How To Choose a Crossbow – Beginner’s Guide

Crossbow is a fun and exciting sport. Traditionally it was used for hunting and warfare. Today it is an exciting sport and is used for Target Shoot, hunting, and competition. Some Military personnel also use the crossbow.

If you are new to crossbow archery and aren’t sure as to where to start, then this guide will help you to know everything about the crossbow.

What is Crossbow?

Crossbow is a type of elastic ranged weapon shaped in a design of a crossbow. It has a bow like an assembly called a prod, that is mounted in a frame. It is held in a hand like one is holding a gun or stock. The crossbows are used for hunting and target crossbow shooting.

How to Choose A Crossbow?

There are lots of factors that one needs to consider that will get you the right or good crossbow for your need. Crossbows are used for bow hunting season of animals and for shooting ranges. You need to consider or ask yourself first what is the intent of choosing a particular crossbow. Many crossbows are used for hunting or target shooting. There are many factors one needs to consider that will help you to choose the right crossbow of your needs.

The other factors that you need to look for are accuracy, speed, cocking mechanism, weight, range assembly, and various other factors. The new materials in the crossbow, limb designs, sights, strings, bolts, stock construction and cocking mechanisms that have made crossbows easier to use. Choose the crossbow which fits your interest.

The next thing that a beginner must know is different types of crossbows which helps you make a better choice.
Understand a few things before deciding what type of crossbows you need. Such as one-handed or two handed crossbows.

One-Handed Crossbow

One-Handed Crossbow is less in common and used for target shooting. It is lightweight as compared to the other one. You can use it for smaller games and hunts. These are less expensive and can be a good start for a beginner especially kids.

Two-Handed Crossbow

Two-Handed Crossbow is very prevalent and common in use. It is suitable crossbows for hunting, shooting fishing, target shooting and even for military use.

Parts of A Crossbow

Crossbow Parts

There are different part of the crossbow, here we will explain each and every part one by one.

Stock: A crossbow stock is a wooden centerpiece and holds the bow bolts and trigger mechanism. It comes in many configurations as per the type and is made of wood or composite materials.

Latch: Latch capture the string at the time when the crossbow is cocked. When a trigger is pulled it releases the string.

Barrel: Barrels put the arrows in the perfect alignment with the string for better and accurate shooting. It allows the crossbow to shoot accurately and is made of polymer and aluminum.

Limbs: Limbs are of either recurve or compound design. A recurve crossbow has longer limbs and longer barrel to deliver power similar to the compound bow crossbow.

Riser: It is the point where limbs are attached.

Trigger: It is used to release the bolt.

Foot Stirrup or Cocking Stirrup: It is used to cocking the crossbow. An archer place their foot stirrup to prevent the bow from slipping while cooked.

Sight Bridge: It holds the sight.

Flight Groove: It is the narrow track in the top of the barrel which allows the arrow in perfect alignment with the string. It brings consistency and increases speed accuracy.

Safety: It ensures better safety features by preventing the arrow from releasing accidentally. It engages automatically and manually when the crossbow is cocked.

Arrow Retention Spring: It holds the arrow in a track until trigger releases the latch mechanism.

Bolts: It is a short heavy projectile for crossbow looking like arrows. The bolt speed and velocity is an extremely important element for hunting crossbow. The speed of an arrow is calculated foot per second (FPS), an important element for hunting crossbow. One must not shoot a bolt with a spine lighter or shaft shorter other than recommended by the manufacturer. It can be dangerous and may cause hazard shooting.

Types of Crossbow

Crossbows come in many types, but the most common are recurve and compound.

Recurve Crossbow

Recurve Bow

Recurve Crossbow has a simple design as compared to compound crossbow. These bows are more convenient as they don’t need bow press for repairs. It has a longer draw length, longer limbs, and a longer barrel. It is the simplest version of the crossbow family.

It has a simple design and is quieter when shot. These are also lighter than compound crossbow and easy to travel far distances on foot or climbing up a treestand. It propels bolts or crossbow arrows at a slower speed than compound.

The overall weight of the crossbow takes less load. It is used for hunting, shooting, and archery. It provides higher performance and shoots at a higher speed. The price range of recurve crossbow is less expensive than compound crossbow.

Compound Crossbow

Compound Bow

Compound Bows are more complicated and function with a variety of system. A compound crossbow has shorter limbs that are easier than the recurve curve to handle it in tight places. It has a narrow design and gives an advantage in arrow speed. The bows are easier to shoot and are more portable.

It has a long power stroke that increases both speed and kinetic energy. It is more substantial and louder while firing. This type of crossbow is used specifically for hunting due to their lower draw weights with high speed of an arrow.

You can cock a compound crossbow either by cock it by hand or with the help of a cocking device. A cocking rope makes it easier to cock by reducing the draw weight by around 50%.

One must keep in mind certain things before buying a Crossbow. It includes-


In Crossbow Hunting the speed is calculated foot per second (FPS) on a specific distance. Speed of a crossbow differs as per the types of crossbow. One needs to understand that for a simple shooting you don’t need a high speed. For Instance, target hunting and deer hunting you don’t need excess of 400 fps speed. Too much speed can be detrimental to your shooting. Fast arrow is great in terms of hitting harder and shooting flatter. But one drawback of high speed is that as once increase speed, you decrease the crossbow’s tolerance.

The crucial element that matters is the velocity and momentum of the arrow. When you go for high speed, it decreases the crossbow tolerance and for any little mistake. Before choosing the crossbow to understand the speed and how it can work with your needs.


Safety devices or gears help you to keep safe from injuring yourself or damaging your crossbow. Shooting a crossbow comes with its own set of safety rules.

  • Anti Dry Fire: A dry fire happens when a crossbow is fired without an arrow in place. A crossbow fire without an arrow or vanes put much stress on the limbs of the crossbow. A dry fired crossbow can hurl broken pieces down range. Many modern crossbows have a mechanism that will not allow the string to release unless an arrow in place. In simple words, it doesn’t allow to fire without an arrow. It is called as Anti-dry fire or dry fire inhibitor.
    When selecting a crossbow, one must look for the anti-dry fire mechanism.
  • Auto-Engaging Safety: Auto Engaging Safety is the best feature that keeps the trigger from releasing the bow string. The crossbows on the market come with many safety features. This safety feature keeps the trigger form releasing the string when set. It automatically set during the action of drawing the bowstring. It keeps the crossbow safe until you are ready to put the trigger.

Safety Tips

  • Whether the bolt is loaded or not in the crossbow, always point it in a safe direction.
  • Never try to dry fire a crossbow.
  • A tree stands hunter cock their crossbows on the ground and haul them up to the stand. One must not lean over in a stand to cock a crossbow.
  • Always keep your fingers below the rail of a cocked crossbow.
  • Never shoot the bolt which is shorter as recommended by the manufacturer.

Crossbow Weight

There are heavier and lighter crossbows available in the market today. Lighter crossbows are more compact and easy to move. Heavier crossbows are longer to aim the target but more steady when shooting comes.
One must consider their physical limitations before choosing a crossbow.

Cocking Weight

Cocking Weight has a pretty simple calculation the more heavier draw weight a crossbow has, the more speed an arrow will get. The draw weight and arrow weight should increase accordingly. It means you have to pull the weight until you reach the latch. Compound crossbows and reverse draw crossbows can be a suitable choice. As it will alleviate the weight making it easier to put it in a cocked position. The heavier crossbow can give you a longer advantage such as it is longer to aim but more steady when it comes to shooting. The rope cocking aids helps to reduce the weight of pull by 50% or more and is huge. It has huge cons on a recurve crossbow. In the case of crank cocking aid, it needs 10-15 pounds of pressure to cock a heavy pull weight crossbow.

Crossbow Case

Crossbow Case is another thing that one must also consider in a bow case. There are three types of cases available for crossbow such as hard, soft and hybrid case. A hard case is made of molded ultra-high-strength polypropylene copolymer resin or aluminum with a soft foam interior.

A soft case is made of polypropylene also known as “Cordura”. Hybrid case is the newest case, which is lightweight and portable.


Compound Crossbows needs better maintenance as compared to best recurve crossbows. A crossbow with simple cleaning and waxing increase the longevity of your crossbow. Proper tuning and maintenance are necessary to make sure everything is aligned and mounted properly. There are many moving parts on a crossbow, so a periodical tunning is necessary to ensure that everything is aligned. Crossbows need more maintenance then recurve crossbows.

Crossbow Arrow Speeds

Modern crossbows are available with an arrow speed from 265 to well over 400 fps. The crossbow arrows carry a lot of energy and can easily pass through an animal and are safe to shoot. The faster is the speed of an arrow, the flatter and farther it can shot. Faster arrows shoot better with mechanical broadheads as compared to a fixed blade broadheads.

Authorized Dealer Warranty

One must be careful with the warranties before buying the Crossbow. You need to make sure a seller is an authorized dealer. Also, make sure that e-commerce or the pro-shop are dealers from the same manufacturer. Do check for the bow accessories, product warranty or claims for malfunctioning or damage to get proper repair or replacement. Make sure the riser, barrel, trigger, mechanism, limb pockets, limbs or cams should cover during the warranty period. Every specific crossbow has its pros and cons, before purchasing it look for its specifications carefully. We hope you find the perfect match after as per your needs.

Aksroop Kaur

About the author

Aksroop Kaur is a senior staff writer for Best Crossbow Guide, where she covers outdoor gears and hunting tools. Aks began her career in blogging as an outdoor writer at the AnG Eesti Technologies. She keeps a beady eye on all the latest comings and goings in the crossbow world. She believes in writing creative articles & blogs on travel, adventure, and health. She has a keen interest in learning new things and sharing her knowledge with others. Exploring various platforms for blog writing is one of her passion. She also loves to design indoor and outdoor spaces. In her free time when she’s not writing, she enjoys watching movies, exploring different places with her friends. Also, she is very into fitness activity. She believes in staying fit is the root of good health.