How to use a crossbow for hunting and why?


September 23, 2022


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You would like to go crossbow hunting? Wondering what you might need to be able to do so? A crossbow is not only a powerful weapon, but it also offers many other advantages. Discover the FédéCP’s best tips on why and how to hunt with this weapon.

Article written in collaboration with FedeCP


In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. Where do crossbows come from?
  2. Which species can be harvested using a crossbow?
  3. What are the advantages of crossbow hunting?
  4. What’s the shooting range of a crossbow?
  5. How to choose your crossbow
  6. How to choose your arrows
  7. Do you need a permit for crossbow hunting?

Where do crossbows come from?

Crossbows remind us of medieval times, but they appeared long before then, in third-century China. By continually proving their effectiveness, crossbows have managed to withstand the test of time and are still being used today in the 21st century. Their purpose, however, has changed; previously used as war weapons, crossbows are now being used almost exclusively for hunting as well as shooting practice. Crossbow hunting is slowly gaining popularity amongst hunters here in la belle province, and many of them swear by it as their weapon of choice.

Which species can be harvested using a crossbow?

In Quebec, a crossbow can be used for hunting wild turkey, moose, black bear and white-tailed deer, as well as small game hunting (ruffed grouse, hare, etc.). Have a look at which species are restricted by visiting the Government of Quebec website.

Migratory bird hunting is the only type of hunting that cannot be done using a crossbow.

What are the advantages of crossbow hunting?

Crossbow hunting allows you to stretch the hunting season and widen your hunting territory

In Quebec, crossbow hunting allows you to stretch out your hunting season by a few weeks as this weapon is granted similar privileges as those of the bow and arrows. In some areas, it is possible to start hunting nearly two weeks before firearm users. Moreover, some zones, particularly suburban zones, only allow hunting with a bow or crossbow.

A crossbow is a good compromise between a bow and a firearm

Modern crossbows are very powerful. Compared to bows, they have a greater reach and a higher level of accuracy. While they are not as powerful as firearms, crossbows remain extremely effective weapons.

Crossbows provide a challenge, lots of adrenaline as well as authenticity

In order to shoot with a crossbow, hunters must be closer to their prey than they would be if using a rifle. Crossbow hunting brings its own set of challenges, as well as adrenaline and plenty of satisfaction.

Crossbows also allow you to get back to a more traditional style of hunting. Fairly quiet as the trigger is pressed, crossbows let hunting enthusiasts really connect with nature.

What’s the shooting range of a crossbow?

With crossbows, the maximum shooting range is around 150 meters (492 feet). With a near-perfect level of precision up to around 30 to 40 meters (98 to 131 feet), shooting an animal located beyond 30 meters is strongly discouraged to ensure you do not injure it or needlessly inflict pain. You could, of course, group your arrows when shooting from a greater distance, but the strike force will be diminished considerably and the margin for error will go up considerably as well. False moves, unexpected changes in behavior from an animal, the shooting angle and an inaccurate estimate of the distance are all factors that can be amplified as the distance increases. The last thing you want when crossbow hunting is to hurt an animal without harvesting it.

How to choose your crossbow

There are two types of crossbows: compound (with pulleys to draw the strings up) and recurve.

Compound crossbows are more compact and less cumbersome. They are ideal for hunting in tight spots, or on outings that require you to move about often.

Recurve crossbows are known for their simplicity, as well as for allowing you to change the string yourself, which makes them an interesting choice.

With recent advancements in technology, there is not all that much difference in weight or power between the two types of weapons. You’ll need to try them to decide which one you prefer to use.

How to choose your arrows

Once you’ve chosen your crossbow, you’ll need to take time to select your arrows (also called bolts). You’ll need to check the owner’s manual to ensure you are making the right choice. The weight of your arrows is of crucial importance, and any changes in brand or type need to be carefully considered before shooting. Using an arrow that’s not fitted for your crossbow could lead to breakage, or even injuries.

Finally, you’ll need to take one last thing into consideration: arrowheads. While there are other types of arrowhead, the two main ones are fixed blades and removable blades.

One of the advantages of fixed blades is reliability. As these are already open, you won’t risk any bad surprises at the point of impact. However, this advantage also means you will have to adjust the scope on your crossbow as your arrow will not have the same trajectory as your practice arrowheads. It is also important to align the fletching of your arrows with the blades.

Removable blade arrowheads are also a good option to consider as you won’t need to readjust your scope before hunting (even though it’s important to do so). It’s possible for the blades to open before impact and deflect your arrow. It’s therefore crucial that they are held in place by an elastic rather than by any other mechanism to avoid accidents or missed shots.

Do you need a permit for crossbow hunting?

It’s important to have a few practice sessions before going hunting seeing as a crossbow requires a higher level of dexterity than a firearm would. It is, however, equally as dangerous, so you should apply the same safety rules as if you were handling a rifle or shotgun.

Don’t forget to take the IHBC course (Introduction to hunting with bow or crossbow) so you can legally hunt with a crossbow in Quebec. Find all the details here.

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