How Fast Does Your Crossbow Really Need To Be?

The industry’s fastest crossbows are surpassing the 500 fps mark, but how much speed do you actually need in a hunting rig?

Each year, manufacturers seem to squeak out a few more fps from their ultra powerful crossbows. Although the numbers are impressive and these ultra-fast crossbows tend to be more accurate at longer range, the reality is you don’t need anywhere near 500 fps for most hunting scenarios.

With the proper setup and shot placement, compound bows — which average 300-350 fps — can accomplish complete pass-throughs on most big game. And bowhunters have been killing bucks with 150-175 fps recurves since long before our time.

So while the extra speed is always nice to have, it’s not truly necessary to get the job done. And those added fps might be harder on your wallet.

In fact, these lightning fast crossbows — and the marketing that goes behind them — can actually give hunters a false sense of confidence and lead to less-than-ideal shots. Just because a crossbow can punch bullseyes at 100 yards doesn’t mean you should take that same type of shot on a living, breathing animal.

If you have a need for speed and love a high-velocity setup, then go for one of the fastest crossbows available. But keep in mind it’s not the only — or even the single most important — factor to consider in a hunting crossbow.

Kinetic energy, accuracy, maneuverability, stealth — these qualities play an arguably bigger role in hunting performance than speed alone. A well-rounded package that shoots 450 fps could serve you better than one that hits 500 fps but is loud, unbalanced, and unwieldy.

In terms of speed, just about any crossbow on the market today has what it takes. Don’t get too caught up in a single spec.

4 thoughts on “How Fast Does Your Crossbow Really Need To Be?”

  1. TBB,

    Some expressive specs! Technology is really pushing the performance on these modern crossbows. Wonder what the (real) effective hunting range would be.

    Spent a bit of time browsing through the models PA is offering. I’d be curious to test-drive a couple of them just to see what they were like.

    The literature says they are quiet… relative to what? Can’t see that much power being “quiet” when shot, expect that every whitetail within 75 yards would be vacating the area. LOL!

    Guessing that the bolts/broadheads would have to be carefully matched and tuned to get good flight at those high velocities.

    You got me thinking about new crossbows, will check out some videos to learn more about them. I’m intrigued by mechanical devices that shoot 😉


  2. TBB,

    Maybe your next article should be on what makes an accurate crossbow? To paraphrase one of the commentariat “What good is a speedy bow of you can’t hit the target?”

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