U.S. Regulations: Below is a summary of crossbow hunting regulations in the United States. This page is intended as a quick reference, and as such there may be details about regulations in your state that are not mentioned here (e.g. are scopes legal? can I use a crank? etc...) Regulations can change frequently from state to state. Please contact your local DNR (or equivalent) office or click the link under your state for the latest information.
Select from the menu to view that State's Crossbow Regulations.
You may use a crossbow in any hunt that does not restrict weapons. "Certified
bow hunters only", "bow and arrow only", or "muzzleloader only" hunts or areas
that specifically exclude other weapons, including crossbows. They are legal in
archery season with a special exemption form. Scopes and other optical
enhancement devices are not permitted.
Crossbows must have at least a 125-pound pull and
a mechanical safety. Deer, turkey and bear hunters are required to use
arrowheads at least 7/8-inch wide. Poison may not be used on arrows. Magnifying
sights may be used. Crossbows are not allowed for taking elk.
California states that "a crossbow is not archery equipment and may not be
used during the archery season." Except with a Disabled Archer Permit, crossbows
may not be used during any archery season or during the general season when
using an archery only tag.
Crossbows are now legal in the Central zone (October 20-24, 2008), South zone
(October 6-10, 2008), and in the Northwest Zone. Effective July 2011: zonal
crossbow seasons extended by 30 days. Click on the Florida link below for
additional crossbow information. Crossbows also legal for handicapped hunters by
Hunters 62 years of age and older are now
permitted to use a crossbow without a special permit. Hunters using a
crossbow will need an archery deer permit and proof of age in the form
of an official ID. Crossbows used in hunting as authorized by a permit
issued under this section shall meet all of the following
Shall have a minimum peak draw weight
of 125 pounds and a maximum peak draw weight of 200 pounds.
Shall have a minimum overall length
(from butt of stock to front of limbs) of 24 inches.
Shall have a working safety.
Shall be used with bolts or arrows of
not less than 14 inches in length (not including point) with a
broadhead. Broadheads may have fixed or expandable blades, but they
must be barbless and have a minimum 7/8 inch diameter when fully
opened. Broadheads with fixed blade must be metal or flint-, chert-,
or obsidian-napped. Broadheads with expandable blades must be metal.
Crossbows may be used in designated weeks, see state regulations. Hunters using
crossbows during a firearms deer season must follow all firearm season
restrictions, zone guidelines and hunting requirements in effect during firearms
seasons. Crossbows are also permitted during muzzle-loader only season. Disabled
hunters with a permit may use a crossbow to hunt deer during the bow-only deer
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission now has the ability to
establish a bow and arrow only season, and a bow and arrow and crossbow
season in special deer hunting seasons.
Effective June 11, 2013, crossbows will be legal during any wild bird, or wild
animal, open season (including archery) EXCEPT deer archery or deer
muzzle-loading only seasons. Hunters may only hunt deer with a crossbow during
the open firearm season. Also legal for disabled hunters.
The Maryland Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service now allows crossbows to be
used to hunt any game species during any open season where a vertical
bow may be used (excluding waterfowl and certain furbearers). This would
permit the use of a crossbow during the entire deer bow season in all
counties. Minimum draw weight is 75-pounds, telescopic sights are
permitted and the crossbow must have a working safety.
August 17, 2010, Effective immediately, crossbow regulations have expanded for hunters statewide.
The crossbow regulation changes include the following:
Lowered the minimum age for crossbow use from 12 to 10 years of age statewide.
Expanded the use of crossbows to all legal hunters during all archery and firearms seasons statewide, except in the Upper Peninsula, where crossbow use will remain prohibited during the late archery and muzzleloader seasons, unless the hunter is disabled (Crossbows may only be used in the Upper Peninsula by anyone 50 years of age or older during the Oct. 1-Nov. 14 bow hunting deer season statewide).
Hunters using crossbows will still be required to obtain a free crossbow stamp. The stamp, which is free, will help the DNR monitor and survey crossbow hunters.
Effective July 1, 2013, crossbows are legal in all of Archery Season. Archer's are reminded that they are required to wear hunter orange during all gun seasons. The separate crossbow permit is no longer required.
Crossbows are legal for all hunters with a crossbow hunting permit during
firearms season and for all hunters on Long Island with a Long Island deer
permit. Disabled hunters may use a crossbow pursuant to disabled hunter
regulations without purchasing a crossbow permit. Crossbows are prohibited
during the youth hunting weekend for deer.
NEW * On Tuesday,
June 16, the New Jersey
Fish and Game Council
voted on adopting proposed amendments to the 2009 – 2012 Game Code.
The Council voted to adopt all the proposed amendments except amendment 29,
which proposed boundary changes to Deer Management Zones 19 and 23.
The full proposal containing the amendments can be viewed at
(PDF) on the NJ DEP website.
The most significant
amendment adopted expands the definition of "bow" by removing the
prohibition on all draw locking and draw holding devices and by including
crossbows in the definition. This allows the use of crossbows in any bow and
arrow hunting season and other hunting seasons for all species where the use
of bow and arrow is allowed. Crossbows must have a minumum draw weight of 75
pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches.
Crossbows are legal in any bow and arrow hunting season and other hunting seasons for all species where the use of bow and arrow is allowed.
Crossbows are legal sporting arms for cougar, bear, deer, elk, pronghorn,
javelina, Barbary sheep, persian ibex, oryx, turkey, and bighorn sheep. Hunters
that qualify with a permanent mobility limitation may use crossbows to hunt
waterfowl and upland game. Sights on crossbows shall not project light nor
No permit required for everyone to use crossbow during regular rifle season for
big game and muzzle loading season, but no crossbows allowed during bow season
even with disability.Please note: the law allowing use of crossbows expired on
December 31, 2012. Crossbows may no longer be used for hunting in New York.
Crossbows are legal hunting weapons for
licensed hunters anytime bow-and-arrow hunting is allowed. Crossbows
must have a minimum draw weight of 150 pounds. Bolts must use broadheads
as described for arrows in the preceding section. (Effective from August
1, 2011 to July 31, 2012).
Effective September 1, 2011, the following new regulations will go into effect:
Crossbows are now legal for hunters during the rifle season.
Crossbows are now legal for all hunters during primitive weapons season. Note: Crossbows used during the primitive weapons season may NOT be equipped with optics that have any magnification. Only scopes and red dots with 1x magnification may be used during the primitive weapons season.
Crossbows are now legal for use by all Oklahoma hunters with an Archery License
this year 2012 during archery seasons. There are no restrictions on who can use
a crossbow. However, they have to have a minimum 100 lb draw weight and shoot a
14 inch minimum bolt/arrow. The use of crossbows and conventional longbows with
a device that permits the bow to be held mechanically at full or partial draw
are legal hunting methods during any open season when conventional longbows
(archery equipment) are a legal means of take. See individual species’
regulations for any draw weight, bolt length and broadhead size requirements.
(Before residents of Oklahoma who are 60 years of age or older may use a
crossbow. In addition, hunters who have a permanent disability to the extent
that they cannot use a conventional longbow, as certified by a physician
licensed to practice in Oklahoma or bordering state, may hunt with a crossbow. A
disabled person who qualifies to use a crossbow shall have in their possession
while in the field written evidence of such certification signed by the
Commissioners gave final approval to a proposal to legalize crossbows
for archery hunting statewide beginning with the 2009-2010 seasons.
Magnifying scopes are legal. There is a sunset review scheduled for
The crossbow is no longer classified as a firearm - it is now in the same classification as recurves, compounds and longbows. Crossbows are now approved for use by all archery hunters during the Archery deer season provided the hunter has successfully completed the Bow Hunter education course or otherwise qualifies for an Archery deer permit.
The use of crossbow for hunting wild turkey or any wild bird is prohibited by law (RIGL 20-14-7).
Special permits are no longer required to hunt with the crossbow including those previously required for disabled hunters; however, use of Adaptive Aids for archery hunting still requires the special permit.
Crossbows approved for use by qualifying archers with disabilities. Crossbows are also legal in firearms season. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a working safety. Retractable broadheads are not legal. Using a scope on a crossbow during a
modern firearm season is now allowed.