Just as a base model vehicle ensures reliable transportation at an affordable price, an entry-level crossbow will put venison in the freezer as quickly and efficiently as any top-end unit. Hunters looking for a solidly built, dependable crossbow that puts broadheads in the kill zone in all weather conditions need look no farther than the Wicked Ridge Warrior HL crossbow. Constructed of rugged, weather-proof materials in Mossy Oak’s popular BreakUp Infinity camo pattern, the Warrior features all the quality of Wicked Ridge standard rails and limbs in a basic unit that is easy to assemble, comfortable to shoot and as accurate as any crossbow in the TenPoint/Wicked Ridge product line.

The Warrior HL is the perfect crossbow for the new or no-frills hunter who wants the best crossbow for the money. Assembly is quick and easy using the provided Allen wrenches and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Attach the limbs, stirrup and quiver mount and the bow is ready for the range.

Just 38 inches long weighing 7 well-balanced pounds, the Warrior is 25.25 inches wide axle to axle and has a power stroke of 12.25 inches. Draw weight is 175 pounds, generating arrow speeds of just over 300 fps and 84 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy. Field experience shows that deer, turkeys and hogs shot at 30 yards or less with the Warrior fail to react to the shot until the bloody arrow is stuck in the ground beside them. Only gray squirrels are quick enough to dodge a 20-inch arrow coming at them at 300 fps!

At $469 MSRP, the Warrior HL is equal in price to most modern hunting bows, rifles or muzzleloaders.

Thanks to its relatively wide limbs, the Warrior can be hand cocked by the young and strong. Older, weaker hunters will want to purchase a cocking rope (not included in the Warrior HL package), which makes the cocking process much easier. The Warrior is equipped with TenPoint’s standard Dry-Fire Inhibitor, which prevents the crossbow from being fired unless the safety catch is fully engaged. If not, the Dry-Fire Inhibitor will retain the string but the crossbow will not fire. When properly cocked, the crossbow safety is placed in the Fire position, and then the string is pulled quickly to the rear. If the safety does not automatically click into the “safe” position, the crossbow will not fire. Pull back aggressively (shorten the cocking rope as necessary to ensure a full cocking stroke) and listen for the tell-tale click indicating that the bow is fully cocked and the safety is engaged. When in doubt, pull back (hard) on the cocking rope and make sure the string clicks into position. Nothing is more frustrating than having game in sight, pulling the trigger and … nothing happens. It is possible to re-cock a crossbow in the anti-dry-fire position (I’ve had to do it once in the last 15 years), but it’s not as much fun as one might think.

One of the best features of any Wicked Ridge or TenPoint crossbow is that all scopes are mounted and laser-aligned at the factory. I’ve witnessed the process, and it is impressive — even comforting from a hunter’s point of view. It’s the rare factory-mounted scope that doesn’t produce arrows-touching accuracy at 20 yards, and in most cases fine-tuning at the range means a click or two of elevation or windage to suit the individual shooter. The Warrior HL is one of the best examples in the twin company’s lineup of crossbows in this regard.

A point to consider is that, because the Warrior HL is a base-model crossbow, the scope is not one of the illuminated models. What you get are three thick, solid lines with a large dot reticle, excellent for daylight hunting and range shooting but questionable in pre-sunrise or post-sunset shooting. Under certain conditions (light background; snow or sand) at close range, the provided scope would not be an issue, but at 30 yards or more in dark cover at low light there might be situations where it would not be prudent to shoot. Any of the multi-dot red- or green-illuminated scopes would easily solve that problem.

My sample Warrior was dead-on at 20 yards from the first shot. At 30 and 40 yards my arrows hit about an inch high, which is fine with me. On big game I aim midway up the body directly behind the shoulder, so an inch of variation in elevation or windage isn’t going to affect the outcome of my shots. I have found that shooting from high elevations (20 feet or more) creates some accuracy issues, however. The average hunter’s instinct is to aim high (long range, right?), but in fact the best advice is to aim low on the target to account for the natural arc of the arrow in flight. I know it sounds weird to aim at the bottom of a deer’s belly to accomplish a lung shot, but it is what it is. Last year I killed three deer under just those conditions, my arrows hitting about 6 inches higher than my point of aim. Friends who failed to do the math aimed behind the shoulder as usual and watched their arrows sail right over the deer’s back. Lesson learned!

Wind definitely affects arrow flight at longer distances, but I avoid shots over 40 yards as a personal limit, and under extremely windy conditions I keep my shots to 25 yards or less.

In crossbow hunting, most gut-shot animals are the fault of the shooter, not the bow. Last year an over-eager hunter took a chance on a nice 8-point buck in gusting winds at about 40 yards but hit it too far back. We found the animal the next day; that is, we found the half the coyotes left behind. Hold off on long shots or wait for a better opportunity.

After sighting in I took the Warrior for a walkabout in a variety of cover situations ranging from high, open hardwood ridges to thick, regenerating lowland clear-cuts. My goal was to see if a crossbow is up to the challenge of still-hunting in thick cover or at least being ready to shoot en route to a stand or blind. The Warrior is a bit front-heavy but did not impair my ability to move through cover and take pot-shots at the various blocks and 3-D targets I had set up along the way. The 25-inch limb width posed a problem while cruising through the thickest cover, but if I took the time to pick and choose my route, I had no trouble making kill-zone shots at every stop. The Warrior’s stock is slim and lightweight, and the fore grip is wide and deep enough for easy handling while keeping my fingers well away from the rail.

Happily, the Warrior HL package includes a sling, which makes the crossbow much easier to transport to the range and through the woods after a hunt. I have come up with an over-the-shoulder carry that works well for crossbows that are not so equipped, but there’s no question that a sling should be part of any crossbow package.

Considering the Warrior HL outfit strictly from the traveling hunter’s point of view, I would prefer that the package include a cocking rope (extra) and a soft case (also extra). Either way, the price for the hunt-ready package will go up, but I think most buyers would not balk at the extra cost for those very useful items. The value of the cocking rope speaks for itself, but a custom case with pockets for extra broadheads, arrows, cockers, rail/string lube, Allen wrenches, etc., would truly complete the package. When I head out for a trip I like to have all my crossbow gear in one tidy, easy-to-access unit.

When I purchase any crossbow, my next acquisition is a case for all the reasons noted above, plus I like to keep my crossbow safe from dings, bumps and drops. Tossing an expensive crossbow on top of a pile of luggage and gear prior to an 800-mile drive is just asking for trouble. Things move around in transport, and nothing good can come from having an 8-pound crossbow bouncing around in the back seat. Do the practical thing — get a good case for your crossbow!

Otherwise, there’s not much to complain about the Warrior HL. It’s lightweight, easy to assemble, accurate and constructed using TenPoint’s proven rail and limb technology; you can’t get a better deal for the price. The Warrior also comes with a five-year limited warranty, but if you follow the manufacturer’s assembly and use instructions your Warrior will last much longer. Return the crossbow for routine servicing and string/cable replacement every three years and it will last a lifetime — not a bad return for a base model crossbow!

For more information log onto www.wickedridgecrossbows.com.

Specifications

Manufacturer: Wicked Ridge

Model: Warrior HL

Pull weight: 175 lbs.

Arrow speed: 300 fps  

Arrow length: 20 inches

Trigger pull: 4 lbs.  

Sights: Red-Dot 40mm (Standard package); 3x Multi-Line scope (Premium package)   

Cocking device: Rope cocker (not included)

Overall Length: 38 inches

Axle-to-axle width: 25.25 inches

Weight: 7 lbs.

Other features: Standard package includes crossbow, 40mm multi-dot scope, Instant-Detach quiver, three arrows w/field tips, and sling.

MSRP: $469

Wide Grips Save Fingers

Just as first-time centerfire rifle shooters confidently snuggle up to a telescopic sight and become immediate members of the Half-Moon Club, many novice crossbow shooters stand tall at the range with their fingers extended well above the shooting rail. This puts their digits directly into the path of the crossbow string, which is ready to send the arrow on its way at 300+ fps. Net result? Seriously injured, possibly permanently damaged fingers.

All of Wicked Ridge and TenPoint crossbows now feature a wide, deep foregrip that includes integrated wings designed to fit the shooter’s palm and keep the thumb and fingers well away from the flight rail. When the crossbow is properly mounted, the shooter’s fingers naturally wrap around the extra-thick grip and cannot extend above the built-in grip flange.

In addition, shooters should use caution when shooting any crossbow by keeping long hair, jewelry, clothing and accessories well away from the string and rail. Any item that is caught in the string will be violently pulled forward, causing damage to the crossbow, the item and possibly the shooter.

Never, under any circumstances, allow fingers, body parts, clothing or accessories into the path of a crossbow’s string or rail.