I have always admired a crossbow as a more efficient close range hunting weapon, so this year since Virginia and four other states have legalized the cross bow- I bought my first one. No, not the thousand dollars plus model(s), but a simple recurve 180 lb. from ebay.
Already my hunting neighbors have pooh-poohed my selection, as they drag out their compound, deluxe model with attached bells and whistles. I think their choices are wonderful, however I was seeking a different approach.
My experience in ‘Nam did show the versatility of a simple homemade crossbow as devastating. Way back in the 1400’s the Catholic Pope declared the “end of the world” with the crossbow’s introduction to warfare and tried to outlaw it. Later of course gunpowder and early matchlock blunderbuss type weapons emerged and made the Pope’s wish come true.
Crossbows have long been considered a “poachers” weapon-silent and deadly. English law made the penalties quite severe for possessing one just as they do for firearms today, but people had to eat.
People that want to hunt for food, small game and deer, will find the crossbow a good choice rather than trying to master a long bow. True the conventional “Robin Hood” longbow gives great range and impact penetration but it requires more time on the range and perhaps more physical strength than some of us can muster due to age, injuries, and strength. In my case I find my 55 lb recurve take down-bow just a bit trying for me anymore.
For those good souls that do not want to just buy strings and sticks from Wally World, and want the real feel of making your own traditional archers delight I suggest visiting this site: www.3RiversArchery.com ; shucks, you can even learn to make flint arrowheads here.
Instead of spending the average $350 to $550 for a crossbow I thought a “beginners bow” might teach me a lot so after pouring over catalogs and what I could glean from the net, I found a few very well made crossbows from Taiwan (known for good quality merchandise) at ebay.
I chose the 180 lb, recurve (1 string) tactical model, then upgraded my decision to $120 or so and bought a camo model with a scope and laser.
A 180 lb crossbow will shoot a bolt (that is an arrow- in archery speak) 40 yards with deep penetration, and is quoted to be adequate for any big game- well I would not go after elk or bear, but thin skinned deer in an artery neck shot seems quite feasible. You will recall I am into critical accuracy. Of course the bolt will fly further, but with decreasing impact and penetration. It therefore remains vital for the hunter to only take a deer inside the parameters of the lethal range and to be exceptionally careful of where the bolt will finally impact.
Crossbow assembly picture is inside the box and very simple. You will use an Allen wrench-provided- and affix the recurve arm on one side, insert the spacer, threaded bolt through, hold the nut and tighten. The same is for the other side. Next is stringing. I had to go to Dicks in Christiansburg and purchase some string wax, bolt slide slippery stuff and an aid to cock the bow. This later expense keeps the notch centered and makes for better accuracy. The string wax is a must have and the string is tightly twisted before your Dear Wife slips the bolt string in place while you are straining to pull equally back on the twos recurve ends.
I decided to practice a bit with the hard sights and get the feel of the crossbow before advancing to the next step. I found that the foot in the stirrup and pulling the 180 lb string back not as easy as I would though it to be, but the cocking cord made it easier. Obviously a compound bow would be easier, but being male I had to prove my prowess.
There are some sample bolts provided and of course you will want many more. These come with field points and are best used for targets. You can attach hunting bladed tips for the actual big hunt, and I must stress to you to place the bolt in an artery which is best found, in my way of thinking, at the under side of the neck behind the jaw line. Bolts, and arrows, do not have shock power- they have bleeding power. Do not expect your deer to drop like a stone; they may not even jam and run. You remain quiet and wait for them to bleed out. If they jump and run, do not go crashing through the brush after them, relax, you will follow the blood trail and they the carcass will be waiting for you close by.
Also consider your crashing about evokes the blood lust of other hunters and you might wind up being stuck full of arrows. Another thought for you is that spooked deer cause all sorts of hormonal secretions to effect the taste of the venison. You want nice quiet non-spooked meat.
Laser applications with a scope or even hard sights are interestingly a good approach. You would only use an air gun or .22 quality laser since you are not interested in recoil or long distances. The laser will produce a very straight beam and your bolt, just like an arrow or bullet will have a trajectory like a rainbow. The flight speed of 220 feet per second and in many models upwards of 330 feet per second implies that within 40 yards of impact the striking of the bolt will be there before you are aware.
A word of caution. Keep your safety on until the moment of squeezing the trigger. Keep your fingers off the trigger. These weapons are sensitive and always DANGEROUS. My disclaimer is of course I am not responsible for your errors and carelessness. Think Safety.
Once installed on the crossbow, the laser can be adjusted to the impact point if you are patient and use a table rest and sandbags to steady the crossbow prior to aligning the telescopic sight, or adjusting the hard pin sights.
While browsing through www.amazon.com on crossbows and night vision I thought that a nice Generation 1 night monocular would be a consideration for dusky work a field or home practice. They offer probably the best of the monocular night vision: The Yukon Advanced 4X50 which boasts an attachment for use with your camcorder as well as tripod mounting: this allows you to use this with a weaver based rail on the crossbow. Since monocular are not strong enough for recoil like a night vision riflescope, this seems a good approach. Excellent reviews. Plus it is low cost and lightweight. If I couple this with a laser-well I am a modern Robin Hood. Dreams!
Video promotion clips are making headway. Take a peek at http://www.sportsmansguide.com/ key word: cross bows. They have two short videos showing the bow and shooting. What I am interested in doing and currently working on is my own website for video in concert with my Back2theLand series. If you have suggestions or comments, contact me.
At this time of the year I often witness wounded animals in pain and misery. I carry a licensed concealed firearm for their dispatch. I think if you are afield with your crossbow or any other hunting weapon a hunting quality handgun is often warranted. I believe that a heavy caliber is best, shoulder holster rigged and carried concealed as this makes it easier to traverse the brush and does not upset gentle souls. You are best advised to have a concealed carry permit even though you are using it for hunting. See your County Clerks office, while there you can procure licenses and a copy of hunting laws.
The best sights, in my opinion for carbines and large handguns are the holographic sights coupled with a green laser. There are several sold under different manufacturers, or names. Take a look through www.natchezss.com and of course: www.CheaperThanDirt.com.
The problem with adding scopes and such to handguns is finding a suitable holster. I just make my own-you can too.
Practice legal hunting and safety. Practice-practice-practice.
COPYRIGHT: 2009, Back2theLand, Mark Steel