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It has been hours since you set up your ground blind or tree stand and the trophy deer that you were hoping to bag has been a no-show.
And so you decide to call it quits and go home, but before you do, a magnificent buck leaps almost out of nowhere and into your line of sight. You take aim and shoot, and lo and behold you miss. Before you curse the hunting gods for your misfortune, take heart in knowing that you are not alone.
In fact, this is a situation that most if not all crossbow hunters have found themselves in at one time or another. But why? Well, in this article we going to be looking at 8 factors that affect crossbow accuracy.
8 Things That Affect Crossbow Accuracy
1. Wrong Bow
Crossbows come in shapes and sizes, and for good reasons. You see, just like any other hunting weapons, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all crossbow.
In this regard, different crossbows are designed for different people. What will work for you will not necessarily work for me or the hunter next door. The best crossbow for deer hunting is one that does not feel overly heavy, long or wide.
If the bow you are using feels cumbersome to lift it is going to affect the accuracy. Also, the trigger should be crisp and smooth. Therefore, the reason your crossbow accuracy is affected could be that the bow you are using is just not for you.
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2. Wrong Arrows
You might be having a crossbow that is suited for you but does you have the right arrows. Crossbow manufacturers know, which arrows work best with their bows. Therefore, it is important that you stick to the arrows recommended by the manufacturers.
Crossbow makers recommend arrows of specific material, fletching lengths, and nock type. The arrows you are using might be the reason why you are missing the target.
Granted lighter arrows fly faster, but just because it is fast does not mean it’s accurate. It is wise to use an arrow recommended by the manufacturer.
In addition, I advise using arrows recommended by the manufacturer for specific bows. For example, the arrows I use on my Barnett Ghost 360 CRT will not be the same arrows I use on a Barnett Jackal.
Also, check the arrows you are about to take on a hunt. Bent arrows rarely hit the target. Therefore, you should check to ensure that the arrow you are using is not visibly bent.
Apart from being bent, it is important to ensure the arrows are not overly light. Using lighter arrows than those recommended can stress the bow and even void the manufacturer’s warranty.
3. Improper Cocking
As with any other mechanical weapon used for hunting, crossbows must be cocked first before being used to fire an arrow. With this in mind, how you cock your bow will have an impact on how accurate it will be.
When fully cocked the serving of your bow should be centered with equal lengths on both sides of the rail. If it is off by as much as 1/6 inches you might miss your target. And the longer the range the more it will be off-target.
I advise marking the serving with a marker or felt pen when the string is at rest. This way you will be able to have a visual guide during the cocking process. The marked spots will help you keep the serving equal on both sides of the rail.
Another thing that can interfere with the accuracy of your bow is the manual cocking of certain bows. As I have already mentioned bows come in all shapes and sizes. As such, some bows cannot be cocked manually by hand.
These are the bows that need to be cocked with the aid of a cocking device. If you cock such a bow using your hands it will interfere with the accuracy of the bow.
4. Poor Maintenance
Crossbows are mechanical objects put together using metallic screws and bolts. And given that we expose our treasured bows to harsh conditions, these bolts are bound to loosen.
After some time of continued use, the bolts that hold your bow together may become loose. When this happens, you might as well kiss your bow’s accuracy goodbye.
The loosening of bolts and screws can be attributed to wear and tear as well as poor maintenance. It is important to inspect your bow regularly to ensure everything is functioning as it should be.
Sometimes you might miss your target because the scope you are using is not properly attached to the crossbow. I always inspect the bolts that attach the scope to the bow as well as those that connect the bow and the stock before going on a hunting trip. The reason I do this is to ensure all these important bolts are tightly secure. Inspecting the flight rail is also important.
5. Poor Shooting and Holding
Crossbows have come a long way from what they used to be. And while modern crossbows are lighter than their predecessor, proper handling is still required.
Sometimes you might miss the target because you are holding the bow wrong. One of the things that might be causing you to miss is improper handling of the trigger.
The trigger on your crossbow should be squeezed, not pulled. Pulling the trigger will cause the whole bow to move, which interferes with accuracy.
6. Improper Lining
The left and right limb of your crossbow should be lined up. If the right limb is lower than the left you will shoot left. To avoid this keep the limbs on the same plane.
Alternatively, try and keep the limbs parallel to the ground. Achieving this requires some practice, but it is important to keep the limbs on the same level when shooting.
7. The Scope
Scopes have become standard crossbow features. However, not all scopes are designed to be used on crossbows. And in fact, using the wrong scope might be the reason you keep missing the target.
A good crossbow scope should have good light gathering capabilities and minimal magnification.
Remember a crossbow is not a long-range weapon so a magnification of above 4X is not recommended. As for the objective lens, I recommend one with a 32 mm diameter. The scope you use on your crossbow will determine its accuracy.
Crossbows are not designed for long-range shooting. The standard range for most bows is 40 yards. Anything beyond that and crossbows will struggle.
Now, I am not saying that crossbows cannot go beyond the 40-yard mark. What I am saying is that if you push your bow beyond this mark expect your crossbow accuracy to dip.