jbekes wrote:My dad would like to start hunting with a crossbow but we know nothing about them. We know that he has to get the dr. note but other than that we don't know much about the crossbow itself.
What should we look for?
What should we stay away from?
Should we strickly look for a new one or can used ones be just as good?
What kind of maintenance will we have to do with it or to it?
Thanks all info is appriciated.
Would you like the mechanics or the history? They have been around since the time of the Pharaohs. The design of long guns come from the things they learned from crossbows, not the other way around. Just like a bow, there is nothing wrong with a used crossbow VS a new one, as long as it is in good condition.
If you are looking at a used one, you might want to meet the seller at a bow shop, and have the techs have a look at it before buying. There are many brands out there for several size budgets. Most guys I know use a Barnett, Horton, PSE, or Ten Point, though there are many more brands, the Ten Point and Excalibur are priced a bit higher.
They will average about #150, some a little less, some a bit more, and just like bows, the letoff will vary by make and model. There are pull strings to make cocking easier (my Dad used one) crank winches mounted to the butts of some models, and even a couple of self cocking models (sweet!) but they are quite pricey.
It is important that when cocking the string, that the string remain centered so it fires true. Marking the string on both sides of the stock would not be a bad idea.
If it is a Horton, it will fire a bolt down a greased channel, where as the Barnett uses a raised rest, and no grease.
While there are a few high dollar, high tech crossbows out there, able to shoot 100yds, most can not. My Barnett has an effective range of @45yds according to the factory. You will gain a few yards over a bow for range, but nothing like the inflated tales you will hear.
They are much slower to reload, bulky compared to a bow, and more likely to get busted due to the horizontal bow in a vertical world. However, you can hold out for the best shot with less arm strain, due to the bow holding the strain until the shot, and while the bolt does hit harder, it does not fly much faster. If you doubt it use a chronograph at your archery range, and see for yourself. It is much like getting hit by a motorcycle going 60mph (arrow) VS a truck going 60mph (bolt) there is more follow through. I make one hole in most deer with my bow, but I will put two holes in ALL deer hit with a bolt, unless I hit bone.
While it has a trigger mechanism. it is nothing like the trigger of a gun. Most are quite stiff on a crossbow due to the way it works. lube will help, but watchout for odors.
Like a bow. NEVER DRYFIRE . Bows and crossbows are designed right to the edge of destruction. Making them stronger, makes them slower. Most guys keep a practice bolt or a special two piece bolt made for discharging a crossbow after hunting. I un-cock my crossbow by hand. (if I can cock it by hand, I can un-cock it by hand) If you wish to try this method, make sure your foot is in the stirrup, and you have a firm grip on the string, then release the safety, and pull the trigger. Be ready for the jerk, and ease it down.
Never leave a crossbow cocked when not hunting/shooting. It is less safe, damages the limbs of the bow, and is an accident waiting to happen. If someone tells you it is ok to leave it cocked (as I have heard) they are mis-informed. All materials fatigue with use, and time. Always release the tension (uncock/ discharge ) when you are done with it.
Keep all moving parts properly lubed, and watch for wear on your bow string. Remember to keep the bow string waxed. Watch for cracks in limbs, or wear in cams (if it is a compound) and chaffing at the bow nocks (if it is a recurve) check for loose bolts or screws from time to time, and if anything looks or feels wrong, do not fire it. A bow coming apart can hurt you, A crossbow coming apart can hurt you more. There is more power stored in a crossbow.
As to use, you will get one shot. You will rarely get two shots. Make the first one count. It is very hard to recock and reload without getting busted.
You are wide open on sights. iron sights, lighted pins, red dots, holos, or scopes. I do not care for scopes on crossbows, because the focus is so tight, you can not see twigs between the bow and the target. I have killed a few branches that way. The deer simply laughed.
Any razor head you would use on a bow can be used on a crossbow, though some claim to be made for the purpose. I use mechanicals (silver strikes) and I have had no problems with them.
They make luminocks for crossbow bolts, I am told, and they will take the shock, but check your game laws before using them. It's stupid, but some places do not allow them.
If you have any questions, or if I have missed anything, please feel free to contact me, I will help if I can.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.