And you thought your days of homework were long gone. If you want to make an intelligent purchase on a new crossbow so you’ll have years of shooting pleasure, follow these practical guidelines to help you reach a decision so you won’t be sorry once you take to the woods. OK, get crackin’—let’s open the “books.”
1: Does It Suit You?
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.
2: Acknowledge Your Shortcomings
Before handing over your hard-earned money, 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 bowhunt, not all crossbows are equally easy to operate for those with physical limitations.
A number of crossbow manufacturers offer cocking aids, which are the most common solution. But again, some are more user-friendly than others. 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: ACUdraw and ACUdraw 50.
There are other ways to address the physical limitation issue as well. For example, TenPoint also manufactures a model with an adjustable fore-grip and bow assembly (Pro Slider) that can be set at the shooter’s draw-weight preference of 175-, 150- or 125-pound positions. It is a crossbow youngsters can purchase, for example, and grow into as they get bigger and stronger. In addition, TenPoint makes the SteddyEddy monopod system that mounts to the front of all of its models. The monopod absorbs about 90 percent 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 weapon.
3: Money Is a Factor
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 salesperson know that up front. A good salesperson will probably ask you how much you are willing to spend anyway so that he or she can serve you better.
4: The Track Record
Check the track record of the crossbows you are considering. Again, not all crossbows or crossbow manufacturers 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 more-than-average use. An experienced salesperson should be able to tell you what kind of a failure rate to expect with certain models.
Also, your salesperson should have a good idea about the quality of each manufacturer’s products, customer service department, and warranty claims department. Always ask about return rate of the model you are thinking of buying and the quality of the manufacturer’s customer service department.
5: Speed, Noise, Recoil and Weight
Consider the crossbow’s speed, noise level, recoil and weight. On average, today’s crossbows shoot between 250 and 350 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 excess 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, a few super-fast models are now available which are relatively quiet and have minimal recoil.
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 testfire 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.
6: 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 is difficult to squeeze steadily. Similarly, a trigger that is too light (a hair trigger) is dangerous, and one that is too heavy also is difficult to squeeze steadily. Crossbows with premium triggers shoot more accurately because they are more likely to have optimum travel and poundage.
As you can see, there are several factors that go into making an intelligent purchase. Give these ideas some thought. Do your homework. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
Facts To Consider Before You Buy
• Does the crossbow suit you?
• Acknowledge your physical limitations
• The crossbow’s track record
• The crossbow’s speed, noise level, recoil and weight