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Crossbow Myths & Misconceptions

by Doug Koenig   |  July 19th, 2012 8

Although vertical bowhunters and crossbow hunters often argue about differences between their chosen weapons, columnist Doug Koenig argues that — at least from a practical standpoint — they share much in common.

100-Yard Range?
One of the comments I’ve heard from non-crossbow shooters or just hunters who don’t want crossbows used is you shouldn’t allow crossbows in archery season because hunters can shoot deer with a crossbow at 100-plus yards.

First off, you can kill a deer with a lot of weapons out to 100 yards, but that doesn’t mean you should try. Sure, someone could aim really high with a vertical bow and let one fly and kill a deer if they hit it at 100 yards. That doesn’t mean they would — or should — try it! The same is true for a crossbow. The trajectory of a crossbow bolt is no flatter than the trajectory of an arrow from a compound bow. Yes, if you aim high enough, you can hit a target at 100 yards. But personally, I feel it is highly unethical to take shots much past 50-60 yards. Even the most expert shots wouldn’t shoot past that. There are simply too many things that can go wrong between the time the shot is taken and the time the bolt arrives. All the animal has to do is take one step and you’ll have a gut shot! Wind becomes a real factor also. A 5 mile per hour breeze will move your bolt 10 inches or so at 50 yards. Just imagine a higher gust!

Flatter and More Powerful?
Another myth is that crossbows shoot as flat as a rifle. The laws of physics say that’s impossible. Think about it; a 400-grain bolt moving at 350 fps is nothing like a .308-caliber, 150-grain bullet moving at 2900 fps — more than eight times faster than the bolt! Crossbows simply don’t shoot flat. In fact, as I said in the previous paragraph, they have roughly the same trajectory as a vertical bow.

If you don’t believe me, just head out to the range and see for yourself. Invite one of your buddies who owns a crossbow to come over and shoot long-range targets side-by-side with you and your compound. I guarantee you will both see some serious arc in your shots!

Another myth is crossbows have more knockdown power than vertical bows. You can go back to the previous paragraph. A crossbow that shoots a 400-grain bolt at 330 fps is no different than a vertical bow shooting a 400-grain arrow at 320 fps. It is almost exactly the same.

More Wounding?
Do crossbows wound more animals than vertical bows? I say no; I don’t see how. I know plenty of archery hunters who have wounded deer with vertical bows and crossbows, but I’ve never seen a pattern of one group wounding more than the other. If anything, I would argue that — given the ability to shoot a crossbow off a rest for added accuracy — the chance of wounding an animal with a crossbow might be somewhat lower.

I also know a lot of gun hunters who have wounded deer too. Unfortunately, it happens to even the most ethical, conscientious hunters. It’s part of hunting. Nobody wants to wound anything, but when you put a moving, living target in the mix, sometimes the unforeseen happens.

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