The hunting season is almost upon us, and I’m sure y’all are raring to go. I know we’re all excited, and I just wanted to take some time to write a quick article on 15 tips to make this your best crossbow hunting season ever. These are just short little pieces of advice to take into consideration before you get started. Hunting is my favorite way to relax, and I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time over the years and picked up a decent amount of knowledge. Take advantage of my old age and years of experience to make your next hunting trip of success. The world has changed a lot since I first got started, but the hobby has remained largely the same. There’s a lot of new technology available, but at the end of the day it’s just you, your bow, and the prey. So, let’s get started on this list of tips!
All the tips on this list are pretty useless if you don’t have good control over your weapon. I’ve written several articles on the mechanics of using a crossbow, so if you’re a true beginner make sure y’all head over there to learn how to set yourself up for success. There’s more to crossbows than meet the eye, so don’t go out there unawares
The hunting season spans at least a few months, and if you’re an avid hunter that’s taking advantage of every opportunity to hunt, it’s going to take a toll on your gear. Take every step necessary to maintain your gear - especially your weapon. Read the manufacturer’s manual for your crossbow, and make sure you’re taking the time to keep your weapon in tip top shape. If the manual is unclear, a quick web search will be all you need to make sure you’re taking care of the bow correctly.
Hunting is often a solitary sport, but that doesn’t mean your hunting ground is going to be abandoned. Do your best to arrive as soon as possible to stake out your spot and beat the competition. It’s not unheard of to even arrive around midnight at the start of the season. Find your spot, grab a sleeping bag, and be ready to go at the first sign of light.
As tempting as it is to drive right up to your hunting ground, the truth is that animals spook easily. Make sure y’all are parking a decent ways away and approaching the grounds slowly to ensure your prey is caught unawares. Hunting in general is about being quiet and methodical, and taking any steps you can to avoid unnecessary noise will definitely pay off.
You know how I mentioned bringing a sleeping bag in the point above? Make sure you have a comfortable bag and some sort of way to stay warm when you camp out for the night. Even in warmer locations it can get pretty darn chilly at night, so y’all want to avoid an uncomfortable night’s rest at all cost. Hunting while you’re exhausted is a surefire way to miss out on a kill.
Continuing on the point above, make sure you dress in a way that will minimize sweating. I’m telling y’all from experience, getting really sweaty can make for some mighty cold conditions when the weather starts to turn. Being wet is uncomfortable and dangerous, so make sure you’re dressing for the weather in breathable clothing that will keep you dry.
If you notice another hunter tracking a deer, it’s honestly pretty pointless to do the same. I promise y’all, there’s more than one deer out there. If another hunter beats you to it, cut your losses and move on. In the long run, you’ll avoid frustrating both yourself and your competitor. On the off chance you get the kill, you’ve gone ahead and pissed off a fellow hunter. Be courteous and efficient, and you’ll see much better results.
It’s easy to get frustrated if you’re not seeing any success when you’re on your trip, but make sure you’re taking the time to stop and wait at regular intervals. Deer are evasive and shy creatures, and if you keep moving from place to place and making noise it’s very likely that you’re never going to be able to seize the opportunity to make a great shot. I want to stress to y’all the importance of patience. Hunting is largely a waiting game, so take some time to relax and keep your eyes peeled.
Hearing is a very important sense when it comes to hunting. This tip ties in with the previous one, in that it’s important to take the time and listen for your prey in addition to looking for them. Walk slowly from place to place and keep your ears sharp and attentive. As soon as you hear a rustle, stop and look around. It could be absolutely nothing, or it could be exactly what you’re looking for!
A good strategy that you’re probably familiar with is the idea of a hunting “drive”. For y’all that aren’t familiar with the idea, it essentially refers to placing hunters in different locations and making some noise to spook deer into moving. This is a great strategy for forcing your prey out of hiding, and it’s actually possible to do it yourself. Walk into an area with the wind at your back and make a little bit of noise. Once you’ve passed through make a circle and do it again. The deer may be confused and make some mistakes, opening you up for the perfect shot.
For the solo hunters among us, this is a great tip that may lead to some great success!
When you get into position at a spot you’d like to camp for awhile, practice lining up a shot from each direction. Pay attention to any brush or leaves that are in your line of site, and brush them aside. Y’all should definitely take the time to do this so that you don’t miss out on a perfect shot. There’s nothing worse than spotting a deer and having your view blocked by a stray branch. It really stinks, trust me!
Before you set yourself up to wait for a good shot, it’s important to make sure your surroundings are safe. Like it or not, humans aren’t the only dangerous animals out there in the woods. The last thing you’ll want is to encounter a coyote or bear when you’re just after some deer. Consider packing a close range firearm in case you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Crossbows are good for hunting, but a shotgun is a hell of a lot more effective if you find yourself threatened.
Unfortunately, a lot of the times you’ll wound an animal and fail to take it down on the first try. It’s guaranteed that a deer will try to flee when injured, so it’s important to learn how to follow a trail of blood and swoop in for that final kill. You’ll wanna take little bits of paper and mark each little pool of blood you find so that you can easily follow the path. Follow slowly and methodically until you find your prey again. Just make sure you go back and pick up the paper when you’re done. Ain’t nothin worse than a litterbug!
When you can’t tell if a deer is injured or dead, it’s important to take precautions before approaching your kill. On popular hunting shows, hunters will often prod their prey with a weapon to make sure it’s actually dead. That’s really stupid, y’all. The last thing you want is a spooked deer to jump up and startle you when there’s really nothing you can do about it. Pick up a stone and toss it at the corpse to make sure it’s actually dead before you start your approach. It’s super important for safety, trust me!
I’ve been hunting for a long, long time, and even I often end hunting trips with a disappointing result. Like it or not, the prey we’re hunting has developed a keen sense of survival. Deer are built with self preservation in mind, and it’s more than likely you’ll sometimes end a day with zero kills.
The hunting season is pretty long. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and look forward to another day. As thrilling as it is to get a kill, there’s a lot of benefits to hunting as a hobby that make it enjoyable by default. Spend some time connecting to nature, enjoy the solitude or the company of close friends, and take some time to relax. As mentioned above, hunting is a waiting game. Try to frame that waiting as relaxing rather than discouraging, and you’ll be well on your way to a more successful hunting season.
I really hope that y’all have gotten some good use out of these 15 tips to make this your best crossbow hunting season ever. By taking the time to properly prepare and taking advantage of some solid strategies, I’m confident that you can improve your odds of a quality kill.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
To cock a bow manually, simply follow the steps below:
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Get fired up to go out there and bag some buck!
How many of these guys have you hunted with?
A liberal will believe anything if they get to point the finger at a hunter!