Here are 7 helpful hints that have greatly improved my crossbow hunting skills:
Tip 1: Get a Mechanical Cocking Device for your Crossbow
Always! Always! Cock your bow. I use a mechanical cocking device because it is much easier for me to pull back the bowstring with mechanical help than just trying to use my hand. Pulling back a 150 lb. draw weight can be difficult for even the strongest crossbow hunter. If you are smaller than a robust bow hunter than a cocking device is simply a must for you.
You can cock the bow with your hand but the chances of pulling back the string evenly consistently are rare. A mechanical cocking device saves wear and tear on your fingers and hand. It also guarantees pulling back the bow string evenly every time. I have made many accurate shots using a mechanical cocking device.
Here’s a video on how to cock a crossbow with a rope cocking device.
Tip 2: Regularly Clean your Crossbow
I clean my bowstring quite often because I use my crossbow quite frequently. Even if I used my crossbow casually, I would still clean the string intermittently. Why do I put so much care into the maintenance of my bowstring? A clean bowstring will last a lot longer and it will not wear out as fast as a dirty bow. I would even go as far as to say to clean your bowstring and cables after every hunting trip and practice session.
If I let the dirt and dust accumulate on these the strings and cables then they will wear out much faster. I use wax and lubricant on the parts of my crossbow that need it. I will wax my string but I won’t wax the serving because the wax will shorten its life. I recommend using rail lube on the rail. But be careful that you don’t over lubricate the rail the lubricant could saturate into the serving. The result the serving’s life is shortened.
I read that Missionary Archery recommends that you lubricate your rail very 15-20 shots. Every 15-20 shots you say! This may seem extreme but it will extend the life of your string. This could save you money in the long run when you don’t have to replace your strings as often. Don’t ever use petroleum jelly or wax on the serving they will accumulate debris and dirt. Again shortening the life of the serving.
Tip 3: Change your Bowstrings Frequently
Beginning crossbow hunters need to know when to replace their crossbow strings and cables. It’s not a matter of if they should be changed but how often. If let my strings and cables go they could wear out breaking in the middle of a shot this could really ruin a practice session or actual hunting trip. I keep a watchful eye on the center serving because it could separate. If I let the center serving separate it will expose the string causing it to break during a shot. I always replace my strings and cables whether they are worn or not. They could still break even without showing a signs of age. They become brittle over time especially with frequent exposure to the elements. Brittle strings and cables will break.
Not sure how to change a crossbow string? The video below can help.
I think if I was to use my crossbow frequently I would change the cables and strings every other year. I use my bow occasionally then I would change the strings and bows very 3 or 4 years. My bow has direct rail to string contact on every shot plus other friction that wears these parts down.
Tip 4: Research State Hunting Regulations
This area I would never overlook! These are state regulations concerning hunting. Every state may have interpretations that vary from state to state. I wouldn’t want to go hunting in another state being ignorant of their particular rules concerning crossbow hunting. I could accumulate some hefty penalties breaking the state’s ordinances. The regulations can be complex to read through (even for a lawyer) but in the long run it will save a crossbow hunter a lot of expense. You can check the hunting information and regulations on this site here: wheretohunt.org
Specifically I need to know if crossbow hunting is allowed in a state I may want to hunt in. States may require certain seasons or parts of seasons they allow crossbow hunting. There may be specific seasons for certain game that I can hunt. I will be sure to check out equipment limitation regulations as well. Some states allow for mechanical heads others don’t. Some may even call for specific equipment for certain species. Also be aware that states may have varying draw weight limits for certain species as well. If I don’t find any regulations specifically for crossbows then I look under “general archery equipment.” I just cannot take any chances on not being knowledgeable on state hunting regulations it could be a very costly mistake.
Tip 5: Use a Stand to Stabalize your Crossbow
You know an unstable crossbow can cause a lousy and wayward shot every time. Using your hand to balance your crossbow isn’t a good idea. You will not get an accurate shot trying to balance your crossbow on your hand alone. It’s the least stable way you can shoot your crossbow.
I would advise buying some kind of stand or you could even build one yourself. Having that extra support will secure and stabilize your crossbow definitely giving you a much more accurate shot. If my stand comes with a shooting rail I am in great shape. If I don’t have a shooting rail then I need to get some sticks and put them in the stand or on the ground. This will greatly aide in stabilizing my crossbow. Some crossbows come with detachable monopods. The best pads will come with telescopic legs and swivel heads. You can also use shooting sticks or standard pods for support. Important: I have to make sure the shooting sticks don’t interfere with the path of the string.
Tip 6: Use Proper Optics for your Crossbow
I always use the proper optics for my crossbow. I can mount just about any sighting system on my crossbow. But my best option is to pick a sighting system that is specifically designed for a crossbow.Scopes are usually designed with multi-recticles. They usually have 3 dots or 3 horizontal crosshairs within them. They are geared so the top recticle is set at 20 yards. The other 2 recticles are set at 30 yards and 40 yards on most bows. Usually I can use 3 dots on my crossbows. Higher-speed bows (315fps and above) I would be better off with a multi-recticle crosshair because the trajectory drop isn’t as dramatic. Also some new models I looked at have 4 crosshairs for superfast fps speeds. One crosshair will be specifically tracked to the exact trajectory of your crossbow between speeds of 250fps-350fps.
Tip 7: Shoot your Crossbow Year Round
Like me you want to be the best crossbow hunter you can be. This means I should be shooting all year round. Also, I will be more comfortable and skilful with my equipment. If I pick up my cross bow a little before the season opens this will not be enough shooting practice for me. I cannot put my bow down at the end of the season. Then pick it up shortly before a new season begins and expect to be a good crossbow hunter. I make it a habit to extend my hunting seasons by shooting other types of game.