Better Crossbow Hunting

Questions about crossbow hunting? Here are some answers to light your way.

Better Crossbow Hunting

Looking to help your customers take to the woods with a horizontal bow? Are they bombarding you with questions like: Are they accurate? Do they penetrate? What about draw weight? Should I use a scope and, if so, what are the advantages? If “crossbow selling anxiety” is starting to weigh you down, relax and read on.

The first time I pulled a modern-age crossbow from its box, I was intimidated. Actually, I was downright scared. I had many questions but was too proud to ask for help. So I placed the bow back in its box, labeled crossbows too complicated, and shipped it away. This was a mistake.

A year later, while visiting a local archery pro shop, I squeezed the trigger on a crossbow for the first time. I was impressed and upset at the end of the shooting session. I was impressed with how easy the crossbow was to load and shoot. And the accuracy, well, I was truly blown away. I was upset that I had squandered a year of shooting enjoyment thinking these weapons — weapons used by ancient warriors like Genghis Kahn — were too complicated.

Don’t be like me; heed these 10 killer crossbow tips and provide your customers with a weapon that will fill their freezer and trophy room.

Choose Your Weapon

Today’s cocking devices, both mechanical and rope, make crossbows a breeze to pull back and ensure a perfect cock. So, go ahead and recommend a crossbow bearing a draw weight rating between 150 and 200 pounds. More draw weight simply means more speed and kinetic energy, and because you don’t have to be built like Hercules to get them back, it just makes sense. Crossbows with draw weights between 150 and 200 pounds are ideal for extending range and producing enough energy to drop heavy-boned game like elk and moose.

Improve Your Accuracy

If regulations allow, have your customers top their crossbow with a quality 4X or 5X optic. A technologically rich scope will boost clarity, low-light performance and downrange accuracy. In addition, most better-quality hunting crossbow scopes boast a series of graduated dots or horizontal crosshairs that allow the shooter to sight in at fixed intervals of his/her choosing. Many popular multi-reticle scopes come with feet-per-second calibration dials that minimize sight-in time. Also gracing most top-end crossbow scopes is a dial or switch that allows reticle illumination during periods of extremely low light.

Utilize Lighted Ends

If legal (check your state’s regulations), replace standard crossbow bolt ends with lighted bolt ends. Lighted bolt ends are great for detecting errant flight and diagnosing tuning problems while sighting-in. In addition, they are pivotal in animal recovery. With proper follow-through, hunters often see their bolt’s impact on animals and can recover it. Noting where a bolt entered, then inspecting it after the shot, lets you know how long to wait before taking up the bloodtrail.

Broadheads, Don’t Settle

The current crossbow craze has prompted manufacturers to build better broadheads specifically engineered for today’s high-powered horizontal wonders. What’s that mean for you? Stock your shelves with plenty of razor-sharp heads that will raise the eyebrows of your cliental. When it comes to broadheads, I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. Complement customers’ crossbow/bolt setups with a top-end broadhead built to handle the extreme speed and kinetic energy crossbows produce.

Know Where You’re Hitting

Modern crossbows feature mind-blowing technologies, but that’s no excuse for not  recommending your customers sight-in with both field points and broadheads. Even if their game plan entails sending a mechanical-style head downrange, it’s essential they check how broadheads hit in relation to field points. Have them select two small dots on a target — aim small, miss small — and fire a field point into one and a broadhead into the other. If the bolts hit their respective spots in a synchronized fashion, have them repeat the process out to 50 or 60 yards. Crossbow goears need to test multiple times at each yardage to minimize the chance of being fooled by human error.

Pull Properly And Follow Through

Like most weapons, top accuracy with crossbows demands proper form and follow-through. Expert crossbow shooters classify improper trigger pull and poor follow-through as two major accuracy-robbing issues. Thus flagship crossbows have ultra-crisp rifle-style triggers designed to maximize accuracy. If your customers have visions of grouping bolts at extended distances and puncturing lungs on big game animals, they must learn their trigger. Perfect practice makes perfect. Have them rehearse finding their trigger while looking through their sighting device, wrapping their finger around the trigger and squeezing slowly and gently. Doing so will create a surprise break and boost accuracy, as well as produce proper follow-through. “Punch” or “slap” the trigger and their accuracy will suffer; not to mention this poor form will cause their head to pull off the sighting device.

A Rest Boosts Accuracy

Though not always possible, using a shooting rest boosts accuracy. You mount and fire a crossbow much like a gun, and an offhand shot is by far the least steady position. If your customers are hard-core whitetail addicts, recommend treestands that sport a shooting rail. If they plan to use a ground blind or do some spot-and-stalk, an adjustable pod-style rest is the right choice for them. And, of course, if they are heading West, a rest is a must-have to boost long-range shooting accuracy.

Check It Often

It sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve talked with many crossbow hunters who’ve had their hunts foiled by preventable mechanical issues. The whole “wax and change your strings and cables” routine has clear advantages, but less obvious maintenance procedures are still a bit gray for some. As much speed and energy as crossbows produce, it’s not uncommon for a screw or bolt to loosen over time. Have your customers carry a set of hex wrenches as well as a few small screwdrivers in their truck and pack. Have them check every bolt and screw after each shooting session or trip to the field. If they get into a routine of going over their crossbow with a fine-tooth comb, surprise mechanical issues can be prevented.

Keep It Safe

Airline travel and crossing state lines in packed-to-the-gills 4x4 aren’t the only times crossbows should be in a case. Case manufacturers like Plano and SKB make damage-thwarting soft cases for crossbows that are a great choice when hunting close to home. When you’ve invested loads of time and money into getting your crossbow just the way you want it — affixed with top-end accessories and driving tacks at extended distances — don’t leave anything to chance. Have your customers place their crossbows back in a padded home after each hunt and help them eliminate those “oh, no” moments. 

Safety First

Cocking a crossbow and loading an arrow takes time – too much time if the moment of truth is at hand. Equipped with anti-dry-fire triggers, crossbows can safely be taken into the woods with the string retracted (cocked) and ready to fire. However, that doesn’t mean a bolt should be loaded on the rail when walking through the woods or when pulling a bow up a tree. One slip or stumble and a great day could end in tragedy. Encourage customers to practice using a sling, or learn to carry their crossbow in such a way that it’s comfortable and can be loaded with a bolt quickly.

Premium Choices

Barnett’s (727-234-4999; 6.4-pound RAZR ($1,600) was designed to produce speeds up to 400 fps. Sporting a racy look, the RAZR boasts a full carbon stock along with Barnett’s proprietary CarbonLite Riser Technology. Plus, the reverse cam system claims to provide increased speed and power stroke without adding additional length to the crossbow.

Designed for hunting, TenPoint’s (330-628-9245; Shadow Ultra-Lite ($1,099 with ACUdraw/$999 with ACUdraw 50) showcases a 13.5-inch cocked axle-to-axle length, 12.6-inch power stroke, and boasts a mass weight of just 6.4 pounds. Notable features include its 19.6-inch carbon-injected polymer barrel, 5.5-ounce trigger housing, IsoTaper Limbs, MRX Cams, and D-75 Strings and Cables.

Mission Archery (608-269-2728; engineers give crossbow fanatics the 2014 MXB-400 ($1,199 camo/$1,299 tactical). Designed to hit speeds in excess of 400 fps, the MXB-400 carries a mass weight of just 6.5 pounds, is 35 inches long, and has an overall width of 19.5 inches.

From Carbon Express (800-241-4833; comes the innovative Intercept Supercoil ($800). Featuring a Picatinny platform, this 13.5-inch power stroke, 13.5 inch when cocked axle-to-axle crossbow accommodates most military and commercial spec AR parts.

Killer Instinct Crossbows (810-626-3026; KI350 Crossbow Kit ($500) was designed to produce speeds up to 350 fps via its 14-inch powerstroke on a solid aluminum rail. At 6.2 pounds this horizontal rig heeds the light, compact and wallet-friendly call. The kit includes a Pr-Grade 4x32 glass reticle illuminate scope, three carbon bolts, a side mounting quiver bracket, a rope cocker and rail lube.

Xbow Accessories

NAP (800-323-1279; adds the Killzone Crossbow ($40) to its devastating broadhead line. Featuring a pair of rear-deploying blades designed to carve a 2-inch wound channel, the Killzone Crossbow utilizes NAP’s spring-clip design to prevent premature blade deployment.

TruGlo’s (888-887-8456; 30mm Crossbow Red-Dot Sight ($91) offers the shooter descending-diameter MOAs for accurate multi-distance shooting. Designed with rapid target acquisition in mind, TruGlo says that the multi-coated lenses produce more than 95 percent light transmission.

For 2014, Burt Coyote/Lumenok (309-358-1602; offers Pink bolt ends in Flat Style, Crescent (half-moon), and Capture ($32/3-pack) in diameters to fit most crossbow bolts. Full Bolt Assembly 3-Packs ($56; 20 or 22 inches) are also available. The 2014 nocks rely on the shaft’s conductivity to complete the electrical circuit and light the LED.

SKB’s (800-654-5992; Roto Crossbow Case fits most crossbows, including reverse-limb models ($350). High-density polyethylene, 42x30x12 inches overall. Two-piece nesting design is ATA rated for airline travel. Includes three-piece removable foam insert and cradle system to secure a bow. TSA lockable buckle web straps, roller wheels, molded-in stabilizing feet for upright loading and top handles.

X-Factor Outdoors’ (770-874-0390; Supreme Crossbow System ($42-$51) is a split limb crossbow system that squelches noise and vibration. Tested and proven to reduce noise levels by as much as 38 decibels and vibration up to 30 percent, this seaworthy system is sure to be cheered. 

Still hot and sure to complement any crossbow is HHA Sports’ (800-548-7812; Optimizer Speed Dial ($199-$369). The dial attaches directly to any standard 7⁄8-inch Picatinny crossbow rail to enhance any scope setup and is guaranteed spot-on accurate by HHA at speeds between 225 and 450 fps and ranges between 20 and 80 yards.


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