Compound Bow vs. Crossbow

August 6, 2014 by | Be the first to comment »

The popularity of bow hunting is on the rise across America. In 2010 the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance estimated that about five million people hunted with bow and arrow. Moreover, the Alliance also projected that this number was expected to grow. That projection appears to have been accurate, with more hunters picking up a compound bow or a crossbow.

Bow hunting typically requires a bit more skill and patience than hunting with a gun, and it’s a challenge hunters relish. That’s just one of the reasons why seasoned hunters are choosing arrows or bolts over bullets. However, a debate has been raging between bow hunters for decades. Namely, which is the superior weapon: the compound bow or the crossbow?

Devotees in both schools of thought are passionate about the superiority of their weapon of choice. The reality is that modern versions of both compound bows and crossbows possess fantastic technological advantages. Cutting edge materials and design make either weapon lethal and efficient. Nonetheless, the compound bow tends to maintain a slight edge over the crossbow.

Today’s compound bows feature advanced levering systems that make it easier to draw. Essentially, less force is needed to bend the limbs, making for an efficient weapon that is easier for the hunter to use. Modern compound bows are not susceptible to the elements thanks to construction from space age composite materials. Variations in temperature and humidity will not affect velocity or accuracy.

The crossbow has a slight efficiency advantage over the compound bow. An exceptionally advanced draw force and the ability to hold tension for an extended time period create this advantage. As a result, the bolt covers more feet per second than arrows shot from a compound bow. Many bow hunters also appreciate the advantage of being able to use a shooting rail with their crossbow, which allows for greater accuracy.

However, most crossbows are bigger and heavier than compound bows. This makes them challenging to carry, especially on longer treks over rough terrain. Another potential disadvantage of the crossbow is the noise it makes. That tremendous draw force causes vibration, and vibration means noise. Deer have an exceptionally fast reaction time, so in most cases, the quieter the hunter is the more successful he will be. When hunting with a crossbow, it’s much easier and much more likely that the game will get tipped off by the noise of the draw, giving them a chance to escape.

Moreover, one of the crossbow’s advantages might also be seen as a disadvantage. It takes an enormous amount of force to draw a crossbow. Although some bow hunters have solved this problem by using a draw crank, it can take as long as 30 seconds to complete the draw with this mechanism, making efficiency a major problem. Some bow hunters draw the crossbow and lock it until they are ready to shoot. This makes the first shot quicker and easier. However, if the shot never needs to be taken, there isn’t a way to disarm the crossbow without firing it once it is in the drawn and locked position.

The debate between compound bow users and crossbow enthusiasts is likely to continue for quite some time. Although the compound bow appears to possess a few distinct advantages over the crossbow, it seems clear that technological advances will probably produce methods of quieting the crossbow and making it lighter and easier to use. Both rate well for lethality, and the skill of the hunter is perhaps the greatest determining factor when it comes to deciding which is the superior weapon.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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