weapon in warfare. In modern days, it’s more of an outdoor sports gear. Modern-day crossbows are mostly used for hunting and games. Now that we know about the history of crossbows, let’s move on to the next topic.
There are two types of crossbows available on the market. Recurve and compound crossbow-
What is a recurve crossbow? Like the traditional recurve bow, a recurve crossbow has a tip that curves away from the archer. It consists of a bowstring. No pulleys or extra wires are involved here.
Because of the lackings of extra mechanical parts, recurve crossbows have a low maintenance cost. But it’s not all glory about recurve crossbows. The scariest thing about a recurve crossbow is the draw weight. It’s higher than most other crossbows. A recurve bow also fires a lot slower than a compound crossbow.
Compound crossbows are the modern literation of crossbows. Over the years crossbows went under several upgrades. The most significant upgrades were noticeable in the last 20 years or so.
Compound crossbows work with mechanized cams and limbs. It holds the bolt in a cocked position. Allowing the latch to hold that position till you pull the trigger.
Due to the mechanized limb and pulley helping you cock the crossbow, the draw weight is significantly lower than recurve crossbows. With a drawing aid named ACUdraw, you can make the draw weight of a compound crossbow to a mere 5 pounds.
The main drawback of this type of crossbow is maintenance. It’s way higher than recurve crossbow. The string makes contact with the rail, due to the friction they wear out rather quickly. You can eliminate this by lubing the rail regularly.
What You Should Look For When Buying A Crossbow
For hunting, a crossbow should be powerful, fast, silent, and reliable. Among the hundreds of options to choose from, you need to find the ideal combination that suits you the best. That’s right, you won’t find a crossbow that will satisfy all of your needs and still be cheap.
You need to find out the key points that are a must for you. If you are a hunter, a powerful and silent crossbow is a must for you. On the other hand, for a target shooter, silence is not necessary. Here are some things that you must consider before buying a crossbow-
Bolt Speed And Velocity
The two most crucial parts of a crossbow. They will play a big role in the success of your shots. A lot of modern crossbows can shoot over 400 FPS. There is a downside to too much speed.
A faster arrow will be less forgiving than the slower arrow. A faster bolt will travel fast and hit flat on the target. Giving you only a small room to improvise your shot. Even the slightest aiming mistake or shaking while shooting will cost you big time.
Going too fast will put unnecessary strain on various parts of your crossbow. Making it deteriorate faster than other crossbows. Choose a crossbow that is capable of doing the job. Don’t go for an overkill that will do more harm than good for you.
A large portion of the accuracy will depend on your aim. Despite that, a crossbow needs to be accurate. A lot of crossbow brand claims their crossbows are accurate enough to hit 3 bullseyes in a row.
Compound crossbows come with a scope mounted on top of them. It is to aid you in the long-range shooting. A crossbow is capable of shooting up to 60 yards without a scope. With a 4x scope, you can push that to 80-100 yards. As you keep increasing the range, you will start losing accuracy.
A crossbow scope comes in two different styles. One of them is multi-dot and the other is the multi-crosshair reticle. Both of them are illuminated.
If you don’t care about accuracy at all, most modern crossbows can shoot up to 500 yards. For beginners, I recommend you to take a crossbow that can fire up to 40 yards. Go from there, learn how to use it, and later upgrade to a better one.
Nobody likes the noisy kid of the classroom. No animals like a noisy crossbow either. The sound of your bowstring can warn other animals. That’s why hunters prefer a quieter crossbow.
In this regard, recurve crossbows have compound crossbows beat. As the recurve crossbow has fewer mechanical parts, it doesn’t need an additional noise dampener to counter the noise and vibration.
For the ones that are taking a compound bow, I highly recommend you adding string noise dampeners. They will enhance your hunting and reduce the vibration of the bow.
Also known as the barrel or track, the grooved portion of the bow is the part where the bolt travels. Think of it like the barrel of a sniper rifle. The barrel is the groove where the bullet travels.
Tracks can be constructed from composite, aluminum, and carbon. Carbon is the least used one and the most expensive one too.
On the other hand, composites are the least expensive and used on many budget crossbows. The sweet spot is the CNC machined aluminum rail/track. Make sure to check what kind of track the crossbow is providing.
When we are talking about crossbows, we need to mention two weights. The weight of the bow and the draw weight. The draw weight is the force required to load the bolt on to the crossbow. Where the other weight indicates the weight of the stock crossbow without accessories.
You need to consider your physique while choosing the right weight for you. If you are physically weak or suffering from a pre-existing muscle-related issue, don’t go for a crossbow that requires a high draw weight.
The weight of the crossbow will also affect maneuvering and portability. Lighter crossbows are easier to carry around. You have to be more skilled with a lighter bow. As they don’t have much weight balance to them, you need to balance the crossbow. It can lead to many missed shots.
The allowed draw weight rule varies from person to person. But the most recommended scale is between 150-175 pounds. Anything beyond that is too much.
One thing to keep in mind, most crossbows that have a higher draw weight than 175 pounds, tend to give you a free rope cocker device. It will cut your draw weight to half. In that case, draw weight over 180 pounds is acceptable.
Consider Your Size
Yes, I am talking about you, the archer. You need to consider what’s your height. Most modern crossbows are made for a person with 5.6 feet to 5.8 feet high.
The height is important because a shorter person will have less room to cock the crossbow. Getting the right crossbow size that complements your height and strength is super important.
To counter this issue, companies tend to provide cocking aids. Like the rope cocker, I mentioned earlier. There is another cocking aid named ACUdraw, it’s expensive. But it cuts down the draw weight to 5 pounds. If your crossbow has that feature, even a child can use that crossbow.
Buying A Crossbow Summary
We learned a lot about crossbows today. We also learned what to look for while buying a crossbow. It’s not an easy task, but we managed to pull it off. I hope you understand crossbows better now. You shouldn’t have a tough time figuring out the best crossbow for you anymore.
While selecting the crossbow, speed, accuracy, and weight balance are all important values. You won’t find all of them balanced in a crossbow. Different models will have different models. You need to find your ideal composition. After that, you can match the requirements with the best crossbow you can find.
Trying out the crossbows in real life is still the best way to figure it out. It’s like riding a bike, try out a few crossbows. Get in the groove, find which one clicks the best with you. You will be able to find the best crossbow for you that way.