Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Choosing Between a Crossbow and a Compound Bow

Before we get too far into this, be sure to check out this site for great crossbow reviews: You will be glad you did!

As my longtime readers know, I am an avid user and proponent of crossbows. I like them for a lot of reasons and decided long ago that I would focus my energy on learning and using a crossbow instead of a traditional bow. This decision did not come lightly and took several years to come to. Now, do I think crossbows are for everyone? No, of course not, everyone needs to come to that conclusion on their own.

That is why I am writing this, to help you decide which you would rather use, a crossbow, traditional bow, or neither (a very reasonable choice).

If you are like me, you started hunting with a traditional, centerfire hunting rifle. You probably hunted for several successful seasons with a rifle. After a few years you decided to branch out to muzzleloading. For me, this choice was made because the muzzleloading season is longer in my state, starts earlier, and does not require blaze orange. With the advances of muzzleloaders, they are just as accurate and powerful as traditional rifles out past 100 yards. So, the jump just makes sense. Muzzleloading has become my favorite form of hunting.

Soon after starting to hunt with a muzzleloader, I discovered that the game is much more plentiful early in the season. Why not extend the season even further with archery?

Then came the big decision: Crossbow or Compound bow? I knew from the get go I did not want to fool with a recurve or longbow. Although I GREATLY respect those that do!

Now, there are a ton of pro’s and con’s to both Crossbows and Compound bows. It is not an easy decision.

First, lets test your ideology. Why are you bow hunting? Is it for the challenge? Do you crave the satisfaction of hundreds of hours of practice paying off?

If you answered “yes” to these two questions then you might be leaning towards the compound bow. They require more skill to use. There is no doubt. During the hunt there is a lot that can go wrong when using a compound. One of the hardest things is that you have to draw without the game seeing movement. It also takes months of practice to consistently hit the vitals of a deer at 30 yards. Do you have time to devote 30 minutes a day for practice? Do you enjoy repetitive archery practice? If yes, then a compound is for you!

However, are you hunting for meat or simply to extend the season? Do you get your satisfaction from a clean kill? Do you not have time to learn a new skill?

If you answered yes to these questions, then a crossbow might be for you. There is no doubt that they are easier to use. Out of the box, I was shooting 1-inch groups at 30 yards after less than an hours practice. This ease of use means you have less chance to wound an animal. I know several hunters that gave up on bow hunting after terribly wounding an animal due to a poor shot. There is no drawing, you simply aim and shoot. The crossbow arrows (called bolts) are even shorter, making them easier to carry!

I chose a crossbow because I did not believe I could consistently make a clean kill with a compound. A clean kill this the most important thing to me.

After the ideology, it comes down to practicality. So here are some pro’s and con’s to each:

Crossbows take a long time to load while a follow-up shot from a compound can be made quickly.

Crossbows are usually louder than compounds.

Compounds usually have a little more range for the very experienced archer.

Crossbows are usually heavier.

Compounds require more accessories (release, sights, and other doo-dads) that can break, get lost, or get hung up in brush.

Compounds are safer (sometimes). Many people leave their crossbow loaded when climbing a stand or walking around. This is not super safe.

You have to unload a crossbow if you do not shoot it. This is one of the biggest headaches for me. I usually use an old, sacrificial bolt.

Lastly, the biggest questions of them all is should you use a bow at all? It is harder than you think. I had a trophy buck within 20 yards of my stand once. He stood behind a clump of grass for 20 infuriating minutes eating. If it were gun season, I would have put him down, but because I had a bow, I could not risk shooting through some grass. Arrows do strange things when they hit the smallest things. Tracking animals hit with an arrow is a skill in itself and loosing kills is not uncommon.

In the end, it is up to you and what your priorities are. Now go out there and make your decision!

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