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Columns - Monthly : Ten Point Crossbows
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2010 - 1:11:39 PM
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Candid Crossbows Is Sponsored By Ten Point Crossbows.

Crossbow Myths
By Ten Point Crossbow
Aug 1, 2007 - 7:24:35 AM

Popular Crossbow Myths vs. the Facts
Ten Point Crossbow

Myth:   A crossbow is not really a bow.

Fact:   When comparing a crossbow to a compound bow, shot with a release, the differences between them are:      

  • The crossbow trigger mechanism holds the draw for the shooter.
  • The bow assembly is positioned horizontally.
  • The crossbow is aimed like a rifle.

Both weapons fire an arrow equipped with a broadhead designed to penetrate an animal, causing it to hemorrhage to death.   The arrow coming from both weapons travels approximately the same distance, at approximately the same speed and energy, with approximately the same trajectory.    

Myth:   Crossbows make deer hunting too easy.

Fact:    The advantage a crossbow has over a conventional bow is that it holds the bow in the drawn, or ready to fire, position for the shooter.   While shooting a crossbow is generally easier to master than shooting a vertical bow, it cannot be argued that it is just plain easy.   The crossbow hunter must have the same woodsmanship ability and nearly all of the same shooting skills as the vertical bowhunter.

Myth:   Anyone can pick up a crossbow, practice for an hour, and be ready to head to the woods.

Fact:   Any experienced crossbow hunter will tell you that there are many ways to make a bad shot with a crossbow.   First, if a crossbow is not cocked perfectly straight, it will not shoot straight.   If the bowstring is pulled even 1/16th of an inch to the right or left of center, that difference can translate into a six-inch error at 20-yards.   Additionally, like any conventional bow shooter, a crossbow shooter must maintain a proper stance, control breathing, squeeze rather than “jerk” the trigger, steady the entire body, and follow through (watch the entire arrow flight through the sighting mechanism) after the release.   And finally, the crossbow hunter must also be a good judge of distance and be practiced at shooting the crossbow at varying distances between five and approximately 35 yards.

Myth:   A crossbow will shoot much faster and farther than compound bows.

Fact:   Under controlled conditions, a series of velocity and kinetic energy tests were performed on 2 compound bows with 70# peak draw weights (248 and 205 feet per second) and 2 crossbows with 150# peak draw weights (228 and 242 feet per second).   The bottom line was that both the compound bows and crossbows produced similar ballistic results.   That is, the crossbows did not shoot farther or faster than compound bows, as some people claim.   If fact, the arrow from the crossbow begins to lose velocity and energy slightly faster than the compound bow after 30 yards of flight because it shoots a lighter/shorter arrow.   However, that difference, while measurable, is slight and insignificant considering the typical whitetail deer shot is less than 30 yards.  

Myth:  Crossbows have the knockdown power of a firearm.

Fact:    Comparison tests have proven that there is a negligible ballistic difference between compound bows and crossbows.   These tests disprove the claims that crossbows perform like firearms.   In other words, a crossbow has no ballistic similarities to a firearm.  

Myth:   Crossbows shoot as flat as black powder rifles.

Fact:    Again, through comparison tests it has been proven that crossbows do not perform the same as firearms.   Crossbows typically start loosing velocity and energy at 30 yards compared to a black powder rifle which begins to loose velocity and energy at 100 yards or more.  

Myth:   Crossbow hunters are less experienced than conventional bowhunters, and will injure more deer.

Fact:   There is no evidence to support this claim. Crossbow hunters must apply the same basic skills and techniques as conventional bowhunters.   All hunters have to start somewhere.  Nobody enters the woods for the first time as an expert.   As a hunter gains more experience in shot placement, judging distance and overall hunting skill, they become far less likely to injure a deer.   In addition, one of the largest groups of new crossbow hunters are experienced bow hunters who can no longer hunt with a conventional bow. They bring a vast amount of prior bowhunting knowledge with them. Finally, plenty of conventional bowhunters injure deer.   The best approach to the issue of ethical shooting would be for individual states to consider requiring proficiency testing for all hunters.  

Myth :   Crossbow hunters are less ethical, dedicated and proficient than conventional bowhunters.

Fact:  This statement requires one to assume that conventional bowhunters in general are skilled experts, who share a common passion and fervor, and are inherently ethical hunters.   At face value alone, that assumption is unsupportable.   It is safer to assume and easier to support the argument that many conventional bowhunters would have greater success and more “ethical hunts” if they used crossbows.  

Myth:   The crossbow is the preferred poaching weapon.

Fact:   At the request of the American Crossbow Federation, Michael J. Budzik, the then Director of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, wrote a letter on December 13, 1999, addressing various crossbow related issues.   In his letter he addressed the poaching issue with the following:            

“From a law enforcement standpoint, violation statistics are just about equal between crossbows and vertical bows, and the total of both is an extremely small portion of the overall enforcement effort.”

As you can see, Ohio’s experience and data suggest that the anti-crossbow claims about crossbows being the preferred weapon of poachers is simply not true.   Conventional wisdom also suggests that the crossbow would not be an efficient poaching weapon.

Myth:   Crossbows are unsafe.

Fact:   Quoting the previously mentioned letter from Michael J. Budzik, he also states:  

“Likewise, our statistics regarding hunter incidents (accidents) show very little difference between the two bow types.   Since 1976 we have had only 21 archery-related hunting incidents; 10 caused by longbow and 11 by crossbow.   Harvest data suggest that more people hunt with crossbows than with longbows in Ohio.”

Additionally, some crossbow manufacturers have been pro-active in adding additional safety features to their crossbows to reduce hunter/shooter injuries and also reduce the opportunity for a dry-fire situation.

Myth:   Permitting crossbows in bow season will decimate the deer population.

Fact:   In 1994, Ohio published year-by-year deer harvest data going all the way back to 1900.   Ohio first allowed crossbows in archery season in 1976 and the conclusions are clear:   Over the 18 year span since crossbow use was permitted, crossbows did not decimate the deer population; the archery season was not eliminated or shortened; and crossbows did nothing to diminish archers’ opportunities to hunt or their chances for success.   On the contrary, the opposite occurred.   The deer population increased; the season got longer; more counties opened for hunting; more hunters participated; and the harvest-to-permits-sold ratio improved dramatically.   Data available from Arkansas and Georgia support the same conclusions as that of Ohio.  

Myth:   Allowing crossbows will overcrowd the woods, decreasing the chances of success for the conventional bowhunter and will threaten the existence of, or at least, the length of archery-only seasons.

Fact:   Referring again to the Ohio data, since the advent of crossbow hunting during archery season, the deer population has increased; the season got longer; more counties have opened for hunting; more hunters have participated; and the harvest-to-permits-sold ratio improved dramatically.  

The facts are: these crossbow myths have no merit.   To the contrary, the crossbow has expanded participation in hunting at a time when such expansion is both desirable and needed.   Finally, crossbow use has not caused the harm that the anti-crossbow proponents have predicted.


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