One of the most commonly asked questions that crossbow shooters ask me is, “What is the best crossbow target I should buy?” There are many different targets on the market today, and it is no surprise that crossbow owners are confused about the best one for their specific shooting purposes. Ultimately, the answer depends on several factors, including how fast your crossbow shoots, how many shots you take per year, whether your target needs to be portable, and whether you use field points, broadheads, or both.
The performance of most modern crossbows now exceeds the performance of vertical bows when it comes to arrow speeds and kinetic energy levels. Compound crossbows shoot faster and crossbow arrows hit harder than vertical bows and arrows. For this reason, target manufacturers will often rate their targets based on arrow speed ranges, the types of acceptable archery equipment that can be used with them, and the types of points that the targets were built to accept. You should not assume that ANY archery target was built to withstand the intense force of a crossbow arrow. Be sure to know the maximum speed that your crossbow shoots and only choose a target that is built to handle that speed. If you don’t verify the speed rating, you run the risk of your arrows burying themselves too deeply in the target and damaging the fletching or even shooting totally through the target. Most manufacturers will also tell you whether their targets were made for vertical bows exclusively, crossbows, or in some cases, both.
Another factor to consider when selecting a target is how often you intend to shoot your crossbow. Do you mostly use your target for sighting purposes or are you an avid shooter who takes hundreds of practice shots each year? The cost of archery targets ranges greatly, and you may not need to invest in the most expensive, longest-lasting target on the market if you will only be using it on a limited basis each year. As is the case with most other types of outdoor equipment, you tend to get what you pay for when purchasing a target. If you are an avid shooter, be sure to research the target’s durability rating and if there is a shot limit associated with the warranty. You may also want to choose a larger target with multiple bullseyes so that you are not constantly shooting in the same area of the target each time. Shooting the same area often can cause that area to wear more quickly than if you alternate your shots in multiple locations. Alternating your shot location also allows you to shoot a series of arrows to determine how well they are grouping without having to stack arrows together in the same spot and risk one of your arrows hitting and damaging another.
Does your crossbow target need to be portable or will it remain in the same spot when you use it? Do you need a target that you can use at home for practice shooting, but that can also be transported with you to the field where it could be used to unload your crossbow? The larger the crossbow target, the heavier the target will likely be. Some large targets can exceed 50 pounds in overall weight, which makes it extremely difficult to transport to your hunting camp and use for unloading. If you need an unloading target, you may want to buy a separate, smaller target that will be easier to transport.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what types of points will you be using on your arrows? Will you only be shooting target tips, or will you also be shooting broadheads after you sight the bow in with target tips? Not every crossbow target is designed to use both, and if you plan to shoot broadheads at all you should purchase a target that can accept either.
Not all archery targets are the same. Now that you have determined your specific shooting needs, you should be able to find one that best meets them all.
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