Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
In the past, the only people who could hunt with a crossbow were kids, people with disabilities, and seniors. However, as technology has advanced, crossbow hunting is becoming more and more common. Many people use crossbows today, and they are happy with the changes. However, some people are concerned that states are trying to cut down on the deer population and make it easier to kill them.
This leads to the question of whether crossbow hunting is cheating.
When you use a good crossbow, it will send the bolt at around 350 fps, and they come with scopes, rails, and other features that make them relatively simple to use. Traditional bowhunters choose to hunt with bows because they find it more challenging, and they consider crossbow hunting to take away from that goal.
Continue reading to learn all about crossbows and this debate.
Advantages of Crossbows
Crossbows have several features that make them more functional than crossbows of the past. They come with stocks and scopes that make them easier to use and provide greater accuracy to the hunter. Generally speaking, a crossbow is a horizontal bow with a spring mechanism to shoot the bolts (arrows). Some of the different types of crossbows include the following:
- Compound Crossbows
- Reverse Compound Crossbows
- Recurve Crossbows
One of the advantages of using crossbows is that it is easier to keep the arrow at full draw once the crossbow is cocked. You can draw and lock the bolt, and then hunters focus on aiming. They squeeze a trigger when they are ready to take the shot.
Also, they work with telescopic sights. The hunter can sight in on deer that are further away, which helps hunters who are used to hunting with a rifle. The crossbow also has a heavy draw weight, which means that it can shoot arrows faster.
Crossbows are designed to be used similarly to a rifle so that you can use them from a sitting or kneeling position more quickly. You can also shoot them from a rest, which allows your shot to be more precise and accurate. These are all advantages that make using a crossbow appealing to a lot of hunters. However, these are the same reasons that traditional archery hunters consider using a crossbow cheating.
Is Crossbow Considered Archery?
There is an ongoing debate between crossbow hunters and traditional bowhunters regarding whether or not crossbow should be considered archery. The debate centers on the structure of the crossbow. Although the crossbow is similar to a bow, it also has features similar to a rifle. Essentially, it is a bow used as a rifle with a bolt instead of an arrow.
Despite the crossbow’s similarity to a rifle, it is made using the technology of a bow. It works the same way as a bow even though it has other features. These features may make it easier to use, but the crossbow is still a bow, and it is a part of archery.
Crossbow belongs to archery because it is the same style of shooting as a bow. People use a crossbow for hunting game across the fields, and the crossbow fires a bolt. Even though you can lock a crossbow once you draw the bolt, it still uses the same mechanism to release it. For this reason, it is considered archery.
Are Crossbow Bolts and Arrows the Same Thing?
The projectile that is used by crossbows is called a bolt or a quarrel. While it is similar to an arrow, they are not the same thing. Crossbow bolts are shorter than arrows; they usually are less than 16 inches long, while arrows are usually between 20 and 22 inches. Although bolts are shorter than arrows, they are usually heavier.
Bolts and arrows also have different flight characteristics. Arrows determine where they fall based on the lift that they gain in flight, while bolts do not. Bolts are not greatly affected by the wind because they are heavier, so people find their shots more precise and accurate.
Bolts and arrows are made of the same parts, including the shaft, the fletching, the broadhead, and the nock. They may look similar, but they are different in length and weight. It is important to use bolts or arrows that fit the guidelines recommended by the manufacturer of your bow or crossbow.
Advantages of Using a Crossbow
Although you will get a lot of different answers if you ask this question, the best way to decide is to look at the similarities and differences between crossbows and bows and decide which is ideal for you. They offer different experiences, so it is important to understand what each does best.
Crossbows offer higher arrow speeds, and they have greater kinetic energy. They can produce projectile speeds of 300 to 470 fps and kinetic energy of over 100 ft-lbf. Bows have projectile speeds of 270 to 10 fps, and they produce kinetic energy of 60 to 90 ft-lbf. Both offer the power you need to hunt.
Although both offer accuracy, it is easier to be accurate with a crossbow. This means that a novice bowhunter may find it easier to use a crossbow. However, a skilled archer will shoot accurately with either device.
Also, the crossbow locks the bolt in place when you draw it. As a result, you can remain still while you are waiting to take your shot. You need to draw the arrow on a bow manually, so it requires more effort on your part.
Advantages of Using a Compound Bow
There are also advantages to using a compound bow. One advantage is that they are much quieter than crossbows. This is important because you are hunting at close range, and noise can frighten the game away. In addition, if you miss a shot, it won’t be so loud that you have no chance of a follow-up shot.
The follow-up shot will always be quicker and easier with a compound bow because crossbows usually have a cocking mechanism that takes some time to set. Also, it is more difficult to load a crossbow if you are hunting in a treestand. A crossbow that is cocked and ready to go can take up a lot of room.
Finally, compound bows are usually lighter, with the average compound bow weighing around six pounds. An average crossbow weighs around eight pounds. If you are covering a lot of ground, the extra two pounds can make a difference.
Should I Use a Crossbow for Hunting?
Whether or not you should use a crossbow for hunting is a matter of personal choice. You need to know what the hunting rules are in your state because some states allow crossbow hunting during archery season, and others do not.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using a crossbow, which will suit some people more than others. There is no right or wrong answer, although you will find that many people have very strong opinions on the subject. The fact is that you need to decide which is best for you.
Hunters who have old injuries or disabilities may prefer using a crossbow because it ensures a better chance at a clean, ethical harvest of what you are hunting. Young hunters often choose a crossbow. Both of these groups of people can benefit from the advantages that a crossbow has to offer.
A crossbow can offer hunters who are new to archery a chance to learn the sport as well. Crossbows provide greater accuracy and precision to less experienced archers.
That said, if you are a skilled archer, you can have just as much accuracy and precision from a compound bow. The crossbow helps by holding the bolt drawn until the hunter pulls a trigger, while you will need to hold the draw of the compound bow until you are ready to release.
The best way to decide which is best for you is to look at each’s advantages and disadvantages and then choose the one that will allow you to enjoy your hunting experience.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not crossbow hunting is cheating, and you will find strong opinions on each side. One side believes that crossbows are essentially rifles that shoot bolts, while others think it is an alternative to bow hunting.
The fact is that both are forms of archery by definition because they draw an arrow or a bolt and release it. Although arrows and bolts have a few distinctions, they are made of the same parts. Bolts are shorter and heavier than arrows.
In determining which is right for you, you need to look at all of the advantages and disadvantages of each and choose the style that will bring you greater pleasure. You will hear all kinds of differing opinions, but in the end, both are legal forms of hunting.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. He has been hunting and fishing since a child and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.