Crossbows have become a game-changer in the hunting world. Many proficient shooters, gun and bow alike, have added a crossbow to their arsenal in recent years. It’s astounding growth, ease of use, and hunting benefits have launched the crossbow into the hearts and treestands of many.
Just 10 years ago, only 6 states allowed crossbow hunting, most of which required a special permit that was only awarded based on medical and physical challenges of the hunter. Today crossbows are legal in 49 states (with the exception of Oregon). The crossbow market grew from just over $3M in 2005 to over $140M in 2015, and continues to grow as regulations are changed and become more crossbow-friendly.
Crossbow hunting is growing exponentially amongst gun hunters for several reasons. The first being that little to no practice is required, as crossbows fit the gun profile in several ways. The crossbow is held much like a rifle. Today, almost every crossbow has a scope, like a rifle, and every crossbow has a trigger mechanism, like a rifle. Shooting a crossbow is extremely familiar to the gun hunter as one simply puts the target in the crosshairs, releases the safety, and pulls the trigger. The difference, of course, is the projectile is an arrow not a bullet. Crossbows also have almost no recoil when fired, where a rifle does.
Another difference is crossbows are far quieter than a gun shot. Should the hunter miss their target while shooting the crossbow, there’s a reasonable chance that the other game in the area did not hear the shot.
Hunting with a crossbow in archery season or muzzleloader season also has several advantages for the hunter. The weather is warmer and more comfortable for sitting long hours, as opposed to the colder and harsher climate present in most gun seasons. The ability to harvest a trophy animal is also better. Not only are deer still in their natural patterns, but crossbow hunters are competing only with bowhunters, making it an even playing field and opportunity for the same animal.
The archery season is typically during the pre-rut into the rut for whitetail, making opportunities greater at harvesting a trophy animal, as many big game chase during this period covering a lot of territory. A rutting buck can cover as much as 3-5 miles in one afternoon in pursuit of a hot doe.
Lastly, it must be pointed out that other than cocking the crossbow, there are very little physical challenges related to crossbow hunting. With today’s engineered cocking devices, some mechanical in nature, even cocking a crossbow can be done with little strength required. Many crossbow hunters do not bowhunt with a traditional bow or vertical compound bow because of the strength required to draw such a bow.
It is imperative that you check your state regulations. These regulations seem to be modified annually, which will effect the market growth as well as the popularity of the sport.