Crossbow Vs. Compound Bow: Which Is Best For Hunting?

compound bow vs crossbow

The open season is drawing near, and now that many states are slowly loosening their regulations for hunting, you might be considering trying out the sport. To do so, you will need the right weapon. You might have already asked some friends, did a little bit of research, and realized that a common debate on this matter is crossbow vs. compound bow.

Both types of bows have their own strengths. In different instances, one will have an obvious advantage over the other. So you might be wondering, which one is best when it comes to hunting? To answer that question, you need to know what each weapon can do and consider the significant factors for hunting.



A crossbow has a built-in mechanism to hold the pulled bowstring and another mechanism to trigger the firing of a tiny arrow at a designated target. These tiny arrows are called bolts. Essentially, crossbows are like a fusion of a traditional bow and a gun.

There are three types of crossbows: recurve, compound, and pistol. The compound crossbow is the most powerful, and the pistol crossbow, as the name suggests, is the smallest. Because it’s lightweight, has the right size, and doesn’t make a lot of sound, the recurve crossbow is recommended by many hunters.

What Are Crossbows Good For?

Speed and Power

Because of its doubled draw weight and shorter power stroke, a crossbow typically fires arrows at a substantially higher speed than other kinds of bows. Consequently, it has more kinetic energy. The arrow of a crossbow has a speed of 300 to 470 FPS (feet per second) and kinetic energy of over 100 pound-force.

Compared to classic bows, which have a speed range of 270 to 310 FPS and a kinetic energy range of 60 to 90 pound-force, the difference is considerable.


The smart and compact design of crossbows is very user-friendly. Beginners can quickly get the hang of it, and they are easier to work with for people with physical disabilities.

Moreover, if you are a hunter who’s transitioning from rifles, the familiar feeling you’ll get when holding a crossbow will make things more convenient.

Range and Accuracy

You can shoot at a target from a distance of up to 100 yards with a crossbow. However, keep in mind that the farther you are from a target, the less accurate your shooting will be.

But as long as you’re in a good position, the accuracy of a crossbow will be next to flawless. That’s because you can make use of high-powered scopes.

Compound Bows

compound bow

Compound bows, also known as vertical bows, are vouched for by many hunters because of their speed, popularity, and ease of use. Compound bows, unlike traditional bows, use cables and pulleys to deliver more force than the limb flex alone.

Taking a precise aim becomes much easier because the cables and pulleys create what’s called a “let-off.” It minimizes the amount of strength needed to hold the bow at full draw. Compound bows are also available in a variety of styles. Beginner, mid-range, and flagship bows are available from a number of manufacturers.

What Are Compound Bows Good For?


Compound bows are usually quieter than crossbows because their longer limbs allow for a slower release of the bow’s stored energy. Quite shots are very helpful in case you miss your mark. They are less likely to alert the game and other animals surrounding it, so you can have your second chance at your target.

In many instances, you will need to camp in cramped spaces, which is difficult and awkward when using a crossbow. Fortunately, the vertical design of a compound bow takes up less space.

Fast Reloading

Missing your first shot is a common scene in hunting, especially if you’re a beginner. That’s why your reloading speed matters. The shorter it is, the more chances you’ll have at your quarry.

To fire an arrow with a compound bow, you will only a release aid is required. No cocking devices are needed, which is the main reason why the reloading speed of a crossbow is slow.


If you are traveling on foot to a hunting spot that’s far away, carrying heavy equipment with you will be a real drag. That’s why the lightweight design of compound bows is beneficial in these situations.

A compound bow weighs 6 pounds on average, while a crossbow typically weighs 8 pounds. In general, compound bows are lighter than crossbows by 25-30%.

So Which One’s For You?

Depending on your needs, both bows are fantastic options. But to help you be sure about your decision and make the right call, here are three important questions that you might want to ask yourself first.

1) What laws does your state have regarding bowhunting equipment?

Hunting seasons and equipment requirements are regulated by state wildlife authorities. Compound bows must meet minimum draw weight criteria in some states, while crossbow regulations vary widely. Be certain that the bow you purchase is allowed to hunt within your location.

2) What kind of hunting are you planning to do?

The kind of hunting you will do should be a primary factor for your weapon of choice. If you’re buying a compound bow, be sure it’s appropriate for the game animals you plan to hunt as well as your physical capabilities. The bigger the game, the greater the power your bow should have.

3) Do you still need practice? Have much do you have for it?

Different bows require different skill levels. You need to be proficient enough with the bow you choose before you go hunting with it. You will need to master the basics of shooting and condition your muscles along the way.

So, Crossbow vs. Compound Bow: who wins? Well, truth be told, there is no wrong answer to that. The right choice depends entirely on your taste and your situation. Ultimately, no matter which one you choose, the main goal is to master it and have fun with it.

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