After years of battles between pro and con forces, the latest state budget now makes the crossbow a legal hunting implement in New York State.

The budget contained language that will allow crossbows during the last 14 days of the first archery season in the southern zone and the last 10 days of the first archery season in the northern zone. It also allows use of crossbows during every big and small game season where firearms are allowed. But these are only the boundaries. The NYS DEC will propose regulations within those boundaries, followed by a public comment period. By late summer, the regulations should be in place.

Now that they’re legal, we have to get to know the crossbow the way we know our firearms and our compound bows.

It’s Not a Bolt!
Soon after the passage of the budget and its crossbow provision, I contacted Rick McDermott of the New York Crossbow Coalition. Just a minute into the conversation, McDermott was quick to correct me. “It’s not a bolt. A bolt was a metal shaft shot from medieval crossbows. Modern crossbows shoot arrows.”

Further research revealed that those original crossbow bolts were, in fact, short metal shafts without vanes. The shafts of today's crossbow arrows are shorter, made of lightweight materials, and they have a different center of balance, but they are arrows in every way. Much to McDermott’s chagrin, we're sure to encounter the term “bolt” for some time to come. 

Crossbows have a reputation for their phenomenal speed and accuracy. Some have even compared them to firearms. But tests have shown that the speed and accuracy of a crossbow is comparable to that of today’s compound bows. No Crossbow can compete with the 2700fps produced by a 30-06 or the 1600fps produced by a 12 gauge firing a rifled slug.

Unlike Compound Bows, Crossbows can be steadied on a shooting rail and equipped with gun-like sights, which may account for much their reputation. But beyond 40 yards, the shorter crossbow arrows, with their longer vanes and more-forward center of balance, experience a greater drop-off vs compound arrows. Physics can explain all this and for those who understand it, God Bless ya. Seeing it in action, like in the video below, is proof enough for me.

Where and When To Buy
Soon, the big stores and your local Archery Shop will most certainly run sales. Watch the sales and shoot as many brands as possible, before choosing your crossbow. But the time to buy your crossbow may off in the future, as many who give crossbow hunting a try exit the sport. McDermott says, “The best time to buy a crossbow make be two years from now on Craigslist”.


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