Skip to main content

Going the Distance with Extended-Reach Crossbows

Are crossbow companies shooting themselves in the foot by promoting their products as long-range capable?

Going the Distance with Extended-Reach Crossbows

The age-old question — Shoot or don’t shoot? — should always be in the forefront of hunters’ minds.

In January 2018, Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission met to discuss amending the state’s current regulations, which allow crossbows during general archery seasons.

By most accounts, the current law has worked as designed. After all, if allowing crossbows increases hunter participation, especially among young hunters, the elderly, handicapped and women, how could it not be beneficial?

It seemed Wyoming’s crossbow hunters were humming along without major incident until mid-2017, when the Mission Company (owned by archery juggernaut Mathews) did what it does best: Mission engineers pushed the technology envelope, creating a crossbow that promised rifle-like accuracy. As its name and marketing message suggests, the “SUB-1” touts sub-1-inch-group accuracy at 100 yards. The archery industry stood up and took notice — and apparently so did Wyoming.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission felt compelled to re-examine its regulations, citing potential unfair advancement in technology that could alter its seasonal harvest and wounding-loss rates. Interestingly, at their meeting, crossbows weren’t the only new “technology” examined and discussed. On the agenda were cellphone-based trail cameras, air bows and “smart rifles.” In the previous year, Wyoming outlawed drones for hunting after the same review process.


The fact is, when Wyoming made crossbows legal for general archery seasons, crossbows were considered “50-yard weapons,” defined as “Short Range Elusion of Harvest” tools by the state. If crossbows were now 100-plus-yards capable (in essence, doubling their effective range), some in power were now postulating they should be regulated like rifles.


The meeting ended with an order for further exploration and fact gathering on archery hunting statistics, harvest data and wounding-loss percentages and for obtaining public input. So Wyoming hasn’t changed its crossbow regulations at the time of this writing, but it’s possible crossbows (and/or certain engineering advancements such as magnified optics) may only be legal for rifle seasons as soon as 2019.

Whatever Wyoming decides, the situation begs the question: Are crossbow companies shooting themselves in the foot by promoting their products as long-range capable?

THE CASE AGAINST LONG-RANGE HUNTING

Most hunters realize why long-range archery hunting is a bad idea. In a nutshell, an arrow shot by an average 350-fps crossbow begins shedding velocity (and energy) the moment it takes flight. It takes a 400-grain arrow approximately 1 second to reach a target 100 yards away. One second is ample time for a deer to move or the wind to swirl, thereby resulting in a miss or, worse yet, a wounded animal.

Additionally, the presence of a mere 5-mph crosswind at 100 yards can cause the arrow to drift several feet left or right. Combine these variables with awkward real-world shooting positions, hunters’ nerves and skill, and unseen objects in the flight path, and it’s easy to see how a 100-yard shot can quickly become a fiasco.


An arrow is not a bullet, which travels more than two-and-a-half times the speed of sound. Given that, there are simply too many variables out of the hunter’s control to ensure a high rate of success when an arrow is delivered at long ranges. A mortally wounded animal that is not recovered does not produce revenue for conservation, nor does it produce offspring for the future of its species, and no meat is stored away in the freezer.

To be clear, this writer, this publication and the hunting community at large are not the hunting police. Conversely, most hunters believe that various means and methods of hunting should not be banned outright. A more effective solution is for hunters to educate themselves and others about practices that could negatively impact the overall sport of hunting, as well as its public perception. This is an internal debate hunters should have before state agencies pass knee-jerk restrictions that could negatively impact our hunting future. After all, personal ethics are best left to the person — not to the state.

Meanwhile, sporting goods companies will continue to unearth every marketing angle to sell more products that make hunting easier. For instance, at the time of this writing, Ravin Crossbows’ first sentence on its website reads: “A good rifle can consistently punch holes in 3-inch bull’s-eyes at 100 yards. A great crossbow can too.”

In my tests, Mission’s Sub-1 recorded 2.85-inch groups outdoors at 100 yards, with broadheads. While not “sub-1-inch,” it’s amazingly accurate, and good enough to nail bull’s-eyes on my controlled practice range. This kind of advanced engineering should be celebrated and encouraged — but that doesn’t mean hunters must take advantage of it. Besides, why cast blame on new technology when it is ultimately hunters who control the trigger?


LASTING IMPRESSIONS

The reality is this: some compound-bow hunters can punch targets at 100 yards with stunning consistency. These archers spend countless hours on the range in pursuit of shooting perfection. They know their equipment intimately, and they know their equipment’s limitations as well as they know their own. We all should do the same, regardless of the bow or firearm chosen.

Indeed, being a responsible hunter means realizing your own limitations. Because if we don’t police ourselves, bureaucrats will do it for us. Game animals are valuable natural resources that we should respect. Quite simply, if you can get closer before shooting, do so. After all, isn’t getting close the reason we bow hunt?

Note: Originally published in 2018 Crossbow Revolution Magazine.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights.

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows.

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

Learn more about two new Elite Archery bows, the Enkore and Remedy, two new broadhead from Slick Trick and a new site from Custom Bow Equipment (CBE).

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, design engineer for Mathews, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Fast and accurate: Crossbows from this year's ATA Show.10 Great New Crossbows for 2021 ATA Show

10 Great New Crossbows for 2021

Game and Fish Staff - January 15, 2021

Fast and accurate: Crossbows from this year's ATA Show.

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 12, 2021

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.

There are plenty of bowhunters who opt for the dependability of fixed-blade designs.New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 11, 2021

There are plenty of bowhunters who opt for the dependability of fixed-blade designs.

HyperFlite arrows improve accuracy, penetration.Barnett's Breakthrough Small-Diameter Crossbow Arrow Crossbows

Barnett's Breakthrough Small-Diameter Crossbow Arrow

Game and Fish Staff - December 09, 2020

HyperFlite arrows improve accuracy, penetration.

See More Trending Articles

More Crossbows

Arrow and broadhead cases highlight company's ATA Show.Store, Travel with Bowhunting Gear — MTM Case-Gard ATA Show

Store, Travel with Bowhunting Gear — MTM Case-Gard

Game & Fish Digital Staff - January 10, 2020

Arrow and broadhead cases highlight company's ATA Show.

Smart technology offers crossbow hunters instantaneous decision making capabilities.Field Tested: TenPoint's Vapor RS470 XERO Proves Itself on Ohio Hunt Crossbows

Field Tested: TenPoint's Vapor RS470 XERO Proves Itself on Ohio Hunt

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn - November 18, 2020

Smart technology offers crossbow hunters instantaneous decision making capabilities.

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 12, 2021

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.

The Havoc RS440 XERO, Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 bring cutting-edge tech to your hunt.New for 2021 from TenPoint Crossbows Crossbows

New for 2021 from TenPoint Crossbows

Game and Fish Staff - December 29, 2020

The Havoc RS440 XERO, Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 bring cutting-edge tech to your hunt.

See More Crossbows

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