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So you have decided to explore the world of archery, especially crossbows. It’s normal for you to be confused about what to look for and where to start. Let’s assure you that you are on the right page as this guide has been specifically put together for beginners. We will be discussing all the details to prepare you for your first crossbow purchase. Keep reading to learn about the factors that will make your selection process easier.
Finding The Right Crossbow
There’s a pool of crossbows out there if you have been wondering “What is the best crossbow on the market today?” So how do you determine what’s best for your needs? First and foremost, you need a clear understanding of your needs to narrow down your options accordingly. What are your intentions with it? Are you simply looking to target shoot? Or perhaps you want to purchase something for hunting?
Let’s be honest: If you are solely going to use the crossbow for target shooting, it is comparatively easy to make your decision. But if you are buying it for the purpose of hunting, you have to decide what size animals you are hunting. You also have to consider the distance and ranges too. Let’s give you a bit of a direction with the range here—ideally, the range varies from 30 to 40 yards for hunting. Some of the vital factors you must identify while looking for a crossbow are discussed below, so keep reading to learn more.
Types Of Crossbow
People often wonder about the basic differences between crossbows, both visually and functionally. There are only two types of crossbows: recurve crossbow and compound crossbow. In the following section, we will break down the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of the two types. Both have specific functions in the hunting and shooting world.
1. Recurve Crossbows
The recurve crossbow is the most conventional crossbow, the kind that has been around for the longest time. It is a popular choice among archers due to its durability, reliability, and simplicity. The design includes a simple bow and string. No pulleys or cables that can sometimes make it complicated while using.
This indicates that the user no longer has to worry about adjustment or sudden failures while operating it. A recurve crossbow is wider in measurement from axle to axle (ATA), this being the widest spot of the crossbow. This also means that it will have a higher draw weight with a reduction in speed, in comparison.
2. Compound Crossbows
Compound crossbows have a higher demand and popularity due to their lower draw weight. The speed of the arrows is also known to be higher, adding to their advantage. Moreover, compound crossbows include cables and pulleys, making them narrower than recurve crossbows (ATA). The size allows them to be carried easily and be more user-friendly in a smaller space, for example, a deer blind.
There are modern compound crossbows in the market too that you can explore. The disadvantage with additional cables and pulleys is that they can get in the way and cause mishaps while shooting. But if you are careful and well-informed about the functions, it’s likely for you to avoid such failures.
Types Of Triggers
There are many options as far as triggers go—it basically varies depending on the crossbow models. For example, there are triggers that are lightweight and require only subtle pressure to fire the bolt. Then there are triggers that are harder to pull, meaning they take a certain amount of force to fire.
Let’s now look at some comparisons of different triggers. It honestly comes down to your personal preference. Some people like the simplicity, ease, and speed of “no-creep” triggers. They enjoy being able to fire instantaneously. Some who have more experience with crossbows enjoy pulling the triggers with force—the ones with higher creep. You get the feeling of holding a crossbow. The other advantage of the higher creep ones is that they are known to be more accurate.
Whatever type you choose, if you are a beginner, you’ll just have to experiment to see what works for you. For beginners, we highly recommend a trigger with some creep just to get your hands used to the feel of it. Plus, as mentioned, they are relatively more accurate and easier to control.
Speed is an important element. Some crossbows can shoot in excess of 400fps. But do you really need something this fast? If you want a crossbow for basic hunting or target shooting, then this kind of speed is not required.
Fast arrows are great for hitting with force and flatter (meaning there is less drop from the distance of shoot to the target). The disadvantage with fast arrows is that the chances of mistakes are higher. You have less control over it, as you reduce its tolerance for mishaps. In other words, fast arrows are more reactive.
Another important factor to consider is the weight of the arrows. The total weight projectile (arrow and point) decides the speed of the crossbow. The heavier the arrow, the slower your speed. But this does not necessarily mean that it decreases the force to the target. One thing to remember is that you want to pick an arrow that is fast enough for your purpose, but not too fast to control.
Anti Dry Fire
A “dry fire” for a crossbow is a situation when the crossbow gets fired without the arrow. This is in fact the worst possible thing that one can do since it can damage the limbs of your cross. The crossbow should never be fired without an arrow, as it is there to control the energy being released, providing resistance to the limbs.
Some modern crossbows come with a feature that doesn’t allow you to fire it without an arrow in the crossbow. This particular function is called an anti-dry fire or a dry fire inhibitor.
Safety is probably the most important factor of all. For beginners, this should be the prime concern when buying a crossbow. There are many things to learn, so incorporating safety devices will prevent you from injuries or damage.
Most crossbows available on the market feature mechanical safety ensuring the trigger is controlled while releasing the string before shooting. This is known as auto-engaging safety, which is the most common safety function. It automatically sets during the pull of the bowstring. For beginners, this is the best choice, as you don’t have to set it yourself, keeping your crossbow safe until you pull the trigger.
Forward Grip Design
Forward grip design in a cross is the spot under the rail where you place your hands to pull the trigger. Typically, this grip is a piece of plastic or wood. You put your hands there to hold the crossbow when shooting. The only issue is that the arrow is located within the rail, unlike the bowstring. This means that it slides down the rail when you pull the trigger. For example, if you place your thumb or any finger from the forward shooting hand, it can get in the way of the string. The worst thing that can happen in this instance is a significant injury to that hand and perhaps ruining the shot.
To reduce the likelihood of such a mishap, you should opt for a cross with a forward grip design. The “wings” that visibly stick out to the side will support your fingers properly below the string, allowing you to focus on just shooting.
Beginner crossbows when purchased come as a combo, meaning additional items such as arrows and accessories are included in the package. All you need to do is read instructions or get help to assemble it safely. Please note that all crossbows need some level of assembling. It is not a complex job if you follow proper guidance—it isn’t hard to follow.
However, shooting your crossbow should not be done without supervision, especially if you are a beginner. You have to gather enough knowledge about aiming, drawing, and firing before you physically try it. This brings us to the end of this beginner’s guide to finding the right crossbow. We hope that this read has been insightful for you to begin your adventurous outdoor activities.