Hunting with a crossbow

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By Shelton Young

Now that Ham Days is over it's time to get into serious hunting mode. With that in mind I broke down and bought a "Parker" crossbow. After 50 years of shooting re-curves and compounds, my shoulder finally wore out. I fought getting a crossbow for years because I thought it was for old men and much too easy to shoot. Well, I accepted the first and was surprised at the later! My crossbow is a 180-pound compound, which shoots 20-inch bolts (arrows) at over 300-feet per second. For comparison, my Matthews Solocam was 70 pounds and shot right at 300 feet per second. Now granted, shooting my crossbow with a scope seems sorta like shooting a rifle, if one was "bench resting" both. However, freehand shooting a compound is a new experience. With a balance point "way out front of center", holding on target is much harder with a crossbow than a rifle. And, with the "push/pull" of a regular bow recurve or compound again, balance really comes into play. So. It's actually easier to shoot a recurve/compound, at least free handing. Granted, shooting a crossbow requires a much shorter learning curve than with any other bow. Just cock your crossbow, load a bolt, estimate your distance, hold using the correct hash mark on your scope, watch your breathing and gently pull your trigger. If everything went correctly, you have your deer/turkey/coyote or whatever your target was. It should be that easy! Let's start at the beginning: To "cock" today's crossbows  requires using a rope cocking device whether it be designed as a part of the outfit or as an "accessory." Why use a "cocking device"? Ever try to draw a 180-pound bow by hand? Let me know how that works out for you! Load your bolt: This is pretty simple, just load it on the rail with the cock feather (vane) down. Estimate your distance: This goes for anything you shoot. Word of caution here, Distance on an uphill or downhill shot isn't what you might think. One handy device is a range finder with built-in capacity to show actual distance to your target and the distance you should shoot for. Can't afford a range finder? Then go to the woods/hills/hollars and practice! Hold your scope on target: My scope has three hash marks. When I sighted in my crossbow I shot my top hash mark at 20 yards and was almost dead on! With a small correction it was dead on. With "fixed" hash marks I had to figure where the second and third hash marks were. Was the second mark going to be 25, 30 or 35? Luck was with me and my second mark was dead on at 30 yards. My third mark was dead on at 40 yards. Now, I can "stack" bolts at 20, 30 and 40 yards... from a solid rest! As I stated earlier, the balance point on my crossbow is way front to center. So, shooting freehand is quite a bit different than with a rest. I'd strongly recommend you use a "stick" of some sort for support, if you don't have a solid rest. So, in summary (strictly from my point of view) the recurve/compound is quicker to cock and shoot but you can "pre-cock" your crossbow. You can shoot more accurately with a crossbow in a shorter amount of time. A "regular" bow is more "mental" to shoot and allows for more shooter error than you'll experience with a pre-cocked, sighted-in crossbow. You don't use a rest with a "regular" bow while a crossbow almost requires a rest of some sort to achieve optimal accuracy. But when it's all said and done, I'd rather shoot a compound than a crossbow...if I still could.

Our Mid-KY Bass Club is about ready to end another season with our "Classic." This will be a two-day event, Oct. 6 and 7. Lakes to be fished will be drawn this Friday, Oct. 5, at 6:30 p.m. Location will be Wendy's in Lebanon. Guess that's it for now. Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I'll see ya next week!