From how to load to what tools you’ll need for maintenance, you’ll have to do research before you can get good at crossbow hunting. Let’s take a look at some crossbow hunting tips that you can use in order to bring your crossbow game to the next level.
Crossbow Hunting Tips
- Buy the Right Tools for the Job
Bow hunting isn’t easy, so make sure that you buy the right tools that’ll enhance your crossbow hunting experience. These tools can be simple to get, and they will save you on expensive crossbow repairs and replacements.
- Wax: You’ll need this for the maintenance of your cables, active draw unit, and cord. You should wax these components at the beginning of a hunting season or every 75 to 100 shots.
- Oil: A crossbow, needs lubrication. The areas that need lubrication are the trigger box, flight rails, the riser, the trigger latch, and each bolt that is exposed to weather.
- Battery: Effective optics draw power, so from time to time you’ll need to replace a battery. You’ll need a 2032 watch battery for your scope.
- Restringing tool: You should restring your crossbow every three to four years and a restringing tool will make this process easier.
Here’s a great video that’ll walk you through crossbow maintenance.
- Get the Right Cocking Gear
While you can manually cock your crossbow, it’s much easier to grab some type of cocking gear. Since a 150 pound crossbow is going to take some effort to cock, here are some cocking options:
- Rope Cocking: This method uses a simple pulley system to make the cocking of your bow easier to manage. With this method you will be required to pull the bow string nearly twice as far, but the amount of weight you need to cock will be cut in half.
- Crank Cocking: This method is designed to crank the bow string into place rather than requiring brute strength. This is the easiest way to cock a crossbow; turning the cranks will often require ten pounds of force only.
- Invest in Quality Optics
Any optical system can be used on a crossbow, but it really is best to invest in a quality optical system that is specifically designed for this type of shooting. Dedicated crossbow scopes have sighting systems that account for the way a crossbow is fired.
A three dot reticle will work on most crossbows; for higher speed bows, get a scope that uses crosshair reticles. Remember, without a decent scope, you won’t hit your target in the right areas.
Crossbow Critic has a great write up about scopes.
- Invest in Quality Arrows and Broadheads
Quality, as they say, is job one and purchasing low fidelity components will deliver you a truly unsatisfying hunting experience. When hunting, you’ll need arrows that fly at precise trajectories.
Any bolts that are poorly made, will wobble, curve, and generally miss any target that you are shooting at.
Broadheads are the leading edge of your bolts, so a sharper broadhead with the most aerodynamic design will do the most good for your targeting. Once again, don’t go cheap, and you’ll find that you will do more than adequately while hunting.
- Think About Using A Range Finder
With crossbow hunting, range is important, so you’ll want to have an accurate a reading on range while hunting. Fortunately, there are many modern options for this, with the most accurate being a laser rangefinder.
All range finders will instantly tell you the precise distance between you and your target. Some hi-tech rangefinders will even be able to tell you where exactly to aim when shooting at steep angles.
These might cost you a bit, around $200 to $500 dollars, but this is an investment that is worth every penny. You can even find some scopes that have built-in rangefinders.
- Practice Makes Perfect
As with anything, you’re not going to start out as the world’s best crossbow hunter. Executing precise crossbow kills is going to take time and practice, so expect your first trips to not yield much.
With this said, there are some great ways to bone up and become proficient at crossbow hunting that don’t involve actually going out on a hunt. As has been the practice for centuries, you can hone your accuracy by target practice.
Let’s take a look at some methods.
Building Steady Aim: A single arrow shot never tells the story when you are building aim skills, so it’s best to utilize shooting groups when practicing. Shoot three consecutive arrows at the bullseye; aiming to hit the target three times in order to build aim steadiness.
Building Trigger Techniques: It’s important to learn to aim and fire in very short succession; too long a pause will cause you to miss. When practicing, learn to apply the required five pounds of pressure that’s needed to fire as you seek your target.
If you’re looking for a good practice regimen, this archery guide will hone your skills with bow or crossbow.
- Don’t Go Light
Currently, there is a trend towards lighter, shorter ranged crossbows, since many feel that these are easier to carry on long trips. Heavy is best when you are selecting a crossbow for hunting.
Heavier bows have a longer range and more powerful shots. Lighter bows aren’t really that much lighter than the tried and true models of crossbow.
- Keep an Eye on Your Arrow the Entire Time You Practice
Believe it or not, this is a great way to ensure that you are in your best possible shooting form. Eye the shaft for the entire trip from your crossbow to the target.
This will ensure that you’ll have an understanding of how the bolt flies and you’ll also develop better follow-through and arm positioning.
- Make Up Reasons to Shoot More Often
This might seem trivial, but making up reasons to shoot is one of the best crossbow tips. Other than hitting up the range, place wagers with your hunting buddies while on a hunt.
This way, you’ll have a reason to be as accurate as possible.
- Refine Your Form
In any type of bow hunting, form is incredibly important. With crossbows hunting form can make the difference between hitting a 20 point buck in the heart and hitting the tree that it was standing in front of seconds before.
Form is all about discipline, and honing this discipline will take you hours of practice outside of your hunts. Stay in shooting stance without firing for more than a few minutes, so that you will be able to return to it without much thought.
You’ll be surprised at how much this simple practice will improve your accuracy.
- Don’t be Afraid to Shoot Further
A crossbow can accurately hit a target that’s more than 1000 feet away, but many crossbowmen like to shoot closer. Aiming for targets at longer ranges will allow you to iron out the kinks of your shooting form.
Hitting targets at a far distance forces you to manage your shots better. If you can accurately hit a target that’s 300 yards away, a target lurking at a 30 yards will be easy.
- Know the Wind
A wind can greatly affect the way an arrow flies, so as a crossbow hunter, you’ll have to compensate for the greatest accuracy. Fortunately, there are ways to do this:
- Tools: Wind detectors are great for determining which way the wind is flowing. These quality devices will also let you know the direction of thermal updrafts. This has two bonuses:
o Firstly it’ll let you know if you’ll need to compensate for a shot.
o Secondly, deer use wind to scent danger. Knowing that your scent isn’t traveling to their three million scent receptors gives you a tactical advantage.
- Techniques: Always stand downwind from your target.
- Check Your Bolts
For the greatest level of accuracy, ensure that your bolts are straight before a hunt. Many hunters use machines to test this, but if this is unavailable to you, a flat surface like a table will do in a pinch.
Simply place your bolts on the flat surface and roll them with your hand. If there is any wobble, then you’ll need to replace the bolt as it won’t fly straight during your hunt.
- Guard Your Fingers
Crossbows have moving parts, so you’ll want to be extra careful that your fingers aren’t in the way when firing. Those who shoot rifles often have poor finger placement habits, if your fingers are hit by the bowstring, you can lose them!
- Game Hunting Tips
- Deer: Deer hunting requires you to be silent and scentless; being downwind from the deer is extremely important. The best time to aim for a white tail is early morning before the sun rises.
- Squirrel: When hunting squirrels, be patient, listen for them feeding, and hunt during the early morning or evening hours. Squirrels are small and move fast, so hitting one may take some practice.
For more detailed crossbow squirrel hunting, check out this guide.
- Turkey: Hunting a turkey requires patience and precision. It is a challenge to hit the vital organs of a turkey because they are so small, so take aim carefully.
Hunting with crossbows requires skill and patience
These crossbow hunting tips will bring your game to a world-class level of quality. Remember, hunting with a crossbow takes skill and patience, and refinement takes time.
If you persevere, practice often, and keep your form tight, you’ll start bringing big game down on your hunting trips.