Bows, Camping Comparisons, Hunting, Outdoor Education

Crossbows or Compound Bows: Which is best

Crossbows and Compound Bows

With bow hunting season nearly upon us, a common question for new hunters or even experienced is whether crossbows or compound bows are best. In some instances, state regulations will dictate which of the two you can use. It is always best to check with your local fish and game agency to ensure that you are meeting the regulations. Also, remember to only hunt in designated areas so as to not impact those camping in the wilds as well. Knowing the pros and cons of each model will help you make the choice on your next hunting expedition. I am going to spend some time describing the pros and cons of each as well as provide you with some affiliate links to each type of bow that I have found most beneficial.

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First a Little History

The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon that allows a hunter to approach its animal. Some arrowheads found date back 70,000 years. So humans have clearly understood how to develop and deploy accurate ranged weapons for a significant amount of time. In fact, archaeologists locate arrowheads around the world for use in both hunting and warfare. While today bows are more sophisticated in the sense of manufacturing, they are essentially the same concept as when humans first developed them.

Historically, bows and arrows required the archer to hold the bow for a long period to allow for proper aiming. The longbow or recurve bow took lots of strength to attain great distances and lots of practice to increase accuracy. Each iteration of the bow and arrow has improved upon the last by reducing the strength requirement of the user and increasing the distance and accuracy of the arrow. Today, most hunters will use mechanical advantage to support their hunting escapades with crossbows or compound bows.

serious redhead female archer in medieval costume hunting with bow in forest


Crossbows use a similar launch mechanism to a normal recurve or longbow. Instead of an arrow, a crossbow uses a bolt, which is a smaller version of the typical arrow. The benefit of a crossbow comes in the form of a locking mechanism which allows for the archer to hold the potential energy of the shot until they are ready to fire. This takes no additional effort once you pull the bolt back. This allows for added concentration on the target. Therefore the only strenuous activity a crossbow requires is the ability to pull the bolt back to load the bold. User improvements have made this easier through the use of a compound crossbow which merges the benefits of the compound bow. The other benefit of the crossbow is the way it is held. It is much more ergonomically correct. It generally comes with a stock like a rifle that the hunter can use to steady during the shot increasing accuracy.

Pros of a CrossbowCons of a Crossbow
Ease of use with a rapid load/reloadSome limited use by jurisdictions
Accuracy due to stabilizationNoise when the bolt is released
Power due to mechanical advantageWeight can become an issue
businessman man person arrow

Crossbow recommendation

Our recommendation based on characteristics and user reviews for a crossbow is the Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow. This crossbow has the power and accuracy you need to make an accurate shot in no time. In addition, it will set up the new archer with a beginner scope and a few bolts to practice with all at a reasonable cost. Overall, if you are looking to enter the archery arena this could be a good starting point for you.

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Compound Bow

The compound bow uses a series of cams and pulleys to reduce the effort of the archer. This allows for energy storage within the bow at full draw for a longer period of time. However, it does require the archer to maintain the pull till releasing the arrow. This in turn makes the bow capable of high-speed arrow release and reduces archer fatigue giving more opportunities for higher accuracy.

The drawback to a compound bow is that the archer has to continue to focus on the pull of the bow during the hunt instead of only on the target. Practice and time will negate this issue. The compound bow also uses a traditional arrow, but in order to handle the stresses and energy from the compound bow, they are typically made of aluminum. Unlike a crossbow, the archer will need to spend more time in the archery range perfecting their aim and accuracy.

Pros of a Compound BowCons of a Compound Bow
Easy learning curve for aiming and shootingRequires lots of practice
Lightweight for long hunting tripsLength of concentration and focus to ensure accuracy
Very QuietReduced power and range
crossbows or compound bows

Compound Bow Recommendation

Our recommended based on characteristics and user reviews for a compound bow is the Bear Archery Cruzer. This compound bow and its accessories have everything you need to be successful and get started as a new archer. It has been found to be easy to use in both the archery range and in the field. It may benefit to also purchase additional arrows to allow for proper training. You may even want to purchase a Target. The best thing is that there are also youth versions of this same bow. So if you are looking to hunt as a family then there are options available at a lower price point to aid in those family hunting expeditions.

Bear Archery Cruzer

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Crossbows or Compound Bows Commonalities

One of the areas that the two options have in common is the way that the hunter sights and obtains accuracy with the weapon. A compound bow can use peep sights or optic pins. The compound bow can use a traditional scope that can be mounted. Both allow for improved accuracy with the weapons. Both types of bows have roughly the same range of 40 yards. However, some higher-end crossbows may exceed this range. Due to the mechanics and energy storage in both bows, the hunter can expect to see about the same shot velocity again with the crossbow exceeding the compound bow in some models. In either case, the hunter will have improved odds of hitting the target with either the crossbow or compound bow.

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Crossbows or Compound Bows Accessories

There are many options and accessories that you can get with either crossbows or compound bows. The accessories range from hand/arm protection to improved optics. Some of the more common accessories that you will want to purchase are:

CrossbowCompound Bow
ScopeBow Sights
Cocking DevicePeep Sights
SlingVibration Dampening
CaseLarger Quiver
Lighted NocksHand Grips
Rail and Trigger Lube

So which one? Crossbows or Compound Bows

So which is best for you crossbows or compound bows? It really depends on what you are looking to do and your experience level. It is important to look over all of the specifications and find what works best for you. Before purchasing evaluate the power stroke, draw weight, size, and accuracy. The recommendations provided would be good for both beginners and experienced hunters. As was stated, there are many options and it is important to pick something that matches your frame, strength, and abilities. These recommendations will be a good starting point for your next hunting trip. When you are out hunting you may find our how to select a campsite instruction to be useful. Especially, some of the tips on finding the best back-country camping spot. Good luck with your next bow-hunting experience!