When you are in the market for a new crossbow, you may easily be overwhelmed by all of the choices available to you. Different features and functions are designed for specific purposes, so it is important that you learn more about the options before you make your final buying decision.
Excalibur Axiom SMF Crossbow Kit. How to Select the Right CrossBow for You. Two Types of Crossbows
One of the most significant distinguishing factors between crossbows relates to the main type or style. There are two main types to choose from, and these include a compound style and a recurve style.
The recurve styleis the most basic style available, and this is largely due to the fact that there is just one string used in the bow. Furthermore, the stringing mechanism is simplistic by design, and it does not have complicated mechanisms like cam systems or other features.
These have a lighter weight in the nose in most models, so they are easier for you to aim and focus on your target in an offhanded fashion. Generally, the simplistic design of recurve crossbows makes them more suitable for beginners.
The compound crossbow, on the other hand is a step above and beyond the recurve crossbow. While these models generally are heavier, they are also smaller and have a tighter overall design. There are different models of compound crossbows available, and they will have a single or split limb design. They also have a wheeled cam system that is responsible for creating tension and harnessing energy in the bow string.
This is the preferred crossbow for hunters because of its compact design. Generally, you will find that compound crossbows have these characteristics:
A simplified cocking deviceA narrower design, making it more suitable for use in dense vegetation A faster speed with lower draw weights More powerful results due to faster bolts Easier to use with less force required on the trigger sears What You Need to Know About Speed
After you have determined which main type of crossbow you want to purchase, you may consider focusing on speed. Speed is most critical to hunters because the speed of the bow will affect results. With some animals, such as deer, speed is not a priority.
However, when you are hunting larger animals from a greater distance, such moose or even bear, speed is critical. The speed of the crossbow needs to be better than the reaction time of the animal when distance is taken into consideration.
Keep in mind that some animals, such as bear, may attack when they are alerted to your presence, so speed may even be a life and death factor in some cases.
Why Draw Weight Matters
In addition to focusing on speed, the draw weight is also an area to focus on. This is a term that describes the amount of force that you need to draw the bow, and this force will increase as you draw the string further back. As a general rule of thumb, a reasonable draw weight for a quality crossbow is at least 150 pounds, and this will create a bolt speed of approximately 220 to 350 fps.
This is ideal for hunting smaller animals like deer, birds and rabbits. If you plan to hunt a larger animal with a crossbow, you will need at least 330 to 350 fps, and this will be created by a draw weight of at least 175 pounds. This is suitable for animals like caribou, elk and smaller bears.
If you are going to hunt grizzly bears, moose or other very large or dangerous animals, you will need at least a 200 pound draw weight that can reach a speed of at least 385 fps.
The Velocity of Your Arrow
When you are focusing on speed, it is important to understand more about velocity, which is measured in feet per second. The velocity will not remain constant, and for crossbows, the rating is indicated by the number of feet per second that the arrow travels during the first 20 to 30 yards. The minimum velocity that you may want to consider when selecting a crossbow is 200 fps.
However, remember that the actual velocity that you achieve with your crossbow will be determined in part by the weight of your arrows. Lighter arrows will travel faster than heavier arrows. When you are shopping for crossbows, the velocity that is advertised for the crossbow will be determined by the weight of the arrows that are included originally with the weapon.
Therefore, focus on the weight of the arrows when you are comparing the velocity between different models of crossbows.
The Importance of Power Stroke
The power stroke relates to how far back you can pull the string until it latches and is cocked. Generally, the power stroke will be between 10 and 14 inches on most models, and the models that have the longest power stroke will give you a more powerful shot. You should look for a model with the longest power stroke. However, keep in mind that the stroke needs to be adjusted properly according to the draw weight in order to get the best results, regardless of how long the power stroke is.
The Weight of the Crossbow
When you compare different crossbow models, you will also notice that the weight is a key factor. A heavier crossbow may be more difficult to line up a shot with on the fly and to maintain focus on when you have a target in sight. In addition, it can be more burdensome for you to carry over a longer distance when you are hunting.
However, there are benefits associated with having a heavier crossbow as well. For example, a heavier crossbow will create less noise and generate less vibration when shot. If you are hunting an animal with excellent senses, a heavier crossbow may be more suitable.
Typically, recurve crossbows are lighter due to the fact that compound crossbows have more attachments and components. However, this is a general rule of thumb and is not a guaranteed fact. In addition, some models are sold with the weight of only the crossbow advertised.
Others are sold with the weight of attachments, such as scopes and arrows, included in the weight. Take time to research what the weight includes as you make your comparison.
The Type of Cocking System
There are also different types of cocking systems to choose from, and the two main types are crank cocking and rope cocking. Cocking may be done manually, but it can be dangerous. Because of this, many of the modern models come with an aid system or feature. A rope cocking aid can decrease the weight of your crossbow by half, and these are generally simple and easy aids to use, although there is a slight learning curve for first-time shooters.
The other option is a crank aid, which is permanently mounted to the crossbow. This is different from a rope cocking aid, which is removed after each use. The crank aid can also reduce the draw weight.
Generally, the make and model of your crossbow coupled with your personal preference will be a deciding factor when you make your decision about which type of cocking system to use.
John Pearman is a gunman & instructor. He shoots, hunts and is a patriot in the sense that he enjoys pissing off gun grabbers and anti-hunters. He writes for several online outlets on the use of guns and ammunition to solve all sorts of problems from the 'hoods to the woods.