How Far Can a Crossbow Shoot
To find out how far your crossbow can shoot you first have to experiment in a controlled environment (shooting range), slowly increase your distance from the target and note down the distance and your accuracy. Shoot at least 3 times from the same distance, but preferably more to get better data. Once you have this all you'll be reuse this data out in the field to gauge if your current distance is still safe - using a rangefinder makes this even more accurate. It's more important to have a clean and ethical shot than to push the limits. Expect a maximum safe distance between 30 and 50 yards.
Your Marksmanship Skills
A key ingredient in determining just how far your crossbow can shoot would be your personal archery skill set. Besides having the right gear equipped (and the draw weight, bolt variables, and other crossbow factors to include in the mix), it all boils down on experience and practice to go the distance in shooting.
Imagine this: a seasoned shooter, even using a basic crossbow setup, would be more confident in shooting a target in a relatively farther distance. Compared to beginner who even has the latest and top-of-the-line gear equipped, the level of comfort and familiarity is a definite factor in shooting from afar.
So, if you do want to make the most out of your crossbow to shoot at long distances, begin practicing!
Your Crossbow Momentum Plays a Big Part
How your crossbow projects or handles momentum is another factor in finding out how far it can shoot. This is because you need to have enough force to shoot a target at a certain distance. And when it comes to hunting, you would also need to consider your target's movement (it isn't like you're shooting sitting ducks out there!) to get a shot that will result in a kill.
In essence, momentum spikes up on just how much your crossbow can deal out both mass and speed. It isn't just speed, remember that. The mass variable would be the mass or the size of your chosen crossbow bolt - as such, choose your bolts carefully!
It's an intricate and even something that most hunters wouldn't readily notice. But taking into consideration every little facet of your crossbow will help you in making it shoot farther!
Your Crossbow Features and Quirks
Now, every crossbow out there is unique. Acknowledging that fact with your own unique shooting style (and experience) will help you realize just how far you can manage a shot with your crossbow. At a standard, conventional crossbows of today can manage up to (or even more) 400 FPS (feet per second - velocity).
Of course, even with that standard rate, the mentioned variables of style and crossbow setup will change the rate. A good example would be for crossbow setups that come with scopes or markers. These enhancements change the playing field, so to speak, that it’ll help you shoot farther.
So, try shifting your perspective on how to find out the best range to shoot. This will take into consideration your current setup and give you a better reading on which distance to shoot. And we'll be tackling more about this issue later!
Learning More About Crossbow Momentum
To help us get a clearer understanding of finding out the best range a particular crossbow can shoot, let us first learn more about momentum. Here are the two important points that deal with crossbow momentum:
Why the Crossbow Arrow Mass Matters - Heavier Arrows Fly Farther
A heavier crossbow arrow means a greater oomph when hitting your target. So, the higher the mass of a crossbow bolt, the higher the momentum produced. Now how exactly can this added weight help in reaching farther marks? Let's break it down:
- A crossbow arrow's mass is constant. This mass adds on to the momentum produced when fired, giving more force upon impact.
- Heavier arrows fly farther. The more weight, the more inertia produced. So, a heavier crossbow bolt means more inertia. This will also counter the drag encountered during an arrow flight, making the arrow fly faster and farther towards its mark.
By finding out the mass, you'll get to select the right kind of bolts to shoot. Although a lighter arrow may still go the distance, it may not have the right amount of force needed to penetrate or lethally hit your prey.
Knowing an arrow's mass will also help if you plan to shoot during windy conditions. Heavier crossbows wouldn't change trajectory that easily even with a sudden or strong gust of wind.
The Speed Factor - Crossbows with Higher FPS Shoot Farther
This is where the actual crossbow setup factors in. Considering the standard of most crossbows nowadays (at 400 FPS), certain models do go above that.
The higher the FPS, more momentum is produced as well. But as we've mentioned in the point above, wind drag also needs to be factored when hitting targets at longer distances. So, a balance of crossbow setup and bolt mass (and your skill set, of course) will help you determine the best range to work your gear in.
Learning More About Accuracy
Aim far, go far. Let us now break down how the accuracy aspect:
Your Skills Put to the Test
Accuracy now puts your skills in the spotlight. As the main variable in speed when finding out the most effective range to shoot, the only (and best) way to hit far and accurately is through practice.
Crossbow and Arrow Setup
Similar to momentum, faster arrow speed is generated depending on the crossbow setup and the arrow mass. For crossbows, the actual construction may result in faster shots. Bolts, as mentioned earlier, fly faster when they're lighter.
Strike a balance on these factors so that you can keep up a nice and stable feel when shooting. After all, being comfortable leads to better crossbow shots!
Finding Out Distances Where a Crossbow is Most Effective At
What's the most effective shooting distance for your crossbow? It does depend on both personal and professional preferences, but let's consider these factors to help you decide on a distance:
Weather Conditions - Wind is Your Enemy
As stated earlier, wind conditions play a big part in considering just how far you can hit a target. Aside from arming yourself with the proper gear, take some precautionary measures in finding out how fast or strong the wind is as well.
Land Conditions - Branches are Your Enemy
Unless you're shooting in a controlled environment, you also need to consider natural obstacles when taking a shot. Trees and rocks may prove to be a hindrance - so choose a good spot to make the most out of your shot!
Your Prey's Behavior
Again, those are not sitting ducks you're shooting at when you're out hunting. An animal's movement needs to be considered for you to efficiently hunt.
Skills and Emotions
Aside from your archery skill set, emotions and adrenaline rush are both factors that will affect your shot. Sure, there's a rush when going for a stealth kill for a really far target. But, keep calm! Archery is intricate. One misstep and your crossbow's aim may just go off its mark!
Additionally, and although numbers may vary, an acceptable range would be 50 yards for a crossbow at 300 FPS. Again, take this with a grain of salt. Consider all scenarios first for you to decide on a good range to shoot!
How to Find Your Crossbow’s Maximum Distance
Let's take this a step further. Here are some factors to consider for you to find out just how far your crossbow can shoot:
- Practice at set hunting positions. This way, you can work your way up to farther distances while minimizing other factors that may hinder your shot as well.
- Before heading over to your desired hunting spot, consider walking or jogging as well. You'd be able to simulate adrenaline this way which helps with the instincts!
- Check your gear and bolt specifications. Doing so will help you know just how much you can push your crossbow's limitations to shoot.
- Always consider wildcard scenarios. It really isn't a controlled environment, so wind or weather conditions will always change your shot.
Having these factors in mind will help you determine an effective shooting range for your crossbow!
Making Crossbow Target Practice Better
Finding your crossbow's maximum (and also most effective) distance can also be done in a controlled environment. For stationary target practice, you may begin to notice how velocity affects your shots per set distance. Here are some factors to keep in mind when observing this drop in velocity (for this case, let's use a 350 FPS crossbow with a 400 grain bolt):
As you can see, a change happens at as low as 30 yards. By experimenting with different combinations, you will be able to get a good gauge on just how far your crossbow can hit a target. Doing so will help you make the necessary adjustments as well to get a clean hit!
Bonus: Tips to Always Have in When Shooting your Crossbow at Longer Distances
Now, we’d like to also share some reminders on getting more accurate crossbow shots at longer distances:
Know Your Arrows
Aside from getting the right weight for your crossbow bolts, find out its other intricacies for you to get that right shot setting.
Getting into the Groove
Those grooves in your bolts mean something. Heavy groove marks found at the back portion of the bolt means that the arrow point is light. The reverse happens when the groove marks are located at the front, with the arrow point most likely to be heavy. Knowing this minor detail will allow you to visualize how your bolts fly!
It isn't plain aesthetics - crossbow fletching serves a great purpose. Experiment with different fletching lengths to see if you can even out the arrow flight.
Check what material is used in your crossbow bolt construction. Even if you have an aluminum bolt and a carbon one of the same weight, flight trajectory may change because of the material. Again, experiment and find what works for you!
More than giving you a clear view on your target, knowing how a scope works will help you in making the right adjustments in making a clean hit. Of course, it does depend on the type of scope you use. But generally speaking, the farther the reticle of your scope is from the center, the shorter the yardage it is sighted for. Here's a rough example for a scope with 3 reticles:
1 - Top Dot
2 - Second Dot
3 - Third Dot
Please always refer to your scope manufacturer to get the right sighting and information in aiming!
Maintenance of Your Crossbow
Always make sure your crossbow is in tip-top shape. Have you waxed the strings? Have you lubricated the rail? Are all bolts and moving parts fixed? Nothing is minor when it comes to archery - even the smallest details have major effects.
Choose Your Target
If you're going the controlled environment practice, make sure that your target can withstand wear and tear. This is one very important investment - while a target that topples over is “just” really annoying, one that breaks apart fast is totally worthless! Aside from giving you the right feel and boosting your accuracy, the right kind of target will also help save your bolts (and nerves).
If you have the means, consider getting a rangefinder as well. This awesome devices give you information on just how far a target is from you. Modern rangefinders make use of lasers for precisely measuring the target distance for you. Knowing the distance will help you select the right reticle on your sight. This in turn assures you of a precise shot.
Here are some nice references to check out when it comes to finding out how far you can shoot with your crossbow:
What’s an effective distance to hunt deer? This video explains that !
Here’s some awesome science for a change! This Reddit Ask Science thread discusses just how far can a crossbow bolt go!
An awesome read: Shoot On discusses the very important subject of ethical crossbow shooting distance.
Check this handy ballistic calculator to double check the distance you can reach.