Crossbows For Beginners – How Is It Different From Shooting A Bow - My Archery Corner

Crossbows For Beginners – How Is It Different From Shooting A Bow

how to cock a crossbow

My reviews are based on my experience and thorough research. When you make a purchase using my links, I may earn a commission. Learn more

Maybe you have tried archery already, but you are more interested in crossbows and now you are wondering what would be good crossbows for beginners.

Before I answer this question, I want to talk about the history and attributes of crossbows and the main differences between them and the “normal” bows.

A Short History Lesson About Crossbows

I bet most people think of the medieval times when they hear “crossbow”.

We have all seen many movies where a knight gets shot down with a crossbow, but the truth is that crossbows are way older than that.

Crossbows For Beginners

Three traditional crossbows. Used under creative commons from: Piotrus

It is said that the crossbow was invented in Europe and China around 500 BC. The exact date, place, and inventor are not known, though.

The crossbow was used in many forms and sizes. There were even crossbows with automatic reload magazines and some were used in WWI like a mortar cannon to launch grenades and bombs.

Main Differences Between Crossbows And Bows

The idea behind a bow and crossbow is the same.
There is a bow string attached to the limbs of the crossbow, which can be drawn back and loaded with an “arrow”. When the bow string gets released the arrow will shoot forward towards its target.

Difference 1: We don’t shoot arrows with crossbows

We usually don’t talk of an arrow when we use a crossbow.
The correct name would be bolt or crossbow bolt.

Crossbow Bolt

Example of a crossbow bolt. Used under creative commons from: Hgfernan

Difference 2: Drawing (cocking) the crossbow

Another big difference is the way we draw the crossbow.
First of all, it is called “cocking” and not drawing the crossbow.
A crossbow looks very different to a normal bow. The bow is attached to a stick called tiller or stock. The fact that this construction looks a bit like a cross gave the crossbow its name.

Now, if we want to cock the crossbow there are several ways to do that.
We can do it manually, with a rope or with a crank (basically a small winch).
A difference to the bow is, that we cock the crossbow first before we load it with a bolt.

Difference 3: Draw weight

One of the crossbows advantages is, that it can use much higher draw weights than other bows.
Especially with the crank, everybody can use crossbows that they wouldn’t be able to draw with their body strength. Ever tried to draw a 150 lb longbow?
No problem with a crossbow!

This and the fact that the crossbow holds the string by itself, so you have much more time to aim and don’t get tired that quickly, are huge advantages compared to traditional bows.

Modern Crossbow

Who Should Consider Using A Crossbow Instead Of A Bow

There is no set rule for this, of course.
Everybody can and should decide for himself what he would prefer to shoot.

Crossbows are great for everybody who wants to hunt, as they have a huge draw weight and modern crossbows usually come with an optical or red-dot sight.
When the crossbow is sighted in correctly, it is quite similar to shooting a gun, but without the “big boom”. (A crossbow still makes a quite audible sound, though.)

It also is a great alternative for disabled people.
Don’t get me wrong. Traditional archery with a bow is awesome for disabled people, too, who have a strong enough upper body. Actually, my first coach was sitting in a wheelchair.
But some might find it hard to draw a longbow or recurve bow and therefore can think about getting a crossbow with a crank instead.

What Are Good Crossbows For Beginners

As a beginner, you will most likely care about the price while still having a great experience.
The good news is, that there are crossbows in all price categories. You can get a pistol crossbow for under $50 and a hunting crossbow for under $80.

Pistol crossbows are weaker than their bigger brothers and are more suitable for backyard shooting or hunting small game.
They can be great fun and are a good way to get started with crossbow shooting.

The rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for.
Cheaper crossbows won’t have much equipment and lower draw weights.

If you want to have a real good experience and quality you should consider paying a bit over $100.

Pistol Crossbow

Pistol Crossbow. Used under creative commons from: Vibrantspirit

Quick Summary And My Recommendations

You have learned here that crossbows are a great alternative to traditional bows. They are equally fun, while being different in many aspects.

They are similar to handguns while being almost as quiet as other bows.
Everybody can use them easily without having to pull the draw weight manually. You can pull it manually if you want and can.

Have a look at one of my favorite crossbows for beginners and advanced crossbow archers with a smaller budget.
I present you the 150 LBS Man Kung Real Wooden Hunting Crossbow.

I hope you have enjoyed my first article about crossbows.
There are more coming your way about crossbows and, of course, traditional bows.

If you have any question or want to discuss something about crossbows, please feel welcome to leave a comment below and I will answer you as fast as I can.

Have a great day.


Leave a Comment:

(8) comments


Hey Moritz, really loved this article. I am an archer myself and have never really considered trying a crossbow before reading this post. I never really understand the advantages of the crossbow and just saw it as a more simple method but now I feel like I should definitely give it a try. I understand what you mean about draw weights seeing as it can be tough to draw a 70 lb draw when your getting tired. keep up the great articles definitely bookmarking your site.


    Hello Jesse,
    thank you for your kind words.
    I definitely think you should give it a try. While I love shooting with a longbow or recurve bow, I really like to mix it up with a crossbow from time to time.
    Jump over to my recommendation for a crossbow for beginners. It’s a great crossbow!


Great post, now that the laws have changed in my area regarding using crossbows during bow season I think I’m going to switch over from compound bow to crossbow. Thanks for your recommendation. Love your website.


    Hello Mark,
    I am happy you enjoyed the information on my website.
    You might find this hunting crossbow interesting. It is a great crossbow for people who want to get started with crossbows.
    Hope to see you around.



Thanks for all of the information about crossbows, I really learned a lot. Soo much new information I didn’t even know and I had no idea they were soo reasonably priced. I am going to have to pick up one once I get my hunting license.



    Hi Matt,
    thank you for stopping by. I am glad you liked my post about crossbows.
    Be sure to come back, I will write more about crossbows in the future.
    I have a review about a hunting crossbow online and will add more interesting crossbows in the following days.


Thanks again for a great review of crossbows vs bows. This was great, I saw your other post first and as I said I am looking at getting back into archery and this seems to be a great resource for me.
Have a great one.


    Hello again!
    I am very happy that you are enjoying my website.
    I keep it updated regularly and usually post 3-4 times a week. I write about both traditional archery and crossbow shooting.
    Come back regularly to see what’s new.

Add Your Reply

Leave a Comment: