How to choose a Crossbow
First, you should think about which type of crossbows suits you best. Usually, crossbows are divided into 2 basic categories - recurve crossbows, which are basically enhanced historical crossbows, and compound crossbows, which use a system of pulleys. Some also mention pistol crossbows, however, those can be listed as a sub-category of the recurve ones, as they feature identical limb construction.
This type consists of simple flexible limbs with their ends connected with a string. By cocking the crossbow, the limbs bend backwards and when firing, the accumulated energy is transferred to the arrow.
Their simplicity makes recurve crossbows suitable for beginners, but even some experienced shooters prefer the traditional system, which is also followed by lower pricing and easier maintenance.
You can find high-quality recurve crossbows from experienced manufacturers on our website, which include affordable pieces for beginners and also some pretty extraordinary products equipped with a magazine or a compressed air cocking system.
As mentioned earlier, pistol crossbows are basically a sub-category of recurve crossbows, because they utilize the same recurve technology. However, they are much more compact and quite often feature special cocking systems - such as a straight-pull handle or a break lever positioned right above the grip, which needs to be folded downwards - called the "Cobra" system.
Despite their compact dimensions, pistol crossbows can achieve surprising penetration. That makes them more than sufficient for recreational shooting and you also won't have to dig deep into your pockets.
We offer pistol crossbows with a draw weight ranging from 35 to 80 lbs, including some unique models:
As the name implies, compound crossbows feature systems of pulleys and cables, resulting in the most powerful category of crossbows on the market. Due to the extremely high energy and draw-weight, the limbs, string, pulleys and other components have to be able to withstand it - compound crossbows are therefore constructed from durable and high-quality materials.
This usually results in higher weight, not as easy maintenance and naturally higher cost. However, in return you'll get a precise and a reliable piece of art. If you're looking to buy one of the most advanced crossbows available today, compound crossbows are the right way to go.
The best manufacturers of high-quality compound crossbows worth noting include the American company Barnett producing the most powerful products in our stock, Killer Instinct with their flagship bullpup designed crossbows, Beast Hunter which offers exclusively the golden middle way, or the Dutch company Mankung with its affordable yet still high-quality pieces.
When choosing the right crossbow, you should also determine what parameters you expect it to deliver.
One of the most obvious and important crossbow parameters is the speed of the fired arrow (also known as bolt). It is determined by the draw-weight, the distance the arrow travels in the rail during the discharge and the weight of the arrow itself. The faster the arrow moves, the flatter its trajectory, which means that you won't have to elevate the sight or the scope that much.
When converting fps and m/s values, simply remember that 1 m/s = 3.28 fps (roughly 3.3) and vice versa 1 fps = 0.3048 m/s (roughly 0.3).
However, extremely high arrow speed does not mean perfect accuracy. The most powerful compound crossbows can shoot an arrow at over 400fps, (around 120 m/s), and the arrow will be affected even by the slightest surface and wing irregularities at such velocity. Be sure to carefully consider whether this parameter is absolutely crucial for you and if so, definitely don't skimp on high quality arrows.
This parameter indicates the amount of effort you have to apply when cocking the string. Ideally, it would be as light as possible, but higher arrow speed requires higher draw weight. Note that higher draw weight doesn't always mean higher arrow speed. It also depends on how the energy is transferred to the arrow - for example, a regular sport arrow fired from a compound crossbow will travel faster than the same arrow shot from a conventional recurve crossbow with the same draw weight.
Draw weight is measured in pounds "lbs" or "lb". For pistol crossbows, it usually varies around 80 lbs, which is approximately 36 kg - just about anyone can handle such resistance. However, it can reach over 200 lbs (about 90 kg) which might be a problem even for a strongman.
Therefore, the easiest crossbows to load are the pistol ones, especially those using the Cobra cocking system. and the most effort is then necessary to cock powerful recurve and compound crossbows, which often require the use of special cocking devices.
There are 2 basic versions of cocking devices - a simple one with two hooks connected by a rope with handles, or a crank cocking device, which needs to be attached to the stock of the crossbow and the crank is then turned until the string is fully cocked, however, this system is not compatible with each crossbow and the cocking process takes a considerable amount of time.
DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT
Another important, and certainly not the last parameter you should consider when choosing a crossbow are its dimensions.
If you intend to take your crossbow to dense woods or just have a limited storage space, its dimensions should not be overlooked.
You may often come across two dimensions - overall length and limbs span, which means the total span of the limbs of recurve crossbows, or the axle to axle distance of the compound ones, which means that the total width might be larger.
Similarly, you should not underestimate its weight, as shooting for prolonged periods of time with more weight will make your arms fatigue faster and may result in reduced accuracy.
When choosing a crossbow, you should definitely consider the basic safety features every crossbow should have. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so we highly recommend you to check if the crossbow includes the following features.
A safety is one of the features that every crossbow should have, as an accidental discharge could cause significant property damage and, more importantly, health injury both to the user and also people nearby. However, it is rare to come across a crossbow on today's market that doesn't feature a safety, and most of the modern ones are even equipped with an automatic safety that engages every time the string is cocked.
ANTI DRY FIRE MECHANISM
Never dry fire a crossbow or a bow under any circumstances. You risk irreversible damage to the string, limbs and other components. Without the inserted arrow, which would otherwise absorb a portion of the energy, the string and limbs will be subjected to such force and shock, which the components are not designed to withstand and can be damaged.
This situation can be prevented by an "Anti-Dry Fire Mechanism". This system exists in several forms - some of them will not let you switch the crossbow from safe to fire mode without an inserted arrow, and some will capture the string at the very start of its movement.
Precise long-range target shooting certainly requires a quality crossbow scope - high recoil resistant scope equipped with a reticle adapted for shooting with crossbows. All shooters will also appreciate paper and straw targets, arrow holders and pullers, cocking devices or string lube wax. And definitely don't forget the arrows.
HOW MUCH, WHAT FOR, WHAT DISTANCE?
Finally, you should ask yourself the following questions.
HOW MUCH DO I WANT TO INVEST?
The crossbow itself will probably not be the only thing you'll need - the accessories can add a lot to the purchase price. As mentioned earlier, you shouldn't skimp on the arrow quality with a powerful crossbow, and you'll also need a decent crossbow scope for long-range shooting.
WHAT DO I WANT TO USE IT FOR?
If you want to be able to win shooting competitions, not only will you need some experience, but a precise and reliable crossbow as well. However, you may not need to own the most advanced hi-tech product to enjoy recreational shooting in your backyard.
AT WHAT DISTANCE DO I WANT TO SHOOT?
With growing range, the arrow speed required to successfully hit the target increases as well. Compound crossbows are particularly effective at really long distances, but if you're fine with shooting on a small plot of land, you can definitely make do with affordable pistol crossbows.
The choice of the right crossbow can be affected by a number of different factors, be it its price, purpose, construction type, available features or specifications. There is a truly endless range of crossbows on the today's market, therefore it's impossible to say which is "the best one" or vice versa. However, we hope that this article will help you choose the kind of crossbow that you'll have the most fun with or the one which you'll win the first place in a competition with.