How far can I shoot my crossbow?

How far can I shoot my crossbow? This is one of the most commonly asked questions from the beginning crossbow hunter. I wish there was one concrete answer to give to people when they ask this question, but as you read on, you will soon find out that there are too many variables that come into play when factoring out the equation. Let’s take a look at some of them.

First and foremost, you should take an honest look at your own personal skill level shooting a crossbow. Are you confident with your shot at 20 yards but not at 30 yards? Or is 30 yards a shot you can make all day long? Not every crossbow hunter will have the same skill level, or the same amount of time to practice with his or her crossbow. You should never take a shot at an animal unless you are 100% confident that you can make it.

Next is the terrain you are hunting in. A 40 yard shot in a wide open bean field has a much higher percentage (if you do everything right) then a 40 yard shot in thick cover or brush. Take your surrounding habitat into consideration when deciding your maximum shooting distance. You may find that your max distance for one setup may be different from the next setup do to a change in cover or shooting lanes.

Another overlooked factor that comes into play that we cannot control is the overall demeanor of the animal we are after. Is it very calm and relaxed while feeding, with out a care in the world? Or has its sixth sense kicked in and acting like it is walking on eggshells? Knowing the body language of the animal you are hunting can play a big role in determining not only how far you should shoot, but also when you should shoot.

How are you as the hunter feeling at the time of the shot? Are you calm and cool, or is your heart feel like it is going to jump out of your chest because it’s beating so fast? Remember, making a long shot on a practice target that can’t move, in the comfort of your own backyard, is a lot different then shooting a live animal. Take that extra breath and try to regain some composure before squeezing that trigger.

Weather can also play a role when determining how far you can shoot your crossbow. Are you hunting on a nice sunny bluebird day with no wind? Or is the wind blowing 30 mile per hour? Not only can wind affect your arrow flight, but if you’re in a tree, it can effect how still you can aim your crossbow too. How’s your visibility? Is it the last half hour before dark, and you’re under a thick canopy of treetops that makes the woods darker than they should be? Talk to any bow hunter that has some time in the woods and they will tell you a story about the big one that got away because they hit a sapling or tree limb they just couldn’t see at the time.

As you can see, there are many factors that come into play other than how fast or how powerful your crossbow is when it comes to deciding how far you want to shoot. You owe it to yourself and more importantly the animal you are hunting to take the highest percentage shot you can. Remember folks, we are bow hunting here. It’s all about getting close to the animals. The better hunter is the hunter that shoots hi animal at 10 yards not the hunter that shoots his animal at 60 yards. Here’s something to think about before you take that next shot. I read this somewhere down the line and it has always stuck with me. Ask yourself if you would be willing to pay a $1000.00 ticket for wounding or missing the animal you set your sight s on the next time you take a shot. If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t be taking the shot.

Un-Cocking Your Crossbow

How do I un-cock my crossbow? Well I guess if we all had a choice it would be to shoot it at a great big buck. But for most of us, we are left to make this decision at the end of each hunt. We’ll take a look at a few ways to safely un-cock the crossbow. You should however, look into when you should un-cock your crossbow too.

Some states have laws in place that will determine at what point in time your crossbow should be un-cocked. It may be necessary to un-cock your crossbow when legal shooting light has ended. In some states you may be able to un-cock your crossbow once you get back to your vehicle. While in other states, it is legal to transport a cocked, unloaded crossbow back to camp or your home. The point is, you should check with your local Fish and Game Department so you will know, when to un-cock your crossbow.

Let’s take a look at the three most common scenarios. Let’s say you’re in the woods and it’s time to un-cock your crossbow. The best way is to shoot it into the ground using an old arrow with a practice point. Don’t shoot a good arrow into the ground and risk damaging it. Just carry an extra arrow in your quiver that has the fletching torn up or might be slightly bent. One manufacturer is actually making a biodegradable crossbow arrow that you can shoot into the ground and leave. While this seems like a good idea, depending on how much you hunt, the cost could add up quickly because they are a one-time use only. So I would recommend just using an old arrow.

With some of the cocking aids out today, both the rope style and crank style, you can “let down” the draw weight of a cocked crossbow. Before attempting to do so, it is a good idea to first check with your crossbow manufacturer to see if such method is recommended. Some discourage it while others don’t. If you can un-cock your crossbow in this fashion, you decrease the risk of alerting game to your location because it is much quieter than shooting your crossbow to un-cock it.

For the crossbow hunter that is allowed to bring their crossbow back to their vehicle before un-cocking it, you can do one of the above mentioned methods to un-cock your crossbow, or hopefully you will have room to bring along a target. Some target manufacturers are making targets specifically for discharging your crossbow after the hunt. They won’t be an everyday shooting target, but they are perfect for shooting your crossbow into, to un-cock it. They are reasonably priced and usually fit easily behind the seat of your truck. Some are small enough that you could even pack them into the woods with you.

If your budget is tight, like most of us hunters, you can stuff a 5 gallon bucket full of old clothes or rags and have a pretty good target you can leave in your truck or at camp to use to discharge your crossbow into.

Obviously if you make it back to camp or your home, you can use any of the methods discussed in this article to un-cock your crossbow. But before we close this topic, let’s take a look at one method, I do not recommend using to un-cock your crossbow.

This is the method of having one guy hold the string while another guy pulls the trigger. With today’s high efficiency crossbows with longer power strokes, this method could lead to serious damage to the crossbow or worse, an injury to yourself. If the string should slip from your hands, you risk causing a dry fire of the crossbow. A dry fire can damage strings, limbs, cams, and axles. Even if you do manage to hold onto the string, with today’s crossbows having much longer stocks, you risk injuring your back or your stomach from not being able to lean over far enough to let your string all the way down.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding on how to un-cock your crossbow. In the end, the best, and more importantly the safest way, is to shoot your crossbow into a safe backstop. Happy Hunting!!!