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A Deer Hunting Crossbow Guide Confidenialitate - Termeni

By: Jacob Edson, D&DH managing editor | August 16, 2012

Crossbow hunting is growing across the country. If youre thinking of joining the horizontal archery world, here
are 10 things you need to know about crossbows.

By Al Raychard

Crossbows, by design, are not that complicated. In the simplest terms, a

crossbow is nothing more than a smaller vertical bow attached to a stock.
On a technical level, crossbows are different from vertical bows in several
ways. The arrows used are shorter, and crossbows have a much shorter
power stroke. Even though crossbow arrows and arrows shot from
modern compounds travel at comparable speeds, the ballistic
characteristics and attributes of the two are as different as night and day
and bring their own their unique limitations and challengesot the hunting

Although gaining in popularity and acceptance, the modern cr ossbow

remains somewhat of a novelty to the general hunting public. With that
said, there are certain things about crossbows that should be understood
to achieve optimum performance in the eld.

1. They are Short-Range Tools

More so than vertical bows, crossbows are short-range hunting
instruments. The maximum recommended range by just about every crossbow manufacturer is 40 yards, with
25 to 30 yards considered optimum. When hunting, that is a critical rule to live by. There are reasons for that,
including the crossbows short power stroke and the short, light arrows used.

We could talk about specics and comparisons all day long, but the bottom line is: Compared to heavier and
longer arrows from vertical bows, crossbow arrows drop like a rock and lose energy quickly after leaving the
rail. Whats more, they do not stabilize well at long range. It takes energy to kill game at long distances, and
crossbow arrows simply do not have it.

2. You Need to Uncock It

Theoretically, once cocked, crossbows could remain locked into ring position indenitely. It is not unusual for
some hunters to leave their crossbows cocked for days, even weeks. Bad idea. Leaving a crossbow cocked for
extended periods of time increases stress on the limbs, strings, cables and trigger mecha nism and shortens
the life of all these components. It is best ot re the bow at the end of each days hunt. The easiest way to do
this while hunting is to carry a practice arrow with a eld point and release the bow into soft ground when the
day is done.

Keep in mind, too, most states and provinces have regulations stipulating when a bow is consider ed loaded or
when and where crossbows must be uncocked, such as at the close of legal hunting hours or in a ehicle,
v for
example. Whatever the case, releasing and reloading is the best medicine for long crossbow life.

3. They Can Withstand the Elements

I have used crossbows in the blistering heat of the Deep South and bone-chilling cold of th e far North day after
day with no visible affects on performance or accuracy. However, it is best not to leave crossbows for long
periods of time in direct sun because excessive heat has a tendency to quickly dry strings shortening their life.

During normal hunting conditions, properly maintained crossbows will get the job done in heat, cold or adv

4. Maintenance is a Must
Theyre not just words, but words to live by. Regular maintenance plays a major roll in the overall performance,
accuracy, effectiveness and life of a crossbow. The owners manual that comes with every crossbow will be the
best guide here, but under normal use cablesand strings should be replaced every three years or so sooner if

Through time, strings and cable stretch, including steel cables, resulting in lower draw weight. This will affect
arrow speed, range, trajectory and energy. Rails should be lubed with a high quality lube accor ding to
manufacturers recommendation, and it is a good idea ot wax strings, except the center serving, at the same
time. Both will ensure longer string life. It is not unusual for quality strings ot last 150 shots if not more, but
lubing and waxing is the key.

From time to time, crossbows might require adjusting, or tuning, especially the braced height (the distance
between a braced string and underside side of the riser measured from the strings center) and the tiller, the
balance between the two limbs, which should be equal in pull length and weight. If a ossbow
cr consistently
shoots high or low, or if arrows show wear marks on the shaft from the rail, the problem might be improper
brace height, or the bow is out of till.

5. You Need to Cock it Properly

This cannot be overemphasized. Most crossbow accuracy problems are caused by an improperly cocked bow.
This is especially true with new bows and novice shooters (and when cocking by hand).

Other factors contribute to poor or unreliable accuracy but before those are considered concentrating and
developing a proper cocking technique will generally cure the problem. To achieve accurate and consistent
arrow flight, the string must be drawn and locked into position with an equal length of serving on each side of
the rail. If not, the arrow is released with an uneven amount of energy, resulting in inconsistent downrange
groups. As little as -inch can make the difference between hitting and missing the vitals on a deer at 25 ards.

If cocking by hand, the problem is easily remedied by indexing or marking the server with a permanent marker
on each side of the rail when the bow is at rest. When the bow is drawn and locked, the index marks should be
in the same position on each side of the ail.
r Cocking ropes also help keep the serving properly aligned while
reducing the draw weight by as much as 50 percent and are one of the most benecial and helpful crossbows
aides to invest in.

6. Arrow Selection is Crucial

Crossbow arrow selection seems complex at times, or some folks mak
e it seem that way. Easy solution:
Always use arrows recommended by the manufacturer.


The arrows selected by manufacturers for their various models take shaft length, diameter, spine, mass weight,
fletching specications, type of nock and front of center (FOC) into consideration to achieve optimum
performance and accuracy at normal hunting distances. If you deviate from what is recommended,
performance might be sacriced. Damage ot the bow can also occur, resulting in voiding the factory warranty.
Bodily harm to the shooter is also a possibility.

Dont make a simple decision into a complex dilemma. This isnt rocket science: Use arrows the builder

7. Safety is Important
Crossbows are not toys and should not be treated as such. Those are simple words, but they are extremely
important just the same.

Consider the owners manual as your crossbow bible. Read it, understand it and if you have questions
contact the manufacturer. On a basic level, handle a crossbow as you would a rearm. But the crossbow is
unique and, therefore, special safety considerations apply. For example, never carry a crossbow when locked
and loaded with an arrow. When shooting, always keep ngers and thumbs below the shooting ail. r If you dont,
a surprise is coming, and it will hurt.

Before shooting, check the bow for damagedor loose parts, especially the limb bolts, retention spring and wear
and tear on the string, serving and cables. Also, a crossbow should never be red without an arrow.

When sighting in or practicing, bystanders should be positioned behind the shooter

, not to the side. And, when
hunting from elevated stands, crossbows should be cocked on the ground, elevated into the stand with a rope
and loaded only when the hunter is safely seated, in position and ready to shoot. When hunting from ground
blinds, ample room should be available for the bow limbs to expand.

8. You Need to Keep it Level

Cantering is when one limb of a crossbow is held lower than the other, and it is a common problem for novice
shooters and even experienced shooters at times in hunting situations.

If you canter the bow to the left, the arrow will hit left and most likely high or low depending upon the ar nge. If
you canter to the right, the arrow will hit right, and again high or low depending uponange.
r For optimum and
consistent accuracy, crossbow limbs must belevel when the trigger is pulled. Cantering is arely r a problem
while sighting in or practicing off a rest or bench, but off-hand shooting in hunting situations compounds this
problem. This is especially true when sitting,because the inside limb has a natural tendency to drop as we
swivel to get into shooting position.

To cure this problem, practice shooting as often as possible from different positions. Concentrating on keeping
those limbs parallel with the ground is the best way to eliminate the problem.

9. Real-Life Practice is Important

This advice rings true for any type of deer hunting: Pr
actice the way you hunt, and hunt theway you practice.
Crossbow arrows equipped with xed-blade or expandable broadheads do not fly as fast or on the same
trajectory as arrows equipped with eld points. Expandable heads ar e close, but there is still a difference. To be
absolutely sure how a crossbow will perform with a hunting head, it is important to practice with that same
head at various yardages. This means with the same exact arrows and broadheads of the same style and

After sighting in with a eld tip, changing ot a hunting head will tell us whether adjustments ha ve to be made.
Some will be minor tweaks; others will be mor e complicated. It is best to make those corrections before hitting
the deer woods. Also, keep in mind that crossbow arrows lose speed and drop quickly. If you will be hunting
from elevated stands, practice shots from the same height.

10. You Need to Keep it Simple

You neednt give up your day job to crack the code for obtaining optimum crossbow accuracy and performance.
Some folks would want you believe that it is an incredibly delicate science. Its not.

Manufacturers have done a great job in designing and testing todays horizontal bows, even noting what arrows
to use with various makes and models for peak performance. With occasional care, todays crossbows are
practically maintenance-free and if we follow the manufacturers recommendations will provide years of
serve. If there is a problem, dilemma or question, manufacturers are just a phone call away.

All the hard work is done. Our job is to understand the crossbow and its limitations. We should not expect the
crossbow to do more than it was intended and that is simply to be a reliable hunting companion.

Al Raychard is a crossbow hunting expert from Maine.

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