What is the Difference Between a Compound Bow & Crossbow?

You will probably have been given tons of advice because you love bow hunting as a sport. Your friends may tell you to go with a compound bow while others will urge you to purchase a crossbow.

If you do not know much about both bows, you might likely get confused about which one to purchase or use.

Archery technicians all over the world are often faced with this dilemma regularly. Thus, this article’s essence is to recommend bows to budding bow hunters and make you buy into our opinion on what to use while hunting. 

Speaking from experience, we can vividly say that it is best to lay out the problems at stake then leave everyone to decide for themselves on which bow is best for you.

The truth is that both compound bow and crossbow have benefits over one another in particular situations. 

Now, let’s talk about how compound bows and crossbows work and how they suit the purpose. We will outline the advantages of each bow and later juxtapose them.

Advantages of Crossbow

We acknowledge that both compound bows and crossbows are effective hunting tools; however, the latter produces higher kinetic energy and arrow speeds over compound bows.

Kinetic Energy 

In this modern-day, compound bows produce over 100 ft-lbf of kinetic energy and about 300-470 f.p.s arrow speed. This is different with crossbows, which produces around 60-90 ft-lbf of kinetic energy and 270-310 f.p.s arrow speed. 

You will notice that, in both cases, there is an acute amount of energy available. This kinetic energy is required to help hunters get an ethical and clean harvest of animals that falls within usual hunting ranges of about zero to forty yards.


Another advantage of the crossbow is that it eases accuracy. However, a person with well-trained hands can shoot crossbow and compound bow with equal precision. The shooter determines that range of an arrow, but arrow precision is better when using a crossbow.

One evidence to buttress this ease of accuracy is seen when newbies shoot a crossbow, and the bow hits the same quarter-sized dot from twenty yards away with little or less practice. But with a compound bow, the same shooter must learn for a longer time before he/she can hit the same quarter-sized dot from twenty yards. 

When it comes to practicing how to shoot, the kind of archery target used does not matter so long it is not your neighbor’s dog. All that is required is your time because constant practice makes perfect. At least ten to fifteen minutes of your day should be devoted to practice.

No Need to Move

One other benefit you get from a crossbow is that it does not require movement to operate while hunting an animal. Hunters know that being still and quiet is a perfect act they must learn because it is needed to catch a good game.

Crossbow helps you achieve that stillness and quietness as you can shoot easily from close range without moving or with little movement. If you move, the animal might sense your location and run or, in rare cases, even charge towards you. 

Compound bow requires a lot more movement to shoot. This movement puts the hunter at risk because of the noise associated with it. The noise and movement can alert the animal.

There are arguments in favor of compound bows as regards movement. The argument is that although it is harder to harvest an animal using a compound bow because of the challenge of reaching a full draw, it is more rewarding when you get a kill. 

Advantages of Compound Bow

After careful consideration of crossbows, let’s see the advantages compound bows have over them. 

Less Noise

Compound bows make less noise when you shoot them, unlike crossbows. This less noise helps the hunter when he misses the target. The animal will not be alerted and might still stay in the same spot while the shooter takes a better shot.

Faster Reload

It is also faster to reload a youth compound bow than a crossbow. So, when you miss (anyone can, even experts), you quickly reload and take a greater follow-up shot.

Almost all crossbows need an external cocking aid to work fine. This cocking aid comes in form of a cocking device like a rope that is not built in a crossbow. Some crossbows also have a cocking device with a crank-style found in the stash of the crossbow.

Overall, it takes more time and effort for a hunter to cock a crossbow, especially when they are in a tree stand. The compound bow works better as they are easy to re-cock and take follow up shots.

Hunters who love to scout by the tree stand prefer to use compound bows because it takes less space and is less awkward than a crossbow. 

When a crossbow is fully cocked, it takes up much space when the hunters sit in a tree stand; thus, the hunter’s space will be small. As expected, the little space available will not be enough for the hunter to hunt strategically. The hunter tends to make too much movement while trying to sit comfortably. 

Less Weight

The weight of compound bows is far lesser than crossbows, so they are easy to carry. An average compound bow weighs about six pounds compared to an average crossbow, which ways eight pounds.

Hunters who must go on long distances by foot will prefer compound bow because they can be easily carried about since they have a lighter weight. 

There Cannot Be A Wrong Choice

Now that we know both bows’ advantages, we can conclude that both are good options for various hunters; it all depends on the hunter’s needs.

Bothe compound bow and crossbow have areas where they are perfect and other areas where they are less effective. So the hunter has to choose any of the bows after considering their effectiveness in several scenarios.  

For instance, a hunter that loves to stand by the tree stand will choose compound bows over crossbows while a hunter a bunter will less practice will choose crossbow, which assures him of precision in hitting the target.

Here is brief information about what the hunter stands to gain when they choose one bow over the other. Note that both bows are a good choice if they suit the hunter’s needs and purpose.

It all boils down to the personal choice of the hunter and the hunter’s prey. A hunter’s joy is to make a humane, clean, and quick harvest of their prey. So a hunter will choose a bow which he knows will give him the best harvest. 

Hunters who have injuries on their shoulders, back or neck, or any other disabilities may find it challenging to practice and master shooting a compound bow. This is because the health condition will make it difficult for the hunter to get a clean animal harvest. 

In cases like these, crossbows are usually a better option because they require less practice and can easily be mastered. Hunters with disabilities can use crossbows to get a clean and quick harvest.

Young hunters or hunters that find the weight of a compound bow challenging to handle must consider if they will hunt using a compound bow.

Similarly, hunters who do not just have time to spare for practicing using a compound bow will naturally go for a crossbow. 

It is wrong to conclude that crossbow does not require practice, but the hours of practice is far lesser than that of compound bows. 

Besides, hunters who enjoy recreational shooting and love to shoot frequently may pick compound bows over crossbow because of the ease of cocking and shooting.

One can shoot a crossbow with the same accuracy as a compound bow, but a compound bow requires more practice to get an ethical and clean animal harvest. Many hunters enjoy this regular practice.

It Is A Personal Choice

Just like we iterated earlier in this article, many hunters love the challenge and difficulties that come with compound bows, and that is why they choose it over crossbows.

Also, if a hunter wishes to hunt in other states, it is better to use a compound bow because some states only allow only hunters with disabilities to use crossbows. Such hunters must have been tested to be unable to use a compound bow tangibly.

In summary, once again, choosing a crossbow, compound bow, or both is totally up to you; it is a personal decision. No one should try to persuade you to think that one bow is better than the other because the person prefers that bow.

Be reminded that, albeit with their few demerits, both crossbows, compound bows can hunt any animal. So, it is a fallacy to say that a bow can only hunt some specific animals. 

Conclusion – Compound Bow Versus Crossbow

You are the one going out to hunt; ensure that you choose the bow that suits you best. Choose a bow that allows you to get a clean, humane, and quick harvest. That is the best you can do for the animals.

No matter what bow you eventually choose, ensure that you practice regularly, enjoy it, and become proficient at it.


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