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Crossbow Hunting: Regulations, Safety, How To Shoot & Beginner Models

Crossbow hunting is very easy, extremely fast, and fatally effective!

Professional hunters also prefer crossbow as it requires less energy for shooting and your complete focus remains towards the Aim.

Also, if you are a new hunter and you only know the basics of archery it’s easier to shoot accurately using a crossbow.

So, if you want to get started with the crossbow, it’s a perfect choice…

Why Crossbow Hunting Over Other Bows?

Shooting with a crossbow requires less strength and energy to shoot the projectiles (called bolts or quarrels) with the trigger. Loading the bolts can still require some effort, but many modern designs include mechanism to reduce the draw weight. We discussed the best cheap crossbow options here.

It’s just like shooting with a long gun where the trigger is built into the bow frame (tiller).

And using the trigger for shooting also helps reduce inaccuracy, relative to drawing and holding a bowstring, which can have an impact on your focus and shooting point.

With telescopic sight attached to crossbow, even beginners can shoot a bull’s eye in their first attempt.

The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to pull the arrow or bolt when you are sighting your target, you usually pre-load the bolt and then simply take aim and pull the trigger once your target has been spotted.

This contrasts with other recurve bows which required you to draw and hold the arrow using your raw strength. Compound bows require a similar application of force when preparing to shoot, but do include let-off mechanisms to reduce the draw weight burden.

This is a big reason that crossbows are preferred by a significant part of the community.

The design of the crossbow also allows for massive speed and kinetic energy to be applied to the bolt whilst still retaining a high degree of accuracy. It’s not uncommon for crossbows to shoot bolts in excess of 400FPS. That’s serious firepower! Check out some of the incredibly fast crossbows from Excalibur.

2 Disadvantages of Using A Crossbow:

1: Slow Reloading

The first problem with crossbows is that they reload very slow and you can’t shoot another bolt quickly like a compound bow or recurve bow.

In reality, this doesn’t make a massive difference on a hunt. Unless you are incredibly talented or incredibly lucky, its very difficult to get a second shot off at your target with any degree of accuracy before they have bolted to safety.

If you are willing to invest a reasonably substantial sum, there are crossbow models that have designed ways around this problem. Repeating crossbows can shoot multiple shots in rapid succession, but are notoriously inaccurate.

Excalibur Crossbows have also come up with the Twinstrike crossbow. This bad boy features four limbs, two strings, two rails and two triggers, allowing you to shoot a second shot milliseconds after the first, with only a slight reduction in accuracy from your first shot as a result of the recoil. It’s basically two crossbows in one!

2: Weight

Compared to recurve bows in particular, but also compound bows, crossbows are reasonably heavy.

Recurve bows set up as a bare bow can be as lights as 2 pounds and compound bows, which are typically kitted out with more tech, usually weigh between 3 to 5 pounds. Crossbows usually weigh 6-7 pounds without any attachments and can be 8 to even 10 pounds when fully accessorized. This can make all the difference on a long hunting trip in the field.

Especially if you’ve been using lightweight compound bows or recurve bows then it can feel like a lot at the start. But with some training and practice, you’ll get used to the weight differential and come to love the serious power that crossbows offer!

3: Lacks A Traditional Feel

Many bowhunters love the traditional feel of a using a bow to stalk their prey. Hunter against prey. Man vs nature on an even playing field.

Although the goal is to hunt and kill the target, there is often a high degree of respect held by the hunter towards their prey. Meeting them in a battle of wits and physical prowess can be extremely exhilarating and makes a successful hunt all the more rewarding.

This has lead to large community of traditional bow and bare bow hunters that typically use recurve bows with little or no accessories, meaning the hunt comes down to raw skill, strength and capability.

Relative to recurve bows, crossbows don’t have that same appeal and are much more like shooting a rifle than shooting a bow.

If you’re really looking for that traditional feel, I’d suggest you look for a quality recurve bow for hunting.

If you’re experience with firearms and looking to try out bow hunting, then crossbows are the perfect entry point. They are also fantastic if you are just beginning with hunting and still learning to track your prey, move with a high degree of stealth, find great vantage points and become more adept at general hunting skills, then crossbows are also a great starting point as they can be much more forgiving than other bow types.

Crossbow Hunting Regulations For All US States

Within every state the regulations of hunting with a crossbow are different and you can get yourself into trouble if you are not following the laws of the state.

In the beginning, crossbows were only allowed to disabled people but now many state regulations have allowed the majority of people to use it.

Find your State and Click on it for Viewing the Crossbow Regulations.



In Alabama, using a crossbow is legal for everyone but only during the season of deer hunting.

A license is still required and you can get details about it by calling on 888-848-6887.


You can use a crossbow in any hunt unless the territory is restricted for the weapons, also crossbows don’t fall in the category of Archery so, always keep that in your mind.

So, if bow and arrow are allowed in a region then still crossbows might not be allowed there…

Using scopes for enhancement are not allowed in Alaska.                  907-267-2347


Using crossbows in Arizona is legal during the general hunting seasons for big and small games with a license.

But during the “Archery only season” it’s only allowed with the disability permit.       602-942-3000


In Arkansas, it’s required that your crossbow should have 125 pounds or more pull with a mechanical safety. Hunters should use the 7/8 inches wide arrowheads.

But it’s not allowed to use poison on the tip of your bolt.          501-223-6300


You can only use the crossbow for hunting during the season of guns. It’s not considered as the archery equipment so make sure you are not using it during the archery-only season.      916-653-7203


Colorado doesn’t consider crossbow archery equipment either so, it’s only allowed during the guns hunting season.

But for the disabled hunters with the license of disability, they are allowed to use the crossbows even during archery season.      303-297-1192


Crossbows within Connecticut are considered as the legal archery equipment unlike other states where it is treated as a weapon so, you can surely use them in hunting season with a license…

Here’s the contact number for details on license 860-424-3011


Delaware allows the use of crossbows during all deer hunting seasons with a minimum weight of 125 pounds.

You can also attach the scope for enhancement purposes.

But it’s against the law to carry the cocked (loaded) crossbow in your vehicle.         302-739-5297


Within Florida, simultaneously when the archery season starts an extra month is added for hunting with crossbows.

Your crossbow should weigh a minimum of 125 pounds with a manufactured date of at least 1980. You can also use a scope on your crossbow.              850-488-8573


In Georgia, using the crossbow during any season is legal and you can get further details regarding license from 770-918-6416.


In Hawaii, it’s not allowed to use crossbows in any season for hunting and only the people with special disable permits are allowed to use it.        808-973-9787


Within Idaho, you only need a hunting license and there is no license required for a crossbow.

You also need an archery permit for your crossbow then you are allowed to hunt with your crossbow during any hunting season.      800-554-8685


In Illinois, crossbows are the legal weapon for hunting during the archery hunting season.

And you only need a hunting license.                      217-782-7305


In Indiana, crossbow with a minimum 125 lbs and mechanical safety is allowed for hunt down.

You need a crossbow license and it’s allowed during the archery season.

For further details regarding, the license you can call at 317-232-4080


Within Iowa, it’s only allowed to use the crossbows for hunting if you are a disable or at least 70 years old citizen of the state.                  515-281-8688


In Kansas, crossbows are legal for everyone during the archery season.

You only need a hunting license.               316-342-0658


Within Maine, it’s allowed to use the crossbows during any archery season but it’s illegal to use the crossbows during the expanded archery season.

Also, if you are a senior citizen with a minimum of 70 years of age then you can use the crossbow for hunting during any season for all wild animals.


In Maryland, you are only allowed to use the crossbow during 4 weeks of the archery season and 4 weeks of the guns season.

Also, you can use the crossbow for deer hunting during seasons.

If you are a disabled person, then you are allowed to use the crossbow for all wild animals hunting.


In Massachusetts, it’s not allowed to use the crossbows for hunting during any season.

But if you have a special disabled person license then you can use it during hunting seasons and from here you can get the details 508-792-7270


In Michigan, crossbow hunting regulations expanded and now age limit lowers down to 10 from 12.

Now, all the hunters are allowed to use the crossbow during archery and guns season except in the Upper Peninsula where nobody is allowed to use the crossbows for hunting.         517-373-1263


Within Minnesota, it’s only allowed to use the crossbows for hunting during the guns season.

Only people with special disability licenses are allowed to use the crossbows in hunting season, also a senior citizen with a minimum age of 60 years are allowed to use crossbows.


In Mississippi, regulations are changed and hunters no longer need a special crossbow license for hunting.

Crossbows are legal now for all the archery seasons.              601-432-2400


In Missouri, crossbows are legal hunting equipment for the deer and turkey season.                 573-751-4115


In Montana, crossbows are not considered as the archery equipment and you are only allowed to use the crossbows for hunting during the firearms season.

Also, there is no provision for disabled hunters.


In Nebraska, crossbows can only be used during the firearm season and it’s only allowed to use during archery season with special disability license.             402-471-0641


In Nevada, crossbows are not considered as the archery equipment and it’s only allowed to use the crossbows during the firearms season.                775-688-1500

New Hampshire

Within Hampshire, Crossbows are only allowed during the firearms hunting season.

Disable people with a special license don’t need any crossbow license separately, otherwise, you need crossbow hunting permit.                   603-271-3422

New Jersey

The New Jersey lifted the ban from all draw locking equipment in 2012.

Which means now it’s allowed to use the crossbows for hunting purpose in all bow and arrow season.       609-292-2965

New Mexico

Within New Mexico, it’s allowed to use the crossbows for hunting deer, bear, cougar, peccary, sheep, turkey and bighorn sheep.

But it’s not allowed to use magnifier with a crossbow for improved sight.                800-862-9310

New York

In New York, only under certain circumstances, it’s allowed to use the crossbow for hunting.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, after 2010 they allowed to use the crossbows for hunting and it’s considered as a legal weapon during the hunting season.          919-733-7291

North Dakota

Within North Dakota, after 2011 it has been allowed to use the crossbows for hunting but only during the rifle seasons.                 701-328-6300


In OHIO, crossbows are considered as the legal archery equipment and you can use it for hunting during the archery season.

The requirement includes draw weighs a minimum of 75 pounds and the arrow needs a minimum of two cutting edges.       614-265-6300


In Oklahoma, You can use the crossbows for hunting with mechanical pull during the longbows season of hunting.         405-521-2730


Within Oregon, crossbows are illegal for hunting during any season and not considered as the archery equipment.                           503-872-5268


After 2010, Pennsylvania gave the approval of using the crossbow for hunting during the archery season.

You can also use the scope for magnifying.                              717-787-4250

Rhode Island

Within Rhode Island, it was considered as the firearm in the past but now it falls under the archery equipment category.

You can use the crossbow for hunting during the archery season.

Also, there is a law that you can’t take wild turkey or any bird with a crossbow.         401-222-6800

South Carolina

Crossbows are now considered archery equipment and you can use it for hunting during the archery season.                                     803-734-3886

South Dakota

Crossbows are not considered as the archery equipment in South Dakota and you can’t use them in any season for hunting.

It’s only allowed to use the crossbow with special disability permit that too during the archery season.                                         605-773-3485


Within Tennessee, crossbows are legal for hunting during all seasons of hunting including firearms, archery, and muzzleloader.                                  615-781-6500


In Texas, crossbows are considered as legal archery equipment and you can use it for hunting during the archery hunting season.                                   512-389-4800


Within Utah, crossbows are not considered as legal archery equipment.

Only people with a disability permit can use a crossbow for hunting during the seasons.                                    801-538-4700


In Vermont, crossbows are not considered as the legal archery equipment and it’s only allowed for disabled people during the archery hunting season.                          802-241-3700


Within Virginia, crossbows are legal during all seasons for hunting.

You only need a crossbow license during the archery season and can use it without a license during the firearm hunting season.                   804-367-1000


Washington doesn’t allow to use the crossbows for hunting and only people with disabilities can use it for hunting.                                       360-902-2519

West Virginia

Within West Virginia, you can hunt the deer with bow or crossbow.

But the crossbows are not permitted within Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties.                                           304-558-2758


After the 2014 regulation update, Crossbows are legal for hunting during all the archery seasons.                                    608-266-2621


In Wyoming, crossbows are considered as the legal archery equipment and you can use crossbows for hunting during the archery season.

The requirement is for the bow to have 90-pound minimum draw weight and it shoots 16-inch bolts.          307-777-4600


7 Common Crossbow Regulations You Should Know

1: You should only use the crossbow with licenses and a minimum age of 14 years.

2: You should not travel with a cocked crossbow in a vehicle.

3: You should not bring the crossbow to a place where it’s clearly not allowed

4: You should not carry the crossbow to a place where deer or bear lives unless it’s packed in a bag.

5: Your crossbow minimum limb width should be 17 inches and should weigh a minimum of 100 pounds.

6: You should only use the crossbow for hunting during open seasons and open season differs from state to state and it’s your duty to confirm the regulations first before hunting.

7: If you are below the age of 16, you can hunt with a crossbow but with a valid junior license in your possession.


9 Important Crossbow Safety Rules:

1: Always let your family and friends know about your location, where you are going to hunt.

2: Don’t ever carry a cocked crossbow in your vehicle or possession, always treat it like a loaded gun even if it’s cocked without bolt or arrow in it.

3: Place your arrows, quivers, or bolts in a quiver instead of holding them or putting on the ground.

4: Never do the mistake of dry firing (Without arrow) the crossbow.

5: Don’t un-cock the crossbow using your hand and always shoot it in a safe direction when you are uncocking your crossbow.

6: Always place your fingers below the rail of a cocked crossbow.

7: If you are using the tree stand – cock your crossbow before climbing the tree stand.

8: While shooting, make sure none of your fingers are lying between the bowstring.

9: Never let your crossbow cocked for a long period of time.

If you are a beginner, Make sure that you know the basic archery safety rules.

Top-Rated Crossbows For Beginners:

Based on the user reviews and user experiences, here are the top 3 crossbows you can buy from Amazon if you are looking to buy one for yourself…

Barnett TS380 Package:

The Barnett TS380 is one of the best crossbows for beginners.

The complete package including 1 x 4-bolt quiver, 2 x carbon bolts, a premium 4x zoom 32mm diameter multi-reticle scope, crank cocking device and string wax. It is manufactured by one of the best, Barnett.

It is very easy to assemble and use, even as a new user, just follow the instructions in the manual and you should have no troubles.

What’s awesome about this crossbow is that it comes with a crank cocking device, making the draw much easier for beginners as significantly less pressure needs to be applied.

I really like its design and durable lightweight body, if you are just starting out with crossbow hunting I suggest you go for this package.

Center Point Sniper 370:

Center point sniper is the best crossbow I have used in terms of accuracy and speed.

It requires some experience to make it operate perfectly but if you continue to use this crossbow, you should get the required accuracy for hunting after 100-150 backyard practice shots.

Setting up this crossbow is fairly easy, and the included optic is good as well. To be honest, the included bolts along with this crossbow are not of the best quality for hunting deer but still good for practicing. You will need new bolts before hunting animals.

The price of this crossbow is very good when compared with others in terms of accuracy and speed of shooting, so it’s definitely a steal offer.

Check out our other crossbow reviews: 

How to Shoot A Crossbow?

1: If you are a beginner at using crossbows, I suggest you read the instructions booklet that came with your crossbow for assembling the bow.

2: Now, You have to cock the crossbow by putting the front side down and place your foot at the front side of the bow. Pull the rope gently until it clicks.

3: After cocking, new crossbows like Barnett will automatically set itself to the safety mode (where it doesn’t shoot bolts).

4: If you are using the Barnett bolts, there will be 2 colors at the back i.e.: green and white, you have to put the white side down in the rail area of the arrow on your crossbow for better accuracy.

5: Now move your favorite broadhead or field tip bolt all the way back to your string for fixing it to make it ready for the shooting.

6: Now your crossbow is ready for shooting the bolt, make sure it’s not facing anyone, and your shooting area is marked. Now you can change its mode from safety to shooting.

7: Aim down the sight or through your scope at your target and get ready to pull the trigger. Depending on the distance you are shooting, you may need to adjust your sight. Learn how to adjust your cross sight here.

8: A last thought for the safety of yourself and others, then pull the trigger and let your bolt fly!

Further reading: You can’t use a crossbow without projectiles! Check out our review of the best crossbow bolts

Final Words on Crossbow Hunting:

To get started with the crossbow hunting, you just need to know the basic rules of archery because operating the crossbow is very easy as it’s like a shotgun or rifle.

Before starting hunting with a crossbow, make sure you are following the area regulations and read the safety rules and precautions mentioned here, it’s very important…

Also, when you are a beginner I suggest using the focus accessories including crossbow scopes, bow stands (monopods) for learning and accuracy.

Last but not least, you should shoot a minimum of 150 practice shots on the target before going out for hunting. It will also help you in understanding the complete operation of your crossbow and definitely will help in improving the accuracy.

What’s your unique technique of hunting with the crossbow? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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