Hunting Al

Archive Monthly Archives: July 2017

Hunter Training His Crossbow Accuracy With Scope

How To Shoot Your Crossbow More Accurately

Y’all know that I’m passionate about hunting, and the reason I created this site was to share my passion with the web. The hunting community is filled with hunters from all sorts of backgrounds, and there’s often some differing opinions on the “best” way to enjoy the sport. Whether it’s hunting location or what sort of weapon is the best tool for the job, you’re guaranteed to hear a wide variety of conflicting opinions. One thing we can all agree on, however, is how important is is to be able to use your weapon correctly. Whether you hunt with a crossbow, compound bow, or rifle, being able to land an accurate shot is super important. In this article I’m gonna give y’all a detailed look at how to shoot your crossbow more accurately. Let’s get into it!

Using the Right Bow for You

The first thing I’m gonna discuss in this crossbow accuracy guide is the most simple and the most important. A lot of accuracy issues are solved by having a bow that doesn’t fit the user correctly, and you may see a big jump in your accuracy if you make sure your crossbow fits perfectly for you. There are tons of crossbows available, with plenty of accompanying reviews online. You may find that the “best” crossbow is actually not the best for you.

There’s really no substitute for getting a bow in your hands and firing a few shots. You’ve gotta make sure you can cock the bow comfortably and hold it comfortably if you’re gonna have any hope of accuracy in the field. The internet offers us a large amount of information, but I really think you’ve gotta try before you buy. Maybe I’m old school, but I’m just trying to give y’all some honest advice.

crossbow being prepared for calibration

It may be a tough bite to swallow, but it’s possible you’re gonna have to start from scratch and buy a better bow if the rest of the tips in this guide don’t address your issue. The fit of a crossbow is very much a personal thing, and being in tune with your weapon is absolutely necessary if you’re gonna land that perfect shot.

Some Popular Starter Bows​

Maintain Your Bow

A quality crossbow is often a serious financial investment. Just like any big money sink, you’re gonna want to make sure you’re trying darndest to keep your bow in the best shape possible for a long, long time.

The process for maintaining your specific crossbow will likely be included in the owner’s manual, but some general processes that are pretty standard are lubricating the flight rail and waxing the string. The flight rail and string are pretty much the most important parts of your crossbow, so taking that extra time to keep them in tip top shape will make a big difference when you’re lining up your shots.

diagram of an accurate crossbow

The biggest attention to detail won’t make a lot of difference if your bow is falling apart, so make sure you take care of your bow after each hunting trip to keep it kicking for years to come.

The Right Arrows

One of the most important things you’re gonna want to pay attention to is the quality and design of your crossbow arrows. Even an amazingly tuned crossbow is going to be wildly inaccurate if your arrows aren’t worth a damn! Below we’ve listed a couple of tips for choosing the perfect arrow. Later on in this crossbow accuracy guide, we’ll get into the nitty gritty on how exactly to line up a good shot, - but make sure you don’t neglect this section!


​You’re gonna want to look for a crossbow bolt with at least 5 inches of fletching. You see, arrows for crossbows are often a lot shorter. Getting a fletching of the proper length can make a big difference when it comes to evening out the flight of your bolt.

Check Your Arrows

Crossbow bolts are often made of aluminum, and it’s a great material but it sure does bend easily! Even really minor bends that might be difficult to spot with the naked eyes can make a big difference in the straightness of your shot. Always make sure you’re using arrows that are perfectly straight, and maintain or replace any bent arrows to ensure you’re always gonna land that perfect shot.

low quality bolts and arrows

No matter how much prep you do, arrows like these won't let you shoot with accuracy!


​You’re gonna want to look for a crossbow bolt with at least 5 inches of fletching. You see, arrows for crossbows are often a lot shorter. Getting a fletching of the proper length can make a big difference when it comes to evening out the flight of your bolt.

Check the Groove

The groove in the flight track of your arrow can give you a lot of useful information on whether or not your arrows are set up correctly. If you notice heavy groove marks at the front of your arrow shaft, your point may be too heavy. If there are heavy marks at the back of the arrow, it's likely that the point is too light. If you have heavy groove marks at both places, your arrow is likely just too darn light for the crossbow - time to buy new bolts! A general rule of thumb is to look for a lightly grooved arrow from front to rear.

To largely avoid a lot of these issues, just go with the arrows that are recommended by the manufacturer. The people that built the bow will have the best idea of what kind of ammunition you need for an accurate shot. Makes a whole lot of sense, in my humble opinion!

Properly Calibrated Scope

This section is gonna be short and sweet because I have an entire guide dedicated to the topic of sighting your crossbow. If you have a scope on your crossbow, you’re gonna want to make sure it’s calibrated correctly.

Basically, you’re looking to “zero” your scope. This simply means that the top part of your reticle should be adjusted so that you’re going to accurately hit a target at a 20 yard range. If you can get the calibration for 20 yards lined up correctly, you’ll be able to shoot even greater distances with accuracy too. Lining up the 20 yard lines up further distances - pretty simple, right?

Most scopes generally have a couple of different dials: the windage adjustment knob, and the elevation adjustment knob.

The windage adjustment knob allows you to adjust the flight of the arrow to the right or left. Obviously, y’all are gonna want to adjust this to make sure your 20 yard distance is smack dab in the center. The elevation adjustment knob, as the name suggests, allows you to adjust the vertical flight of your arrow.

The best way to figure out how to calibrate your scope is to set up a target and fire some bolts! Fire a total of three bolts while aiming at the bullseye through your scope. If the bolts end up off center, spin the dials to make adjustments and give it another go! This might take a while, but it’s worth the time and effort to make sure you’re gonna land a kill when it counts most.

optical scoped bow

Make Sure Your Crossbow is Cocked Correctly

Now that you’ve figured out how to get your hands on the right arrows and adjust your scope, you’re ready to get into the mechanics of how to shoot your crossbow more accurately. You could do everything else correctly, but if your bolt is cocked off center none of it will matter.

You’re gonna want to look at the string, and make sure that’s cocked perfectly straight. A crossbow bolt cocked even just a fraction of an inch to the left or right can have a big negative impact when it comes to getting your arrow to go where you want it to!

There’s an easy way to make sure you cock correctly every time, and all you need is your crossbow and a marker!

Put a mark on your crossbow where it passes over the flight rail (uncocked), and just make sure that mark is lined up with the trigger mechanism centered.

Another great way to make sure you’re cocking easily and correctly is to use something like a rope cocking device. Learn more about these nifty little products here.

How Do I Fix Crossbow Canting?

Crossbow canting basically means angling your bow to the right or left so that one limb of the bow is lower than the other. Having a bow that’s not perfectly level can make your bolts shoot in some wild directions. I just want to stress to y’all in this section the importance of making sure you shoot with level bow to land that perfect shot.

Canting to the left will make your shot veer left, and shooting to the right will make it veer right. Fortunately, avoiding this issue is super simple.

The best way to make sure you’re not canting to the left or right is to install a simple level on your bow. Just line the level up and you’re certain to make a much straighter shot.

Canting is an issue that’s easily addressed but can really throw off an otherwise perfect shot. Spend the few bucks on a crossbow level to make sure you’re set up for success! Trust me, it makes a big difference.

Practice Makes Perfect​

​I’ve done my best to give y’all a sense of some fixes and preventative measures to make sure you’re firing at peak accuracy, but there’s little substitute for getting some good shots in. Following the tips I’ve listed will point you in the right direction, but shooting a crossbow does take some skill and the only way to get that skill is to try. Whether it’s a target or a deer, firing your crossbow and taking the time to line up accurate shots will go a long way to making sure your arrows fly true. I sincerely hope this article on how to shoot your crossbow more accurately has helped y’all out. Like any hobby, hunting takes time and commitment to perfect. Now get out there and put in that time!

someone new to crossbow hunting learning how to shoot

Ultimate Beginners Guide to Crossbow Hunting

Y’all must know by now how much I love hunting. I wouldn’t have a site devoted to it if I didn’t, and while I’m new to this whole internet thing I’m definitely not new to the sport. I have years of experience, and I just can’t stop talking about it. I live and breathe hunting, and I want to pass that passion on to all of you! Although you’ll find articles on my site on a variety of topics intended for hunters of all sorts of experience levels, I wanted to take the time to compile an ultimate beginner’s guide to crossbow hunting. After reading this article, you should know everything you need to know to take your crossbow out into the woods and score yourself a satisfying kill. Consider this post a good primer and comprehensive introduction to crossbow hunting for beginners.

Choosing a Crossbow

​Obviously, one of the most important things about crossbow hunting is the crossbow! There are a wide variety of crossbows out there, but there’s no one “best” crossbow for everyone. I’ve reviewed several of my top picks elsewhere on the site, but the truth is that it’s possible that none of them may work for you. Crossbow hunting is a physical sport, and all of us have a unique build that calls for a unique weapon. Variations in gender, strength, height, and weight may all have an impact when it comes to choosing the bow that’s right for you.

Before getting into the specifics of what bow I recommend y’all start with, I’m gonna spend a little bit of time talking about how exactly a crossbow works.

​To keep it short and sweet, crossbows are essentially short bows held horizontally on a stock similar to that of a rifle. The mechanics of firing, however, are a little bit different. Using a crank or manual adjustment, the shooter pulls a string back and locks it into a nock point. You place a bolt in the bow, pull a trigger, and all the stored energy on the string is transferred into the arrow - propelling it forward.

For your first bow, I recommend going with a model with a good combination of value and power. You don’t need to go whole hog and spend thousands on a professional quality bow if you’re just starting out. Browse Amazon and find a bow with a reasonable price and a good selection of reviews. Something like the CenterPoint Sniper 370 ​is a great combination of good power and an affordable price. But don’t just take my word for it! The name of the game is research, y’all and I have a ton of reviews on this site for you to browse through.

I could go on and on about what makes a crossbow great, but in this article I’m going to leave y’all with a simple piece of advice: Choose what makes you most comfortable. It’s important to be in tune with your weapon, and as long as you’re going with a bow that has the specifications you need from a reputable company, you’re probably going to be just fine.​

American Crossbow Hunting - Rules and Regulations​

​While I can’t spend the time to compile regulations on each and every state, I thought it’d be a good idea to help y’all out with some quality information on American hunting regulations in some of the more popular hunting states. I’ve picked three of my personal favorite spots. I’ve traveled all around the country and these are my top picks for crossbow hunting. You’ll find a lot of deer and know the regulations around hunting them, so let’s get to it!


One of the best locations hands down for deer hunting is Oklahoma, but there are some regulations you’ll have to pay attention to to make sure y’all are crossbow hunting legally.

Fortunately, crossbows are legal for use in any bow hunting season. This will give y’all a wide variety of dates to choose from for your next hunting expedition.

For details on updated specific dates for bow hunting season, check out the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website.


My second favorite location for deer hunting is Indiana, and it’s only second on my list because it’s a little more restrictive than Oklahoma.

Crossbows are accepted during the entire hunting season. They must have a mechanical safety and at least 125 pounds of pull. You’ll also need a crossbow hunting license which allows you to take one deer. You can renew your license, but there’s a maximum of one antlered and one antlerless, or alternatively two antlerless deer per season.

If you’re hoping to kill a large quantity over several trips, Indiana might not be the best choice, but there’s no denying that the hunting’s good! Head on over to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for more information.


Coming in third place is Missouri, and the regulations for this state are short and sweet. It comes in third because, while a great hunting location in general, the dates are slightly more restrictive. Still, with the great amount of game available it’s more than likely you’ll harvest some quality deer.

Crossbows are permitted without restriction during firearms season. If you’re a disabled hunter, you can also use the weapon during bow hunting season.

Pretty simple, right? For details on the specific dates so y’all can plan your next trip, there’s some additional information over at the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Supplementary Gear - Must Haves

While having a quality crossbow is a big part of the process for preparing for a hunt, there’s a lot of extra equipment you’ll want to keep an eye out for in order to make sure you’re 100% ready to land some kills. In this section I’m gonna spend some time talking about supplementary gear so y’all know exactly what you need to get started with crossbow hunting.

Hunting can get expensive very quickly, so if you’d like to avoid sinking huge amounts of money into your starter gear, I’ll give y’all a quick and dirty rundown on what you absolutely need to get started with hunting.


A crossbow isn’t much use if you don’t have arrows to shoot, is it? Arrows are what actually does the damage to your prey, so doing your best to make sure you have ammunition that’s rated correctly for your bow is really important. There’s a huge variety of arrows out there, and advanced users can often pick a “favorite”, but as a crossbow beginner you’re gonna want to stick with arrows that are recommended for your crossbow.

Just pick up your manual and buy the arrows the manufacturer describes. No one knows your bow better than the people who made it, so it makes sense that you’d follow their advice!


While a scope isn’t necessary by any means, it’s gonna make a big difference - especially for newbies. The next part of this ultimate beginner’s guide to crossbow hunting focuses on this important tool for improving accuracy.

There are two main types of scopes available, optic scopes and “red dot” scopes.

An optic scope is generally what y’all probably think of when you say the word “scope”. They generally have a decent amount of magnification as well as crosshairs to help you line up your shot. Optic scopes are definitely superior at long ranges due to the increased visibility for your target.

A red dot scope doesn’t provide any real magnification, but you’ll generally be able to see exactly where your arrow will hit. It has a disadvantage at longer ranges, but it’s nice to be able to see a visual indicator on your target to help line up a shot. These scopes are absolutely usable, but learning to use an optic scope will definitely serve you well as you get more and more experienced in crossbow hunting.

For a beginner, either scope is fine, but I will probably recommend looking into an optic scope. Perhaps it’s because the way I learned to hunt myself, but I never really felt like I was missing out by using optics. Red dot scopes weren’t available until after I’d been hunting a while (I guess I’m really showing my age!), and optic scopes continue to serve me well to this day. I won’t lead y’all astray, I promise!

Cocking Rope​

While also not necessarily a “must have”, a good cocking rope will go a long way towards making it easier to load your crossbow quickly and effectively. We’ll go into this in more detail further down in the guide, but essentially a large part of cocking your crossbow is pulling the string back cleanly and evenly. The cocking rope is a cheap option that can really assist with that.

This device is a simple tool with claws and a rope. You just hook up the rope to the string and pull backwards, and the added length of the rope provides you with more leverage and an easier pull.

Cocking a crossbow manually can lead to some shoulder issues over time - even if you’re pretty strong - so I’d highly recommend looking into this simple tool. For a few bucks you can make the process a lot more comfortable and avoid potential injury.

Conditional Gear

While the gear I’ve listed above is really all you technically need to get started with crossbow hunting, there’s some other gear worth mentioning that is useful in certain conditions.

Weather Gear

Like it or not, there’s certain areas and times of the year during hunting season that are pretty darn cold. Making sure you’re comfortable in inclement weather is a big part of ensuring success for your hunting trip. If you’re cold and shivering, you’re going to make mistakes and lose out on some good kills.

Get yourself a combination of an insulated hunting jacket and bib so that you can keep warm while spending hours out in the field. Morning is often the best time to hunt, and when the sun isn’t high in the sky the temperatures can plummet. For safety and success, don’t skimp on this gear.

Additionally, having some sort of sweat wicking clothing will make it easier to avoid getting drenched in sweat. It might not seem like it, but sweating while it’s cold can actually be dangerous. The extra moisture on your skin can make you pretty cold, pretty quickly!

Crossbow Crank​

If you’ve really got no upper body strength and a cocking rope won’t work for you, you can also look into a crossbow crank. These cranks have several disadvantages, the biggest of which is that they’re super noisy. Cocking the bow might be a lot easier with a crank, but if you scare a deer away while y’all are trying to load your weapon it’s not really worth much, is it? If it’s your only option it’s definitely better than nothing, however!​

Gear Recommendations

Though there’s no substitute for your own research, I’ve done my best to give some recommendations of beginner and more expensive gear in each of the categories above.


Before I give recommendations here I’m gonna again stress the importance of using bolts recommended by your crossbow manufacturer. With that said, here are a couple options:


Last Punch Aluminum Metal Arrows

For a cheap price and a pack of six, these are a decent starting point for a beginner.


Barnett Outdoors Carbon Crossbow 20-Inch Arrows

Slightly more expensive, but made out of carbon fiber for higher accuracy.​



UTG 4X32 1" Crossbow Scope

A mid-range scope at an affordable price with good reviews.


Nikon 8461 Bolt XR Crossbowx 40mm

A more expensive scope from Nikon, a manufacturer known for the quality of their optics.

Cocking Rope

Because a cocking rope is so darn cheap, I can't give y'all "luxury" options. Go with the Barnett Crossbow Rope Cocking Device for a cheap option that has served hundreds of hunters well.​

Hunting Jacket


Yukon Gear Men's Reversible Insulated Jacket

A good beginner’s jacket that will serve you well in a wide variety of conditions. Add to that the low price and great reviews and I can comfortably recommend to y’all!


Sitka Fanatic Jacket

As a much more expensive option, it’s definitely an investment. However, you’ll get a huge amount of weather protection and insulation for the price.

Hunting Bib


Yukon Gear Men's Insulated Bib Overalls

The bib to accompany the Yukon Jacket listed above, it provides good insulation at a great price.


Sitka Fanatic Bib

The accompanying bib to the hunting jacket we discussed above, it has great reviews and awesome protection for conditions that fall below freezing temperatures.

Moisture Wicking

Moisture wicking can largely be accomplished by a good hunting shirt, so I'm just gonna go ahead and recommend the Predator Camo Men's Long Sleeve Performance Crew T-Shirt as a shirt for pretty much any condition. Just make sure to bundle up for harsher weather.

Cocking and Draw Weight

Now that I’ve discussed the kind of gear y’all need, let’s get a little more specific on how exactly you use it! This section will serve as a comprehensive discussion on the idea of draw weight and cocking your bow.

Draw Weight

​Now that I’ve discussed the kind of gear y’all need, let’s get a little more specific on how exactly you use it! This section will serve as a comprehensive discussion on the idea of draw weight and cocking your bow. They have a pretty good explanation for other bows over here at Ye Olde Archery Shoppe.

The draw weight y’all will need for your crossbow will vary depending on the type of prey you’re hunting as well as your strength. Draw weights typically range from 75 to 200 pounds, and each draw weight range is suited to a different task.​

​Generally, bows with a draw weight of under 150 pounds are only used for shooting small game. If y’all are after deer like me, you’re gonna need a crossbow with at least 150 pounds of draw weight - preferably a little more

If you’re concerned about being able to cock the crossbow with that amount of draw weight, consider looking into a cocking rope or a crank like we discussed above. While cranks are definitely not our favorite, the tool will essentially turn a 150 pound draw weight into something that feels a lot more like 10 - 15 pounds. If you’re lacking in upper body strength, it may be worth looking into.


Now let’s get into the actual mechanics of one of the most important parts of crossbow hunting - especially as a beginner: properly cocking your crossbow. I also have a full guide dedicated to properly loading your crossbow once you're ready to learn more.

We mentioned a little bit about cocking rope and cranks above, but I’ll give y’all another brief overview since this is the designated “cocking” section.

Cocking rope is essentially a decently long rope with two little hooks. You attach the hooks to your string and use the additional leverage of the strings to make pulling back the rope a lot easier.

Cranks attach to the bow and are decent amount slower and noisier, but they massively reduce the strength required to draw back the string.

Basically, to cock a crossbow you’re gonna want to follow the steps below:

  1. ​Point your crossbow at the ground
  2. Place your foot in the foot claw
  3. Turn off the safety switch of your bow
  4. Pull the string back evenly and slowly, whether you’re doing so manually, with a cocking rope, or using a crank
  5. Re-engage the safety switch, and prepare to fire

While this list seems super simple - and to some extent, it is - you’re gonna want to spend a lot of time practicing. You see, cocking the rope even slightly to the left or right can make your shots wildly inaccurate. Y’all need to make sure you cock it perfectly straight every time for the perfect shot.

To make it easier, make a mark either on your string or your rope in the exact center so you have a visual guide each time you cock.

Understanding Arrow Trajectory

Alright, y’all, this section is going to get a little bit technical. I’m really into everything hunting, and an authoritative guide on crossbow hunting for beginners wouldn’t be complete without a small discussion on arrow trajectory. Don’t worry if this explanation leaves you a little confused - I’m gonna sum it up nice and simple for y’all at the end.

We all know that you’re not gonna do much damage to a deer with just a crossbow. You need an arrow, too! Learning how arrows fly and how your bow can influence that is some useful knowledge if you’re looking to really master your sport.

Basically, “trajectory” refers to the specific arcing path that an arrow follows after being shot from a crossbow, from its start at the bowstring to the target downrange. As soon as you shoot an arrow, it starts to be affected by gravity and dragged downward. Having a solid understanding of trajectory will help you line up your shots so you can land a good shot even at a long range.

The trajectory of an arrow is largely affected by the “velocity” of the shot, which is generally measured in feet per second.

Deer are normally harvested at a distance somewhere between 10 and 30 yards, so understanding the speed of your shot and the range you’re firing from will help you make sure you’re shooting correctly.

There is a great little table from Crossbowmen (a great site for all kinds of useful crossbow info!) that will give y’all a sense of the effect gravity will have on your shots depending on your velocity and range. The calculations were made with a standard 20 inch, 300 grain arrow in mind. If you have a different arrow setup the math is gonna be a little bit different.​ 

As you can see, if you fire at a long distance and your velocity is on the lower side, there can be a pretty significant drop from where you actually intended the shot to go. Taking the time to math out your arrow trajectory can make a big difference when it comes to lining up an accurate shot.

​Long story short, the speed of your arrow and the distance to your target play a big part in your overall accuracy. Learn the velocity of your arrow, and adjust your aim based on the increased distance.

Compensating for Trajectory

How exactly do you adjust your aim as a beginner? It’s pretty simple. There’s a lot of technical explanation I could go into but it’s not going to be necessarily applicable to your specific situation. The best way to account for trajectory is to adjust the height of your scope, and the best way to do that is by firing a lot of arrows at various ranges.

  1. Set up a target at 10, 20, and 30 yards and fire a bolt at the bullseye while looking through your scope.
  2. Do your best to shoot accurately, and take a note of how much higher or lower the bolt strikes the target.
  3. Make minor tweaks to the height of your scope until you find a good balance of accuracy for all three ranges.

Practicing Techniques

​For any hunter, and especially for y’all that are beginners, it’s important to regularly practice to hone your craft. A hunting trip is a whole lotta waiting for just a few moments of thrilling excitement. If you’re not able to handle your weapon with skill when it comes time to take your shot, you’re gonna be in for a series of unsuccessful trips.

Bench Shooting​

While you’ll definitely get better over time just from naturally hunting, you’re gonna progress a lot faster the more bolts you fire, and firing bolts is easiest with some targets.

To start with, you’re gonna want to practice firing from a bench. Using a bench allows you to steady your aim and take some good shots. In reality, you’re not going to have this tool to rely on, but as an absolute beginner it's an indispensible tool.

Set up some targets and do your best to fire quickly and accurately. Remember that section we just talked about on arrow trajectory? Now is the time to practice and adjust your scope for the various ranges you’ll run into.

There’s really not substitute for firing a bunch of bolts, so make sure you put in a few hours so you have a good handle on your crossbow before hunting season.

Specificity Training​

After y’all have gotten this basic practice, it’s time to start emulating the conditions you’ll actually run into on the field.

Get out into the field and take some shots both standing and kneeling, as you likely won’t have a perfectly controlled environment when you spot a deer.

Climb up into your treestand or ground blind and shoot at angles similar to those you anticipate dealing with during your hunting season.

While there’s no way to accurately address all the conditions y’all are going to run into on a real hunting trip, do your best to think of what kind of situations you’ll see. Preparing for the unexpected will serve you well. You’re not going to have great visibility and clear conditions every single time you line up a shot, so exposing yourself to awkward positions and angles will go a long way towards making sure you’ve got the skill when it counts.

Beginner Hunting Practice Videos​

​There’s a lot of videos online about proper crossbow practice, but this selection of two different videos has a good combination of safety instructions and advice on how to get some good shots in. If you’re more of a visual learner, take a look at these short clips for a better idea of how to begin your training.

Part 1

Part 2

​Common Beginner Mistakes and Solutions

No matter how careful and thorough y’all are with research and practice, you’re guaranteed to make some rookie mistakes when you’re just starting off with crossbow hunting. I’ve decided to compile a list of some common beginner mistakes and give a quick guide on how to solve them so you can troubleshoot and keep your hunting trip enjoyable and on track.​

Dress for the Weather!​

I’ve talked about this a little bit above, but it’s worth repeating here because of how important it is. Make sure you’re dressing warm and wearing moisture wicking clothing so you can keep dry and comfortable. The hunting season can get pretty darn cold depending on where you are, and forgetting weather appropriate gear is a rookie mistake.

Take a look at my gear section for some tips on my favorite clothing for hunting.

Take Your Trip Seriously​

When you’re out hunting with your buddies, it’s easy to get a little carried away with horsing around and joking. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with some serious weaponry and that it’s easy to make mistakes if you’re not alert and focused.

Hunting is supposed to be fun, but make sure you’re taking the proper safety precautions - especially as a beginner.

Treat Your Weapon with Respect​

This goes hand in hand with the tip above, but your crossbow can do some serious damage if you’re not careful. Take the time to practice safely loading and firing your bow so you don’t end up seriously injuring or killing yourself or your friends!

As a beginner, it’s important to realize that you’re new to a sport, and that this new sport can be pretty dangerous. Embrace the fact that you’re a newbie and take things slow and safe.

Don't Wait Too Long to Shoot​

Especially as a beginner, it’s tempting to make sure you have the absolute perfect shot before pulling the trigger. Unfortunately, deer are nothing like the targets I had y’all practicing on, so you’ve got to learn when your aim is “good enough”.

Don’t miss out on a great opportunity by second guessing yourself. Sure, your shot may miss, but it’s equally frustrating to have your prey run away!

Don't Neglect Your Practice

While hunting season is often just a few months depending on where y’all are headed, it’s gonna be really easy to get super rusty if you don’t spend some regular time practicing with your weapon.

Follow the tips I talked about in the practice section, and most importantly just shoot the darn thing! The more comfortable you are with firing your crossbow, the more it will feel like second nature when it comes time to head out into the field.

By keeping your skills up to date, you’re gonna have way more fun and success when you’re zeroing in on a kill.

Follow the Rules

As tempting as it may be to rush out to the nearest wooded areas and start taking some shots, there’s a decent amount of red tape around the sport of hunting that you’ll need to pay attention to make sure you’re hunting legally.

These regulations, while frustrating, are designed to protect the wildlife and environment and ensure that the hunting season is as safe and sustainable as possible.

Make sure you’re aware of the dates you can hunt, and the specific dates that you can use your crossbow.

Cabela’s has a good site for learning regulations for your specific state, so check them out and follow the links to the spot you're planning on hunting.

Manage Your Expectations

Y’all are gonna learn pretty quick that hunting is a sport with no guarantees. It’s really likely that you may return from your first few trips with nothing to show for your time. Unfortunately, the possibility you’ll turn up with nothing will continue to be present for your whole hunting career.

Learn to appreciate the peace and quiet. Hunting is relaxing, and it’s still worth your time even if you don’t score a kill.

Don't Neglect Maintenance

We'll devote a whole section to this practice below, and that's because maintenance is a big part of keeping your gear safe and protected for years to come.

Your weapon and hunting gear is a significant investment, and as you become more passionate about the sport it’s likely that y’all are gonna spend thousands of dollars over time. Taking the few minutes at the end of your hunt to take care of your weapons is really important for getting the most out of your hard earned cash.​

Arrive Early, Stay Late

The most successful hunters are the ones who put in a good amount of time in the field. Block off your entire day for a hunting trip if you want the best chance of scoring a kill.

Finding your mark takes a good amount of time and patience, and the longer you’re there the more likely you’ll be able to line up that perfect shot.

Maintenance and Care

​In the beginner mistakes section I mentioned how important maintenance is, and I’m gonna round out this guide by giving y’all an overview of how to to take care of your crossbow as well as some good products to consider to make maintenance a breeze.

Supplies You'll Need​

Do some preliminary research and go for a highly reviewed version of the following. In general, going with a well-known brand won’t lead you astray, so I’ll avoid littering this section with any real product recommendations.

  • Wax
  • Non-Vaseline Lubricant
  • A Soft Cloth
  • Lens Cleaner

​How to Wax the String of Your Crossbow

The string is arguably one of the most important parts of your bow - if not the most important. After all, your string is what transfers the power to your arrow and sends it flying towards your target! Taking steps to maintain your string is important to keeping your bow in tip top shape.

The frequency that you should apply wax to the string varies on the type of crossbow you have, so make sure you take a look at the included instructions so you know what to do for your specific weapon.

With that said, when you’re applying wax to the string you’re gonna want to follow these couple steps.

  • ​Apply wax to the length of the strings and cables, but make sure you don’t apply it to the part that’s right above the rail. Doing this can cause the trigger box to jam up, and we want to maintain our weapons, not damage them!
  • Rub the wax into the string with your finger. The heat generated by the rubbing will help melt the wax and bond it to the string, keeping it kicking and leaving it ready for your next trip.

​How to Lubricate the Rail

The rail is the part of the bow that the arrows slide through as they’re fired, so adding some lubricant will make sure your bolts fly freely.

  • ​Apply two small drops of lubricant to the middle of the rail, and then slide your finger across the entirety of the rail to spread it out. With a quality lubricant, a little goes a long way so don’t go to crazy, y’all!
  • Avoid vaseline based lubricants. They’re not intended for crossbows and can cause some real damage.

Lubricate the Mounting Box and Exposed Bolts

WIth the same process I described to y’all just now, add a little bit of lubricant to the mounting box and exposed bolts to make sure everything’s moving smoothly when it’s time to fire.

Clean Your Scope Lens

Your scope, like any piece of glass, can pick up smudges over time. Just use a lens cleaner and a soft cloth and wipe the glass to make sure the scope is well maintained and easy to see through when it really counts.

Pay Attention to Your Bow

All in all, make sure you’re paying attention to the condition of your bow. Monitor your arrows for any nicks or bends as this can greatly affect accuracy. Make sure your bowstring isn’t damaged, and take steps to replace or repair it if it is to avoid an inaccurate and potentially dangerous shot.

After each use, monitor your crossbow for any signs of damage. Minor nicks and scratches may not seem like much, but the last thing you want is for a bow to malfunction. With the amount of power built into these weapons, a broken bow is a recipe for disaster.

Get Out There and Give it a Try

Whew! That was a pretty long ride, wasn’t it? Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end! This guide was designed to serve as an authoritative guide for y’all to make sure you have everything you need to know about crossbow hunting for beginners.

You’re never going to know absolutely everything there is to know about hunting. I’ve been hunting a damn long time, and even I won’t claim to be a complete master. If you’ve read this guide, however, you have the information you know to get out there and harvest some quality gear.

Theory and guides are only worth so much. Grab your bow and head out to the range for some practice before your next trip!

References and Further Learning

If y’all are itching for some more crossbow information, take a look at any one of these quality sites. I used a lot of these (and my own knowledge) to build this guide, and there’s a wealth of information out there to continue your education.

Crossbow Being Loaded

How To Load A Crossbow

Whatever your experience is in the sport of hunting, there’s always something more to learn. I’ve been hunting for quite a long time, but even I won’t pretend I know everything there is to learn about such a deep and varied hobby. When my grandson helped me set up this site it was because I wanted to share what I’ve learned with the rest of y’all. This article is focused on the aspiring crossbow hunter, and will be a sort of “Load a Crossbow the Right Way Guide”. I’m confident that by the end of this short article you’ll have everything you need to know to load a crossbow correctly and move on to lining up that perfect shot. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Cock the Bow

Crossbows are definitely a little bit different from a compound bow or rifle, and one of the main things that sets it apart is the process of properly cocking the bow and preparing it to fire. In this section I’m gonna cover the steps behind properly cocking your crossbow. It’s a simple process, but screwing up just a little bit can result in some wildly inaccurate shots.

​How to Cock a Bow Manually

To cock a bow manually, simply follow the steps below:

    1. Point your crossbow down so that the foot claw touches the ground.
    2. Make sure the safety switch on your crossbow is in the firing position. This may seem a little counterintuitive since you’re not actually firing at this point, but with the safety locked you’re not gonna be able to pull that string back! Just be careful and put your safety first.
    3. Put your foot in the claw.
    4. Grab the string with both hands. In this step it’s important to make sure you’re grabbing with an even and steady grip to avoid pulling back one side faster or harder than the other.
    5. Pull the string back firmly and consistently. Don’t yank the string! Doing so is a surefire way to damage the bow and hurt yourself.
    6. Re-engage the safety switch. A lot of modern bows will do this automatically, but if they don’t you’re gonna want to make sure that the safety is back on once the bow is loaded. The last thing you want is an accidental firing.

Taking the extra time and attention to make sure you’re cocking the bow as straight and evenly as possible is gonna make a hell of a difference when you take the shot.

I’ll be honest and tell y’all that cocking a modern crossbow has actually gotten more challenging than it used to be. With many crossbows having a draw weight of over 150 pounds, it’s no longer as easy of a task as it used to be back in my glory days. There are some nifty items you can purchase, however, that might make the challenge of cocking your crossbow a little more manageable.

How To Use a Rope Cocking Tool​

​If y’all are having trouble cocking your bow, buying a good rope cocking tool can be a big help. It essentially adds a stirrup that you can connect to the string for better leverage when cocking your crossbow. It’s pretty easy y’all, I promise! To cock your crossbow using a rope cocking tool, simply follow the steps below:

  1. The first step is the same as if you’re manually cocking. Put the bow at the ground and put your foot in the claw.
  2. Hook the clamps of the rope tool on the string, making sure they’re evenly placed on both sides of the string.
  3. Pull the strings back until you hear the “click” of the crossbow cocking.
  4. Make sure the safety switch is on, and move on to loading the bow.

As you can see, the steps are pretty similar to the manual cocking method I gave y’all above. The main difference is that the addition of a rope will make it a lot easier to cock the crossbow. If you’re not strong enough to cock your bow easily, really give some thought to adding a rope cocking tool. Even if you can manage to cock your crossbow manually, if it’s a big struggle for you you’re going to save a lot of effort by using this simple device - not to mention how much safer it is!

Some crossbows either come with or are compatible with a crossbow crank. It will take a lot longer to cock a bow with a crank, but it’s generally a lot easier than pulling it back since all you have to do is spin a lever. If you’re lacking in the strength department and a rope cocking tool doesn’t work for you, consider looking into a crossbow crank.

Tips on Cocking Your Crossbow

I’ve given y’all an overview on how to cock a crossbow, but I also wanted to write a short section on some tips and tricks to make cocking your bow a breeze. Take these pointers into account, and setting yourself up for a great shot should be a no-brainer! I’ll admit, a couple of these tips are intended for those who are using a cocking rope, but if you’re cocking just fine without a rope you probably don’t need more tips!

Tip #1 - Shorten Your Cocking Rope

​By default, the cocking rope for a crossbow is pretty darn long. Shortening it can make a big difference in ease of cocking, and you’ll be able to avoid injury too! Struggling to pull back a long rope can really hurt your shoulders over time, so taking these steps to make it a little bit easier should make loading your crossbow a whole lot easier. Through trial and error, just adjust the length of your rope so it matches your cocking stroke.

Tip #2 - Mark Your String

I’ve talked about this tip before, but it can make a big difference when it comes to loading your bow accurately so I’m gonna tell y’all again. Taking a marker and making a quick mark on the string where it meets the trigger mechanism will make it easier to load your bow accurately each and every time. Cocking your bow even a fraction to the right or left of center can lead to some frustrating near misses, so give this a try!

Tip #3 - Mark Your Rope

Just as marking your string can make a big difference, placing a mark on your cocking rope will help you line things up right when it’s time to pull back the string. Simply drawing a dot or line on the center of your cocking rope and then lining it up with the center seam in your stock will help you make sure you’re pulling back with even pressure each time you cock your bow. We talked a bit above about how important it is to pull the string back with consistency and care, and this little trick will help out with that.

Load the Arrow

Now that you’ve learned all about how to cock your bow, it’s time to learn more about how to load a crossbow. This part is pretty simple and requires less finesse than cocking, but you want to make sure you take the time to do it correctly so you get that great shot. Just take an arrow that’s designed for your bow and stick it in the barrel.

You wanna make sure the cock vane of the arrow is aligned in the barrel channel. Generally the cock vane is going to be at least slightly different colored than the rest of the vanes on the arrow, and you’re gonna want to make sure this differently colored vein is lined up nice and straight in the channel.

loading the arrows

In most cases, the vane should be pointed down, but this will sometimes vary based on the bolts you’re using. If you’re unsure of which position to cock the arrow in you should take a look at the user manual or maybe do a quick web search. I’m still learning about the internet and I’m a bit of a slow learner, but there’s just so much information out there on so many different things. Take advantage of it and do some basic research! It’s really important to make sure you load the bolt in the orientation that’s correct for your bow, because you could seriously damage the equipment if you do that wrong.

Take Aim and Fire!​

I’ve done my best to teach y’all how to load a crossbow with this little “Load a Crossbow the Right Way Guide”, so it’s time for y’all to get out there and give it a try. Before your next hunting trip, consider setting up a target and practicing a bit. It’s important to understand how to load a crossbow correctly in a safe environment before you head out in the woods and take aim at your prey.

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you care enough to do the research and set yourself up for success. With a few consistent shots under your belt, you can head out on your next expedition with some well-deserved confidence in your ability to cock a bow and take that perfect shot.

Crossbow Sights Close Up Photo

How To Sight a Crossbow

Sighting your bow is one of the most important steps to take before getting out into the field. You will need your crossbow, scope, roughly 4 bolts and a stationary target to aim at to properly sight your bow.

The term ‘sighting in a crossbow’ simply meant to make sure that the scope and crossbow are lined up accurately so that your arrow hits the bullseye each and every time. Sighting a crossbow can be a tricky business for both novice and for the most experienced of archers. Even with the best scopes it’s important to know how to use your equipment in order to prepare your crossbow to make that lethal shot. Without a proper Crossbow sighting guide or tutorial, you may struggle to get your shots lined up and this is can be frustrating, particularly as your prey will not be waiting around for you to take aim.

​Why Sight?

How to sight in a crossbow can be different depending on the model and the specific adjustment knobs on your scope and you should check the scope’s specs and optics before fitting it to your crossbow. Once you are familiar with your apparatus the process shouldn’t be too complicated and it shouldn’t be necessary to do it each time you go out for a hunt either. Like a tuned in guitar, a crossbow scope is sighted in to the crossbow itself and not to the person who wields the weapon, so when hunting in groups there's no need to make any major adjustments.

What You Will Need

In order to make the process of sighting you crossbow run as smoothly as possible we recommend that you get a few things ready first. This will save you a lot of time later, so no need to set down your crossbow and lose your aim.

  • Firstly you will of course need to have your crossbow and scope to hand. You can check the manufacturer's instructions on how to mount the scope. Actually keeping the manual nearby can be quite useful too. A tripod or something to rest the bow on as you make the adjustments will also be useful. It will save your arms from tiring and prevent rushing and inaccuracies.
  • Crossbow bolts/arrows, you will need these to check that the crossbow is correctly sighted, a minimum of 4 arrows is recommended but times the more arrows you have the more practice you can get.
  • A bullseye or stationary target to aim at.


It may sound obvious but before beginning to sight in the crossbow it is essential that the scope is mounted correctly on the crossbow. One way to do this is to put the crossbow on your shoulder, just as you would if your were about the shoot. When it’s comfortable, you can look through the scope, you should have a clear view without needing to move your head. If there is any blurring or darkness you will need to readjust the position of the scope.

mounted scope on hunting crossbow

Sighting the Crossbow

Where to Go

A good place to do this is at a shooting range as most ranges will have access to some kind of shooting aid or tripod, which will lock the bow in it’s place and prevent any unnecessary movement even as your fire the bolt. It is still possible to sight your weapon without a shooting aid, but it may require a little more time and patience to achieve the same accuracy. There is a basic structure to the process of sighting your crossbow.

Sighting Step-by-Step​

  1. You should first set up your equipment. The crossbow should be mounted on the shooting aid, if you are using one, and stood exactly 20 yards away from the target. If you are not using a shooting aid then make sure that you are standing 20 yards from the target.
  2. Cock you weapon and load an arrow. You can do this using a cocking rope or cranking aid, more modern crossbows may even have a cranking aid built into the butt stock.
  3. Look through your scope and line up the top receptacle with bullseye of your target. When you have the receptacle and target aligned you can release the first arrow. Take care not to use too much force as you do this as it can upset the accuracy of your shot. You can then repeat steps two and three, fiering your remaining arrows.
  4. Now you need to check where your arrows have landed and adjust your scope according to this. Hopefully the arrows have all landed within a two inches of each other, but they may not have actually hit the bullseye. If this is the case you will need to use the scope’s adjustment knobs.
  5. After you’ve made the adjustment you can prep your bow again and fire your arrows at the target, check their grouping and position and adjust again if they are still not hitting the bullseye. Keep repeating until the arrows are landing exactly where they should be.
20 yard distance for calibration
looking through a crossbow scope
check where arrows landed
arrows landed in target

How to Use the Range Reticle and Dots

When sighting your crossbow the idea is to get the top receptacle, also referred to as dots, to be at Zero. While this may sound confusing, it's actually pretty simple. When a crossbow sighting guide refers to having your scope at Zero, it just means the uppermost dot, presuming that you are using a three receptacle scope, should be lined up so that from a 20 yard distance your arrows hit the target.

When the 20 yard receptacle is in place, and you can check that it is by letting loose a few arrows, you should be able to hit your target each time. At this point the subsequent 30, 40, 50 and 60 yard receptacles, or however many your scope has, should be automatically aligned for the respective distances.

3 dot scopes are by far the most popular among hunters. Scopes with only one receptacle can only be sighted for one distance, leaving the hunter at a distinct disadvantage. Meanwhile more than 3 dots can be somewhat excessive, the average crossbow may not have enough power to justify an extra dot that can intercept your sight and cause you to miss the target.

Adjustment Knobs

Your scope will have two knobs which you will need to adjust when sighting your scope, one is for windage and the other for elevation. Before making any adjustments you will need to first fire a few arrows at your target so that you can see where they are landing and estimate the how far from the bullseye they are in inches. Once you know this you can see if the wind and elevation need to be adjusted.

Elevation Adjustment Knob​

If you arrows are hitting too high or too low it is the elevation that you will need to change. The knob will usually be on top of the scope, turing in a clockwise direction will cause the arrow to hit higher whereas turning anti-clockwise will make it land lower on the target.

Windage Adjustment Knob

You will need to adjust this if the arrows are hitting too far left or right of the bullseye. If your arrows have landed too far left then you will need to turn the windage knob clockwise, and you will need to turn anticlockwise if they have landed too much to the right of the bullseye.

A you rotate the knobs you will here the scope click, this corresponds with the fraction of an inch that it has been adjusted. As a general rule 20 clicks will equal 1 inch at a 20 yard distance but you should check the manual for you scope on how to sight in a crossbow before you begin making adjustments.

For Example

If the arrows are landing 1.5 inches too high and 2 inches too the left of your target, you will need turn the Elevation knob anti-clockwise until you have heard 30 clicks and the Windage Knob clockwise for 40 clicks.

Saving Time for Your Hunt - Keep Your Scope Sighted

Once you have learnt how to sight in a crossbow, the next important step it to save yourself some time on your next hunting trips by keeping it sighted. A good scope hold at Zero for a decent length of time, throughout one hunting season at least. In fact they can sometimes hold at zero throughout multiple seasons with only minor adjustments every now and again.

Failure in the equipment can also throw your scope out of calibration but the most frequent case is when the equipment is damaged or dropped. Either way it is good practice to double check that your crossbow is sighted each time go hunting and the more you understand your equipment the easier sighting your crossbow will be.

Final Tips

If you’re a crossbow newcomer, then make sure that you have sufficient skill and technique to be able to shoot multiple arrows in tight groups, within a 3 inch radius, otherwise you will not be able to sight a crossbow. It’s also important not the rush the process. While a veteran crossbow hunter with a suitable shooting aid may be able to sight the weapon in under a quarter of an hour, the majority of people will need around half an hour and maybe longer without a shooting aid. So be patient and read pay attention to your Crossbow sighting guide because the accuracy of your crossbow is essential to your success as a hunter.

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