The crossbow is a weapon that works similarly to a bow. It shoots projectiles - arrows (or bolts). You load it by pulling back the string and placing an arrow on the rail. Then you can use it like a rifle - rest the stock against your shoulder to aim and pull the trigger to shoot.
A crossbow's main difference compared to a bow is that you do not need to use your own physical strength to maintain its draw while aiming. You only need to pull the string until it "clicks" into a locked position.
Ease of use is the main reason so many shooters prefer crossbows over a traditional bow.
Shooting a bow involves manually maintaining a full draw for at least a few seconds. Which puts a strain on the body and takes quite a bit of effort and energy.
Once the crossbow is cocked, the shooter can focus on aiming, without feeling the urge to release the arrow. Or simply relax and enjoy the scenery while waiting for some animal to pass by.
This makes crossbows much more accessible weapon for:
Of course, we are not mentioning those who simply find crossbows extremely cool! Because they are.
For many people, crossbows are a hybrid between a bow and a rifle. They use limbs and a string to generate force but also have stock, barrel, and a trigger. Basically, they are loaded like a bow but are aimed and shot like a rifle.
Here is a brilliant animation, demonstrating how the mechanism of an ancient/medieval crossbow functions.
Modern crossbows utilize the same principles but usually offer additional features and accessories in order to improve the efficiency, usability, and safety.
A crossbow is made of the following components:
In order to shoot, the crossbowman would:
Note: there's a third option for cocking the crossbow - a crank device that allows you to pull the string with minimal effort. Useful for younger/older shooters, people with disabilities, or for the super-powerful crossbow models with enormous draw weight - around 300 lbs or more.
When hunting, it is not advisable to pull the trigger if the animal is further than 40 yards, even if using a relatively modern and powerful crossbow. And it is mainly a matter of accuracy and not power or speed. Most hunters cannot reliably hit their target beyond that range.
That depends on where you live. In most US states they are legal to use for hunting during the archery season. And in some states- during the muzzleloader season. Finally, there are some states with stricter rules in regard to hunting with a crossbow. Check the regulations map on TenPoint's website for more detailed info on the matter.
There are two main types of crossbows, depending on their mechanics for generating force. Recurve crossbows rely entirely on the flexible limbs, and compound crossbows utilize a more complex "cam system" - a set of cam wheels, pulleys, and cables.
Recurve crossbows are generally simpler, more reliable, and quieter, while compound crossbows tend to generate greater arrow speeds and require less draw weight to be cocked.
A crossbow's ammunition is comprised of a shaft, head, 3 or 4 fletchings, and a nock.
While practicing, target shooting, or hunting small game, you'd load the crossbow with arrows with field point tips:
And when hunting (big game), you'd use some variation of the deadly broadheads, which feature mini blades:
The broadheads can be fixed or mechanical. The difference between the two is that the blades of the mechanical broadheads are folded into the tip during the flight and deploy/expand upon impact with the target.
The mechanical broadheads offer better ballistics and tend to be preferred in many cases.
Turkey, whitetail deer, hog, black bear, elk, moose. Plus everything in between, but these are the most common game for crossbow hunters in the US.
Oh, and zombies, of course!