How to Choose a Crossbow – A Beginner’s Guide

Are you looking for the most suitable crossbow for your next hunt but confused where to start? Don’t worry; I got you covered, as I know the importance of multiple factors that play a vital role in ensuring the best purchase.

Quick Tip!
How to choose a crossbow? When choosing a crossbow, consider your intended use and determine if you need it for target shooting or hunting. Additionally, research different brands' draw weight, speed, and quality to find the best fit for your needs.

You landed in the right place for a detailed answer to how to choose a crossbow. Keep reading this buying guide. I have covered all features in this article so you understand your needs and pick the best option.

Two Popular Types of Crossbows

Compound vs Recurve Crossbows: Which One Suits Your Needs?

CenterPoint Archery Hellion 400 Compound Crossbow
Excalibur Micro Suppressor 400TD

Which crossbow suits you the most depends on your nature. Do you like to keep things in the best form and take care of them to maintain performance? Or are you the one who uses things whenever you need them and find it tough to take care of them?

The compound crossbow is an ideal pick if you are the first one. A compound crossbow provides maximum speed and power; you can quickly draw. However, it needs extra care, which often takes time and attention. But as a caring person, this suits you the most.

In contrast, if you are the second one, who uses a crossbow for hunting after weeks or months, you should choose a recurve crossbow. With recurve crossbows, you don’t need to spend time cleaning or setting it. 

However, it is tough to handle. If you like challenges, then you can go with them. In both cases, if you want extra functionality, power, and speed, then a compound crossbow is best, with the only downside being maintenance. But as a passionate hunter, this will be a piece of cake for you.

In-Depth Buyer’s Guide for Choosing the Perfect Crossbow

1. Consider The Speed and Power

Look Speed and Power of Crossbow While Purchasing

Speed and power are essential factors in determining target accuracy when you want to know how to choose a crossbow.

Many things make your shot powerful, i.e., crossbow build, bolt weight, head of the crossbow, speed, etc. However, it is just a part of power. However, a good combination of power and speed gives you mind-blowing results.

Other than power, speed has a unit that is FPS (feet per second), so you can pick a precise speed according to your needs. The minimum FPS is 200, but you can increase it to 470 FPS.

As a professional hunter, you can go with high FPS and power. However, for a beginner, a crossbow with less power and speed works best because it is tough in the learning phase to evaluate things at high speed and power.

2. Power Stroke and Draw Weight

What it is: The draw length of a crossbow named Powerstroke could be more questionable. To measure the Powerstroke, you must measure the distance between the draw at its resting and stretching positions. For adults, they often provide a draw length of up to 11 inches to ensure a power shot. Check it before making a purchase.

On the other hand, the draw weight depends on Powerstroke, as it is the force you apply while stretching the bowstring back. Both factors determine the speed of your bolt, as the more Powerstroke is, the more power you store, and it takes more time to accelerate the bolt.

Read Next: What Is Crossbow Draw Weight?

If you are a professional, a crossbow with a high draw weight is perfect, but as a beginner, a lightweight works best because it is easy to cock them. Here we’ve made a list of lightweight crossbows suitable for both beginner-level hunters and medium skill levels:

Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow, with 4x32 Multi-Reticle Scope, 2...
  • BARNETT WHITETAIL HUNTER II CROSSBOW: High-performance compound crossbow in RealTree Extra with complete hunting...
  • EFFICIENT: Crossbow is equipped with an axle-to-axle length of 16.125" overall weight of just 6.4 lbs., creating an...
  • SAFETY FEATURES : Soft Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer, Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) Trigger System, TriggerTech 3lb zero...
Barnett HyperTac Crossbow Package with 1.5-5x32 Illuminated Scope, 3...
  • BARNETT HYPERTAC 420 CROSSBOW WITHOUT CRANK DEVICE: Lightweight and Ultra-Compact Crossbow shooting 420 feet per second...
  • HIGH-PERFORMANCE: The most compact and devastating crossbow in its class has emerged. The HyperTac 420, pairs a newly...
  • HYPERFLITE 22" ARROWS: Only use HyperFlite Arrows with HyperTac 420 (3 arrows included). With 21% F.O.C. Increase for...
Barnett Whitetail Hunter Crossbow, with 4x32mm Multi-Reticle Scope, 2...
  • BARNETT WHITETAIL HUNTER CROSSBOW STR WITHOUT CRANK DEVICE: Ultra-compact compound crossbow with complete hunting...
  • EFFICIENT: Crossbow is equipped with Step-Through Riser (STR) technology that reduces the length of the crossbow and has...
  • SAFETY FEATURES: Soft Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer, Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) Trigger System, Finger Safety reminders,...

4. Size and Weight

Crossbows must be small and lightweight as you must carry them in the forest for extended periods. Having a heavy and oversized crossbow makes it tough to hunt for long.

Although the size and weight are directly proportional to the speed and power, an increase in size and power gives desired results if you want speed and power.

This factor is more prominent in recurve crossbows, while the speed and power of compound crossbows do not depend much on size and weight. 

A beginner’s recommended size and weight are low as they are in a learning phase and find it tough to control the crossbow while maintaining precision.

4. Crossbow Must be Less Noisy

It is so challenging for a crossbow to be less noisy because of high FPS. However, the manufacturer often adds new features to lower the sound. 

Look for a crossbow with less noise so your target never gets attentive and you never miss your prey. Here, you can see the best available options to choose:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Excalibur Ex-Act Fit Suppressors | Archery Hunting Durable Effective...
  • EX-ACT FIT SUPPRESSORS -The Ex-act Fit Suppressor was engineered to drastically reduce noise and vibration and increase...
  • BEST CONSTRUCTION - Ex-act Fit Suppressors' construction reduces the noise by up to 3 dB & vibration of the shot by up...
  • EFFECTIVE SILENCER - The universal adhesive pad feature G2 Truss Dampening Technology that effectively reduces noise and...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Excalibur R.E.D.S. / S5 Replacement Pads | Archery Hunting Durable...
  • R.E.D.S. / S5 REPLACEMENT PADS - Keep your string system quiet and your hunting more successful with replacement...
  • EFFECTIVE SILENCER - Suppressors are essential crossbow accessories when you need less noise and vibration while...
  • RELIABLE MATERIALS - These Pads are made using high quality materials to reduce vibration and noise when the crossbow is...
SaleBestseller No. 3
Excalibur Sound Deadening System | Archery Hunting Durable Effective...
  • SOUND DEADENING SYSTEM -The Sound Deadening System is engineered to eliminate noise and shock throughout the crossbow...
  • FULL PACKAGE - This Suppressor System comes in a complete package and includes: Over-molded Rubberized Stirrup, Ex-Shox...
  • EFFECTIVE SILENCER - This versatile four-component package works in sync to reduce vibration and noise when the crossbow...

5. Scopes And Optics

Crossbow Scopes and Optics

With crossbows, you must aim your target from hundreds of feet, which is quite tough to manage with old iron sights. Therefore, for advanced crossbows, an optical scope works best. 

A crosshair and one dot scope best overcome the precision problem whether the target is near or far. However, it is challenging to carry both. Here you can try multi-reticle scope as all one solution.

Take a Look: We’ve Rounded Up the Best Crossbow Scopes.

TACFUN 4X32 Crossbow Compact Multi Range Reticle Scope Red Green with...
  • The 4x32mm compact Multi Reticle crossbow scope is constructed of one solid piece of T6 6061 aircraft grade aluminum...
  • Dual Color Illuminated Red and Green
  • Magnification: 4X Objective: 32X Tube Diameter: 1" Eye Relief: 3"
SA Sports 4x32 Illuminated Multi Reticle Crossbow Scope 550, Weaver...
  • Illuminated etched glass reticle; 4 times magnification
  • Fog, water, and shock proof for superior durability
  • Features multiple sight points for a variety of ranges

7. Types of Triggers

Credit: Outdoor life
Credit: Outdoor life

The type of trigger often depends on the model of crossbow that you choose, as each model has a different one.

They vary in weight, pulling power they take, and the amount of pressure needed for a fire. The least creep model is recommended for a newbie, or you can choose one according to your desired features.

Killer Instinct Lethal 405 Crossbow Pro Package. This Top Archery...
  • HARD HITTING: Knock down staggering, strong beasts with a heart-pounding speed of 405 feet per second and 134...
  • QUIET PERFORMANCE: Custom rubber shock absorbers reduce noise and vibration for increased stealth and performance
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FRAME: Ultra-light composite stock is comfortable and easy to maneuver

7. Safety Features to Look

A crossbow has many safety precautions, so you never hurt yourself while handling it. Therefore, manufacturers have now added some security features to enhance safety. While buying a crossbow, look for the following features.

  • Trigger Safety: Trigger safety ensures a safe start and avoids an unwanted shot, so you never accidentally hurt yourself or any fellow.
  • Finger Guard: Never put your finger in the way of the bowstring, as it takes such high power to shoot. Now, new designs come with safety that prevents you from putting your finger in front of the string or broadheads to provide protection.
  • Anti-Dry Fire Machine: Pressing the trigger without adding a bolt is known as the dry fire, which harms the crossbow and your body because all stored energy is transferred here instead of the bolt. New designs ensure an anti-dry fire mechanism that avoids fire without bolts and saves energy from injury.

8. Easy To Assembly and Takedown

Crossbows often come partly to save cost and space, but it takes extra effort; for beginners, it takes expert help. So if you are new to it, pick one with fewer assembling steps.

After this, takedown is also not easy and takes professional help till you learn by yourself. It is like folding the bow; however, this is for hunters who must travel in the forest and carry crossbows a long way.

Take a Look: We’ve Rounded Up the Best Budget Crossbow.

9. Comes with Best Accessories

Multiple additional features make it easy to use crossbows.

  • Cocking Device: Cocking multiple times makes it challenging for a hunter as it takes a lot of effort. The use of cocking devices reduces this pressure to a great extent by reducing draw weight.
  • Quiver: This is like a tool that holds your bolt either attached with a crossbow or your body.
  • Sling: Hunters wear this to hold the crossbow in the woods while walking and when the crossbow is free.
  • Noise Dampeners: This is an essential accessory for hunters because noise can make prey attentive.

Take a Look: We’ve Rounded Up the Best Crossbow Slings.

What to Look For in a Hunting Crossbow Before Buying? (checklist )

What to Look in a Hunting Crossbow while buying

Hunting crossbows must have specific features to work better in the hunt. For example, it should be lightweight and small to make it easy to carry. To ensure you make the right choice when buying a hunting crossbow, check out this handy checklist:

  1. Draw Weight: The crossbow’s draw weight should align with your physical capabilities and hunting demands.
  2. Speed: Prioritize crossbows boasting higher feet per second (FPS) ratings, as these improve accuracy and penetration potential.
  3. Accuracy: A paramount aspect of quality scopes or optics systems guarantees accurate aiming, a key element in successful hunting.
  4. Size and Weight: Opt for a crossbow that balances manageability in size and weight, facilitating easy carrying and working in diverse hunting environments.
  5. Safety Features: Models featuring anti-dry fire mechanisms and secure safety switches ensure a safer hunting experience.
  6. Cocking Mechanism: Choose a cocking mechanism—manual, rope cocking devices, or integrated cranks—based on unique preference and comfort.
  7. Build Quality: The crossbow’s durability hinges on the materials’ quality; select models crafted to withstand the rigors of outdoor conditions.
  8. Noise and Vibration: Minimizing noise and vibration is key to preventing startling games; select models designed with this consideration.
  9. Accessories: Assess if the crossbow comes bundled with quivers, bolts, and dampeners; it’s improving your overall hunting experience.
  10. Price and Warranty: Striking a balance between your budget and the crossbow’s quality is crucial. Additionally, consider warranties for long-term reassurance.

Take a Look: We’ve Rounded Up the Best Hunting Crossbows.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Most Common Questions We Receive From New Shooters:

A crossbow with 150 to 175 pounds weight is the best option. However, the size of the crossbow depends on your experience and the niche where you want to use it. Choose a small-sized crossbow if you are a beginner and want to hunt.

If you are a hunter, you should pick a crossbow with 300FPS. Also, it depends on the use; you don’t need much higher FPS for recreational purposes, but you can go to 400FPS for hunting.

As a beginner, you must pick a crossbow that is easy to use and lightweight. For this, Killer Instinct Lethal 405 is recommended. It has everything you look for to hunt in the woods easily.

Wrap up

It is essential to pick the crossbow after observing all your needs and expertise level while answering the question of how to choose a crossbow so you will be happy with your decision later. 

Consider the size, draw weight, power, speed, crossbow types, safety accessories, and trigger type to get what you need. 

Don’t just jump into the market and buy one crossbow; look for all these mentioned features to purchase the best product for you.

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