RFI: Crossbows

The other day, a friend asked me to give him advice about crossbows — specifically, serious hunting crossbows, not the recreational (toy) type — as he’s been invited to a bowhunt for wild turkeys (I think) later on in the year, and for various reasons, a “regular” bow wouldn’t work for him.

It irked me that I couldn’t tell him anything — my interest in launching deadly projectiles has always involved gunpowder — so I turn to you, O My Readers, for advice.

He doesn’t have any budgetary constraints (lucky bugger), so he’s looking for the best you can get, with all the info related thereto:  bow brands, draw weight, the proper arrowhead type for turkeys, sighting device, etc.

In Comments, please.


    1. That looks more high-tech than most rifles… which, considering that the crossbow is medieval technology, is no small feat.

  1. I know two things about crossbows: 1)the one referenced above cost twice what I paid for my first pick-up truck in 1974, and 2)a crossbow is just another way for me to shoot myself in the foot.

  2. I have one of these https://horton-crossbows.net/ , and an old horton model before they went out of business. Have your friend try to cock it before he buys it. It can be hard! I use a three dot red dot sight, 20 yards 30 yard, 40 yards, just use the right dot.

  3. For a total novice needing handholding on all aspects, I strongly recommend getting in contact one of the major archery suppliers. LANCASTER ARCHERY out of PA is one of the largest. They sponsor national matches, have all the top brands and they are bow people. Call or visit them ….


  4. Not an expert in any respect to this. Be aware of the hunting regs as well. In my state crossbow hunting is considered rifle hunting not archery hunting.

    We were able to make this in shop class BITD. My brother made one and it was fun to shoot target practice with it. However abandon any thought of re-using the quarrels. In our case the feathering stripped off after 1 or 2 shots. Maybe the commercial ones are better at this.

    The quarrels also embedded themselves about 30 ft deep into the haystack we were shooting into. So no retrieval there ’till feeding time that winter.

  5. I’ve been doing some research for my own interest. Hunting with crossbows is banned here (and in much of Europe too) so it would be target shooting for me: I’m hoping it will be more economical than shooting a gun as the bolts are reusable.

    The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that a crossbow is not necessarily more powerful than a bow. This is because the bolt is accelerated for a much shorter distance than an arrow shot from a bow. Newton’s v2 = u2 + 2as applies. This has implications for clean kills: too wimpy a shot and the target will survive with a significant injury. Your friend should find out at what distances he will be hunting and buy accordingly. And practice before shooting.

    I’ve just watched this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Yx07O_OCM which mentions excessive wear in strings and other issues.

  6. Wow, I had no idea those suckers could cost that much but I suspect the top end crossbows are worth all those dollars. As for me, gunpowder was good enough for my grand daddy in the late 1800’s, I still have his percussion double barrel shotgun made with a London Twist barrel, and gunpowder (smokeless) is good enough for me.

  7. I am on my 3rd or 4th bow, all have been PSE. I have had 3 crossbows with a PSE being the one I am using now. I have had Horton, Barnett’s as well and a buddy I hunt with has a Tenpoint x-bow.

    one thing about x-bows is they are loud. Heard my buddy’s once from over 200 yards away, so if you miss the quarry will still alert. The PSE is the quietest of the ones I have any experience with.

    The reverse arms ones are interesting as carrying one through heavy brush is hard and they will make it a lot narrower. I have not had the scratch to try one of those as yet.

    Any recent model by any maker should be good. I would try it out first in the store if you can. If you hear anything loud go to the next one.

    Oh, the Barnett did vibrate off one of the scope mounts which I did find annoying.

  8. I’ve deer hunted with one but never turkey. Those that have a mechanical decocker are convenient due to not having to fire your bolt into the ground. Cranks are easier to cock than the rope pulls (some can take over 100 lbs to cock). They do make specialized broadheads that span 3-4 inches to make it easier to hit the target’s head. Turkeys have acute eyesight so I’d imagine the narrower the limbs the less chance for detecting movement.
    ***One important thing to note- Google images for crossbow+thumb and you’ll get an idea of how important it is to keep the forehand clear of the moving parts. This isn’t something rifle shooters have to contend with and can be overlooked by novice crossbow users.

  9. I’m 65, in fairly good shape though not the young buck of oldt and I got the Centerpoint Tyro bow a couple years ago and never had any previous experience with a crossbow. It cost about $200 and is a decent bow from what I can tell. https://www.centerpointarchery.com/crossbows/tyro

    The bowline is very much like a very stern cable, very tight (175lb draw). While I can pull it back and lock it into place with my hands it is very uncomfortable to do so. Using the cocking cordage that comes with it is an unnatural feeling. Once, I applied too much pressure to one side while cocking and that caused the firing cordage to be off center. I was advised to never shoot the bow without a bolt (dry fire) as it will cause extreme vibration to fracture the arms. So I loaded up a bolt and fired. It fired so far off center that the bolt hit my burn barrel (55gal drum) and blew a hole all the way through it and destroyed the bolt. It was a standard target bolt, not a broadhead. This showed me the lethality of the thing regarding body armor. It will kill whatever is in it’s path save steel plates.

    I’m glad I have it but it is not as enjoyable to shoot as a gun.

  10. I have no serious advice to offer, but I will say that there is some entertaining if not particularly helpful video available on Joerg Sprave’s Youtube channel. Just search “jeorgsprave crossbow”

    1. seconded! the mad German is a joy to watch.

      he recently came up with a design to make it easier to cock a crossbow by using his favorite building tool – rubber bands.

  11. Crossbows are not your mothers toy. Fun to shoot. Quiet like a suppressed rifle. Almost as much fun as a Ruger 10-22. Check out Carbon Express models. Not to pricey. Perfect for harvesting a wandering turkey or two.

  12. You will find that more and more states are allowing crossbow hunting. I would recommend learning with a lower price point crossbow- they are just as reliable, powerful, and accurate. I bought a Counterpoint crossbow a couple of years ago. Took 4 shots to get zeroed in. I have killed two deer with it and it allows you to hunt the extended archery season in Pa. I would recommend a fixed broadhead for turkey hunting. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y25GWQ2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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