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Gun Hunters Influence Crossbow Design

The crossbow has come a long way in the past thirty years or so. But until recent years, their designs haven’t really changed all that much. Now that states are changing legislation to include crossbows into hunting seasons, crossbow design and technology is soaring to new levels. And where does this new influence for design come from?
It’s no secret that many of the new crossbow hunters are what I like to refer to as “crossover hunters”. That is, gun hunters who want to extend their hunting seasons, so they are using the crossbow to do so. I think because of this influx of gun hunters, we are starting to see “gun” influences on crossbows. Is this a good thing? I’ll let you decide. I do think that some manufactures are loosing track of what the crossbow really is, and that is archery equipment. So let’s take a look at some of the influence the new “crossover hunter” will be happy to hear about.
I guess the most noticeable would be the overall look of some crossbows. There’s no mistaking a crossbow for anything but what it is, but we are now seeing a trend to make bows look more like guns. With tactical / AR styling, adjustable stocks, and carbon fiber dipping, many of these new crossbows have similar styling as you favorite assault rifle.
Scopes have come a long way too. As long as I can remember, there’s always been a multi-reticle scope for crossbows, but todays scope manufacturers are taking things to the next level. What used to have aiming points for 20,30, and 40 yards now has aiming points out to 80 plus yards. Mil-dot filled reticles and adjustable turrets allowing hunters to aim dead on there target. No more guessing how high or low to aim. Optics that use to be good enough to kill deer at 40 yards and under are now obsolete and hunters are wanting better glass and light gathering capabilities.
Triggers are getting dangerously light. Most triggers have half the pull of your favorite shotgun and some are equal to a match grade rifle trigger. Crossbows trigger mechanisms are holding much more weight than gun triggers. Remember, it’s not just a firing pin that you’re holding back like a gun. Combine this light weight trigger with ice cold hands from being on stand all day and an adrenaline rush from a trophy buck and it opens the door for accidents. I love a good trigger as well as the next guy, but the trigger should also be matched to the weapon its on.
Speed is another factor influenced by gun hunters. Anyone who has been around crossbows for any length of time remembers when a smoke’n fast crossbow shot 285 FPS. Many deer were killed with these crossbows and many of them are still in use today being 20 years old. Today’s gun hunters want to hunt in bow season, but they don’t want to bow hunt. Bowhunting is a close range sport, but it seems like crossbow manufacturers are selling faster is better and that further shot distances can be achieved. Remember, speed comes at a price. There is a reason that there are 20 year old crossbows still in the woods and a reason that brand new bows are having failures.
Accessories seem to be leaning the way of the gun hunter too. Never in a million years did we ever think about, or need to put a bi-pod onto a crossbow. Picatinny rails now offer the possibility of endless accessories like pistol grips, flashlights, and bi-pods. All influenced by the gun hunter.
As the crossbow market continues to grow, so will crossbow innovation. Who knows what may be the next big wave to influence crossbow design. I’m sure we will see new age materials and technology in crossbows to come. For now though, it is the gun hunter that seems to be driving crossbow design. I personally think it should be the other way around. Crossbow manufacturers should be influencing new hunters to learn to bow hunt.

white rabbitt
Oct 15 2012 08:47 AM
I cannot wait until a cross bow that can shoot an arrow at 1000 + FPS and will weigh under 6 ponds is manufactured. It would also be a plus if such a cross bow was semi automatic (with at least a 8 bolt magazine). just saying
Jul 16 2013 01:20 PM

Yes some things like the Picatinny rail I'm sure came over from gun hunters into the crossbow world.


But gun hunters are also strongly influenced by these crossbows.  I for one came over from guns looking to enjoy more time hunting, but also the quiet/silent methods of hunting.


First time I shot some xbows at a shop I was shocked at how loud they were.  Was really disappointed that they made nearly as much noise as a .22 rimfire in a couple cases.


Though I found one to buy that was not quite that loud, I'm still try'n to figure out the very Best way to cut the  noise out. 

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