For decades, some people have tried to demonize crossbows to prevent them from becoming another bowhunting option. They’ve slandered the crossbow’s reputation with a series of claims based on emotional conjecture and fear of loss. They are uninformed people, who for the most part, have no personal hands-on experience with the crossbow. Instead, they perpetuate misinformation and standardized myths that destroy the prestige of a respectable hunting tool that is centuries old. Here are a few of the common myths out there, and the dead-on truth.
LIE: The crossbow is actually a “crossgun” because it has a rifle stock.
TRUTH: The crossbow was around hundreds of years before the rifle. Therefore, the rifle is nothing more than a small cannon mounted on a crossbow stock.
LIE:Crossbows shoot bolts.
TRUTH: Historically, a bolt is a 6-inch wooden dowel-type projectile used for target shooting. If the projectile has a guidance system of feathers or vanes on one end, it’s an arrow. Crossbows shoot arrows, not bolts! And just because some folks misuse the term, that doesn’t make it correct.
LIE:The crossbow is a poacher’s weapon.
TRUTH: In Ohio, where the crossbow has been legal for more than 30 years, it’s the least-used weapon for poaching based on actual documented violations. As a matter of fact, it has half as many violations as the vertical bow. Those two weapons combined, however, represent less than 5 percent of Ohio’s total violations. Crossbows don’t poach game — poachers poach game.
LIE:The crossbow will wipe out deer herds.
TRUTH: We should be so lucky. Ohio documentation establishes the fact that percentage-wise, the crossbow hunter kills no more deer than the vertical bowhunter. The challenges and skills required to get close enough to an animal to kill it with an arrow are exactly the same with either bow. Success rates are determined not by the weapon, but instead, by the skill of the hunter. And if the rifle can’t stop the ever-expanding deer herd, do you really think the crossbow can?
LIE:A crossbow is much more efficient than a vertical bow.
TRUTH: The opposite is true! Kinetic energy is transferred to the arrow by the amount of distance the arrow is pushed by the string. Despite the higher draw weights of crossbows, an arrow shot from a vertical bow will fly farther and flatter than one shot from a crossbow because its power stroke is twice as long.
A crossbow has great speed out of the gate, but loses that speed much faster than a vertical bow. Beyond 30 or 40 yards, the vertical bow rules. Any shot beyond 40 yards at a live animal is not recommended with a crossbow.
LIE:A crossbow is not hand-drawn and released.
TRUTH: Crossbows have the advantage, according to adversaries, because there’s no movement required to draw it back. The truth is that a crossbow is heavy and must be raised to the shoulder to shoot at the moment of truth, which creates just as much movement as drawing back a bow.
Furthermore, skilled hunters know enough not to do either if they can see the eye of their quarry. The wise hunter waits for his prey to look away or have its head behind an obstruction before moving. Therefore, this claim is a moot argument.
LIE:Crossbows are too accurate.
TRUTH: While crossbows may be easier to master for some, technology has made the modern compound just as easy to master, at least according to a friend whose 13-year old daughter scored her first Robin Hood on the third shot of her life with her new compound bow! The crossbow has physical disadvantages, making it more difficult to shoot than vertical bows. IBO and NFFA both have crossbow classes in their tournaments. The scores being shot by the crossbowmen are less than those of the vertical archers. How can this be if crossbows are too accurate?
LIE:Crossbows are not safe.
TRUTH: There are no more injuries with a crossbow than with a vertical bow, according to state documentation. This bogus claim was probably made out of a fear for crossbows that’s based on ignorance and a lack of personal experience with the implement.
LIE:The crossbow is capable of killing animals at 100 yards.
TRUTH: Although a crossbow can be shot accurately beyond 40 yards, it’s not recommended for hunting because the arrow loses its energy rapidly. Crossbows are also very loud, which increases the animal’s ability to jump the string to evade contact. A longer shot means the animal has more time to step out of the arrow’s path.
Another reality is less penetration at longer ranges, which can turn even a well-placed shot into a wounding one.
The final challenge to this claim is keeping your target in your scope. At 100 yards, one would have to aim approximately 20 feet above the target, which removes it from the field of vision in your optics! Kind of hard to hit your target when you have to aim so high that it is not in your field of vision.
LIE:The crossbow controversy creates division among sportsmen.
TRUTH: The people that make this claim are the ones creating division. In the last decade, we have lost 10 percent of our hunters nationwide. We are dying on the vine, yet some hunters insist on tearing apart their brethren like a pack of wolves. If our hunting heritage is to survive, all hunters must work together to promote and preserve all forms of hunting with all weapons, including the crossbow. Anything that brings more hunters into our ranks is a good thing because it will preserve our hunting heritage.
LIE:Nobody wants crossbow hunting except the crossbow manufacturers.
TRUTH: With the recent expansion of crossbow hunting opportunities, crossbow manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand. A slower rate of expansion would be a comfort to them, but grassroot hunters are creating th
e demand across the country by insisting that they be allowed the same crossbow privileges that are offered to the hunters of the more progressive states.
Wildlife management agencies are pushing for the crossbow in an effort to bolster hunter numbers to better manage out-of-control deer populations and raise much needed funds to defray overhead.
However, if expansion comes too fast, manufacturers will not be able to keep up with the demand and that’s their worst nightmare.
LIE:Crossbows will flood the woods with hunters.
TRUTH: Another complaint by the anti-crossbow proponent is, “If we allow the crossbow, there will be more hunters in my woods, during my season, killing my deer!”
Now we’ve arrived. This is the bottom line of the antagonist’s argument — fear of loss.
To date, documentation in states that have included the crossbow in their archery season has not given credence to this claim. Hunter numbers may spike slightly for a year or two, but soon return to their waning trends.
The bottom line is that we as modern hunters are in great peril! If we do not recruit more hunters of all ages, especially the young, we, in all probability, will be a historical statistic by the year 2050 thanks to efforts of the animal rights movement.
The crossbow is an excellent tool for hunter retention: it keeps older hunters in the woods longer. There is no finer mentor than Grandpa when it comes to inspiring the young.
The crossbow is also a champion when it comes to recruiting new hunters of all ages, and therein lies the secret to our sport’s survival.
If you’re truly concerned about the future of our hunting heritage, you will support your fellow hunters, even if they choose to hunt with a crossbow.