crossbow Vs Compound Bow

Crossbows or Compound Bows: Which is Better?

Just imagine setting out with a bow in hand. It’s an exciting experience and a lot of fun. Whether you are going hunting or like to do target practice as a hobby, owning a bow can make a world of difference. Yet, depending on what you are going to do, you want to make sure that you get the right kind of bow for what you need.

Should you invest in a crossbow or is a compound bow what you need for your hobby? To help you decide, we have compiled information on the differences, what each one is for, and what type of bow may be the perfect one for you.

The first thing to do before choosing your bow is to determine what you want it for. You can’t make a decision on a bow that is for simple practice when what you really want to do is to have a great bow for hunting. There are also several factors that come into play with the two types of bows and if you head out to shop without being informed, you could be throwing away your money. Before reading further, ask yourself these following questions:

  • Do I want to become an experienced archer to compete in tournaments?
  • Do I have time to commit to learning how to shoot a compound bow which will require practice and focus over a long period of time?
  • Do I want to learn how to shoot quickly and start hunting right away?
  • Have you already hunted with a bow before?
  • ​How much are you willing to spend?
  • Is crossbow-use legal in my state?
  • Am I looking for a bow that both my kids and I can use or is it just for me?
  • Do I have any handicaps or injuries that could limit my ability to shoot a compound bow?
  • After determining the answers, read on to discover how and why a crossbow or compound bow is right for you.

What are the main obvious differences between the Bows?


A compound bow is the kind of bow that you hold vertically. It’s similar to old-fashioned bows but with modern additions. A compound bow has idler wheels, cables, cams, and other parts that make it easier to control and more powerful than the traditional bow.

A crossbow is held horizontally and can be carried more comfortably than a compound bow. In fact, many of the modern designs even resemble rifles and some of them are designed to use more than just arrows for shooting.

The way that the bow is held obviously has an effect on the results in shooting and how comfortable it is for the shooter. A compound bow requires much more precision and careful handling in shooting as unlike the crossbow, once you pull to aim the arrow, it’s time to let it go. A crossbow allows the hunter to wait a while for the perfect shot which is why some hunters who may like the “easy way out” will prefer it.

Something else that should be mentioned is that a crossbow can be used by disabled people who may not be able to shoot a bow and arrow while standing or people who may have issues with shoulders or joints and are not able to draw on a compound bow.

Another interesting factor about crossbows is that in some states, you have to have a permit for them. In others, they are only allowed in archer season, while in other states, they can only be used by people over a certain age. Disabled archers are allowed to use them in other states, while non-disabled cannot.

Compound bows are typically legal in most states, but owner should have a hunting license depending on size. If you are wondering which one shoots further, compound bows typically work better for a longer trajectory, although this may also depend on the shooter and the bow itself.

Something else to keep in mind about a crossbow is that you can’t reload your arrow like you can with a compound bow, which means you have one shot to make the kill.

Which one provides more accurate shooting?

For those who like their bow to provide them with a little bit of help in aiming accurately, you may be curious as to which one is known to provide accurate shooting. While the answer to this could be subjective depending on the shooter and the bow that they are experienced in, many consider the crossbow easier to shoot which helps users be able to aim better.

Of course, just as with any form of archery, to truly aim accurately and use your weapon correctly, it takes practice and someone who has been shooting with a compound bow all their life is going to aim more accurately with a compound bow than a crossbow.

In comparing the learning process of shooting accurately with a crossbow or a compound bow, many would consider the learning curve to be quicker with a crossbow due to its design that offers an easy-to-grasp handle. Another factor that makes a crossbow easier to use for accurate shooting is that the shooter can hold the aim longer than they would be able to with a compound bow, due to the tension with a compound bow. This ability to hold aim longer helps the shooter be able to pinpoint the target more accurately.

Which one is easier to carry while on a hunt?

One thing that may make a difference when buying a bow is if you choose to carry it for a hunt as opposed to using it for target practice or as a hobby. Carrying a bow through the woods while looking for deer or whatever it is that you are hunting will get heavy after a while. You want to use something that will provide you with the agility and ease needed to patiently wait and search for the perfect kill.

Yet this is where it gets tricky to know which one will work better for you. Compound bows are typically easy to carry while on the hunt, but if you aren’t able to manage them as effectively as you would a crossbow, then it may not do you any good to be able to carry something that you can’t shoot accurately with.

It’s important to practice with any bow that you may choose to use and practice may include understanding how to carry the bow of your choosing. If it’s the crossbow, that also means spending time getting used to its weight.

Is the crossbow truly better for hunting?

This brings us to the top question of the day: are crossbows better for hunting? The debate is intense on both sides, but what it really comes down is personal preference and practice. There are pros and cons in using either the crossbow or the compound bow. To help you understand why some people may prefer crossbows and others, compound bows, we have compiled the pros and cons of each bow to give you a more detailed perspective.

Crossbows: Pros and Cons

barnett-penetrator-crossbow

When would you want to use a Crossbow?

You may want to use a crossbow for many reasons and occasions, although a compound bow is undoubtedly a favorite for archery tournaments. Following are some reasons why you may want to use a crossbow:

  • You have been injured and cannot handle the draw of a compound bow. You are interested in learning archery, but don't have as much time for practicing as you should for using a compound bow. You want to be able to learn quickly and the crossbow seems like a more viable option for your schedule.
  • You like the idea of being able to use the bow from any position, whether it's kneeling, sitting, or standing.
  • You have kids that want to learn how to shoot a crossbow, and you are looking for something that they can more easily learn on. (Keep in mind that it needs to be legal in your state and a crossbow is not a toy. If you are going to allow your children to learn, make sure it's in a safe environment and with capable instructors.)
  • You want to be able to use a telescopic scope on your crossbow to see your target better due to poor eyesight.

  • You can keep the bow cocked for as long as needed for the perfect shot.
  • You can aim with a crossbow as you would with a rifle which helps to make it more comfortable for shooting from different positions.
  • If you need to use a site due to poorer eyesight, a crossbow can easily be used with one.
  • If you need to use a site due to poorer eyesight, a crossbow can easily be used with one.
  • ​They can use draw weights of up to more than 100 pounds which can help the shooter to shoot faster.
  • They can typically shoot at around 300-400 FPS.
  • They are not long-distance weapons.
  • They are much heavier than compound bows and difficult to carry.
  • Crossbows are noisier than compound bows because of the vibration effect they have, which can affect hunting success.

Compound Bow: Pros and Cons

killer compound bow

When would you want to use a compound bow?

As you can see, because it is typically easier to learn on and use, many people would choose a crossbow over a compound bow, but while this may be the case for the average hunter, there are people who prefer the compound bow for certain occasions, such as:

  • If you like to participate in archery tournaments and want a reliable bow that requires skill.
  • If you grew up hunting with a compound bow or recurve, you may prefer to use a compound bow for hunting.
  • If you want to commit to bow hunting or archery full-time, taking time to learn how to shoot a compound bow may be a fun and exciting experience.
  • If you just want to shoot a bow and arrow for fun at a target practice range, as many people do with gun shooting, a compound bow can provide you with an enjoyable time of learning the skill of archery.

  • While lower draw weight has its cons, the lower draw weight on the compound bow means loading an arrow is much faster than with a crossbow.
  • ​A compound bow offers much quieter shooting as it doesn't have as much string vibration as you would get with a crossbow.
  • They are light and easy to carry while on a hunt.
  • Compound bows typically require more skill and practice than an average crossbow.
  • ​They are more difficult to learn how to use and shoot accurately with.
  • They have a lower FPS than the crossbow.

Following is a video that explains more about the use of a compound bow or crossbow and the pros and cons. It will also show you a visual of why one works better over the other for some:

Other factors to consider:

Before heading out to buy a crossbow, you should consider some things about the use of a crossbow in the U.S., as well as pricing, etc. For example:

  • Because of some U.S. states' limitations in using crossbows, you may find that you have a very limited period of being able to use your bow. You can spend a large amount of money on the crossbow, only to discover that you are only going to legally be able to hunt with it for a few weeks out of the year. If this is the case for your state, you may be getting a very poor ROI and may want to spend that money on taking archery classes to learn to shoot with a compound bow.
  • Compound bows typically require much more maintenance and are more difficult to use and re-string, which means that the person who wants to use one should realize that it takes much more commitment to the "sport" or practice than perhaps a crossbow would.
  • ​Quality matters when buying either a crossbow or compound bow. You don't want to spend less money on a cheaper bow by thinking that you will be saving money. Poor quality bows will break quicker and could cost you a great hunt, so if you are looking to invest in either a crossbow or compound bow for hunting or archery tournaments, you should make sure to get one that is built to last.
  • A typical crossbow could be priced within the $650.00 to $2,000.00 range while your average compound bow could be from around $300.00 to $800.00 price range. Before purchasing, you will want to consider how often you will be able to use it and also keep in mind the added costs that come with owning either of them. Restringing, arrows, scopes, and replacement part (if needed) costs all add up.

In Conclusion: which one is better?

The truth is that the answer is subjective to personal preference and also perhaps physical ability. Because the crossbow is not only easier to learn, but also easier to shoot for those who may have injuries or limited mobility, a crossbow is often a better option for many people. Yet, for those who live in states that have yet to make consistent crossbow use legal, a compound bow may be the option that provides them with more return for their money. The answer depends on the factors that matter to you and what you are looking for in a bow.

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