Crossbow check list overview
Crossbow check list: Hints for
In the following, we would like to give you a short and concise
list that should help you buy the right crossbow and also support you in the
We also would like to use this opportunity for getting rid of any
wrong information that is spread by websites about crossbow guides. Maybe you
have come across one of the websites of this kind.
So do not believe awkward claims like "The higher the draw
weight, the faster the bolt speed". Why this is not the case and how these two factors
are connected, you will learn here with our hints for beginners.
1. How expensive should the crossbow be?
This question cannot be answered very generally. It depends of
course on how much you want to spend or can spend for your crossbow, although we
want to give you an approximate price range where our recommended beginner
crossbows are in.
It pays to take a look at the X-BOW Jag I or the X-BOW Jag II,
which is the successor. Why you ask? Because we as well as many of our customers
are more than happy with these two beginner crossbow models. The cheap price as
well as the simple and robust recurve construction make these crossbows a
very good choice.
Of course, we do not want to tell you which crossbow you should
buy in the end, which is why we made an extensive purchase guide that shows a
large variety of different crossbows for beginners.
2. What draw weight should the crossbow
As already quickly mentioned in the introduction, there are
websites that claim to be crossbow guides with statements like "The higher the draw
weight, the faster the arrow will be". Beginners that do not yet have a lot of
experience might think this made sense. But crossbow experts and the operators
of such websites should know that this is absolutely not true.
The draw weight is only one of several factors that determine
how fast the bolt will leave the crossbow in the end. We would like to explain
why. Apart from the draw weight of the crossbow, the so-called powerstroke and
the used tech of the crossbow also play an important part.
The powerstroke is the area where the string pushes the bolt
forwards and thereby transfers the energy. In other words, the way from where
the string comes to rest up to the lock.
One more very important factor for determining the bolt speed is
the used tech of the certain crossbow. The two types are recurve- and compound
crossbows. Recurve crossbows use a very simple but sturdy and robust
construction in order to accelerate the bolt. Thereby, the recurve crossbow only
has one string that connects the two ends of the limbs. That is it. Most of the
time, the draw weight of recurve crossbows is substentially higher then on
compound crossbows, which we will explain now.
Compound crossbows use a clever tech that uses additional parts
like the so-called cams and two cables in order to work. The compound
construction triggers a kind of pulley effect when spanning, which makes the
crossbow much easier to cock because of the reduced draw weight. Like that,
bolts can have the same velocity with a much lower draw weight than quite heavy
A compound crossbow can thereby have the same arrow speed with
only 150 lbs like a recurve crossbow with a substantially higher draw weight of
285 lbs for example.
A comparison: More draw weight does not
necessarily mean more performance:
STRYKER Katana 360
EXCALIBUR Micro Assassin 360
3. What do I have to consider before
spanning the crossbow?
Before the crossbow can be spanned for the first time you should
consider some things that also might endanger your own safety. We urgently
recommend to check whether all the screws on the crossbow are tight and to make
sure that they will not come out.
Hint: When firing the crossbow there will be
some vibrations that go into it. This can lead to the screws coming loose over
time. Therefore we recommend using something to secure the screws in place like
Loctite, which will ensure that the screws are held in permanently.
4. Use maintenance products
Before spanning the crossbow we also recommend using
maintenance products to extend the life span of wearing parts on the crossbow
like string and possibly cables. For one, there is so-called string wax that is
used for treating the string and cables of the crossbow. The string wax ensures
that the material does not get brittle and damaged because of that. The string
wax is comparable to a lip stick from the outside. You can press the wax out of
the tube and go over the string material and the cables to coat them. The
thicker serving should not be treated. The serving is the reinforcement that
most of the time is located in the middle and at the ends of the string as well
as the cables.
An additional product is used to reduce the friction between the
string an the rail on which the bolt is accelerated. When the shot is executed,
the string will slide over the rail with extremely high speed and will generate
a certain amount of heat and friction, which will damage the string over time.
In order to reduce the friction the so-called Super Lube can be used for
5. How do you span a crossbow?
There are various methods to span a crossbow. The exact spanning
method depends on the model, the draw weight and the tech used.
You have to make sure that the safety is on "fire" with all
crossbows before spanning. Otherwise, spanning will not be possible. Most
crossbows engage the safety themselves after cocking. Crossbows by EXCALIBUR on
the other hand have to be switched to the "safe" position manually after
Older models and lighter crossbows were always able to be
spanned by hand up to now. The technological progress, however, does not exclude
crossbows of course. Over time, the tech used has become better and the draw
weights of crossbows have increased continously. Thereby, crossbows with a draw
weight of 250 lbs (pounds) and more are definitely not rare anymore. Due to
that, alternative spanning methods had to be found in order too still be able to
span the crossbow. Spanning crossbows with such high draw weights by hand is not possible anymore.
In the following, we have listed the most commonly used methods of spanning
crossbows for you:
Spanning the crossbow by hand
Crossbows with a low draw weight (approx. 150 to 175 lbs) can
theoretically still be spanned by hand comfortably. After some time, however,
this might really overstrain the hands with bruises and abrasions for example.
There is also the problem that when
spanning the crossbow by hand, the string is not pulled evenly sometimes. If the
string is pulled more strongly with one hand unconsciously for example, the
crossbow limb of the exact side is also stressed more. This results in
inconsistent shot performance. Of course this way of spanning a crossbow is
quicker compared to the others but in our opinion the advantages of this method
do not make up for the disadvantages.
Spanning the crossbow with a spanning aid
In our opinion, the spanning aid is the best method for spanning
crossbows. Prices for such spanning aids are fairly low and the benefit you get
from them is comparably large.
After a short training period, using a spanning aid is quite
simple and can be done quickly. The draw weight is reduced by approximately 50% due to
a kind of pulley effect. This makes spanning the crossbow substantially easier
Before the first use of the spanning aid, it should be set to
the correct length. We recommend adjusting the length in such a way that it is
just a little bit shorter then the actual distance to the string. Like that, the
spanning aid is always under tension and cannot slip out of position.
First you put your foot deep and firm into the stirrup of the
crossbow and insert the spanning aid centered in the designated notch that most
of the time is situated below the scope and behind the sight rail. Then the
hooks, which are mounted on the spanning aid are hooked into the string from
The final step is to pull back the spanning aid, which is done
with the designated handles that are situated at the ends of the spanning aid.
The crossbow string can now be pulled back.
Spanning the crossbow with a crank
The crossbow crank is probably the most expensive but also the
most effortless method of spanning a crossbow. Depending on the execution of the
crossbow, the crank is already included in the delivery contents or can be
purchased and installed at a later point.
If you want to equip your pre-purchased crossbow with a crank,
you have to keep in mind that your crossbow has to be suited for the crossbow
crank beforehand. Mounting a crossbow crank is not possible on every model.
6. Use a good scope
Apart from a good crossbow, the scope is also an essential
part in order to get good results. Because of this, you should also be careful
what you buy in this sector, if you want to score good and consistent results.
Depending on the equipment of every single crossbow, you will
find various delivery contents ranging from simple iron sights up to
high-quality scopes. Particularly the high-end crossbows already come with a
quality scope most of the time, which means that you do not have to buy a
separate good scope any time soon.
This is different in the sector of beginners´ crossbows,
however. Most of the time, there is no additional scope included in the box.
Maybe you will find a simple ironsight. Convincing results are only hard to
score with this setup, however.
This is the reason why it pays to think about buying an
alternative scope. Apart from the standard sight, you also have the option to
get a red dot scope.
Red dot scopes are aiming devices that project one or more
glowing dots onto the glass where you look through by using a source of light. Compared to
standard scopes, red
dot scopes only have little or no magnification at all and thereby are rather
suited for pistol crossbows or light crossbows at best like the Jag One or Jag
Higher performance crossbows should very well be equipped with a
genuine sight. These models can shoot bolts at higher distances and therefore
can be used to shoot at targets that are far away. Furthermore, these sights
should be equipped with some level of magnification since targets that are far
away seem very small and it is difficult to get a sufficient hold of them
without an optical magnification.
The CARBON EXPRESS 4x32 scope is a good option for beginners,
since this sight has a 4-times magnification as well as multiple dots that allow
the crossbow shooter to sight in the crossbow at several distances.
So that the crossbow can be sighted in even at very far
distances, you need a long-range adapter or as an alternative a sight with a
long-range reticle. The long-range adapter enables you to angle your sight rail
of the crossbow downwards. Due to that you have to hold your crossbow higher up
in order to see the target through the scope. This way, the bolt can reach far
more distant targets. A scope with long-range reticle has a similar effect.
7. Use the right crossbow bolts
Also in the case of crossbow bolts you should not be saving too
much. It of course makes no sense to put so much effort into finding the right
crossbow and then use low-quality bolts in the end. Needless to say, this really
is not necessary and as usual, there is a lot be be aware of when picking the
right crossbow bolts.
The material of the bolt
Let us begin with the materials that bolts are made from. Here,
you have the opportunity to choose from aluminium- or carbon bolts. Aluminium
bolts are a bit more affordable than carbon bolts but they are also not quite as
Light crossbows like the X-BOW Jag One for example come with
affordable aluminium bolts from the factory. In this case it is completely fine
if you stick with the aluminium bolts for future use. The bolt is not stressed
as much with lighter crossbows and thereby it is alright if you use aluminium
More powerful versions should, however, absolutely be used with
carbon bolts. One example for a stronger type of crossbow is the X-BOW
Guillotine. There is a reason why this model is already equipped with carbon
bolts when it comes from the factory. The energy, the bolt has to absorb in the
case of stronger crossbows is substantially higher and it therefore requires
The SPHERE Storm carbon bolt is a great option for beginners.
Not only the price is convincing but also the more than impressive performance.
Professionals and advanced crossbow shooters that like to save a bit of money
when possible should take a closer look at the SPHERE Thunder. A straighter bolt
and a particularly robust construction make this model quite interesting, especially for performance enthusiasts.
The length of the bolt
Apart from the material of the bolt, the length also plays an
important role. In this case as well, you should always select a perfect
measure. A bolt that is a bit too short is also very light but the bolt should
definitely have a minimum weight since the crossbow generates a lot of energy
when pulling the trigger. This energy has to be absorbed by the bolt
sufficiently, which is not possible with a very light-weight bolt.
Broadheads relating to the length of the bolt is a very
interesting topic as well. Broadheads have blades on them of course, which
exceed the height of just the bolt itself by a lot. A bolt that is too short would
make the blades lie on top of the rail where the bolt is placed. This of course
has to be prevented. If a crossbow bolt is used with a broadhead, it has to be
long enough that it does not touch any of the mounting parts of the crossbow.
The weight of the bolt
As we have already annotated the weight of the crossbow bolt
plays a vital role when configuring the bolt. We can understand that many
beginners to crossbow shooting want to configurate their bolts as light-weight
as possible. That way, the velocity of the bolt will of course be higher than
with a heavier bolt.
Please be aware, however, that a bolt that is too light can
damage your crossbow! When the bolt is released there are enormous powers that
have to be absorbed by the bolt.
When the bolt is too light, it cannot absorb all of the released
energy in such a way that the crossbow can be shot long-term without being
damaged. This is also the reason, why a crossbow must never be shot without a
bolt in it. All of the energy is transfered to the limbs, which cannot handle
such large amounts of stress.
Dry firing, that means shooting without a bolt is often the
reason for various kinds of damage that can only be fixed with expensive and
In most cases, crossbows are delivered with bolts already
included from the factory. In general we recommend not to undercut the
measurements as well as the weight of the bolts. If in doubt, you should rather
opt for a heavier bolt. Thereby, your crossbow will have a longer life span.
8. What is the correct way to put the
Before using a bolt, you should
definitely check it for possible damage in advance. If the bolt is not in an
immaculate state, we would not recommend using it. Furthermore you should make
sure that the tip is in the shaft correctly and screwed in entirely.
When putting the bolt in, it is
very important that the index fletching is facing downwards and situated between
the crossbow rail, in which the bolt is put into. In most cases, the index
fletching is the fletching on the bolt that has a different colour than the
This ensures that the nock is
aligned correctly with the string. The nock is the back end of the bolt, which
makes contact with the crossbow string. The nock namely has a little indention
that has to be aligned correctly with the string and make contact with it. The
bolt is now pushed below the bolt retainer all the way up. The bolt retainer can
have the form of a little arm or a kind of brush, which applies some pressure on
the bolt so it cannot slip.
9. What do I have to consider before the
The cocked crossbow should always
be held in a direction where there are no people. It is also important to check
again that the nock of the bolt is aligned correctly and makes contact with the
string. The easiest way to check this is by looking, whether the index fletching
is facing downwards and lies between the rail where the bolt is put in. If the
bolt has been put in securely, the saftey can be set to "fire". After
positioning yourself in a safe and correct way, the string can be released by
pressing the trigger and the bolt will be fired.
10. Use a suitable target
Finally, you should also think about which target you would like
to use with your crossbow since a wrong target can be fatal for your bolts that
you put a lot of effort in configurating.
The purpose of your future target should be to stop your
crossbow bolts reliably and safely as well as preventing total penetration.
Targets that cannot stop your bolts well enough are too weak for your crossbow.
As a result you will have damaged bolts or also bolts that can no longer be
found because they disappeared somewhere behind the target.
So that you do not have to experience this yourself, we will
help you find the perfect target suitable for your crossbow. In order for you to
find the right target accurately you should know beforehand how strong your
crossbow is. To find out, you have to look at the draw weight of your crossbow,
which is measured in pounds (lbs).
If you know about your crossbow´s draw weight, choosing the
suitable target will not be a big challenge anymore since every crossbow target
you can find in our shop is furnished with a specification that tells you the
maximum draw weight the target is suitable for. This way you can quickly find
out if the exact target is strong and resilient enough for your crossbow or if
you should rather look for a different one.
There are several methods to increase the life span of your
target. We recommend shooting at different areas in order to ensure that the
entire target board is used and not just one small section, which would
otherwise get damaged very rapidly.
This means that you should not just shoot at the middle of your
new target but preferably arrange the target faces in such a way that you cover
multiple areas of the target and thereby wear out all the sections evenly.
Furthermore, we offer alternative backstops, which will enhance your target´s
ability of stopping arrows even more.