A Basic Guide to Hunting With Crossbows
Majority of the hunters are thrilled with the idea of hunting with crossbows than with any other weapon i.e. guns and rifles.
They think that the best way to hunt with a crossbow and they would give anything to spend more time out in the field, setting the trail, practicing with their crossbows and anticipating their next hunt. Any hunter who wish to enjoy the real essence of hunting must give crossbows a try.
But there are a few things about crossbows which you must know before you race to the stores to buy one for yourself. So, let us start by having a brief introduction of crossbows.
What is a Crossbow?
A crossbow is a modern tool for hunting that resembles the conventional bows which our ancestors used for this purpose. So, we can say that it somewhere between a bow and a gun.
Crossbows usually are equipped with scopes, triggers, and stock which are all the accessories of a rifle. This is why people usually think of them as a “cross gun” but let me tell you that these people are thoroughly mistaken.
Crossbows have an entirely different mechanism than guns. Most of the time, a crossbow is designed in a way by putting together a compound bow and a stock.
The trigger is also attached which when pressed, shoots the bolt towards the target.
Many people also mix up bows with crossbows but the main difference between both is a crossbow do not require much mechanical power and stays at drawn up position once you take it to the draw limit whereas with a bow, you must keep it at drawn up position by providing continuous mechanical force.
The Advantages of Crossbows
There are various advantages of using hunting with crossbows.
The first and foremost advantage of crossbow hunting over bow hunting is the one we discussed above i.e.
crossbows require less mechanical force from the user than bows as crossbows have the ability to stay at drawn up position once you apply the required draw weight whereas with bows you have to provide much more mechanical force which really drains the hunter and affect his/her shooting accuracy as well.
The next best thing about crossbows is their remarkable velocity. As crossbows have much heavy draw weights, this is why they shoot their bolts with a greater force thus increasing their velocity and range as well.
Other than this, that force is infused in the bolt as well which hit the target with a considerable force. As crossbows require less force to shoot than a normal bow, this is why it allows its users to shoot from a relaxed position.
Hunters usually shoot from crossbows while sitting or even lying flat on the ground. This is because the crossbow has already been cocked and it is now easier to shoot from it.
Whereas, with a traditional bow or even modern compound bows, you can only shoot properly at certain positions i.e. standing as you have to exert much more force to keep the bow drawn up. Crossbows are usually equipped with lasers, scopes, etc which further help in determining an accurate shot.
So, this is where it has a resemblance to a rifle, however, unlike a rifle, crossbows are much less noisier and allow you to hunt animals which are near you and even shoot for the second time when your first shot gets missed.
But with a rifle, that is surely not possible as the noise of the shot will scare away the animal if you miss the shot. So, you have to be extremely careful with your shot and hope to make an accurate one.
So, these were some of the benefits of hunting with crossbows. Now let us have a look at the drawbacks of crossbow hunting.
The Disadvantages of Crossbows
Crossbows may have their advantages but they have disadvantages as well. Crossbows may have remarkable velocities which are much better than the velocities of bows and compound bows but it is also a fact that the shooting range of crossbows is much less than that of rifles.
A crossbow normally shoots up to only fifty to sixty yards if you want to make an accurate shot, also under favorable circumstances. This is why it is usually recommended to shoot from close range rather than long range, if you want to make a good shot.
You must be aware of environmental factors and other factors as well i.e. about the senses of hearing, sight and smell of your prey and choose your spot wisely.
You must be in close range to your prey but you must be completely hidden, otherwise, you will scare away your prey or it may even attack you. Even the slightest distraction can affect your shot so keep all factors in mind.
You need to be aware of the fact that your bolt can be deflected even by striking against something as light as a leaf so be careful of these things as well. Hunting in a forest with woods around can prove to be a hassle than a clear land but with practice you can even master that.
You just have to be prepared enough and plan according to the scenario. You must have a clear line of sight to your target so you can execute your shot efficiently.
There is another drawback of crossbow hunting that if you want to make consecutive shots then crossbows cannot be loaded fast enough. That is of course a bad thing if you miss your first shot and want to make a second one fast.
With a rifle, that is of course very easy but with a crossbow, it takes time. So, just try to be accurate and don’t take second chances. Hunting with crossbows may be challenging but surely it is fun as well.
With a rifle, it is comparatively easy but you won’t feel the real excitement and thrill of hunting. So, I must say here that a successful hunt done with a crossbow is much more satisfying and rewarding.
How to Draw a Crossbow?
A crossbow can be drawn as simply as by pulling its string. The draw weight of a crossbow is much more than that of a bow or even a compound bow and only the toughest or an expert hunter can actually do it.
But why does a crossbow require a heavier draw weight than a bow? It is because the power stroke and the efficiency of a crossbow is much lower when transferring energy.
Hence, it needs a heavy draw weight to compensate for that and throw the target at a good enough speed. There is a good solution available to that in which you can use rope cocking device to draw the weight.
It usually has a bow as well and the pulley system attached to it is capable of providing a good manual support for drawing the weight. Some of the bows even make use of gas cartridges to draw the weight.
Learning the Art of Crossbow Hunting
In order to learn how to use a crossbow, you must learn the art of it properly. Otherwise you will just be wasting your time and your money as well which you spent on the crossbow. Let me tell you a story.
A year ago, one of my very good friends bought a crossbow. His name is Bart and he never had any experience with a crossbow before.
But he was an avid hunter. He used to hunt with rifles but then somehow he got interested in crossbows and after an extensive internet research bought one for himself.
It was a handsome piece and was all sleek and boasting of efficiency but the problem was that it was not efficient at all. Bart could not even make a single accurate shot with his crossbow and was disappointed that all his money got wasted.
He soon regretted his decision of hunting with crossbows and was quite furious as well.
He went to the store from where he bought the hunting crossbow and complained about it. The shop keeper justified himself by saying that it was his finest piece and has been given loads of positive and remarkable reviews by people.
When he asked about the details of its malfunctioning from bart, he told the shop keeper that the crossbow was throwing arrows all over the place and not on the target, even though I (Bart) am a very good marksman.
The shopkeeper asked Bart to accompany him to his range, set a target and shot at it from Bart’s crossbow. The arrow hit right on target and Bart was surprised.
When the shopkeeper asked Bart to shoot from his crossbow, he noticed that Bart was trying to shoot with a freehand and his whole body was shaking, maybe because he was not equipped with crossbow hunting enough.
So, the problem was in Bart and definitely not in his crossbow. That is when the shopkeeper pointed the problem to Bart and had him realized that the crossbow was working just fine, Bart just needed some practice to get equipped with it.
Try shooting at close ranged targets first and then move up to the long range ones. Even then, a crossbow won’t be able to shoot anything which is more than a 60 or 70 yards away from you accurately.
So, you have to keep in mind its limit as well. If you are a beginner, then try practicing with your crossbow as much as you can before you go out to do some real hunting.