Crossbow Hunt Ability

Crossbow hunt ability is a feature that you should consider when purchasing a crossbow. Unfortunately, there isn’t a test to measure the hunt ability of one crossbow over the other. It can’t be measured like speed, or draw weight. It’s something that comes from a feeling. Quite often, only experience can be the deciding factor of a crossbows hunt ability. Now let me clarify what I mean by this term, hunt ability. We all know the most any crossbow on the market is capable of successfully killing are prey. But this isn’t the ability that I’m talking about. What I’m talking about, how easy your crossbow is to shoot, carry, cock, and hold in normal hunting conditions. With the race to go bigger, faster, further, crossbows are loosing their hunt ability. Hunters that are new to crossbows may not even realize it, because they may have never known it. But some of todays crossbows just don’t cut it in the hunt ability department.

Speed can be directly attributed the demise of crossbow hunt ability. Here’s why. There are only two ways to get a bow to shoot faster. The first is to increase the draw weight of the bow. The industry standard for years on crossbow draw weight used to be 150 pounds. Then it started creeping up to 160 pounds, then 175 pounds, and now we have compound crossbows at 200 pound draw weights and recurve crossbows at 225 pound draw weights. Nobody ever use to use a cocking aid to cock a crossbow. Cocking was done by hand, because you could.

The second way to increase speed is to increase the power stroke of a crossbow. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term power stroke, it’s pretty much just like the draw length measurement on a vertical bow. It is the distance the string travels from its resting position to the point where it is fully cocked. The longer the the power stroke, the faster the bow. How does this effect a crossbows hunt ability you ask? In two ways. The longer the power stroke, the longer the overall length of the crossbow. This means leaning over it to cock it becomes difficult or impossible. It means that more weight will be held out further away from your body making the crossbow feel more front heavy.

The way manufactures try to combat this length issue is to use a bull-pup trigger system. This means that the point at where the string latches into the crossbow is behind the point where the trigger is actually located. This again can create a problem in hunt ability. If a manufacturer has a very aggressive bull-pup design, then it usually leads to a shorter stock at the butt end, leaving no room for your face to actually sit on the comb of the stock. Some of the current crossbows on the market make you lean your head so far back just to be able to look through the scope. It is not a natural shoot position, but it seems like it is becoming more acceptable. I think this is one of the factors where I said earlier that only experience can come into play. For many new crossbow hunters, they simply accept this only because they have never known anything else.

Cocking your crossbow is another factor you may want to consider when purchasing your next crossbow. I as mentioned before, nobody used to use a cocking aid to cock your bow. It was truly an option if you wanted to use one or not. Now, using a rope cocking aid at the minimum has become the accepted standard. We also have crank stye cocking aids which are great if you physically can’t cock your bow any other way or are handicapped and need the extra help it offers. But there are crossbows that make the crank a necessity in order to cock them. If you lost your handle in the woods while on a hunt, your crossbow would be rendered useless. The same can be said for the crossbows that require a cocking sled. I think reverse draw technology has some great advantages. But I think one of the disadvantages it the need for a cocking sled. Just like the above example with the crank style cocking crossbows, if you lost your cocking sled, you would be unable to cock your crossbow.
At the end of the day, it is up to each individual hunter to determine what crossbow they choose to hunt with and if it has the right amount of hunt ability for their personal hunting style. But it is something you should keep in mind when purchasing your next crossbow. Living and hunting in Ohio all of my life, I have been fortunate to have been around and to hunt with crossbows for almost 25 years now. I have seen many great improvements in crossbow technology over the years and am excited to see what the future may hold in the new technology to come. However, I do think some manufacturers are loosing track of what the crossbow really is, and that is, a weapon used for bowhunting at close range distances. So when making your next purchase, try to factor in a bows hunt ability. It should be one of the most important factors when deciding on what bow is right for you.

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