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As a conventional compound bow is shot, the string on the bow pushes the arrow more than twice the distance as when a crossbow is shot. Therefore, to produce the same arrow speeds, a crossbow must have more than twice the draw weight of a compound bow.

Because of this much shorter "power stroke" (draw) on the crossbow, it must have much heavier limbs. The powerful limbs move a short distance and stop quickly when an arrow is shot. Therefore, the crossbow must have more physical mass than a compound bow to absorb the shock, which otherwise would be transferred to the shooter. This short, heavy power stroke means the crossbow will create more noise when discharged than the conventional compound bow.

Range comparison

The forward movement and strength of the crossbow’s limbs, combined with the length of the power stroke, determine the ballistic performance of the arrow it launches. Ballistic tests show that there is very little, if any, difference in the impact of broadhead-tipped arrows shot from a crossbow and a compound bow.