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Crossbows Crossbows

Crossbows are becoming more popular every year, as more states open up archery seasons to crossbow use.  The skills archers use to shoot a compound or traditional bow are generally not needed when shooting a crossbow, as a crossbow when cocked shoots more like a rifle, but with the range and arrow drop of a bow.  Whereas an archer shooting a bow needs to draw the bow within sight and sound range of an animal, the crossbow can be cocked hours ahead of time waiting for the moment of use.  An archer can only hold the bow back for a short period of time, while a hunter using a crossbow is not forced to let down if the shot does not materialize.  

Modern crossbows come in two basic types, those utilizing recurve type limbs, and those utilizing compound limbs.  A recurve limb is much like a traditional bow, that is there are no cams or pulleys.  This also means there are no cables, just the string.  A compound crossbow uses cams or pulleys at the end of the limbs to increase efficiency.  This also necessitates the use of cables.   

Crossbows are cocked through three different means.  

Cocking by hand is the fastest way to cock a crossbow.  But it is the most difficult, as the entire weight of the crossbow must be pulled back.  A 150 pound crossbow will require the shooter to pull back the full 150 pounds when cocking by hand.  Another drawback is that the string may not be perfectly centered, or cocked off center.  To remedy this, shooters can put a small mark on the string with a permanent marker or such, that centers the flight rail.  Then use the mark to make sure you are not cocking off center.

A cocking rope is the most popular choice to cock a crossbow.  It takes more time to setup than cocking by hand, but the pulley system they use reduced the draw force to 50%, thus a 150# crossbow would pull back with 75 pounds of force.  Cocking ropes are also fairly inexpensive, running less than $30.

A crank cocking device is the slowest way to cock a crossbow, but is the easiest.  The gearing allows a crossbow to be cocked with as little as a few pounds of force.  But the gearing which allows this slows down the cocking time required.  Crank cocking devices also cost around $100.

All of these cocking types must be weighted against what your uses of the crossbow will be.  A hunting situation may be helped by a faster cocking time, but then again second shots more often than not do not present themselves.  

Outdoor Hunting Supply carries all the major crossbow manufactures.  Barnett, Horton, Excalibur, Tenpoint, PSE, Darton, Parker and more.  
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