A Crossbow is a weapon that can shoot a considerable distance and with deadly force. Unlike its predecessor, the bow – of bow and arrow fame – the crossbow requires a lesser degree of skill to operate effectively. Aside from his do – gooder lore, Robin Hood was able to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor, in part, because he was an excellent bowman. A more recent fictional example of someone who was very skilled with a bow and arrow is Katniss Everdeen, of the Hunger Games. Her ability with the bow and arrow was developed after years of practice – hunting to survive.
Because they could cause harm at a distance and required far less training and practice, crossbows – as with the introduction of any new and effective weapon – revolutionized warfare. Crossbows themselves became obsolete as a weapon of war with the introduction of the firearm.
Today, crossbows are used for target training and hunting. Their demise as a weapon of war did not diminish their lethal capacity or the enjoyment that sportsmen and sportswomen get from using them. They can kill effectively.
What is a Modern Crossbow?
Well, for starters, the shorter projectiles that some crossbows eject are called bolts, not arrows. They are usually made of aluminum and are steel-tipped. The length of the bolts varies by the size of the crossbow.
The basic components of a crossbow are a stock, a trigger, limbs or prods, and string. Generally, prices for crossbows can range from $300 to $1,000. Crossbows at each price point will all work, but those further along the price range will include features that can improve the crossbow shooting experience. Some of those features are: adjustable stocks, scopes, red-dot scopes, cocking aids or cranks, and dampeners.
There are two basic types of crossbow prods (the curved section at the front of the bow that bends to generate the tension that propels the arrow or bolt). The recursive prod has a larger profile – so it’s bulkier to tote around – but it has the advantage of allowing for the replacement of a damaged string in the field. Compound limbs have a smaller profile, but a pro shop will need to repair it if the string breaks.
Choosing the Right Crossbow
Those who are just beginning to have an interest in crossbows and are looking to purchase their first one will do well to select an inexpensive crossbow package that will enable them to start using their crossbows as they learn. Given the many features and options that are available, having some experience before trying to put together your own package is advisable. Until you have some experience under your belt, it doesn’t make sense to try to try to select the options that that you may think that you want. It’s a better idea to practice for a while, until you know what you want, before considering the higher priced options.
Now I’m not advising that you buy the cheapest crossbow you can find. On the contrary, choose a moderately priced package from a well-known manufacturer. You want to have fun while being safe, and an important part of safety is the quality of the crossbow. So go for good, but not great, until you feel comfortable and knowledgeable enough to make a major investment. We’ll help you find the best suited crossbow for you.
How much power do you need?
The amount of power a crossbow has is generally determined by the pull weight. The pull weights have a large range, from as high as 200 pounds to as low as about 80 pounds. Depending on your needs the pull weight can make a big difference. On the high end the pull weight can shoot an arrow at almost 350 feet per second (fps). At that speed an arrow will shoot right through a deer. Most manufacturers also offer pull strings and other cocking aids that will help reduce the pull weight, sometimes by as much as 50%, so if you are concerned there is help. Some makers even have crank cocking tools to reduce the pull weight required to cock the crossbow even more.
Do you need a sight?
Although not required, having a sight can be a useful tool for targeting in specific distances. There are a few different types of sights available from iron to optical to red-dot sights. Remember when you shoot an arrow it drops rapidly compared to shooting a bullet from a gun so having sights that help you compensate for the drop of the arrow over specific distances can be very helpful.
Speaking of Crossbow Safety
“Safety first” should be every crossbow users credo. Aside from the obvious prime safety directive – never point your crossbow at anyone, there are other things to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your recreational time safely.
- Don’t wrap your rope cocker across the back of your neck. If you bend down it can get caught up in your string and cause injury.
- Keep your fingers and thumb below the barrel (below the safety flange).
- Inspect your arrows before shooting – every time.
Check out the 11 Best Crossbows on the market right now:
1. Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package
- Matrix line of crossbows from Excalibur
- 380 FPS velocity
- 260 pound draw weight
- 13.1 inch power stroke
- Powerful, compact and quiet
- Lightning fast crossbows
- Reliability and functionality of a recurve crossbow
- Tact-Zone crossbow scope
- Realtree xtra finish
- Ergo-grip stock
2. Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT Crossbow Package
- Compact design
- Incredible balance of speed weight
- 360 FPS
- Perfect balance at only 7.0 pounds
- Draw weight: 165 lbs
- 5-1 safety system
- Anti-dry fire trigger
3. Wicked Ridge by TenPoint Invader G3 Crossbow Package
- Newly designed
- Reduce weight and increase strength
- Fast and maneuverable 330 FPS
- Weighs in at 6.6 lbs
- Power stroke: 13.5″
- 165-pound draw weight
- 19-inches axle-to-axle when cocked
- New pass-through fore-grip
- New safety features
- Fitted with TenPoint’s DFI
- 3.5-pound T2 trigger
4. Killer Instinct KI350 Crossbow
- Best performance metrics in its class
- Innovative folding design
- Blazing fast and super light
- Weighs in a less than 6.5lbs
- Clocks in at an impressive 350 FPS
- 3.5 pound trigger pull
- Quiet platform
- Smooth shooting
- Unmatched accuracy
- Anti dry fire safety
- Built with a CNC ehanced flight barrel
- Illuminated KI LUMIX glass reticle scope
- Silent Grip rubber coating helps dampen sound and vibration
5. PSE Fang 350 Crossbow
- Versatile and powerful at an affordable price
- Fast and light
- Mass weight of only 6.8 lbs.
- Anti-dry fire trigger with a crisp 4 lb. pull
- Dual string stops for a quiet shot
- Removable 4×32 scope
- Draw weight: 155 lbs.
- Speed; 350-340 w/400gr bolt
- Power stroke: 14 1/4″
- Axle to axle: 19 1/4″
- Overall length with stirrup: 35″
- Kinetic Energy: 106 ft. lbs.
6. Velocity Lionheart Compound Crossbow, Realtree APG
- Good for new time hunters and veterans
- Composite stock for weight reduction
- Speeds of up to 310 FPS
- Machined aluminum rail for accuracy
- 6 bolt quiver with 4 bolts included
- Cocking rope with roller assist
- Padded sling
- 3 dot sight
- Textured power grips
- Patented dry fire inhibitor
- Realtree APG
7. SA Sports Empire Beowulf 360FPS Crossbow Package, Camouflage
- Top quality hunting machine
- One of the quietest crossbows
- Professional grade features and specifications
- Shoots at speeds up to a blazing 360 FPS
- Draw weight: 175 lbs.
- Mass weight: 6.5 lbs.
- Lightweight synthetic stock and barrel
- Ultra compact riser assembly
- Power stroke: 14″
- Axle to axle: 19″
8. CenterPoint Sniper 370 – Camo Crossbow Package
- Easily maneuverable
- Lightweight and durable
- Shots quiet and vibration-free
- Speeds up to 370 fps
- 18″ axle-to-axle width
- 185 pound draw weight
- 4×32 mm scope
- Three 20″ carbon bolts
- A fully adjustable stock
- Pass-through foregrip
- Anti-dry fire
- Auto-safety trigger
9. Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Package
- Perfect size for small-framed hunters
- Easily make any adjustments needed
- Easy to handle
- Finger reminders pass through fore grip
- Speeds up to 300 fps
- 130 lbs. draw weight
- 80 foot pounds of energy
- Adjustable butt stock
10. Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package
- Made in the USA
- Devastating weapon for any hunter
- Ready to shoot right out of the box
- Sleek, military-style stock
- Innovative design
- Producing arrow speeds of 315 fps
- Smooth 3.5-pound trigger pull
- Divided foregrip for comfortable hand placement
- Quick-detach quiver, bolts
- Premium red dot sight
- 5-year limited warranty
11. Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit (175-Pounds)
- Great starter kit for beginners at affordable price
- Comes with all assembly hardware included
- Designed for both right and left-handed operation
- 175 pounds of draw weight
- 235 fps velocity
- Premium 3-dot multi range red dot scope
- Allows you to aim at your target precisely
- Weaver-style mount is easy to adjust
- Quick detach quiver with four arrows
- Shoulder sling that is padded for comfort
- Ambidextrous auto safety
- Ambidextrous rear stock
- 1-year limited warranty