Crossbows have become extremely popular on the sporting market. Many people are using them for hunting, target practice, and sport shooting.
If you are thinking of purchasing a crossbow to add to your arsenal of sporting weaponry, you likely have a few questions about choosing the correct crossbow draw weight and the difference you find between the lowest and highest draw weights.
This article has been designed to teach you about crossbow draw weights, the difference between the lowest and highest draw weight, and how to choose the best draw weight for you.
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What Is a Crossbow Draw Weight?
On every bow, from the ones depicted on the walls of caves to the newest, top-of-the-line crossbows, draw weight indicates the amount of force that will be required to pull the bowstring into the “ready” position (cocking your crossbow). Many archers will also refer to draw weight as the “pull” a crossbow has. For instance, if a crossbow has a 170-pound draw weight or “pull,” cocking the bowstring will be just as hard as lifting your neighbor’s 150-pound Neapolitan mastiff off the ground.
The amount of draw weight your crossbow has is a critically important piece of information for you to know. The crossbow draw weight directly translates to the amount of force and power that your arrow will have when shot. The power of your crossbow increases as the draw weight increases.
Crossbows typically have a higher draw weight than their cousins, the recurve and compound bows. This makes the crossbow a bit more difficult to cock into a “ready” position, but the greater “pulls” result in more power and thus an excellent choice for hunting big game.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get down to the details of the exact crossbow draw weights you will see on the market.
Crossbow Draw Weight Ranges
You will find crossbows in just about every size and shape, from small pistol-type crossbows with low draw weights to crossbows for elite-level hunting with high draw weights. Let’s take a quick look at both ends of the spectrum.
Low Draw Weight Crossbows
The majority of crossbows available on the market will have a draw weight of no less than 80 pounds. There’s a legal reason behind that number: most crossbows are produced and sold for hunting, and the majority of states have laws requiring bowhunters to use crossbows that have no less than a 75-pound “pull.”
Low draw weight crossbows have their place in the shooting world. They can be used for hunting smaller game animals or for recreational target shooting.
Mid to High Draw Weight Crossbows
The vast majority of today’s crossbows will have a draw weight somewhere between 125 and 200 pounds. The current highest draw weight on the market is a whopping 290 pounds! That’s the weight of a large full-grown man!
The 290-pound “pull” may seem like a bit much to the everyday archer, but it pales in comparison to medieval crossbows used in battle, whose draw weights were sometimes as high as 1500 pounds!
Now that you’re a bit wiser when it comes to the different draw weights available for crossbows, let’s move on to choosing the best draw weight for you.
How to Choose the Appropriate Crossbow Draw Weight
If shooting a crossbow is a new pastime that you’ve picked up, it isn’t recommended that you choose a crossbow with the highest draw weight. The crossbow draw weight that is best for you will depend on a couple of different factors.
Let’s start with the easiest one, which is how you intend to use your crossbow:
Recreational Target Shooting
If all you will be doing with your crossbow is target shooting, the draw weight you choose is wholly up to you. If you are more comfortable with a low “pull,” the choice is entirely yours.
Just be sure that you use targets specifically designed for crossbows and that you can adequately and comfortably cock your crossbow.
Using a Crossbow for Hunting
If you will be using your crossbow for hunting, the draw weight you choose has to meet or exceed the legal requirements as set by your specific state or the state that you will be hunting in.
Most states will have a minimum crossbow draw weight stated in their hunting regulations (some states even set a maximum), and law enforcement bodies are apt to enforce these rules. So, before you make the investment into a crossbow for hunting purposes, it is best to know the rules and regulations of the area where you will be hunting.
A general rule of thumb when using a crossbow for hunting is: more “pull” equals more dropping power. If your chosen quarry is deer, a draw weight range of 75 to 125 pounds should be sufficient to effectively stop your prey. If you are going after bigger game, such as an elk or a bear, choosing a draw weight between 150 and 175 pounds is best.
Another factor to consider when choosing a crossbow draw weight is your own physical abilities or limitations. You obviously don’t want to purchase a crossbow with the highest draw weight if you cannot lift half that amount unassisted. Yes, there are cocking devices you can purchase, and many modern crossbows have built-in assistive devices. However, you will still need to be able to physically do some of the work necessary to properly cock your crossbow.
In the end, the crossbow draw weight you choose, whether low or high pull, will ultimately be up to you, your abilities, and the regulations of your state.
Now that you understand what draw weights are, the lowest and highest draw weights, and how to pick the best draw weight for your crossbow, it’s time for you to head out and take aim!