July 07, 2022 6 min read

If you are planning to buy a crossbow, but don’t know much about them, this practical guide will help you get one you will not regret after buying it once you are out in the forest.

First things first, always purchase a crossbow only after trying it enough times to be able to understand if it actually meets your needs. Even better, try out multiple crossbows, if possible. Crossbows differ substantially by manufacturer, and you may want to be sure that you can use the one you have without hassles and that it offers you the right balance and feel. Simply put, the right crossbow is one with which you feel just right when you load, cock, aim, and shoot.

Whether you are unsure how to buy crossbows or you just want to be more confident about buying your first crossbow, the tips below will help you make a well-informed purchase decision.

Identify Any Physical Limitations

Regardless of sex, age, size, and/or physical ability to bow hunt,crossbows can be used by virtually anyone. Having said that, not all crossbows are equally easy to handle and use by every hunter out there.


You should do the necessary research beforehand, test a range of choices, and pick the most user-friendly one that best matches your hunting requirements. For example, someTenPoint crossbow models feature a cocking system that makes use of a crank to decrease the effort required to cock the weapon to roughly six pounds, while there are a few other TenPoint models that come with an integrated rope-cocking system that can reduce the amount of effort to cock the weapon by up to 50%. Besides, a number of rope-cocker options are available on the market that lower the draw weight of the weapon by around 50%.

Consider Your Stature

Hunters differ in size and shape. Hence, there is no one-size-fits-all crossbow. However, some crossbows give you flexibility when it is about length-of-pull and eye relief. Some crossbow manufacturers even create crossbows for women, teenage hunters, and small-framed people.

Determine Your Budget

The price of the crossbow may range from approximately $399 for an entry-level model to as high as $2,500 for a high-performance, precision-engineered model that comes with almost every accessory a pro hunter would imagine. So, if you have a specific price in your mind, let the salesperson know that beforehand.

A good salesman will likely ask you about your budget to serve you better. In general, features and quality increases with price, but make sure to test as many crossbow models as possible.

Research the Manufacturer

Not all crossbow manufacturers are the same, hence check the reputation and track record of each of them you are considering. It is best to research each of them before you enter the shop.

Simply by handling a crossbow, you can easily tell several things about it, such as its build quality. If specific parts seem cheap, frail, or do not fit together quite well, it will very likely fail to perform as expected, particularly in the long run.

Also, never hesitate asking questions related to product warranty, the manufacturer’s return rate, customer service, and overall satisfaction of the previous buyers.

Consider Noise, Speed, Weight, and Recoil

  • Noise Level: 

    For many hunters, noise level is an important consideration. While improving the noise levels has been the key focus point for most crossbow manufacturers, there are a couple of crossbow accessories on the market that help reduce noise levels.
  • Speed:

    Present day crossbows can shoot at a speed, ranging between 300 and 380 feet per second (fps). Shooting at 300 fps is acceptably fast, but a 380 fps crossbow will have a flatter trajectory and will hit the target harder, making judging the distance less of a problem. Most manufacturers add additional speed to crossbows by integrating cams, using heavier limbs, and enhancing the power stroke. However, there can be trade-offs for enhanced speed, such as more recoil, a louder shot, and more difficulty in cocking the weapon.
  • Weight:

    For a specific hunter, a crossbow can be either too heavy or too light. It can be challenging to control a light one with severe recoil. The same is the case with a too heavy crossbow. It is obviously tough to shoot precisely with a crossbow that shakes while aiming and shooting.
  • Recoil:

    Excessive recoil may impact your shooting accuracy. Leading crossbow manufacturers, such asRavin,Excalibur, TenPoint, andKiller Instinct are constantly improving their crossbow’s design to limit the amount of recoil, somake sureyoutesta variety of models.

As a rule of thumb, the more crossbows you test fire, the better you would be able to find the model with the right weight, speed, noise, and recoil setting.

Look for Safety Features

There can be times when you would require sacrificing features for price. Safety is one aspect you should never compromise on. Check the safety features of every model you are trying. For instance, TenPoint crossbows feature a Dry-Fire-Inhibitor (DFI), an auto-engaging safety, and safety wings. Some TenPoint models also come with a pass-through fore-grip.

Consider the Balance

Try out a number of crossbows to find the balance point. Crossbows that are heavier at the front can be tougher to handle while shooting out of a tree stand, or when you try to hold the crossbow firmly while standing. The reverse-draw crossbow design is increasingly getting popular since its balance point lies farther back toward the hunter, making it appear much, much lighter. You should ideally test both forward- and reverse-draw crossbows before buying one.

Ground Blinds

There are several factors to consider while hunting out of ablind. You may need to check how wide your windows are, whether the blind is solid or made of some material. It is also important to consider whether you are using a monopod, a tripod, or bearing the whole weight of the crossbow.

Make sure you have ample room for your seat as well as any crossbow accessories. If you aren’t using a rest or a support, you may feel nervous jitters or the crossbow may become too weighty to hold it up for a long period. Hence, it is best to plan well before time.

Tree Stands

If you are planning for tree stand hunting using a crossbow, it is important to factor in the length of your weapon. In general, the crossbow will appear longer to you, the higher you go up the tree. This may make you uncomfortable and the crossbow heavier to hold, particularly when you have a stand with no shooting rail.

Crossbow manufacturers continue to stretch the envelope by introducing compact designs since a compact width crossbow is advantageous when there are tight quarters in the stand or narrow shooting lanes.

Focus on Trigger Pull

Trigger creep and poundage can also impact shooting accuracy. A trigger without creep is risky and a trigger with excessive creep is tough to squeeze steadily. Likewise, a too-light trigger (a hair trigger) is risky and a too-heavy one can make it tough to squeeze steadily. Crossbows with premium triggers can shoot more precisely since they have a greater likelihood of having optimum poundage and travel.

Testing Your Prospective Crossbow

Depending on how you plan to use the crossbow, narrow down your search for the weapon. Avoid standing in a shop shouldering and pointing the weapon aimlessly in the air. This is perhaps not a great way to get the fit and feel of a crossbow for actual hunting situations.

In case you are planning to hunt out of a blind, sit on a stool or in a chair, then point the weapon forward. If you are looking to hunt out of a tree stand, point your weapon toward the ground at the angle you would possibly shoot from. Repeat the same with multiple crossbow models, and you will gradually start to figure out some specific models that perform better than several others. 

Continue to narrow down your crossbow search by examining the models you are most comfortable with. Remember that a crossbow, which is perfect for your partner, may not be the best option for you. The model you are comfortable with, will eventually make you feel confident out in the woods, with minimum possibility to second-guess your shots.

Research Local & State Laws Prior to Buying a Crossbow

Be specific about the activities for which you are planning to buy the crossbow. Also, check if it is legal in your hunting area to use the crossbow model and any related accessories you want to buy. For example, some states have specific laws on draw weight, scopes, and the use of cocking systems. Moreover, several local jurisdictions have area-specific restrictions on discharging a crossbow.

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