Crossbow Buyer's Guide
When deciding exactly what type of crossbow you are going to buy, there are many variables and criteria to consider. The world of these weapons, for those unfamiliar with it, has evolved incredibly, with experts and long-time users in the field sitting the last 20 to 30 years as showing a large jump in technological improvements.
In the following guide, different aspects in determining what crossbow you want to purchase will be explored and explained in the simplest terms. Discussed will be determining exactly what type of bow user you plan or want to be; what you think are important qualities in the weapon and what you want and expect from it; the difference in basic crossbow design, such as re-curve vs. compound; manufacturers and the different options and technology they offer; and we will explore what advancements in technology has occurred in the world of these weapons.
There is an incredible amount of options and choice and it's going to be very fun and exciting in discovering and picking the crossbow which is best for you.
What do you want from the crossbow? What type of user will you be?
Lets ask these two simple but incredibly important questions first.
If you are a target shooter, some things might not be as important to you. Such as weight – if you are doing most of your shooting from a stationary position, having a heavier weapon might not be an issue for you. You may even want a couple of kinds of different bows (model or design, such as re-curve vs. compound) to play around with the different types and what they offer. Also, are you a hobbyist regularly practicing the sport – will you be out on the range every weekend shooting? Or maybe a couple of times a month? The more serious of a shooter you are, the more you will probably want and be prepared to invest money-wise.
Are you going to use your bow for hunting? And how often do you hunt? Like the hobbyist above who regularly practices the sport, if you're a serious hunter, you might want to invest in a little bit better quality weapon. If you're going to be trekking through the bush and forest with your bow, perhaps you will want something light-weight and compact (such as a compound bow as opposed to a re-curve bow; more on these design types in the next segment). No doubt accuracy, velocity and impact (killing power) will also be of more concern to you than the target shooter.
Basic designs of crossbows: The re-curve bow vs. the compound bow
There are two basic design elements in the crossbow world and these are easy to understand and might steer the direction of your decision.
The re-curve crossbow is the oldest and most simplistic design applied to these weapons. It has been a basic design concept for literally hundreds of years. The term re-curve simply means the tips of the limb or prods face away from the user when they are not strung or tensed. The simplicity of these bows is that they usually have a stock, a trigger, limbs/prods, and string. The simplicity in design transfers to simplicity in use, which why these are often popular with first-time users. They are larger and wider in design and string changes are much easier with this type of bow. The prods are usually made of a simple metal, fiberglass or wood. They tend to be quieter than their compound counterparts. Issues are that they don't provide the same accuracy or power as some compound models.
The compound bow is very much what you would expect based on the name. It is the newer design, and very popular, and compact. It is smaller, usually lighter and delivers a lot of power for its small make-up. Compounds are often thought to deliver more energy, or velocity; cocking is easier with smaller mechanisms and technology to aid; all in all it is considered to be safer and sometimes easier to use.
The compound is going to be smaller, more compact, more efficient, but it will most often be more expensive. The re-curve is great for those beginning or those who desire the simplicity in the design and function. Many of the top manufacturers make both types.
Some Top Crossbow Manufacturers
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is a leading name in the world of crossbows. They make both re-curve and compound models. Some of the technology offered in their re-curve model is a red dot site of adjustable intensity. This allows the shooter to adjust the target light strength based on lighting conditions. Other technology is a built in cranking device that makes it easier to load and cock.
Horton Archery is a leading manufacturer as well. Technology they offer is things like an ambidextrous cheek piece which suits any shooter in any shooting position, allowing shooting adjustments quickly. Light trigger mechanisms giving the hunter extra shooting capability and accuracy.
Tenpoint Crossbow is a name in the same class as the manufacturers already mentioned and they offer unique material hybrids in their weapons giving you some of the strongest and lightest weapons on the market. They hold various patents pertaining to triggers, grip safeties and barrels, incorporating aircraft grade metals.
Crossbow Technological Advancements
As the crossbow has become as bow/gun hybrid, it is easy to see where it has arrived as a weapon. No longer a huge cumbersome weapon, but sometimes now incredibly light and compact. Materials have made this weapon even lighter and stronger.
Triggers on many models are now reflective in size of the model they are attached to, utilizing metal injected molding for extra strength and less weight and pull. Cocking aids are now sometimes incorporated into the stock, requiring minimal manual effort by the user. Safety mechanisms have evolved with secondary measures, such as locating a depression unit in the barrel stock which won't allow the trigger to be pulled unless it is depressed. Risers, the pieces between limbs and where the tip of the arrow sits, are machined with lightweight metals and act to stabilize the overall limb and string assembly and increase efficiency.
Make Your Crossbow Choice
There is such an incredible variety of crossbows to choose from that the buyer will have almost as much fun choosing as using it. Prices range from $100's for simple bows to $1,000's for the top of the line. Target shooter and hunters will both be able to get the exact
crossbow to meet all of their needs.