How To Buy a Crossbow By Barb Terry - Dave Robb
Oct 3, 2007 - 4:30:20 AM
If you are in the market for a crossbow, don't know much about them, and are looking for advice, here are some practical guidelines to help you reach a decision you won't be sorry about once you take to the woods.
First, the best advice is: don't buy any crossbow without shooting it enough times to be able to decide if it suits you. Better yet, don't buy any crossbow without trying out as many of them as you can get your hands on. Crossbows vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer, and you want to be certain that you can operate yours without difficulty and that it offers you the right fit, feel, and balance. Simply stated, the best crossbow for you will feel right when you cock, load, aim, and shoot it.
If you want to be even more certain that you have done your due diligence before handing over your hard earned money, here is a more specific approach to making your purchase decision.
1. Recognize any physical limitations you may have. While the crossbow makes it possible for most everyone regardless of age, sex, size, and/or physical ability to bow hunt, not all crossbows are equally easy to operate for those with physical limitations. A number of crossbow manufacturers offer cocking aids - the most common solution - but, again, some are more user-friendly than others, so if you need a cocking aid, make sure you try as many of them as you can before making a choice. TenPoint makes two integrated cocking devices noted for being dependable, durable, hassle-free, and easy to operate. The ACUdraw reduces the amount of effort needed to cock the crossbow to approximately six pounds and the ACUdraw 50 reduces a persons effort to cock the crossbow by 50%.
Ten Point AcuDraw 50.
There are other ways to address the physical limitation issue as well. For example, TenPoint makes two models (the Slider and Pro Slider) with an adjustable fore-grip and a bow assembly that can be mounted and set at one of three draw-weight positions - 125-pounds, 150-pounds, or depending on the model 165 or 175-pounds. It is a crossbow youngsters can purchase, for example, and grow into as they get bigger and stronger. It also aids women and seniors, as the crossbows center-of-balance can be adjusted to suit their needs when trying to hold the crossbow steady.
Slider in Long position.
Slider in Short position.
TenPoint also makes the SteddyEddy monopod system that mounts to the front of all their models. The monopod absorbs about 90% of the weight of the crossbow making it possible for a shooter to shoulder and hold a crossbow in the ready-to-shoot position without concern for the weight of the crossbow. The SteddyEddy is extremely helpful in a standing position, ground blind and for tree stand use.
Using the Ten Point 'SteadyEddy' does just this, steady your shot.
SteadyEddy for treestand use.
2. Consider cost before you enter the store. Crossbow prices range from about $199 for a simple entry-level model to as much as $2,000 for a precision engineered, high-performance model that comes with every accessory you could ever want or need. Obviously, if you have a price in mind before hand that you cannot exceed, let the salesman know that up front. A good salesman will probably ask you how much you are willing to spend anyway, so that he or she can serve you better.
3. Check the track record of the crossbows you are considering. Again, not all crossbows or crossbow manufacturer's are the same. You can tell some things about the quality of the crossbow by examining how well it is made. If certain parts look flimsy, cheaply made, or do not fit together well, you can expect them to fail under higher than average use. An experienced salesman should be able to tell you what kind of a failure rate to expect with certain models. Also, your salesman should have a good idea about the quality of each manufacturer' products, customer service department, and warranty claims department. Always ask about return rate of the model you are thinking of buying. Also, ask about the quality of the manufacturer's customer service department.
4. Consider the crossbow's speed, noise level, recoil, and weight. On average, today's crossbows shoot between 250 and 350 feet per second (fps). Shooting at 250 fps is plenty fast enough to do the job efficiently, but a 350 fps crossbow will hit harder and have a flatter trajectory, making distance judging less of an issue. Most companies achieve additional speed by adding cams, increasing the power stroke, and using heavier limbs. The tradeoffs for increased speed, however, are usually a louder shot, more recoil, and greater difficulty cocking the crossbow. To many archers, noise level is a primary concern. They want to be as quiet as possible in the woods. And, excessive recoil can affect shooting accuracy.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. Due to design improvements, TenPoint, recognized for making quiet crossbows with minimum vibration, has a new Phantom CLS model that shoots 343 fps with noticeably less noise and recoil than its previous models.
A crossbow can also be too light or too heavy for a particular shooter. A light crossbow with severe recoil can be hard to control. A crossbow that is too heavy can also be difficult to control. It is very hard to shoot accurately with a crossbow that wants to move around while you are aiming and shooting it.
In general, the more crossbows you test fire the better able you will be to zero in on the model that has the best speed, weight, noise, and recoil configuration for you. You want to be comfortable shooting the crossbow you choose.
5. Pay attention to trigger pull. Trigger poundage and creep affect shooting accuracy. A trigger with no creep (one that releases without any travel or warning) is dangerous and one with too much creep will be difficult to squeeze steadily. Similarly, a trigger that is too light (a hair trigger) is dangerous and one that is too heavy also will be difficult to squeeze steadily. Crossbows with premium triggers shoot more accurately because they are more likely to have optimum travel and poundage.
6. Research your local and state regulations on crossbow use before buying. Determine what activities you are planning with the crossbow and find out if the model and/or accessories you are looking at are legal for your area. For instance, some states have specific regulations on scopes/red-dot sights, draw weight, and the use of cocking mechanisms. In addition, some local jurisdictions have regulations against discharging a crossbow (and firearms) within city limits.
No matter the make or model of crossbow you decide to invest in, always keep "Safety First" as your number one priority. Good Luck and Good Hunting!