Crossbow : What is it?
A crossbow consists of a traditional bow attached to a long stock (also called a tiller), where the bolts are stored, drawn, and fired. The bow is mounted perpendicular to the stock, with the string stretched tautly over a catch. A lever-type trigger is used to draw and release. Most crossbows come with sights or scopes to help with aiming.
Crossbows are favored for their excellent aim and ease of use compared to bows. A user can cock a crossbow and release it until it needs to be fired, unlike a bow where the string has to be pulled while aiming. This makes them ideal for disabled people who lack the arm strength necessary to cock, aim, and shoot in succession. Originally used for medieval warfare, crossbows are now popularly used for hunting and target shooting.
Kinds of Crossbows include the following:
Recurve crossbows have metal prod, also known as laths, which are pulled back to draw and release the bolt. They usually have draw weights of 120 to 200 pounds. Recurve crossbows are simpler to use than compound crossbows, but are also longer and harder to handle.
Compound crossbows have small wheels called cams installed into the lath to pull the bolt back and fire. They require less effort to cock and can sometimes shoot at a faster rate than recurve crossbows. They have shorter stocks that make them easier to use in tight locations. Compound crossbows tend to operate noisily because of the cams, which can make them unsuitable for hunting in quiet grounds.
Pistol crossbows are small and portable, but have lower launch rates and are less accurate than full-sized crossbows. They are easier to span and draw, making them ideal for target practice and shooting smaller game. Their draw weights range from 50 to 80 pounds.
Draw weight. This refers to the amount of effort you need to draw and cock the crossbow. Choose a crossbow with a low draw weight if you like to shoot in rapid succession. For slow target shooting, choose a longer crossbow with a high draw weight.
Sight range. Choose a crossbow with reliable sights that can see over a wide area. Optical sights are ideal for aiming at close range, while red-dot ones are better for long-range shooting.
Safety. Crossbows are potentially dangerous weapons, and safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents. Different areas impose different laws on crossbow use, but the following should help you ensure safe use of your crossbow.
• Crossbows are only accurate at up to 40 yards. Never aim a crossbow at a target beyond this distance.
• Aim well and make sure you have your target well scoped out before firing.
• Never climb trees or walk with a cocked crossbow, as any sudden movement can accidentally fire the bolt. If this cannot be avoided, keep your hand away from the lath. Also, keep a field point-tipped arrow in your quiver. You can use this to uncock your crossbow by quietly shooting it into the ground.
• Follow safety instructions from the manufacturer. Use only the recommended arrow weights.
• Practice with the same type broadhead you plan to hunt with.