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A crossbow is a bow with a rifle-like stock that shoots shorter arrows (sometimes referred to by the medieval term “bolts” or “quarrels”).

Crossbow with optical sight

The crossbow is believed to have existed for more than 2,000 years—long before gunpowder was invented in China.

Early crossbows were used as military weapons and as sport hunting tools of the nobility. They were cumbersome, heavy, and difficult to cock. Eventually, the crossbow was replaced as a military weapon by the English longbow because archers could release up to six arrows in the time it took to load and fire a crossbow once.

Today, crossbows can be an effective recruitment and retention tool for hunters.

  • Many first-time crossbow shooters gain confidence quickly and typically transition to other types of archery equipment.
  • Older persons, persons with heart and other medical conditions, or less physically capable hunters can extend their hunting years by eliminating the need to draw and hold other types of archery equipment or deal with the noise and recoil of high-powered rifles.