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When you choose a crossbow, you are choosing to participate in an epic saga that began well over 2000 years ago. You are choosing to become part of community dedicated to preserving the integrity of the hunt; for the hunter and for the hunted.

Due to the technical nature of crossbows, there are many things to consider when choosing a crossbow - especially if you're looking for your first crossbow. At PayZeroToday.com, we want to provide you with the best crossbows, accessories, and services possible. We strongly feel that one of the most important services that we can provide is knowledge.

We offer the basics about the different types of crossbows, arrows, and accessories. We feel that the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a crossbow, though, is to remember that a crossbow is an exceedingly powerful and lethal tool.

There's a lot of responsibility that comes with selecting the crossbow as your weapon of choice. And, if you can accept that responsibility, there's a hellova lot of fun to be had, too!

PLEASE NOTE: Many states have very strict crossbow hunting laws. It is the sole responsibility of the crossbow user to educate themselves on the laws and regulations specific to their state or the state they are planning to hunt in.

Crossbow Terminology 101:

  • Arrow / Bolt: The projectile released from a crossbow.

    • In the modern world (aka: today) the two words are used interchangeably by most hunters and brands. Arguably, an arrow has fletching and is 16 inches or more in length while a bolt does not have fletching and is 15 inches or less in length.

  • Arrow / Barrel / Flight Track: The path along which the arrow travels down the crossbow.

  • Cam System / Eccentrics: The mechanism(s) that allows a compound crossbow to obtain the optimum level of energy per draw.

    • Essentially: the father back you can draw a crossbow the more powerful the shot is. The more powerful the shot, the faster and farther it will travel. The compact nature of compound crossbows significantly limits the distance you can draw it. A cam system works to eliminate that deficiency and yield more powerful shots.

  • CRT: The acronym for "Carbon Riser Technology"; patented by Barnett.

  • Draw Weight / DW: The amount of weight, in pounds, that is required to flex crossbow limbs into a cocked (ready to fire) position. Most crossbows have a draw weight between 80 and 200 pounds.

  • Fletching: The fins or vanes of an arrow used for stabilization.

  • FPS: The acronym for "Feet Per Second"; flight speed.

  • FOC: The acronym for "Front of Center"; weight placement.

  • Ft. lbs of Energy / Kinetic Energy: Most simply put, the measurement used to express penetration depth (aka "knock-down power").

    • Many factors have an effect on a bows Kinetic Energy, including the arrows used.

  • GPI: The acronym for "Grains Per Inch"; weight of measurement for arrows.

  • Limbs: The "arms" of the crossbow where the crossbow's Kinetic Energy is stored.

  • Let-off: The amount of force needed to hold a fully cocked bowstring. A high let-off means less stress is put on your bow while it's in the ready.

    • It takes more weight to draw a bowstring than it does to hold that drawn bowstring once fully drawn. This difference is called "let-off".

    • A bow with an 80% let-off means that, once fully drawn, your bow will only be holding back 20% of its draw weight.

    • If your bow has a draw weight of 100 pounds and an 80% let-off, your crossbow only needs to hold back 20 pounds.

  • Power Stroke: The physical distance the string travels from its resting position to its cocked position.

    • Typically, the longer the power stroke the faster your arrow will travel.

  • Riser: The structure that the limbs are attached to.

  • Stock: The portion of the crossbow that rests against the archer's shoulder; very similar to a rifle or shotgun stock.

  • Trigger: The firing mechanism.

What's the Difference?

Quick! What's the Difference: Compound Bows vs. Recurve Bows
Applicable to any archery bow or crossbow.

The Quick: Compound bows are the "modern" bow. They take advantage of cam systems and receive the full benefit of let-off.

Compound bows are more compact and can be easier to use in tighter spaces while in the field. Compound bows do require more technical maintenance due to their more complicated string, cable, and cam systems. Most compound bows are used by hunters as they tend to be more powerful and accurate at greater distances. Moose and bear are definitely on the "can do" list.

The Quick: Recurve bows are the "traditional" bow. The strings are attached directly to the bow's limbs.

Recurve bows are more user friendly and straightforward and tend to be a favorite as a first introduction to crossbows. Recurve bows are most commonly used in archery competitions and for small game hunting, though are capable of taking down larger prey. Hunting larger game with a recurve bow is best done by an experienced bowman.

The most important thing to remember is that both compound and recurve bows are technically advanced tools perfectly suited for use in today's world! Both types of bow use state of the art materials to ensure balance, accuracy, and power.

When deciding which bow type is best for you, regardless of experience level, you should select your crossbow based on what you want to use it for! If you're more interested in competition or personal leisure, maybe you should look more closely at recurve bows. If it's the thrill of the hunt you're aiming for, perhaps you should look into compound bows. In the end, the most important thing is that you select a crossbow that is comfortable so that you get the most out of it, year after year!

Quick! What's the Difference: Aluminum vs. Carbon Arrows
Applicable to any archery arrow or crossbow arrow.

The Quick: Aluminum arrows are the best precision-to-price ratio option and are heavier than Carbon arrows. Aluminum arrows are strong, quiet, and offer a wide range of spine choices.

Aluminum arrows were first introduced by Easton back in the 1940s and Aluminum arrows continue to be the most popular arrow choice for hunting and competition. While heavier than Carbon arrows, this extra bit of weight is prefered by many hunters as it allows for a bit more knock-down power. Aluminum arrows have more precise weight and spine specifications than carbon arrows.

The Quick: Carbon arrows are can be more expensive and less precise than Aluminum arrows. Carbon arrows are lighter, have a flatter projection, and offer a wide range of FOC accessories.

Carbon arrows are more narrow and rigid than Aluminum arrows, so they flex less in flight. The main reason for the growing popularity of Carbon arrows are that they are noticeably lighter than their Aluminum counterpart. The higher velocity of Carbon arrows also helps to compensate for range estimation errors.

Again, the most important difference between these two types of arrows really comes down to personal preference. What are you using your arrows for? What range are you expecting to be shooting within? Both Aluminum and Carbon arrows, when you list out their pros and cons, are fairly matched and you are unlikely to be truly disappointed with either choice. In fact, many bowman use both types and decide between the two based on what their goal is for that day!

Quick! What's the Difference: Practice vs. Live Arrow Tips

We're differentiating a (P)ractice tip as one that is designed to be shot at a non-living target. A (L)ive tip is designed to be shot at a living target with the sole purpose of an ethical kill.

Regardless of its design purpose NEVER SHOOT AN ARROW AT ANYTHING YOU DO NOT WANT TO KILL.

  • (P) Bullet Tips are shaped like a bullet and designed to be shot into an archery target. Best used against bag, foam, or grass targets.
  • (P) Field Tips are shaped like the writing end of a ballpoint pen and designed specifically as a practice point for hunters. Ideal for hunters because field tips can be weight matched to broadheads.
  • (P) Grabbing Tips are unique in that they can "grab" a target. Specifically designed for hunters, grabbing tips are used most in field practice when hunters are aiming at leaves, sticks, and other objects. Grabbing tips, like field tips, can be weight matched to broadheads.
  • (L) Blunt Tips are shaped like the end of a pencil and are designed to kill by shock rather than penetration. The actual shape of the tip and material used may vary depending on what kind of small game you are hunting. Flared rubber is common. Also, many blunt tipped arrows will have flu-flu fletching to increase drag.
    • Small game includes: squirrels, rabbits, and birds.
  • (L) Broadhead Tips are shaped like a 3-sided pyramid (each "side" is an individual blade) and are used for large game such as deer, elk, moose, and bear. There are many specialized broadheads, but they mostly fall within one of three categories:
    • Fixed Blade Broadheads are the most traditional style and used for bows with lower draw weights.
    • Removable Blade Broadheads are popular because a damaged or dull blade can be replaced without having to replace all the blades, or worse, the the entire tip.
    • Mechanical or Expandable Blade Broadheads are designed to open on impact and should only be used with bows that have a higher draw weight.
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