Crossbow VS Compound Bow – Two Powerful Hunting Tools Compared

By Moritz

Jun 04

Welcome to the battle crossbow vs compound bow . Who will be the winner in this competition?
Can there even be a winner? Is one really better than the other?
Find out below and decide for yourself which one you would choose.

Introduction

There are a lot of different opinions out there about which is the better tool for hunting or target shooting. Everybody has his own preferences, but I will try and give you the facts about the differences and similarities of the crossbow and the compound bow.

First we will have to determine what is the best way to compare these two hunting tools.
I will talk about the following factors that will help you decide who will be the winner in the end.

  • Handling

  • Draw Weight

  • Powerstroke

  • Noise

  • Weight

  • Precision

Crossbow vs Compound Bow

Drawing a compound bow. Used under creative commons from: Bernauer2

Handling of Crossbow VS Compound Bow

If you want to learn more about crossbows, please head over to my crossbows for beginners guide, where I explain in more detail how a crossbow works.

Here I want to show you the main differences between the crossbow and the compound bow.

As soon as the crossbow is loaded with a bolt, it is actually handled just like a rifle.
Even though the crossbow doesn’t have any/much recoil you want to put the end of the stock in your shoulder pocket to reduce sway and acquire a steady aim.
Basically, if you know how to shoot a rifle, you won’t have much problems with shooting a crossbow.

Now, the compound bow is a whole different story.
There are many things to follow.
It starts with the correct stance, continues with the right grip, drawing, anchoring, load transfer, aiming and after releasing you have to follow through with the shot.
All these steps have to be learned and practised for a long time, which makes for a steeper learning curve when you start out with a compound bow.
I will explain all these steps very soon in another post on my blog.

Draw Weight of Crossbow VS Compound Bow

Crossbows usually have twice the draw weight then common compound bows.
This can be both an advantage and disadvantage.

It can be quite a hassle to draw a 200 LBS crossbow with raw muscle strength.
Fortunately there are tools that make this much easier, like a rope or, even better, a crank that will do most of the work for you.
Higher draw weight means more power. This makes the crossbow a great hunting weapon, without the need of being very big or long.

Compound bows use a pulley system to make it possible to draw them even with a high draw weight.
Still the maximum draw weight of a compound bow is usually reached at around 70 LBS, as you still have to get past the point where the pulley system will make drawing the bow easier.

The lesser draw weight doesn’t mean that compound bows are bad for hunting.
Draw weight is not the only factor that is important to measure the speed and power the arrow/bolt will have when you let it fly.
Compound bows are exellent for hunting.

Keep on reading to find out what else is important to understand when you want to make your decision about what to get for your next hunting trip.

Crossbow vs Compound Bow

Loaded crossbow with scope. Used under creative commons from: Wandalstouring

The Powerstroke

What is the powerstroke you might ask.
I haven’t talked about this yet, but it is something to consider when comparing crossbows to compound bows.

The powerstroke is the energy that is transferred to the arrow/bolt during the shot phase.
Or in other words it is the short time frame between when you release the bow string and when the arrow actually leaves the bow and flies toward the target.
The longer it takes the arrow/bolt to leave the bow the more energy is transferred to it.

This will make the arrow faster and therefore more powerful.

A crossbow has a hard time to increase its powerstroke, as the easiest way to increase it is to get a longer draw length.
You would have to get a longer stock and this will make the crossbow heavier, too.
The crossbow tries to compensate this with its much bigger draw weights.

The compound bow can be altered more easily to get a longer draw length (and with that a better powerstroke) and there are other ways to increase the speed of the arrow, I will expain in another post.

Even though the compound bow has lower draw weights it usually has a better powerstroke than a crossbow which brings it closer to the power and speed of the crossbow.

Noise of Crossbow VS Compound Bow

Hunting is all about stealth. If the dear sees, hears or smells you it will be gone before you can line up a shot.

We have learned that crossbows use their high draw weights to become faster and stronger than compound bows, but this comes at a price.

More power and speed means more vibration, too.
Vibration is causing noise that can startle animals and make them flee.

Crossbows are much quieter than a gun shot, of course, but they produce more noise than a compound bow.

Weight of Crossbow VS Compound Bow

Both crossbows and compound bows have light weight and heavy weight versions out there.

In general a crossbow will weigh more than a compound bow. If you are of a smaller frame you have to consider this.
it can be tiresome to carry around a heavy crossbow the whole day, and to be able to hunt bigger game, you need a strong crossbow, which will be rather heavy.

Most compound bows are not heavier than 4 lbs, while crossbows can easily be between 6-8 lbs.
Think about this, before you make your decision.

Crossbow VS Compound Bow

Precision of our two contestants

This goes hand in hand with the handling of our chosen bow/crossbow.

A crossbow is very similar to a rifle, but won’t have much recoil which makes it a good hunting weapon of great accuracy.
It is still up to the shooter whether or not the bolt will hit the target, but with the right equipment, like a good sight or scope it can be rather easy to become a decent hunter with a crossbow.

A compound bow is a very precise tool, too. Experienced archers can hit their target or prey with a high accuracy and don’t need to hide behind rifle or crossbow hunters.
It just takes a longer time before you can call yourself a decent archer, because there are so many factors you have to consider and follow.

Both the crossbow and compound bow need a fair amount of practise and have their advantages and disadvantages.

Now it is up to you to choose

I have come to the end of my crossbow vs compound bow comparison.
I hope you have learned a lot and that I was able to help you make up your mind which one you are going to choose.
Keep on reading about a great crossbow for beginners or if you are completely new in archery, make sure to check out my getting started guide.

If you have already made up your mind I have reviewed a few great crossbows here.

If you want to go for a compound bow, you want to take a closer look at the PSE Stinger Compound Bow

Let me know if you are a crossbow or compound bow lover. 😉
Why do like your choice more than the alternative?

If you have any question or want to share your experience with me and other readers, you are welcome to leave a comment below. I will answer you as fast as I can.

Have a great time!

Moritz


About the Author

Hi, as a huge archery enthusiast I love sharing my knowledge about archery. Enjoy your stay and don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question.

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(10) comments

Jerry June 4, 2015

Hi Moritz, a very clear and easy read. I would think that a crossbow is much easier to handle than a compound bow. You don’t need to practise years to get some kind of accuracy, especially with a sight. I guess that a compound bow is more for adventurous and traditional people, the feeling of being an ancient hunter. Cheers, Jerry

Reply
    admin June 4, 2015

    Hello Jerry.
    I am glad you liked my article.
    You are absolutely right that it can be easier in the beginning to start out with a crossbow.
    Head over to my recommended crossbow for beginners.
    Have a great day.
    Moritz

    Reply
Steve June 4, 2015

wow! this has REALLY made me rethink my ideal bow…

Reply
    admin June 4, 2015

    Hi Steve,
    thank you for stopping by.
    I think both the compound bow and crossbow are great. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
    I hope you will find the perfect solution for yourself.
    See you around.
    Moritz

    Reply
Diondre June 4, 2015

Hey Moritz, you really know your stuff here. I always wanted to pick up archery and still plan to. It’s good to see the differences between the crossbow and the compound bow laid out like this for me to understand. I think when I start to learn I’ll take up learning how to use the compound bow as it sounds better for me. I hope you keep up the good work.

Reply
    admin June 4, 2015

    Hello Diondre,
    thank you for your comment. If you want to know more about the different bow types have a look at my post about bow types.
    There you will get a nice overview about traditional bows.
    I have information for beginners in my getting started guide.
    Have a great day.
    Moritz

    Reply
Riaz Shah June 4, 2015

Wow this is some really awesome review, Moritz! Although I don’t do archery, I’m always interested in using both crossbows and compound bows mainly because i’m into all those medieval weapons and of course, inspiration from Oliver Queen lol. But hey, this is some really write up and I wish you all the best. Bookmarking your site!

Reply
    admin June 4, 2015

    Hello Riaz,
    thank you for stopping by.
    Haha, Oliver Queen! Great archer, huh? 😉
    I, too, like to read or watch movies about the medieval times. That was the reason why I started with archery a long time ago.
    See you soon.
    Moritz

    Reply
Teresa June 9, 2015

I don’t know much about archery, but I’ve learnt something from this article today. Thanks for sharing

Reply
    admin June 9, 2015

    Hello Teresa,
    thank you for stopping by!
    I am happy that I could share some of my archery wisdom with you. 😉
    If you want to start with archery, have a look at my getting started guide.
    Or maybe you would prefer a crossbow?
    Have a great day.
    Moritz

    Reply
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