In the modern age of social media crossbows bow hunters get a lot of attention, some good, some bad, and sometime it's even ugly. The stereotypical accusations of crossbow hunters is that "they" are lazy, "they" put bad shots on deer, "they" are cheating....the list goes on and on. As in so many other cases, the tool not the person executing often carries the blame.
The crossbow platform gets a lot of heat and there's a few myths associated with that that we're going to address to help clarify a few things.
CROSSBOWS SHOOT AS FLAT AND FAR AS RIFLES
We've all likely heard or read the embellished line "They might as well be hunting with a rifle!". I don't know what rifle you're talking about, but any one that I've ever shot, a crossbow comparison is far from justified. There are some writings that compare crossbows to the ballistics of muzzleloaders, and it's still not even close.
In fact, a crossbow's ballistics are better compared to a compound bow than they are anything else. There's a lot of studies out there that prove this. There's one particular study that took a 70 pound draw compound and 150 pound draw crossbow and they did a series of tests with that and found that the ballistics were almost identical. There was only slight differences.
When we're comparing a crossbow to a rifle, it's just not fair when you're talking about how far it shoots, how fast and how much power that it really has. A crossbow shoots a bolt that is an arrow with a broadhead. A broadhead kills by hemorrhage. A rifle kills a lot by shock. There's really no comparison there either. The only similarities, if you want to compare a crossbow to a rifle, is it has a trigger, it has a stock and the optics can be similar. The only other thing, which we did a comparison in a video about selecting the best bolt for your crossbow, and I did say that a crossbow was a single shot rifle only in regards to selecting the right ammunition. You're very picky about the ammunition for your rifle, you should be very picky about the ammunition for your precision crossbow. Very picky about your bolt, very picky about your broadhead. But to call it a rifle or to say it's a rifle, it is nothing close to the truth.
GREATER POWER THAN A COMPOUND
Another common misconception is that a crossbow is far more powerful and has more knockdown power than a compound bow. First of all, what the heck is "knockdown" power? Again, that is simply just not true. Now, although there's some great benefits to a crossbow, when you're looking at energy displayed into a projectile, it is similar to a modern compound. And so, when you want to say that a crossbow is extremely advanced compared to a compound, you're still shooting an arrow which is in the form of a bolt that has a broadhead, and the energies are comparable between the two. A 400 grain bolt at 350 fps out a crossbow is going to have similar KE and Momentum of a 400 grain arrow at 330 fps out of a compound.
The only benefit that you're looking at when you're comparing the crossbow against the compound is you don't have to hold the string back on the crossbow. Which is an advantage. Ask any seasoned bowhunter about the hardest part of shooting a whitetail and most will say "knowing when to draw". The trigger mechanism of a crossbow takes care of that for you. It holds the string back, and then you have a little bit of ease of not having to hold that draw weight. Other than that, you cannot have any clear differentiation that a crossbow is superior in power when it comes to harvesting game.
100 YARD WEAPON
This one is a little more controversial. A crossbow will shoot a hundred yards and a lot of the new crossbows will certainly shoot a hundred yards accurately, but compounds also have that ability pending the archer. When a piece of equipment has elite capabilities it's often the human element that limits performance and there's no denying 100 yard shot are more possible with crossbows vs compounds. However, does that mean you need to be hunting game at a hundred yards from our perspective? Definitely not. In fact, if you look at their recommendations for most crossbow companies, they will clearly tell you that crossbows should be 50 yards and under, and that is a very acceptable range.
If you watch some of Afflictor Broadhead's YouTube videos, especially the one where we are talking about the separation of 25 grains and the amount of drop in yardage that has, between 20 all the way up to 50, you will see when you get to the 40 yard mark, things start to change. Between 40 and to where the shooter is, things are not that drastic. But at that 40 yard mark, you start to lose some energy. Your bolt starts to drop.
And so, you really are relying on having a lot of hold over to be able to maintain that hundred yard range. Yes, I realize some of the new crossbows can shoot that consistently and accurately, but think of what can go wrong in that hundred yards. If a deer can duck a compound arrow at 30 yards, what is that deer going to do at a hundred yards after he hears the loud crack of those crossbows and he dumps to the ground. You have to be very aware of whatever game that you're shooting, that it is not wary, it is not on alert, that it is not going to drop. What's your wind doing? Is it gusting? Is it blowing hard? Because, believe me, after 50 yards, the wind is a consideration as well. You want to be very cautious about using your crossbow at long yardages and decide for yourself what you think is ethical.
At the day's end technology is ever creeping into the hunting world, whether it be cellular trail cameras or more effective weapons. As a community, technological advancements need to be discussed with an open mind and progressive language. Adding division within the hunting community does us no good, so before anyone jumps on the crossbow hating bandwagon, realize that crossbow hunting is growing the hunting community and there is strength in numbers if we are united!