Shopping for your first crossbow can be very confusing. Do you want a recurve crossbow or a compound? A traditional draw or a reverse draw crossbow? There are many choices to bewilder a new hunter. Even more confusing would be trying to compare the specifications of one brand to another brand. Why is this so confusing? Because none of the crossbow manufacturers share a common way to list there specifications. This article isn’t meant to pick on any particular brand or manufacturer. But in order to prove my point, I will need to use examples that are currently being used in todays crossbow industry.
Unfortunately today, most new consumers start looking for a crossbow based on the speed factor. Sure every manufacturer lists their respective speeds, but how do they come up with those readings? And how do we compare their findings to another manufacturers? It is almost impossible. Some manufactures use a 400 grain arrow, some use a 420 grain arrow, some use a 370 grain arrow and some use a 350 grain arrow. How in the world are we as consumers to compare the performance of each bow, if they all list speeds using different weight arrows?
There are no standard length and width specifications for crossbows either. One manufacture may give you a length not including the foot stirrup and the next one may include the stirrup. One manufacture may give you an axle to axle measurement. but can have cams that stick out a few inches wider on each side of the axle measurement. Do we as consumers want to know how wide the bow is when it’s cocked? Or how wide it is when uncocked? Do we as consumers want to know how wide the axle to axle measurement is, or how wide the crossbow is at its widest point?
The overall weight is another specification that has no standard. We all want a bow that we can carry comfortably in the woods. But some manufactures list the weight of their crossbows without a scope. Others list them with a scope but no quiver. Others list them with a scope and a quiver and no arrows. And others with a complete setup including scope, quiver, and arrows. How are we to know as consumers which bows are really lighter than the others? We can’t unless we purchased one of each and weighed them ourselves.
This is why I think the industry needs to come up with a set of standards that all crossbows can be measured by. Only then could we truly compare one bow to another. In my opinion most of these measurements should be very easy to define.
Overall Width: This measurement should be measured from the outside to outside of the widest part of the crossbow. Get rid of the axle to axle measurement. That doesn’t help anyone.
Overall Length: This measurement should be taken from the furthest point rearward on the stock, to the furthest point forward at the end of the foot stirrup. Not including the foot stirrup in a measurement can show over 4” of advantage over another model that does include the foot stirrup.
Overall Weight: I could see two measurements here. The first would be with the crossbow and whatever type of sight it comes with it. The second would be fully dressed with a quiver and arrows. If your bow comes with a four arrow quiver, I want to know what four arrows weigh in that quiver even if you only include three in the package, or none at all.
Speed: This is a measurement that I have not yet been able to decide the best way to make a universal measuring standard. Because some manufacturers require a minimum arrow weight, I don’t think it’s fair to make a company that requires a 400 grain arrow to lists speeds with a 420 grain arrow. You also can’t expect a crossbow manufacture to posts speeds with a 370 grain arrow if that weight will void their warranty. So how do we measure crossbows in a way that we as consumers can compare them? I don’t have that answer. I have experimented with different ways to measure speed based on the power stroke of each bow to get a reading of feet per second per inch of power stroke. But the problem that nobody uses the same weight arrows still applies.
Maybe the crossbow industry will never agree on how to measure the speed of a crossbow in a universal way. Maybe there just isn’t a fair way to do it. But the other length, width, and weight measurements are something to me as a consumer, I would like to see measured equally. Will a set of standards like this ever be achieved? Rumor has it that the Archery Trade Association has put a panel together to help decide. Hopefully if they do, it will have the best interest of the consumer in mind. Until then, we are stuck trying to solve the mystery of how one crossbow manufacturer specifies a measurement over the next.