(This article is for information only and cannot be sent!)
One of the concerns raised by the rapid spread of this ancient weapon is the lack of available educational material that should help crossbow beginners. Without the advantages of either experienced shooters or qualitative information to guide beginners, many of these hunters are doomed to mistakes and frustration.
Like any other firing instrument, safe and accurate use of the crossbow requires a combination of ancient and well-learned knowledge and new information about the weapon. With this information in the background, I would like to share my experiences and information with you to help you become a more successful crossbow archer. Who knows, this article might help you with your first experiences with the crossbow and many question marks!
Probably your first impression of a crossbow was that somehow a bow was assembled with a weapon in a kind of"breeding" and this strange object came out. It was a rifle with a bow at the front, rifle scopes at the top and a quiver full of arrows at the side! It's probably capable of shooting over miles, right? Reality and first impressions don't always fit together, and when it comes to crossbows we'd rather say"never"!
As with any archery equipment, a crossbow can only transfer a percentage of the energy our body can give to the limb of the crossbow as it is stretched to the arrow. This energy depends on the path of the string and the pull of the limb, and leaves firearms behind at speed and trajectory. You may be surprised that modern compound bows actually outperform crossbows in performance because they have a more efficient design!
I bet it's the shaft of the crossbow that creates this contradiction, after all, a crossbow is just a bow on a gun shaft, right? Wrong again; a long time ago someone thought"if I just tie a crossbow to my handgun, it'll make aiming easier". After all, there are crossbows more than 2000 years longer than rifles!
Well, they have the same depth of penetration, trajectory and projectiles as vertical arches; probably you don't even need green saliva and teeth to use a crossbow (somebody should tell that to Pope & Young, they might have something against it!)
Before we get too far into the practical, a word about the specific safety aspects of crossbows might be appropriate.
Most of the safety rules for crossbows are obvious and are related to the common sense your father taught you. You already know..."Don't aim at something you don't want to shoot at","Always look out for the safety catch","don't handle razor-sharp things", etc. Not necessarily a high science!
Something else. Always keep your body away from the path in which the string moves when the bow is stretched. This includes all parts that you do not want to damage or have removed prematurely by the string, as it will move forward. Most crossbow shooters end up putting their thumbs too high and then learn the practical side of this lesson, but usually, it only happens once!
Well, what do you think will happen if you tighten your crossbow and the handle slips off your boot when you latch it on? That's a problem! Always make sure your foot is firmly in the temple before tightening and you will never be greeted by a fast crossbow and then see starlets.
When you fire your crossbow, it rushes forward and out at an incredible speed. Imagine what happens when it hits a tree trunk or similar immovable object during its movement. I guarantee you you won't hit what you aimed at, but that's really insignificant compared to the damage potential for you and your crossbow, as the limb suddenly stops and the buttstock accelerates sideways. You then have the 50-50 chance of being hit by the shaft; if you sit on a high seat, the result could be like a bungee jump without a bungee rope! Before shooting, always make sure that your limb can move forward unhindered.
So now that we've finished the scary lesson, let's talk about how to shoot the crossbow in a targeted manner.
Surely the biggest mistake crossbowmen make is that they do not uniformly stretch your crossbow in the same place and as close as possible to the center. Stretching your crossbow 1/16? away from the center will drastically change the point of impact of your crossbow!
If you're lucky enough to shoot with a model that allows you to tighten your hands firmly on one side of the shaft to 'guide' the string, that's usually enough.
Some shooters mark their string at rest with two marks, one on each side of the crossbow shaft, and then gently shake the string to one side or the other to center it when stretched. This is especially helpful for"air deck arches", where there is a small guide to keep the hands in the middle.
Recently, bow stringer have become more and more popular. In addition to reducing the felt weight of drawing the crossbow, they can also be used to ensure exact centring. The only problem here is that the string can slide to the spacing point on the shaft to compensate for limb pressure, and a round file and wax might be needed to round and polish the spacing to ensure this if your crossbow has not already been adjusted.
Okay, so now we are all crossbow geniuses, our bows shoot great, the visors, range etc. are set and safe, and we are shooting safe, tiny groups with targets in a given range.
Stick Broadheads on it and you'll be shocked! Precision at Broadheads with a crossbow seems as easy as finding an honest politician. What now?
Precision on Broadheads is relatively easy to achieve if you simply follow a few simple rules when choosing your combination of arrow and broadhead.
Next: You're not ploughing fields with your arrows, so why expect to shoot a Broadhead the size of a rake knife from your crossbow? Small blade points definitely provide higher accuracy. The theory is that it's better to shoot a small hole where you want it than a big one where you don't want it. It seems easier to steer with extensions by mechanical blade tips, but I've always been suspicious of their reliability and durability, so don't use them.
My personal favourite point is the Wasp 100 grain"Boss" Broadhead. This small point flies almost exactly into a target when correctly fletched, and if I've done everything right, it's never missed its target.
Like a bullet, an arrow should gyrate in flight to stabilize it. The Broadhead should try to redirect it and keep redirecting it back to the centre. A full spiral feathering is often a little too abrupt for crossbows and often doesn't fit into their path, so try a slight offset with straight brackets for best Broadhead precision.
Feathers or vanes? That's really up to you. Many shooters find that vanes are more durable, but my personal experience is that springs bring a real improvement in precision. Finally, both achieve acceptable precision for normal hunting purposes.
When John Wayne was asked how to shoot precisely, he said,"Wind and elevation are the keys. Well, I don't have time to get into the wind and that's usually not a problem, but I happened to have a glimpse of the elevation!
The trajectory is what an archer lives or dies with, and today's emphasis on long range shots in 3D competitions can give us a glimpse into the next level of shooting! The average distance at which animals are shot with a crossbow is under 25 yards, and about 90% of all shots are under 25 yards. In these areas, my experience is that most hunters overestimate and overshoot more than they make any other stupid mistake (including those present).
Now there is a theory of crossbow shooting that I have developed over the last 20 years called Bill's Theory of Crossbow Shooting. I would like to share this with you.
If you target your crossbow at 20 yards, this will result in a trajectory of approximately 1-2" height at 15 yards, and 2" 3" depth at 25 yards (assuming your crossbow reaches 240 FPS or more). Now, if you mark or remember areas that are 25 yards from your stand and never shoot outside those areas, the trajectory will not matter to you; just aim at the centre of the wild animal's chest and shoot. The deer doesn't care if you can shoot him a little bit.
Once you really have time to improve your crossbow skills and estimate the distance, you're ready for occasional"hero" shots, but remember to keep your loot standing around waiting for an arrow to come can be difficult at 40 yards, so keep the distance short!
Crossbow hunting can be an exciting and fun way to experience the great outdoors. It can help you gain access to archery, broaden your experience as an experienced archer by providing new alternative equipment, or prolong your archery time should physical ailments make your current equipment less usable. Don't be afraid to try it. It brings new momentum to an old game.