Undoubtedly there are many crossbows on the market. Similar to rifle shopping, crossbow shopping can prove daunting and you can spend a pretty penny for a bow that has all the “bells and whistles” that you may not need.
Thankfully there are companies, like CenterPoint Archery, that recognize the wide variety of hunters. They offer budget-friendly, feature-packed models. Hunters will definitely appreciate CenterPoint Archery’s Sniper line of crossbows, which are new for 2018.
One of their newer models, the Sniper Elite Whisper 370, a medium-weight (7.8 pounds), short-limbed (18 inches axle-to-axle when cocked) crossbow is nicely balanced for blind or treestand hunting. The Elite Whisper is just over 39 inches long, including the stirrup, which makes it especially compact for still-hunting and stalking.
The Elite Whisper’s draw weight of 185 pounds is stout but manageable for most users except for the very young or very old. A new feature that will be available later this year is an improved Power Draw Rope Cranking device that aides in reducing draw weight by 75%. With a power stroke of 13.5 inches, the Sniper Elite Whisper generates arrow speeds of 370 fps. In fact, in my testing new arrows fired from a well-lubed rail were chronographed at over 377 fps – more than fast enough for deer, bear, or wild hog hunting.
Other features that will appeal to crossbow shooters include Crosman’s EZ Adjustable Butt Stock, which provides additional length using a standard push-button bar. Also, hunters will like the Sniper Elite Whisper’s adjustable pass-through fore grip, which is roomy enough for gloves and flanged to ensure that the shooter’s fingers stay well below the top of the rail. The trigger guard, too, is extra-large and ideal for shooting during cold or wet weather when hunters are most likely to be wearing thick or insulated gloves.
Buyers are encouraged to read the Sniper Elite Whisper’s six-page owner’s manual immediately upon opening the box, first to ensure that all parts, screws, hardware and wrenches are included and to learn the differences between the Sniper Elite Whisper and other crossbows.
Assembly of the Elite Whisper is quick and easy using one screw to attach the limbs to the stock, two set screws to lock the stirrup and limbs in place and two more screws to attach the QD quiver. The instructions are clear, concise and well-illustrated. All necessary Hex wrenches are provided. The only tool the user must supply is a common, large, flat-head screwdriver to mount the 4×32 scope. Total elapsed time in assembly was about half a cup of coffee, mounting one element at a time between sips.
The 4×32 scope comes separately and must be mounted by the consumer but the process takes only a few seconds. At the range, the Sniper Elite Whisper started out about six inches shy of the bull’s-eye at 10 yards but was dead-on at 20 yards after three follow-up arrows.
The Sniper Elite Whisper crossbow package includes three 20-inch 270-grain carbon arrows and 100-grain field tips. The half-moon nocks are easy to use, quick to load and seat solidly on the string, which is safer and provides better accuracy than most flat or universal nocks.
There were no misfires or malfunctions during a 100-shot session at the range. I wiped down my arrows and re-lubed the rail every 12 shots as per the manufacturer’s instructions and found that accuracy improved significantly when shooting clean arrows off a freshly-lubed rail. All the more reason to read that manual!
Once I became familiar with the provided 4×32 scope’s conformation I was able to drop arrows into the center of targets set at 20, 30 and 40 yards with regularity.
Too many crossbows are sold with “rifle-type” scopes that are not designed for crossbows. These often have extra reticles, fine crosshairs and instructions that have little or nothing to do with crossbow shooting or hunting.
I was particularly pleased with the Sniper Elite Whisper’s proprietary compact 4×32 scope. Its bold, black crosshairs are easy to find and there are only four of them, giving hunters a choice of reticles at 10 to 40 yards or, for more open country, 20 to 50 yards. The reticles are clean, sharp and perfectly calibrated in 10-yard increments.
The scope is not illuminated, however, which could be an issue in extreme low-light situations. However, I was able to make repeated dead-center hits at the target range 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset, which is most most states’ standard for “legal shooting time.”
There is much to like about the Sniper Elite Whisper 370.
Trigger pull was a constant 3.5 pounds throughout the test period and there were no malfunctions or operating issues to report. I found the adjustable stock to be useful when changing from tree stands to blinds or when still-hunting. The Sniper’s compact size made it easy to carry on the roving range.
Intrigued by the fact that the owner’s manual does not specifically recommend against leaving the Elite Whisper cocked for long periods of time, I took advantage of the variable weather conditions during the test period and left it cocked (unloaded, of course) outdoors for two days. Temperatures ranged from 90 degrees to 50 degrees with periods of rain, sun and wind not unlike what one might encounter during an early season deer hunt. After 48 hours exposed to the elements the crossbow was dead-on at 20 yards.
Crosman does warn against trying to de-cock the Sniper Elite Whisper using any method other than firing a serviceable arrow into an appropriate target. I can say that I have seen hunters de-cock their crossbows by hand but those were far more capable men than I. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on de-cocking and always air on the side of safety.
I would have no problem taking the Sniper Elite Whisper 370 on an extended, serious trip for trophy big game of any species. It is solidly built and is Robin Hood accurate out to 40 yards, which is more than adequate for 99 percent of big-game hunting situations. Wait for a clear, broadside shot at 40 yards or less and the Sniper Elite Whisper will be up to the task.
The Sniper Elite Whisper 370 package includes the crossbow, 4×32 scope, EZ Adjustable Stock, string stoppers, limb noise suppressors, adjustable pass-through fore grip, rope cocker, QD quiver and three 20-inch arrows. The Sniper Elite Whisper package also includes a 5-year limited warranty. MSRP is $299.99.
For more information and a look at CenterPoint Archery’s complete line of crossbows, log onto www.centerpointhunting.com.
FALL CROSSBOW TACTICS
In the final analysis, any crossbow is merely a horizontal version of the compound bow, meaning that its practical limit of accuracy is about 40 yards. Bench-rest quibblers will enjoy haggling about the possibilities of 50-, 60- and even 70-yard shots, and some of the most modern crossbows can put an arrow into the bull at 100 yards – but this is target shooting, not hunting.
Most deer, bear and hog hunters will want to get as close to their targets as possible to ensure a clean, one-shot kill with no follow-up required. For nearly all crossbow-hunting situations a blind or tree stand is the key to making an accurate shot at close range on unsuspecting game.
Stands or blinds should be set up near but not directly on trails, travel ways, crossings or field entrances. When installing blinds and stands be sure to get into the unit with a crossbow after it is set up and tweak the available shooting lanes by trimming offending brush, leaves and other obstacles as necessary. Be sure to create shooting lanes at various angles and all around the site because the biggest deer and other game often leave the main trail and meander off track when approaching a common crossing or fence line.
When setting up a blind or stand bring a lightweight target along for lane testing purposes. A few minutes of pre-hunt preparation is worth an entire off-season of excuses!
Still-hunting with a crossbow is an excellent way to take roaming bucks, especially during the rut. This is where a short-limbed, lightweight, well-balanced crossbow such as the Sniper Whisper Elite 370 comes in very handy. Move slowly through the brush, stopping often to scan the surroundings, and be on the alert for the slightest indication that a deer may be nearby.
The challenge will be in finding a clear shooting lane on a deer that’s free-roaming and likely to change direction at any time. Focus on a convenient opening within 40 yards, aim at the center of the opening and shoot as soon as the animal’s heart-lung area enters the sight picture. An arrow traveling 370 fps will get there and do the job long before the animal knows it has been targeted.
This is why longer-distance shots are to be discouraged when using crossbows in brushy habitat. The odds are that the arrow will never reach its target, most likely becoming entangled in limbs, brush or vines en route.
- Manufacturer: Crosman/CenterPoint
- Model: Sniper Elite Whisper 370
- Draw weight: 185 pounds
- Power stroke: 13.5 inches
- Arrow length: 20 inches
- Arrow speed: 370 fps
- Trigger pull: 3.5 pounds; auto-safety, dry-fire inhibitor
- Sights: 4×32 multi-reticle crossbow scope provided
- Cocking device: Rope cocker provided (Optional Power Draw Rope Cranking Device- sold separately)
- Length: 39.25 inches (inludes stirrup)
- Axle-to-axle length: 18 inches (cocked)
- Weight: 7.9 pounds
- Other Features: Adjustable butt stock, string stoppers, limb noise suppressors, Aluminum Rail, QD quiver, Adjustable- rubberized fore grip
- MSRP: $299.99