How Far Can You Shoot a Crossbow Accurately?


The accurate shooting range of a crossbow varies based on the model, shooter’s skill level, bolt type, and environmental conditions. Most modern crossbows are effective within 30 to 60 yards (27 to 55 meters), while high-end ones can reach 100 yards (91 meters) or more.

Understanding Crossbow Shooting Range

When you browse for the right crossbow and advice to help you with your decision, the first thing to remember that that the travel distance of your arrow is going to largely depend on the weight of the broad head or shaft, and your crossbow’s configuration.

Determining Effective Range: Key Factors

The answer as to how far you will be able to shoot a crossbow accurately is going to depend on four key factors:

  • The technique you use and how good it is
  • If you are target practicing or hunting
  • The velocity of your crossbow
  • Your scope and if it is good enough

A crossbow is a special precision archery piece of equipment. An arrow can be fired with the use of limbs and strings, or cams and cables in the case of compound crossbows. Most crossbows can only shoot within 100fps of the vertical bow speeds instead of 1,000 or more fps of most rifle bullets. These elements only indicate that their effective range can be compared to other equipment for vertical archery.

Effective Range for Crossbow Hunting

Just like majority of vertical bow hunters, 40 yards is the effective range for crossbows. At this particular distance and accuracy, many hunters will be able to fire their crossbow accurately enough to the point of being lethal. And similar to vertical bows as well, kinetic energy is still the name of the game.

When an arrow follows the trajectory down range, a more kinetic energy loss happens when its distance and accuracy to the target is greater. Heavier arrows have the tendency to reduce the speed of shooting of any piece of equipment for archery, although there are better when it comes to retaining efficient kinetic energy to the point of impact.

With the combination of a heavier broad head or arrow and a steady hand, there are hunters who manage to pull off 50-yard shots. This distance and accuracy are considered to be the maximum for effective hunting with the use of crossbows.

Accuracy vs. Lethality: Target Shooters vs. Hunters

There are also several target shooters who claim or may also have proof that they were able to shoot the fastest crossbow at further distances. However, you have to take note that just because they managed to be accurate at such distances doesn’t ensure that their arrow also delivered adequate impact to be lethal during the hunt.

Just like with other weapons, the shooter and not the equipment will best determine the effective range of a crossbow. If you are a hunter and you can comfortably shoot at 20 yards, your crossbow will not automatically let you shoot at as much as 80 yards. Also, remember that most of the archery shots on the whitetail deer are only at 20 yards or even lower.

To improve your effectiveness when you shoot your best crossbow, or other pieces of equipment for hunting, practice will always be the best thing you can do.

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FAQs – How Far Can You Shoot a Crossbow Accurately?

Why is the shooting range of a crossbow limited compared to firearms?

Crossbows use stored mechanical energy instead of explosive gunpowder, achieved by manually drawing back the limbs or using a cocking device. This energy is transferred to the bolt upon release. Bolts’ limited power and aerodynamics make them less effective for long-range shooting compared to bullets. Crossbows excel at accurate shooting within shorter distances.

Can a crossbow shoot accurately beyond its effective range?

Shooting a crossbow beyond its effective range reduces accuracy and precision. Bolts lose velocity and stability, becoming vulnerable to wind drift and drop. Long-range shots with a crossbow can lead to diminished accuracy, lower kinetic energy on impact, and potential danger.

Are there any legal restrictions on crossbow shooting distances?

The legality of crossbow shooting distances can vary by jurisdiction. It is important to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding crossbow use and hunting. Some areas may have specific regulations that dictate shooting distances for safety or ethical reasons. Always adhere to the laws and guidelines of your specific region.

Can I hunt with a crossbow at its maximum shooting distance?

Hunting at maximum crossbow distances is not recommended. Crossbows have limited effective range compared to firearms, despite improvements in power and accuracy. Ethical hunting involves a quick, clean, and humane kill, which requires getting close enough for an accurate shot within your crossbow’s effective range.

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