Bow vs. crossbow - which is better for hunting | best hunting advice (2023)

Bows and crossbows are two essential and reliable tools that you can use for hunting.

However, like any other two-choice system you might come across, people find it difficult to choose one over the other. That's one of the reasons why you can find discussions about Bow vs. Beast all over the internet. And we have to say that sometimes things get out of hand.

As a group of people who have spent a lot of time in the wild, we wanted to add our input to the discussion. And you would find that here.

In this article we look at bows and crossbows from a hunting perspective. We also compare the great and not-so-great features of this hunting gear. We think it would help those who are just starting out with this team. We'll start with an introduction to both.


  • What is a bow?

    Bow vs. crossbow - which is better for hunting | best hunting advice (1)

    The bow, also known as a compound bow, is one of the oldest hunting tools in human history.

    Thousands of years ago, our ancestors learned to store kinetic energy through an elastic device and use it to propel an arrow forward at speeds that humans at the time could achieve.

    In fact, we don't use the same bows today. The basic idea of ​​what a bow means didn't change even then. It's more that we worked out the basic design, added high-quality building materials and provided equipment that meets today's hunting needs.

    (Video) Hunting Crossbow vs Bow - How to Pick Between Crossbow vs Compound Bow for hunting

    As you can imagine, the bows that you find on the market today are packed with features. For example, a sheet system can be supplied with a pair of reels and cameras. Both help the hunter (or archer) hit the right targets at the right time.

    At this point it should also be mentioned that hunters may prefer a simpler bow to a compound bow with fancy features. Hunters love to focus more on their actions and accuracy. We must also consider the additional features that sometimes come with compound bows. They can give you the option to "close" and take less time to reload.

    We hope this gives you a quick idea of ​​what a bow is. I would see bows as a popular hunting tool and part of sport shooting.

    What is an animal?

    Bow vs. crossbow - which is better for hunting | best hunting advice (2)

    Compared to a bow, a crossbow has an innovative design. This design was influenced by a combination of modern weaponry, including the compound bow itself.

    However, the crossbow is still a ranged weapon that you can fire arrow-shaped projectiles at. As you can see from the images, the design of a typical crossbow differs from that of a traditional bow.

    However, both devices use the power of the elastic bands and store kinetic energy to shoot the darts at a perceptible distance. The weapon offers some advantages due to the modern design.

    For example, a crossbow doesn't want the user to apply too much pressure to release the arrow. A crossbow design organizes the arrows in an easily accessible way. The user must then let go of the rope to send the projectile into the air.

    Depending on your crossbow model, advanced trigger mechanisms may be present. Although the history of crossbows dates back to the 12th century, they have retained their status into modern times. There are many cases when adding a crossbow to a set of other weapons.

    However, hunting and shooting sports are areas where you would see the most crossbows. People also preferred this kit for noiseless recording.

    (Video) Crossbow vs Compound Bow - Which is Better?


    Now that we've seen what a bow and crossbow are, let's make a quick comparison?

    To make things easier to understand, we've covered the similarities and differences between a bow and a crossbow.


    Bow vs. crossbow - which is better for hunting | best hunting advice (3)

    Ösimilarities betweenA compound bow and a crossbow start with the same characters in their names but don't end there.

    Below are a few reasons why you would find a bow and crossbow in the same category of shooting equipment and guns.

    • Both the bow and crossbow use the power of elastic bands and kinetic energy to function as they should. As mentioned, both devices would store kinetic energy in the elastic part and use the same force to fire dart-shaped projectiles at higher velocities. Although the amount of kinetic energy can vary depending on the bow chosen, the core design remains the same.
    • Both tools, as mentioned above, are commonly used for hunting and sport shooting. There are a few reasons for this. Unlike rifles and snipers, bows and crossbows offer the ability to shoot silently. You don't have to let the whole forest know you killed that moose, you know? For the same reason, the military also use bows and crossbows for sneak attacks.
    • Despite the differences in safety, both bows and crossbows are very easy to use. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to use these weapons. Compared to a rifle or shotgun, you don't have to worry too much about recoil either. As such, bows and crossbows are the best places to start weapon training.
    • Accuracy is one of the most critical issues in bow vs. tier every day, but regardless of the small differences, these two weapons can offer maximum accuracy. However, this is subject to user training and experience. As easy as it is to learn how to use a bow and crossbow, things can go wrong at any time.
    • Last but not least, carrying a bow or crossbow is an easy task due to the comparatively simple design. Even if you add a lot of ammo to the backpack, your gun bag wouldn't weigh as much as a rifle. It would help if you also consider that you can use multiple methods to craft custom bow/crossbow ammo.

    As you can see, most of these similarities have to do with the similar core design.


    Bow vs. crossbow - which is better for hunting | best hunting advice (4)

    Although the design remains the same, a crossbow and bow can perform differently in the field.

    While one of them is designed for versatile use, the other might be better suited to everyday hunting. However, the differences are:

    • Although both the bow and crossbow use kinetic energy, there is a limit that each weapon must not exceed. Judging by these numbers, a vertical arc would provide better kinetic energy, resulting in high speed. This can be a reason to choose the bow over the crossbow in certain conditions, especially when hunting at long range.
    • It is worth noting that the latest crossbow models come with more features than ever before. These additional features help the hunter achieve top speeds with minimal effort. Manufacturers also focus on some features to improve gun safety. You can also find several options to reduce recoil and store more ammo in a crossbow.
    • Thanks to the design of the bracket and the possible attachment capacity, the crossbows are very easy to shoot. Of course, you may need to put in more effort to get accurate targets. If you have these two options, choose the crossbow as the easier option. Again, the security features of the computer play an important role.
    • We also think versatility is a notable difference between a bow and a crossbow. As you may have noticed, a crossbow can be attached to gear with multiple scopes. These supplements play a big part in improving your overall accuracy. Although bow scopes are available, they may not offer the same experience.
    • In comparison, crossbows produce more noise when out in the wild. This is one of the reasons why people choose a compound bow when they need a silent weapon for hunting. However, some newer crossbow models have been able to reduce the noise. On the plus side, follow-up shots with a crossbow are easier than ever.

    Now it's time for some ideas.

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    Which one should I choose?

    We cannot give you absolute answers here. If you have the best tool foryour kind ofhunt, you must go through the similarities and differences on your own.

    However, here's a starting point:

    You should choose a bow if you are looking for ultimate silence and impressive performance. However, it would take more time and practice to master the art of using a compound bow. On the plus side, it also has higher speeds.

    You should choose a crossbow if you are looking for the best user experience and performance. Since you can attach scopes and various ammunition to a crossbow, you can explore a wider hunting ground. With the right accessories, crossbows can be quite deadly.


    We think our bow vs crossbow comparison helped you choose the right option for hunting.

    As you may have noticed, we didn't address the accuracy aspect. This is because this topic requires its own article. However, you can refer to the points we added to make an informed decision.

    (Video) Compound Bow or Crossbow / Which one is best for you!
    (Video) Crossbow Comparison: $250 vs $450 vs $500 vs $850

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    Bow vs. crossbow - which is better for hunting | best hunting advice? ›

    When it comes to overall power, the crossbow wins. When it comes to portability, the compound bow wins. So, think about where you will be hunting, what kind of game you are targeting, and what kind of physical shape you are in, and whatever you decide, we are sure your hunt will be a success.

    Is it better to hunt with a bow or crossbow? ›

    The ballistics of the majority of vertical bows are superior to the majority of crossbows. The mystical ingredient is the power stroke. Even though a crossbow has a heavier draw weight, the power stroke is much shorter.

    Why use a crossbow instead of a bow? ›

    In general, crossbows have more speed and accuracy than compound bows. Some of the fastest compound bow speeds on the market are anywhere from 320 to 350 feet per second. Crossbows can shoot well over 400 feet per second. Even inexpensive crossbows can usually shoot around 350 to 370 feet per second.

    Is it easier to hunt with a crossbow? ›

    Reasons To Try Crossbow Hunting

    Increased accuracy – crossbows can be more accurate than compound bows, especially at longer ranges. A very experienced bow hunter however can shoot just as accurately with a bow, but the learning curve is a bit easier on a crossbow.

    Are crossbows more accurate than bows? ›

    The results? The average three-shot crossbow group for the field was 3.45 inches. The average three-shot compound bow group for the field was 3.20 inches. Yep, at 50 yards, the compound bows were more accurate, on average.

    What are the cons of crossbow hunting? ›

    While all the complex parts and pieces give the crossbow quite a bit of power and make aiming more accurate, it also makes it significantly heavier than a traditional bow. The increased weight also tends to make crossbows much louder, and in a sport where stealth is your friend this is a big disadvantage.

    Is it hard to hunt deer with a crossbow? ›

    Crossbows are bulkier, heavier, and more difficult to transport than firearms or conventional bows. Crossbow hunting is done at a much closer range than rifle hunting. Therefore, it often requires a higher degree of stealth and sheer effort to get into position to make the shot (similar to fly fishermen among anglers).

    Do crossbows shoot farther than bows? ›

    As the bow is shot, the string on a conventional compound bow pushes the arrow more than twice the distance as when a crossbow is shot.

    What is the advantage of hunting with a crossbow? ›

    Without the need to draw when game is close at hand, crossbow hunters gain the advantages of greater mobility and the ability to hunt at ground level.

    How accurate is a crossbow at 100 yards? ›

    For example, recent crossbow innovations have led to speeds up to 500 fps and rifle-like accuracy, with less than 1-inch groups at 100 yards.

    How far can you safely shoot a deer with a crossbow? ›

    Traditionally, 50 yards has been accepted to be the maximum ethical distance for a crossbow shot on a whitetail. However, many people consider the modern day crossbow to be capable of shooting at deer 70, 80, and even 90+ yards.

    What is the best distance for crossbow hunting? ›

    As with most vertical bow hunters, effective range for a crossbow is about 40 yards. At this distance most hunters are able to fire a crossbow accurately enough to be lethal.

    How fast should a crossbow shoot for deer? ›

    Choose your crossbow to fire your hunting arrows at an initial velocity of at least 250 to 300 FPS (feet per second). By generating this speed, the arrow will gain enough kinetic energy to kill any large prey cleanly, while also eliminating the arrow's long-range ballistic issues.

    Do crossbows do more damage then bows? ›

    Damage. Although both of these weapons do a decent amount of damage, the crossbow deals just a little more damage than the bow.

    Why was the crossbow banned? ›

    In 1139, a Church council declared crossbows unfit for Christian use -- except against Infidels. In the next decades other councils repeated the ban.

    How much more damage does a crossbow do than a bow? ›

    In terms of power, crossbows are more powerful than bows. They deal between 6 and 11 attack damage, compared to bows which deal 1–10 attack damage. In terms of recharge time, bows are better. They take less time to recharge than crossbows.

    Does it hurt to leave a crossbow loaded? ›

    Do not leave your crossbow cocked for longer than a 24-hour period, as premature stretching of the string and cables may occur, leading to a loss in crossbow performance.

    How many pound drawback does a crossbow have? ›

    The Low Side. Most crossbows are made with draw weights 80 pounds and higher. You can find a few with that are 50 pounds, but most are 80 pounds or more (and 80 pounds is on the lighter side of things—most crossbows out there are 100 pounds or more).

    Do crossbows have less range than bows? ›

    Range. For range, there is the overall range and then there is an effective range. The average compound bow has an overall range of up to 100 yards and an effective range of between 30-60 yards depending on the archer. For crossbows, some crossbows can shoot up to several hundred yards, but with less accuracy of course ...

    How long to wait after shooting deer with crossbow? ›

    When recovering game you have shot with a bow or crossbow, you should: Wait quietly for at least 30 minutes after your shot. Allow the animal to lie down and die from massive blood loss.

    Where do you hit a deer with a crossbow? ›

    The broadside shot is the best because you have the widest view of the deer's vitals when the deer is standing sideways to you. If your shot is slightly off by an inch or two in any direction, your crossbow arrow will still hit in the vitals area and inflict lethal damage.

    What is the main benefit of hunting with a crossbow? ›

    Without the need to draw when game is close at hand, crossbow hunters gain the advantages of greater mobility and the ability to hunt at ground level.

    Why is it better to hunt with a bow? ›

    Compared to gun hunting, bowhunting provides longer seasons and access to restricted hunting areas. You'll have more opportunities to reap all the benefits bowhunting has to offer. During the early season, you might have the chance to shoot a buck in velvet.

    Is a crossbow easier to shoot than a bow? ›

    Beginner Friendly – Crossbows are arguably easier to learn and shoot accurately than other types of bows. See some of the top entry-level crossbows here. More Kinetic Energy – You can obtain crossbows with much higher draw weights and kinetic energy than compound bows.

    How far is too far for a crossbow? ›

    If you don't care about hitting a target, a powerful modern crossbow can shoot as far as 500 yards. If you want to hunt, up to 80 yards is possible for a very skilled shooter, however you should stick to a maximum of 60 yards, and preferably much less than that (30-35) if you are a beginner.

    What part of deer do you hit with a crossbow? ›

    The broadside shot is the best because you have the widest view of the deer's vitals when the deer is standing sideways to you. If your shot is slightly off by an inch or two in any direction, your crossbow arrow will still hit in the vitals area and inflict lethal damage.

    Where do you aim with a crossbow on a deer? ›

    While there's a smaller window to strike vital areas, crossbow hunters can still make the shot if the angle is less than 45-degrees. Traditionally, people will try to shoot a bolt from behind the deer's front leg or from the opposite front leg, where there's still a vantage point of their heart and lungs.

    How strong does a crossbow need to be for deer hunting? ›

    A crossbow with a draw weight between 75 and 125 pounds is quite adequate for whitetail hunting. The higher that number, the greater distance, and accuracy. Further, you will want to get that bolt traveling at a minimum speed of 250 feet per second for both accuracy and distance.

    What is the hardest animal to hunt with a bow? ›

    That being said, a whitetail is one of our toughest critters to bowhunt on foot. There is no more "switched-on" animal in the woods. Likewise pronghorns, with their incredible eyesight, can be a challenge to stalk, but I have shot many by sneaking across broken terrain.

    Should you shoot a deer in the front with a bow? ›

    Most hunters have been taught to shoot a deer just behind its front shoulder, no matter if you're shooting a bow or a firearm. However, a hunter does not need to shoot as far back as is often taught, especially when presented with a broadside shot.

    What's the furthest you should shoot a deer with a bow? ›

    Average shot distance on P&Y Coues whitetail deer is about 25 yards, but about one-quarter of record-book bucks are shot beyond 40 yards. Average shot distance on Sitka blacktail deer is about the same as on Coues deer, but nearly half are taken between 30 and 60 yards.


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