Skip to main content

Cross Marks The Spot

9 accuracy tips for getting the most out of a crossbow

Cross Marks The Spot
9 accuracy tips for getting the most out of a crossbow

If you can accurately shoot a rifle, you should be fine with shooting a crossbow, right?

Or wait ... do you have to be accurate with a bow to be able to have tight groupings with these hybrids?

According to David Barnett of Barnett Crossbows (www.barnettcrossbows.com), the answer is both, sort of.

"Understanding the mechanics of shooting a rifle is important. But just as important is knowing the properties of archery gear and the relationship between a bow, the arrows (or bolts) you select and the different points you can elect to use," he said. "The bottom line is that transitioning from a gun to a crossbow is very seamless, even though the limitations of a crossbow are very similar to a vertical bow.


This said, Barnett walks us through his best tips for improving crossbow accuracy:


  1. Use a cocking rope:
    "Cocking by hand is inconsistent. You want equal amount of draw on each limb and your string perfectly centered on the flight track. If your string is off center just a little, your bolt flight will be altered, reducing accuracy."

  2. Mark center:
    "Even if you are using a cocking rope, mark the center of your crossbow string while it is at rest. This way, if you loose your rope cocking device, you can cock the bow by hand and know if the string is centered on the track."

  3. Broadhead selection:
    "If you use fixed-blade broadheads, keep the maximum diameter to or below 1 1/8-inch. Because of the high speeds of most modern crossbows, larger diameter broadheads offer inconsistent patterns."

  4. Arrow check:
    "Always check your arrows before you shoot. A damaged fletching, nicked nock or insert could not only dramatically affect your accuracy, but could also damage your bow and cause you injury. Crossbows are under a lot of pressure and torque. Any small problem with a bolt is magnified when you squeeze the trigger."

  5. Go with the grain:
    "Always keep your bolt setup consistent. Make sure the shaft length and weight doesn't vary. And keep your field points and broadheads all the same weight. Mixing points and shafts of different grain-weights can be confusing and may result in accidentally shooting a bolt that's heavier or lighter than you expect."

  6. Wax and lube frequently:
    "I recommend waxing your strings and lubing the flight track every 15 to 20 shots (Barnett Crossbow Lubewax). You want to keep the friction to a minimum on the flight track to increase longevity of your strings and the bow shooting at top speed. Once you coat all the strings and cables, rub the wax in with your fingers."

  7. Shoulder, squeeze, rest:
    "This reminder sounds silly, but remember to pull the crossbow tight to your shoulder. A lot of people forget this simple rule because there is no recoil. Also remember to squeeze the trigger like on a rifle, don't pull it sharply. And use a rest when possible. Shooting sticks are great for crossbows!"

  8. All about the length:
    "Make sure you always shoot the proper length bolt. Crossbows are generally built to launch a specific weight range, most of which comes from the bolt. Shooting one too heavy or too light will eventually cause the bow to malfunction or break. Long term accuracy is certainly lost at this point."

  9. Practice, practice, practice:
    "Again, this seems elementary. However, many folks head out to the woods with a crossbow thinking it's easy after shooting a tight group in the backyard off a bench. Hardly the case. Put yourself in hunting situations and practice shooting from a prone, kneeling and standing position. You'll find that shooting a crossbow is a unique combination of gun and bow ... and the only way to perfect it is by practicing with one!"

Go to 2013 Deer Camp

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter.

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties are accompanied by melted Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and Thousand Island dressing and then pressed in between two toasted and golden brown pieces of rye bread.Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe Wild Game

Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe

Kristy Crabtree - October 27, 2020

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From tumblers to bottles to flasks (and even clever bottle openers), we've rounded up some of the best bar gear for the outdoors.Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup The Deck

Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup

Chelsie Walters and Jessyca Sortillon - August 31, 2020

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

 Hitting the whitetail road this fall? Here's how to turn your truck into the ultimate mobile hunting rig.Deer Hunting Field Skills: Truck-Bed Basecamp Whitetail

Deer Hunting Field Skills: Truck-Bed Basecamp

Tony Hansen - October 21, 2020

Hitting the whitetail road this fall? Here's how to turn your truck into the ultimate mobile...

A mock whitetail scrape is easier—and cheaper—than you might think.6 Keys to Making a Mock Scrape Whitetail

6 Keys to Making a Mock Scrape

Dustin Prievo - October 26, 2020

A mock whitetail scrape is easier—and cheaper—than you might think.

Convince a mature buck that an interloper has invaded his turf. Then use it against him.5 Intruder Tactics to Trick Whitetail Bucks During Rut Whitetail

5 Intruder Tactics to Trick Whitetail Bucks During Rut

Josh Honeycutt - November 18, 2020

Convince a mature buck that an interloper has invaded his turf. Then use it against him.

Prevent a great afternoon deer hunt from turning into a long night of dread and disappointment.Blood-Trailing Big Game After Dark Hunting How-To

Blood-Trailing Big Game After Dark

Bob Robb - October 21, 2020

Prevent a great afternoon deer hunt from turning into a long night of dread and disappointment.

See More Whitetail

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now