Is It Time to Try a Crossbow?

  Cassie Gasaway   BowhuntingFeatured   February 2, 2023

Crossbows are often considered tools for new hunters, elderly hunters and those with physical limitations, but they’re actually available to everyone during archery season in most states. You could benefit from incorporating a crossbow into some of your bowhunting strategies regardless of your age, gender, skills or mindset.

Todd Snader, a 48-year-old from Ohio, was like most veteran, adult bowhunters. He saw the value of crossbows for people who:

  • lack the strength to pull a vertical bow but want to start bowhunting;
  • lack time to practice regularly with a vertical bow;
  • have limited physical abilities because of age, injury or other challenges;
  • and/or hunt with a gun and seek more seasons and hunting opportunities.

Snader didn’t fall into one of those categories himself, and so he didn’t believe he’d ever hunt with a crossbow. But his mindset changed after working as a bow technician in an archery shop and regularly setting up and shooting crossbows for customers. Through the process, he realized how fun crossbows were to shoot, and he even started using crossbows over compound bows in certain bowhunting situations.

“I enjoy shooting both,” he said. “There are times when I’ll use my compound and times when I use my crossbow. They offer different shooting experiences and opportunities.”

Now, Snader is the brand manager for Pure Archery Group, the company behind Bowtech and Excalibur Crossbows. He encourages anyone who hasn’t shot a crossbow before to give one a try. It could potentially open up a world of new bowhunting applications and opportunities.


Crossbow Benefits

Crossbows can be great for hunting big game. Photo Credit: Excalibur


Most modern crossbows are:

  • accurate right out of the box and don’t require much tuning;
  • easier to become proficient with than a compound or recurve;
  • easy to operate thanks to mechanical cocking devices;
  • incredibly powerful, making them ideal for big-game hunting;
  • quieter and less intimidating to use than a gun;
  • rugged and durable;
  • and compact so they don’t take up much space.

In addition, crossbows benefit the archery and bowhunting industry by supporting businesses, increasing participation numbers which in turn increases conservation funding, and helping hunters control deer populations, especially in urban areas where firearms may be restricted.


6 Ideal Situations for Crossbow Use

They are also helpful during turkey season. Photo Credit: Excalibur


Snader said most proficient vertical bow users are reluctant to use crossbows, and that’s fine, but they should know it’s also fine to change their mind. Truth is there are some situations when using a crossbow can be advantageous, including:

  • when they’re struggling to use or find success with a compound or vertical bow;
  • in cold weather when tight muscles and baggy clothes make drawing a vertical bow difficult;
  • when they’re confined to a blind or small space with limited room for drawing a vertical bow;
  • when pursuing species with extremely good eyesight, like wild turkeys, and minimizing movement is key;
  • when hunting a new species and the transition to learning the animal and habitat is overwhelming;
  • and when they need more energy for penetration, such as for hunting hogs or big game.

Accepting the Crossbow

The decision to use a crossbow or a vertical bow is personal. Whether someone uses a crossbow to start bowhunting or finds their way to one after an injury or because of time constraints, crossbows have their applications and can be good tools for any hunter, wherever the law allows. Thankfully, awareness and acceptance of these tools is steadily increasing.


Know the Regulations

Check your state’s regulations on crossbows. Photo Credit: TenPoint


Before you buy a crossbow and take it hunting, check your local and state regulations regarding appropriate crossbow usage and approved equipment.

Crossbow regulations vary by state and are ever changing. According to the TenPoint Crossbow Technologies website, crossbows are legal to use during archery seasons in 28 states and many other states allow them with certain restrictions. For example, some states only allow physically challenged hunters to use them; others only allow private landowners to use them. Some states also have speed caps on crossbow usage, while others have minimum bolt length requirements.

If you’re unsure of the laws — or which license to buy — call your state wildlife agency and talk to a representative. Then, visit your local archery pro shop to see, test and inspect multiple crossbow options to find one that fits your body and budget.

For more information about crossbows, read these Bowhunters United articles:




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