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USA –-(Ammoland.com)- While we don’t know exactly how old crossbow technology has been around, we do know Sun Tzu wrote about them in “The Art of War” (c. 5th century BC) stating, “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of the trigger.”(Szczepanski)
And, while I don’t know where crossbows are headed necessarily, ATA delivered great perspective on centuries of advancement and mind-blowing innovation. From Excalibur’s time-tested, more primitive, cam-less design (still packed with jaw dropping development and performance) to feature rich, premium crossbows catering to the world’s most discerning hunters and recreational shooters, one thing is for sure; after 2,500 years, our love affair with crossbows shows no sign of stopping.
Check out five eye-catching, performance-driven, adrenaline-charged crossbows that stopped traffic at the 2015 ATA Show.
Horton Storm RDX Crossbow
Where conventional crossbow technology ends, the Horton Storm RDX Crossbow begins. You may have seen reverse draw technology recently but not like the Storm RDX.
This adrenaline-charged crossbow sends 400-gr. bolts down range at a blistering 370 fps with the heavy-weight punch of 122 ft.-lbs. of bone-crushing kinetic energy.
While the Storm RDX features a staunch draw weigh of 165 lbs., models are available with Horton’s ACUdraw or Dedd Sled to take the pain out of drawing.
The Horton Storm RDX compresses to only 10-in. wide when fully cocked and boasts 13-in. tactical black limbs.
Other features include Horton’s Custom RDX Cam System, DynaFLIGHT 97 string and cables, 440 stainless steel cam bearings, self-locking limb pocket with limb-twist prevention, 20-in. machined aluminum tactical barrel, string suppressors, premium stock with adjustable butt plate and comb, 3.5-lb. Bullpup T3 Trigger, PlasticComp molded fore-grip and a 4x32mm multi-line scope.
TenPoint Stealth FX4 Crossbow
While the Storm RDX stopped traffic in its tracks for obvious quality and unconventional reasons of its own, the TenPoint Stealth FX4 Crossbow drew media crowds looking for a flagship crossbow from a company already considered the crème de le crème of crossbow quality.
True to TenPoint’s reputation, the Stealth FX4 delivers.
Like its sister crossbow, the Stealth FX4 capitalizes on 185 lbs. of draw weight to launch 400-gr. bolts at a red hot 370 fps and impacting with 116 ft.-lbs. of kinetic energy.
Whisper quiet, deadly accurate and armed with a refreshingly light and crisp trigger, the Stealth FX4 earns its place at the top of the heap of conventional crossbows at ATA.
Southern Crossbow Risen XLT 385 Crossbow
Drifting back into the world of unconventional, ultra-cool crossbow design with quality-driven, adrenaline packed innovation landed me in the Southern Crossbow booth.
The tactical world continues to grow by leaps and bounds so why should crossbow loving tactical operators be left in the cold? They shouldn’t and they aren’t! As a Marine Corps veteran, the Southern Crossbow Risen XLT 385 caught my eye immediately.
If you’re a veteran like me or just a guy in love with our modern tactical movement, you’re going to love this marriage of over 2,000 years of history with the look, feel and performance of an AR platform modern sporting rifle!
Reminiscent of my old M-16 A2 service rifle, but with limbs, cams, a string and cables, this bad boy also features a telescoping stock, AR-styled pistol grip and even a vertical fore-grip. Not for the faint of heart but true to its given name, the Risen XLT 385 delivers 385 fps of insane speed from a 200-lb. draw. Unlike many crossbows on the show floor I was also impressed with how complete a kit this tactical masterpiece includes.
While the Southern Crossbow’s maniacal Risen XLT 385 boasts a high-quality 4x32mm scope, the bundle also includes a 6-bolt quiver, 4 field tipped 400-gr. – 425-gr. Bolts, safety glasses, a cocking rope, foot stirrup and rail lube. Other notable features include a compound levering system, anti-dry-fire safety mechanism and a composite, ultra-stiff split-limb design.
If you’re caught in a world between medieval crossbows and tactical operations, the Risen XLT 385 just might hit the bullseye.
Parker Archery Challenger Crossbow
Parker Archery has long been considered a top-shelf manufacturer of crossbows and the 2015 lineup keeps the company soundly ranked among the best of the best; of course, as a patriot to the bone, “American Made” always perks my ears up and captures my attention, too. Still, the crossbow world has lacked any real focus on crossbows fit for youth and huntresses… until now.
For 2015, Parker unveiled the Challenger, touted as the “first ever youth and ladies model hunting crossbow,” complete with a 1.75-in. shorter length of pull. While the Challenger is lightweight, at 5.5 lbs., and designed for smaller framed shooters, quality, performance and, indeed, the adrenaline rush of high-velocity shooting (300 fps with 400-gr. bolt at 150 lbs.) are still cornerstones of this American Made beauty! The Challenger also boasts an adjustable draw weight, from 125 – 150 lbs., solid limb technology, G2 Bullpup trigger, elevated comb, vented forearm with safety trigger flange, premium Red Hot string and cables, and pink Muddy Girl Camouflage finish. The Challenger includes a 4-bolt quiver and 4 field-tipped bolts. An outfitter package also is available and includes your choice of 1X or 3X multi-reticle illuminated scope.
Stryker Solution LS Crossbow
Certainly not last in terms of mind-blowing performance or satisfying the whims of even the most discriminating crossbow hunters, the Stryker Solution LS holds its own as a premium crossbow stopping scores of media and dealer reps in their tracks and leaving them to jack their jaws up off the showroom floor. This beast unleashes 390 fps of whisper quiet destruction from an industry light 155-lb. draw. How do they do it? With BowTech’s typical, forward-thinking focus on research, design, innovation and development – see their line of compound bows to further support this claim.
The Solution LS boasts a light 6.9-lb. carry weight, premium multi-reticle scope, cam assist system, auto-flip magnetic safety, Cease-Fire secondary safety, Arrow Sensor safety, fore-end grip shield, Stryke-Lite Trigger System with .015-in. travel and 3-lb. pull, and non-slip arrow hold-down security. The Stryker Solution LS Crossbow walks the leading edge of optimum balance, size and weight and includes 5 bolts, a 5-bolt quiver, string stops and a cocking aid. If you’re looking for premium quality, uncompromising performance, blistering speed and comfort-driven shootability, you need to take a hard look at StrykerCrossbows!
While these incredible survival crossbows comprise my list of the 5 most notable product offerings at ATA for various reasons, the list is incomplete. Certainly, other crossbow offerings rank among the top-tier as well. In the end, like bows and any number of other personal survival equipment choices, the way a crossbow fits and feels before, during and after a shot is critical.
To complicate things, each person is different, what I look for in comfort, quality, shootability and overall performance may not be be-all, end-all fix for other discerning crossbow enthusiasts. Whether you are using a crossbow for survival hunting, target practice or zombie slaying these 5 very fine specimens are worth taking a liking too. Crossbows have many advantages while in the field, just ask Daryl Dixon. Crossbows are extremely quiet (compared to guns) stealthy, with reusable ammo, lightweight , low maintenance, easy to hold aim and shoot, very lethal, intimidating just to name a few.
At the end of the day, investigate these crossbows and others before arriving at your own conclusion. 25 centuries of crossbow history are waiting for you to write your story. First time hunter, or seasoned veteran, packing a crossbow for survival just may save your life or the lives of your loved ones. Choose your weapon , once you have here are a few tricks of the trade to help you out .
When I first started shooting modern crossbows several years ago, I had no idea what to expect. Like many who had never played with them, these tools confused me. I had seen them on TV, but without ever handling one, I wasn’t sure about a lot of things. How do you load one? How do you pull the string back? What’s the trigger like? Do they kick, like a rifle? Are they noisy? Are they accurate? How far away can you accurately shoot one? Do they have enough power to kill a deer?
Was I in for a surprise! Modern crossbows are fast, accurate, and plenty powerful enough to cleanly take the largest big-game animals in North America. They are also a pleasure to shoot. To get the most out of your crossbow, you need to understand the basics of how to set one up for hunting and how to shoot it. Here are 12 tips to make you a crossbow-shooting machine, using a crossbow-and-arrow set-up designed specifically for hunting big game.
1) Buy the Best You Can AffordThere’s a big difference between an el cheapo, bargain-basement crossbow and a top-of-the-line model. Sure, the bargain model costs a lot less, but it will not be built as well, be as accurate or reliable, and sooner or later it will fail you when the moment of truth arrives. You can buy crossbow packages that include everything you need to get out shooting and hunting—crossbow, a few arrows and arrow points, a scope sight, cocking device and quiver—from anywhere between about $800 to $1,500.
As in all things in life, here you get what you pay for. Spend a few more dollars and get the best you can. You’ll never be sorry.
2) Use Enough Draw WeightThe principle specification that distinguishes a hunting crossbow from a target model is draw weight. Fortunately, most states have taken the guesswork out of determining what is sufficient by establishing a regulatory minimum. While those regulations vary considerably from state to state, the overall range runs from 75 to 125 pounds of draw weight.
With little exception, any crossbow in that range should be adequate to kill a whitetail deer at moderate ranges. That said, most of the better hunting crossbows are in the 150 to 175 pounds range, with a few topping out over 200 pounds. In general, bigger is better—or in this case, faster. Keep in mind that you can go too heavy, too, as at least one state—Ohio—has a maximum allowable draw weight of 200 pounds.
3) Shoot a Fast Enough Arrow
Both crossbow and compound bow makers continually strive to push the speed envelope. You make a crossbow faster by increasing the draw weight. That’s why the above point is so important. How fast is fast enough? I like my crossbows to shoot a hunting-weight arrow with an initial velocity of at least 300 feet per second (fps.) That will both give your arrow enough kinetic energy (K.E.) to cleanly take any big-game animal, and reduce arrow trajectory at longer ranges, which makes accurate shooting easier. Some crossbows are beginning to push the 400 fps envelope, so look for improvements in this number across the board in coming years.
4) Use a Scope Sight
Though some crossbows still come with open sights, you will be much better served using some sort of scope sight. These optical sighting devices make accurate shooting much easier. For magnification, you can choose from just about anything between zero power and 5X. Inside the scope is the reticle, defined as some configuration of horizontal and vertical crosshairs—though for crossbows, it also includes any object projected or suspended across the field of view. Choices begin with a simple, single red dot or crosshair. With them you sight in for a fixed distance, typically 20 yards, then have to compensate for longer shots by holding higher. Multi-reticle scopes are the most popular, particularly those with three to four dots or horizontal crosshairs. The top one is sighted in for 20 yards and the next two are fixed at intervals that will be dead-on at 30, 40 and 50 yards, respectively, on most bows.
5) Use Quality ArrowsUnless your arrows (or bolts) fly like laser beams, you’ll never be able to precisely hit your target. Cheap arrows manufactured to sloppy tolerances will fly like a knuckleball. That’s why you should use only the very best arrows, designed specifically for crossbow shooting, you can afford. Many crossbow companies sell arrows, but they’re made for them by arrow manufacturers like Gold Tip, Carbon Express and Easton. Make sure they have a nock designed for crossbows, not compound bows, are cut to the proper length and have the proper fletches. Both carbon and aluminum arrows work well, but by far the most rugged and high-tech are made from carbon.
6) Use Quality BroadheadsThe business end of a hunting arrow is the broadhead. There are more makes, models and styles of hunting broadheads available than you can shake a stick at. Here again, the most expensive are generally those built to the tightest tolerances, with the sharpest blades, that fly straight and true, and have a long track record of success. Both replaceable-blade and mechanical broadhead designs will work well for crossbow shooters, with the mechanical design becoming more and more popular each year. The most common weight for a hunting broadhead is 100 grains, with 125 grains a distant second.
7) Take a RestA crossbow is somewhat heavy and clunky, making it almost impossible to accurately shoot without using some sort of rest. That can be everything from using standard rifle shooting positions like kneeling and sitting, to using a set of shooting sticks or monopod, to using a shooting rail in a tree stand or shooting house. I never, ever turn an arrow loose from my crossbows without taking a rest of some kind.
When using a rest, try padding the crossbow’s forearm with something soft—your hand, a rolled-up jacket, a day pack, something—which will help absorb recoil and make precise sighting easier than if you shoot off a hard surface.
8) Learn Arrow TrajectoryAll arrows fired from a crossbow travel downrange in a large parabolic arc. Your crosshairs are set to hit dead-on at specific distances, but often you’ll be shooting at a deer or other animal between these distances. When you practice you’ll soon learn where you have to place your crosshairs relative to the animal to hit the “tweener” ranges.
9) Use a RangefinderWith the click of a button, a modern laser rangefinder can instantaneously give you the exact distance from you to the target—a critical bit of information in accurate shooting when you are lobbing an arrow at the target. The best laser rangefinders are as reliable as the sunrise. MyNikon Archer’s Choice model even tells me exactly where to aim when shooting at steep uphill and downhill angles. Costing somewhere between $250 and $400, they’re a lifetime investment worth every penny.
10) Get a ‘Feel’ For the TriggerEvery crossbow has a trigger unique unto itself. You need to shoot your crossbow enough so that you know exactly when the trigger will send the arrow on its way. Shoot both with and without gloves so you know how both feel (it will be different).
11) Practice in the FieldThe old axiom, “practice makes perfect,” certainly applies to shooting your crossbow. Once you get it set up and sighted in, spend some time shooting off a bench rest. Use these sessions to precisely set your sights and get a feel for the trigger. However, you then need to move away from the bench and practice taking shots that simulate actual hunting conditions. Shoot from the kneeling and sitting positions. Climb into your tree stand or ground blind and take shots at the same angles and distances you anticipate you’ll be taking during hunting season. Learn to use your shooting sticks or monopod quickly, quietly and efficiently.
12) Maintain String, Rail, TriggerA crossbow is a machine, which means it will need regular maintenance if it is to keep on ticking like a fine Swiss watch. That means you should always check the string and cables for wear. This is very important on a crossbow because you have direct string-to-rail contact, which creates friction and abrasion, with every shot. At the first sign of fraying or abnormal wear, replace them. You can reduce the need for replacement with regular maintenance. Keep the string, cables and center serving clean and well maintained after each practice session, and especially after each trip to the field. Make sure you lubricate the center serving, and the rails should also be regularly lubed per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Don’t Do This!There are some real mistakes that can cost you accuracy and/or lead to injury if you are not careful when shooting a crossbow. Here are the three most common:
1) Watch Fingers & ThumbMany shooters used to shooting rifles have a tendency to stick the fingers of the hand that holds the rifle’s forearm straight up in the air when they cradle the rifle. If you do this with a crossbow, you risk placing your digits in the path of a bowstring that is rocketing down the rail and will slice the fingers and/or thumb to the bone. Never, ever do this!
2) Don’t Shoot Off-HandThe construction of a crossbow puts a lot of weight in its front end, making it very difficult to balance when trying to shoot from the off-hand position. Even the very best rifle shooters only shoot off-hand as a last resort. You’ll be much better off learning to shoot quickly from the kneeling and sitting positions, and when using shooting sticks or a rail for a rock-solid rest.
3) Shoot Outside Your Own MESRMany years ago, I coined a phrase for bowhunters, Maximum Effective Shooting Range, or MESR. Your MESR is the maximum distance you can consistently place a hunting arrow into the bullseye. For some crossbow hunters that’s 20 yards; for others it is 60 yards. For most of us, it is somewhere in between.
You will learn your own MESR as you practice. At some point, you just won’t be plunking that arrow into the bullseye on a regular basis. When that happens, it’s time to back off a few yards until you are once again placing at least 90 percent of your shots into the center of the target. At the same time, you should try and push the envelope and stretch your MESR in small (say, 5 yard) increments. But once I get into the field and I know my own MESR is, say, 40 yards, I will not take a shot at a game animal any further than that.