To bow or cross bow? That is the question

This has become a topic of debate in many states including my home state of Pennsylvania. I am a 100% dedicated bow hunter that chooses to hunt with a compound bow due to the challenge and richness of tradition. However, many have their own legitimate reasons to use a cross bow. Lets get into the debate.

In my opinion the choice should be up to each individual hunter. Whatever you decide, making a quick and ethical kill should be the focus of attention. Let me give you a rundown on what I think are the positives on crossbow hunting.
• Fun for all: The ability for a young hunter, female hunter, older hunter, or disabled hunter to be able to experience the magic of the fall.
• Full draw: In my opinion this is the biggest advantage to crossbow hunting, not having to find the right moment to draw back without that buck knowing.
• Optics: with today’s technology you have the ability to easily know where to hold on the deer to make that perfect shot. Not to mention scopes that now have fluorescent crosshairs help you to now see in low light conditions.
• Cover: ability to hunt in an area where you have less cover, such as behind a blow down for those hunters who have a problem climbing a tree or simply just don’t like heights.
• Lethal: today’s crossbows can shoot in excess of 400 fps and even shoot full length arrows instead of bolts. This means with a well placed shot at a “sure kill only distance” will result in a fast humane kill. That then brings me to my biggest issue with crossbows.

Hunters who decide to take up archery hunting because they think a crossbow is like a rifle in their hands is my main concern. Sure it might feel like a rifle but consider how loud the crossbow is in comparison to speed. The arrow comes out of a crossbow’s limbs a lot slower then a bullet exits the barrel of a rifle. This can lead to a shot at an alert deer or a shot at a long distance deer with them”jumping the string” or worse a poorly placed shot. I hear many new crossbow hunters talking about how far they can shoot. Sure that bolt is coming out fast but it loses speed fast. Less than lethal shot choices because of the feeling of having a “rifle-like” bow in hand is ignorant and poorly minded thinking.

I feel people need to learn more about what a crossbow can really do before picking one up. There are many crossbow hunters that are extremely ethical hunters but this is all just food for thought if you’re new to crossbow hunting. Take the time to educate yourself. I only hunt with a compound bow but the preference is up to the individual. We all need to do our best to make an ethical shot resulting in a fast humane kill, not for ourselves, but for the animal we are perusing.

John Stravinski
Pro staff writer

One Comment

  • Chase says:

    I shoot a mathews switchback but have a buddy who shoots a cross bow because he got in a car accident. good article.