Bowhunting: Busting 7 Crossbow Myths

By Nicole McClain

Crossbows are for girls and weaklings?
Crossbows will ruin hunting?
Nonsense. All nonsense.

Nicole With Crossbow 336x448

Crossbows ARE for girls, but they’re for guys, too. They’re a great way to involve more people into the hunting lifestyle. Take them
shooting and they’ll be hooked for life.
(Photo © Nicole McClain)

The chatter goes on and on – so many negative and misleading statements about crossbows. It’s time to abandon untruths compounded (no pun intended) by ignorance, and understand why crossbows benefit the hunting community.

I’ll start with a myth I especially hate.

Myth #1: Crossbows are just for girls.

Yes, crossbows are for girls. And they’re for dudes too. There, I said it. Calm down fellas, and we’ll take this slowly.

Yes, crossbows are more accurate in the hands of more people, I’ll give you that. They’re perfect for getting a child or teen involved in bowhunting. They also allow older hunters – diehards in their 60s and 70s who might be slowing down a little – to continue hunting during archery season.

I use crossbows (and vertical bows, too). I own three. I’m a girl, but being a female hunter doesn’t automatically mean crossbows are the “best” for me.

If you want my take, here it is. (If you don’t, here it is anyway.) Shoot what you want and ignore what sales floor guys or hardcore hunters tell you. Don’t let anyone intimidate or stereotype you, or discourage you for your so-called “weakness.” Challenge yourself to be the best and remember: Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect—even if you shoot a crossbow.

One misconception about crossbows is that they let you take a deer at 70, 80 or 90 yards. That’s something that comes from the southbound end of a northbound bull. The truth? A crossbow adds only about 10 yards to what you can accomplish with a compound bow.

Crossbows by design are simply a vertical compound bow turned horizontal on its axis, connected to a stock. On a technical level? They have a much shorter power stroke, and use shorter and lighter arrows that lose kinetic energy more quickly after the shot—even though they travel at comparable speeds to any vertical compound.

Mission Crossbow 448x310

As in other forms of archery, consistency is very important for crossbow accuracy. (Photo © Nicole McClain)

From my experience, I suggest keeping shots under 45 yards. I’m more a conservative shooter so I hangout around 25-40 yards. As with a vertical bow, you need to find your own comfort range.

Myth #3: Leaving a crossbow cocked for a few days is fine.

Get me under a bare lightbulb and I’ll tell the truth: I’ve been known to leave my crossbow cocked, and unloaded, for way too many days “knowing” I was going hunting later that afternoon—and then never went back out. Bad idea, Jack.

While I’ve never run into any problems for my stupidity in this department (knocks on her head), it puts unnecessary stress on the cables, bowstring, limbs and trigger, ultimately shortening the life of your horizontal hunting pal.

Isn’t it just easier to fire a practice arrow into the ground or a portable target? I’m leaving myself a hand-written note penned by yours truly, the hypocrite.

Which brings me to my next myth.

Myth #4: You must carry an extra bolt in your quiver to shoot when you’re finished hunting.

Nicole With Bison 336x376

It’s a misconception that crossbows offer an unfair advantage. In reality, their performance is very similar to today’s common high-performance compound bows, and they expand opportunities.
(Photo © Nicole McClain)

The myth here is that you need to carry it in your quiver for when it’s time to unload your weapon.

TenPoint Crossbows offers a two-piece Crossbow Unloading Bolt (CUB) you can put in your hunting pack and snap together just when you need it. They weigh virtually the same as a regular bolt, and are biodegradable. They’re just as dangerous and lethal as a regular bolt, so treat them with the same safety precautions as a regular bolt. When it’s time to unload, discharge one and keep your hunting bolts mangle-free.

Myth #5: Cocking straps are
for “pansies”.

A guy might muscle a 180-pound pull and act like it’s a piece of cake, but it’s an act. Shooting is never an issue of pansy versus muscle head; it’s about accuracy and consistency.

So roll down your sleeves, put those muscles away, and use a cocking strap. Its purpose isn’t to make cocking easy. It’s to keep the string tension equal on both sides of your trigger release point for consistent and accurate shooting. Easy cocking is a bonus—a cocking strap takes 50-60 percent of the resistance off your shoulders, arms and back.

If you don’t use a cocking strap you’ll either (1.) waste time at the range cursing the name of your crossbow manufacturer because you can’t shoot a consistent group; or (2.) sight it in thinking it’s close enough and when Mr. 12-Point strolls by at 25 yards, you’ll miss the vitals.

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Nicole field dressing a bison. (Photo © Nicole McClain)

Myth #6: Crossbows will ruin the sport of hunting – if they haven’t already.

Traditionalists back in the ’70s cried the same tears when the vertical compound was introduced into a world of recurves and longbows.

Four decades later, vertical compounds have taken over the market, have improved cams and split risers and fling arrows at remarkable speeds. And guess what? The advanced technology neither decimated deer herds nor eliminated the challenge of close-range hunting. Who’da thunk… ?

Myth #7: Crossbows should be legal during archery season.

OK, this really isn’t a myth, it’s a chance to express my opinion. (I can do that as a rogue outdoor writer!) Here’s a headline to splash across your mind: Crossbows Aren’t Going Anywhere! Some states still ban them during archery season, but they’re legal in more states than not. In the right hands they’re more accurate than a compound bow and produce clean killing shots. Who’s against that?

Stop the chatter and downward spiral of wasted time. Crossbow hunters are your friends, especially when the anti-hunting troops rally around and try to overpower us hunters in numbers. Why focus on needless arguments within the hunting community? We should be expanding hunting opportunities for more people, young and old alike, regardless of weapon choice.

Click here for more great archery articles.

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nicoloe mcclain head shot 115x160About Nicole McClain

Nicole is involved with brands and foundations including GearForWarriors.com, Mathews, Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine, Havalon Knives, CAMX Crossbows, Nikon, Hawke Optics, Field Logic, 20th Century Fox, Fight Like a Girl!, Kellogg’s, Susan G. Komen, Pickle Press Comics. She says, “I’m a warrior, hunter, fighter and survivor regardless of what mud you sling my way. I’m good with mud.”

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