Shoot Your Crossbow Better Today — Part 2

In the last issue, I offered some tips on how to improve the accuracy and precision out of your crossbow, primarily by ensuring all is in proper working order and selecting the right and best components.

The use of a rope cocking aid helps ensure your bowstring is drawn back evenly every time. When cocking by hand, it is easy to overload to one side, which can negatively impact windage (left/right) accuracy.


In this installment, we'll pick up where we left off with equipment before moving on to you, the shooter.



Bolt Components

Before running out of space last time, I was discussing bolts and the importance of choosing the right length, weight and quality. Once you've done that, the next step is to choose components that are also up to the task.


Nocks are a critical component that can really make a big difference. For starters, you want the right ones for your rig; the two most common types being flat and half-moon. Again, your best course of action is to consult your crossbow owner's manual for recommendations, as they sometimes vary.

If not properly indexed, half-moon nocks can be loaded incorrectly, which may result in the bow not firing (because the anti-dry-fire mechanism remains engaged). Flat nocks can be fired from most bows, except those with acute string angles.


Not only can using the wrong nock type affect results, it could void your bow's warranty. If you're still not sure, TenPoint's Omni-Nock was designed with six micro-grooves that form three bowstring channels. This eliminates indexing problems so they can be used in virtually any bow.

And if you really want to fine-tune precision, consider Carbon Express LAUNCHPAD Lighted Nocks, which feature a precision-aligned nock barrel so they're perfectly aligned with the center or throat of the nock, and a concentric design that ensures the nock will center itself in the shaft more consistently.

What you put on the business end of your bolts also matters. We'll start with weight. I'd venture to guess most folks are shooting 100-grain broadheads, and that's fine; I do. Depending on your crossbow/bolt combination, it's possible you might gain a slight advantage going to a heavier, 125-grain head.

You'll retain more kinetic energy and boost FOC (the forward of center balance point) with the heavier head, but the difference is small enough that I'd stick with 100-grain heads if that's what you are comfortable with and you are happy with the results.

More important is style, and I'm not talking about the camo finish or the look. At the risk of offending a few hunters and manufacturers, I strongly recommend mechanical broadheads. The primary reason is simplicity. Once you sight in with fieldpoints, there's no need for further tuning. The only caveat I would offer is that you pick a head that is designed and/or rated for the additional speed and energy of a crossbow.

If you're a fixed-blade fanatic, you have a couple options. One is to add a rubber O-ring behind your head (if it doesn't already come with one) so you can make minor adjustments in blade alignment to tune your bolts. The other is a hybrid head, and there are numerous options.

They may require a tad less tuning, and you get fixed-blade reliability (not that you should have to worry about mechanicals) combined with the extra cutting surface of a larger expandable blade that won't negatively influence bolt flight.

Shock and Awe

Let's go back to our crossbow for a bit and discuss a few more items that were once options but are increasingly becoming standard, at least with higher-end models. No system is perfect, but crossbow makers have directed considerable effort toward addressing some of the more common complaints among crossbow users, specifically shock, noise and trigger stiffness.

Though there's really no recoil from a crossbow, the noise and vibration from releasing that much energy into a mass of metal and plastic can be somewhat disconcerting to both shooter and target, when the latter is alive.

Even the fastest crossbows are shooting well below the speed of sound, but you can minimize the surprise the same way you do with a compound bow — by adding suppression. First, there were limb tamers. Now there's more vibration-reducing technology on risers, stocks and barrels.

And increasingly more crossbows are coming with string stops. You can add any or all of these features if your crossbow doesn't already have them.

An alternative is to simply choose a reverse-limb crossbow. In addition to providing better balance and a more stable shooting platform (which also positively influences accuracy), the reverse-limb design effectively cancels out vibration in much the same way as parallel-limb compound bow designs.

Whoa, Trigger

Unless and until you've used a high-grade trigger, you'll never appreciate how much it can positively influence accuracy and precision. Exceedingly stiff triggers have long been one of the big knocks on crossbows, but manufacturers have made tremendous strides in recent years.

Several now boast trigger weights under four pounds, and some — such as Browning and Killer Instinct — have incorporated after-market technology from TriggerTech that uses a roller system to eliminate sliding friction that causes creep and heavy pull weights. If there's one available for your crossbow, you should strongly consider installing an aftermarket trigger.

Now that we have the best components, all in good working order and ready to use, it's time to cock your bow — another area where you can have a fairly significant influence on both precision and accuracy. Not only should you use a cocking device, you should make sure it's the one designed specifically for your bow.

I have several that occasionally get mixed up, and there certainly are differences. This ensures the string remains centered. Otherwise you could load too much weight on one side or the other, reducing accuracy; and you'll never pull it back by hand the same way twice, which reduces precision.

Well, it seems we've run out of space again, but this should give you at the very least a good start. Be sure to check future issues for more ways to improve crossbow accuracy and precision.

Recommended for You

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm! How-To

Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

We tested this new trail-cam technology! Scouting Tools

Moultrie Mobile Cellular Camera: Remote Scouting Made Simple

Christian Berg - July 22, 2019

We tested this new trail-cam technology!

Bowtech's 2019 flagship has it all. Let us break it down for you! Bows

Bow Review: Bowtech Realm SR6

Jon E. Silks

Bowtech's 2019 flagship has it all. Let us break it down for you!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Field editor Bill Winke goes over steps you can take to improve the tuning on your bow.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Check out our top picks for the best new mechanical broadheads to debut at the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

New Mechanical Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

Check out our top picks for the best new mechanical broadheads to debut at the 2019 ATA Show!

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm! How-To

Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm SS performed in our technical tests! Bows

2019 Bowtech Launch: Realm SR6 & SS Review

Jon E. Silks - November 07, 2018

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm...

See More Stories

More How-To

Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. How-To

Bill Winke's 3 Best Shooting Tips

Bill Winke

Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.

Whether you've never killed a deer from the ground or had little success, there are several ways to increase your chances for an in-your-face encounter. How-To

How to Bow-Kill a Buck at Ground Zero

Darron McDougal

Whether you've never killed a deer from the ground or had little success, there are several...

Try these tactics for sneaking out of the woods when you're surrounded by deer at dark! How-To

How To Leave Your Treestand Without Spooking Deer

Bill Winke

Try these tactics for sneaking out of the woods when you're surrounded by deer at dark!

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×