Since crossbows are shouldered, sighted and shot in a manner similar to rifles, many believe choosing the best hunting crossbow is simply a matter of reading some reviews and buying a crossbow on sale somewhere at a decent price.
There are no draw lengths and peep sights and kisser buttons to monkey with. It’s simply a matter of cock, aim, and fire, right?
Not so fast! There are a number of variables making a perfect hunting crossbow for one person not the best choice for another. The one size fits all mentality can only really be debunked by firing different models of crossbows and seeing for yourself how each one feels and shoots and fits in with your particular shooting style.
Although many people believe crossbows are relatively easy to pick up and shoot well, there are still certain techniques that need to be learned in order to make an accurate, ethical shot in the field.
One of the biggest differences one recognizes right away when shouldering a crossbow is balance. To most people a crossbow will feel nose heavy when shouldered. Unlike a rifle, where the majority of the weight is back near the receiver, the business end of a standard draw crossbow puts much of the weight out front. Staying steady for a well marked shot is made even more challenging if you’re fighting to keep the nose of the crossbow up. For smaller shooters using larger, heavier crossbows this out of balance effect can be multiplied.
Good balance is critical for proper crossbow fit. One way to achieve better balance is by selecting a model with a reverse-limb configuration, such as Barnetts Vengeance 2, that brings the balance point closer to the shooter.
Right out of the gates a reverse limb style crossbow is going to help negate this balance issue. Sure they may look a bit funky compared to the standard draw format crossbows, but shoulder a reverse draw model side by side with a standard draw model of similar weight and you’ll be amazed at the difference in balance. This can be a real game changer if you’ve got a bead on a nice buck and you’re holding for him to take one more step into your shooting lane. A nose heavy crossbow can start feeling like a lot of dead weight in a big hurry!
Eye relief is another factor to consider when looking to buy the best hunting crossbow. You want a nice crisp view through the scope the second you shoulder the crossbow. Having to bob your head side to side in an effort to achieve a nice clear scope window can cost precious seconds and mean more movement for deer to pick up on. As the author Beck points out in the link below, a quick technique with a helper at hand can get you tuned in for super fast target acquisition.
Image courtesy of northamericanwhitetail.com