Learning how to shoot a crossbow isn't rocket science, but it's important to go over some of the shooting basics to make sure you're on the right track.

Whether you're an experienced hunter or new to using a crossbow, having poor shooting fundamentals might negatively impact your hunt - resulting in missed opportunities or safety mishaps. 

To avoid some of the pitfalls of bad shooting habits, we've compiled a list of some of the most popular crossbow shooting topics. You'll find that a lot of people out there have different shooting styles and recommendations, but we've summarized the most beneficial and helpful advice when it comes to crossbow shooting basics. 

Main Things To Keep In Mind

1. Learn How To Cock Your Crossbow

Make sure to use some sort of cocking device, whether it be an integrated addition or a simple rope cocking accessory. Try to avoid hand cocking your crossbow as it adds uneven stress to the limbs - affecting accuracy once the bolt is launched.

2. Learn How To Properly Insert A Bolt

Before starting, remember to check with your crossbow's manufacturer on the correct bolt length and spine diameter. From there, place the odd colored vain down into the rail area for consistent shooting accuracy. Once the bolt is properly placed within the channel, slide the arrow to the very rear of the crossbow rail until there's no space available.

3. Get Used To Your Trigger Weight

Crossbow manufacturers offer many different types of trigger weights within their crossbow models. Some might be relatively light, while others require several pounds to release the arrow. Before going hunting, try to get accustomed to your trigger's weight to better anticipate what's required. 

4. Consistent Shooting Form

Once your crossbow is securely placed against your shoulder, and your forehand is holding up the front end, place your cheek on the top of the stock. Practicing this same motion over and over again will help you avoid small adjustments, something that may negatively impact your sighting. 

5. Stabilize Your Crossbow

Once you're in the woods, try your best to stabilize the crossbow in the most comfortable shooting position available. While a crossbow doesn't shoot nearly as fast as a rifle, the same assistance is needed to secure an accurate shot. Some of the most popular shooting positions can be summarized here if you're looking for any additional information. 

Shooting A Compound vs. Recurve Crossbow

You'll find that there are a few differences when it comes to shooting a compound vs a recurve crossbow. Overall, the differences are relatively minimal but it's still important to note them.

Fun Fact: Recurve crossbow must have longer limbs and barrel to provide a longer power stroke.

Recurve crossbow are much lighter than compound options, which allow hunters to more easily aim, especially in awkward positions. However, since recurve crossbows have less power they require more practice when it comes to replicating accuracy.

Compound crossbows do provide a little more shooting forgiveness as they are just better engineered hunting tools. Most crossbow brand's technology aids the hunter by providing consistent mechanisms that improve accuracy.

It's also important to note that it is more difficult cock a recurve crossbow as the draw weight is much heavier. Keep this in mind if you find yourself routinely stalking game, requiring you to quickly cock and shoot!

How Far Can You Shoot A Crossbow

Some research suggests that a 400 FPS crossbow can launch a bolt up to 5,000 ft. if shot at a 45 degree angle. Others note that crossbows around 300 FPS can you shoot up to 1,500 ft. 

While these estimates are somewhat interesting to read, many hunters treat the accuracy of a crossbow similar to that of a standard compound bow. Tenpoint suggests that hunters responsibly keep their shots under 50 yards to ensure a safe and accurate shot.

 Crossbow Shooting Basics

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Do's And Don'ts When Shooting A Crossbow

1. Do's - Use A Scope Sight

No matter if you choose a simple crosshair or an expensive rangefinding scope option, picking a scope sight will improve your shooting accuracy. This will give you additional confidence in case you find yourself having to take a 40-50 yd. shot. 

Related: How To Choose A Crossbow Scope

2. Do's - Use A Good Broadhead

Once you have your crossbow in hand, it's important to remember that the tip of the bolt is the main part that marks a successful hunt. Most hunters pick their broadheads based on two main factors: Weight and Type. You'll find that the 100 grain broadhead remains the most popular; however, it's somewhat split when it comes to recommendations between fixed and mechanical. 

There are quite a few brands out there that claim they have the crossbow broadhead on the market so make sure to do your research!

3. Do's - Practice, Practice, Practice

Before stepping out in the field, remember to spend plenty of time practicing with your new crossbow. Taking numerous shots in different settings, whether it be in a blind or treestand, to get yourself more accustomed to the action.

1. Don'ts - Poor Hand Placement

If you're used to shooting a rifle or shotgun, you might find yourself moving your fingers up along the stock close to the barrel. This action is a big "NO! NO!" when it comes to shooting a crossbow. Doing this will almost guarantee some sort of contact between the string and your fingers. 

2. Don'ts - Buy The Most Expensive Option

Crossbow manufacturers like TenPoint make some of the top crossbows on the market today. However, it's important to keep in mind that the most expensive, well-engineered crossbow might not be the best for a beginner. We recommend that you take a look at some of the more affordable brands like Wicked Ridge or Barnett to learn the ins and outs of shooting a crossbow before buying something more expensive. 

3. Don'ts - Take Long Shots

Whenever you shoot a crossbow, you'll quickly find that accuracy starts to diminish at certain ranges. Of course, everyone is different so these ranges might vary. Before stepping way out there, it's recommended to stay within your comfort range for some time. A stray bolt, whether it be at a range or out in the woods, can only lead to negative outcomes - something no bystander or respectable hunter wants.  

Pro Tip: Don't leave your crossbow cocked for more than 24 hours.

How To Safely Unload A Crossbow

Many hunters will safely unload a crossbow by using 3 different methods: Using A Target, Using A Unloading Bolt, or Using a Crossbow Defuser.

A couple things to point out here. One, the most popular way to unload a crossbow is too shoot an arrow into the ground or into a small target purchased for this particular purpose. Second, check with your crossbow manufacturer before choosing an unloading bolt as it might not be recommended. 

It is important to note that TenPoint has recently released a new de-cocking style of crossbows within their 2022 lineup. This allows the hunter to safely de-cock their crossbow by backspinning the cocking device handle. 

For our blog about the Best Ravin Crossbows click here