Should I Get a Crossbow or Compound Bow?

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There comes a time in every person’s life when they finally have to face the question: Should I get a crossbow or compound bow? If you’re at a point in your life where this is a serious question, you’re probably going to need some help deciding.

The following are a few of the major considerations to take into account when deciding whether to get a crossbow, or whether to buy its modern counterpart the compound bow.

Aesthetic Considerations

This first category has less to do with performance, but under no circumstances does that make it any less important.

How your bow looks – and how you look holding it – is a real-life, real-world consideration, and it makes sense to take it into account. In terms of aesthetic considerations, then, we have to say, the crossbow has a whole lot going for it.

Nothing against the compound bow, but there’s something quite attractive about referring to oneself as “crossbowman/woman.”

Such an utterance has an undeniable appeal. As a person who is into crossbows, you are part of a tradition of excellence stretching back into the pre-modern time. It is, simply put, awesome, and there’s no point in ignoring the allure of this selling point.

No disrespect to the compound bow here. Compound bows are certainly cool, yes, as are the people who shoot them.

But ask yourself, honestly, which sounds better coming off the tongue: compound bowman/woman,  or crossbowman/woman?

The crossbow wins this one. Sorry.

Should I Get a Crossbow or Compound Bow - crossbow -bowsandarrowspro

Major Performance Considerations: Size, Weight, Accuracy, etc.

Of course, once the aesthetic consideration is out of the way, we must consider the relative merits of each bow. The compound bow outperforms the crossbow in almost every performance metric, often by a sizable margin.

First, think of the size.

The compound bow is, in many ways, more succinct of a machine than the crossbow. It features many fewer physically cumbersome parts you’ll need to think of as you’re moving through, say, the woods, or across the shooting range.

The compound bow is easier to carry, there’s no doubt about it, and if you’re, say, a hunter, that’s going to matter to you a good deal. You’re not going to want to waste your time and energy carrying a bulky, over-complicated piece of equipment.

In weight, too, the compound bow comes out ahead, as you might expect.

Think of a compound bow and a crossbow, and think of the basic machinery involved in each.

The crossbow is, of course, a much more complex machine, with additional parts that the compound bow does not have. This is, in fact, going to make it heavier, which will again be a drag for hunters and others who need their equipment to be light and easy to carry.

A third consideration – and this is one that is arguably, frankly, the most important when deciding which sort of bow to buy. The accuracy of the shot, and the answer here might surprise you if you have limited experience with either of these implements.

The compound bow is almost always more accurate than the crossbow, and if you follow competitive archery, you’ll know compound bowmen/women tend to outshoot crossbowmen/women across the board.

The explanation for this is relatively simple: Crossbow arrows tend to bounce around at one end of the bow. They sometimes lose accuracy by bumping into the left and right of the shooting end of the bow as they’re being shot by the hunter/archer.

Finally, another good selling point to consider is the amount of force one has to exert in order to load each weapon.

In this area, too, the compound bow comes out on top.

If you’ve ever loaded a crossbow, you’ll know it can be a complicated, somewhat tedious process. What’s more, is that you are actually exerting more force with the crossbow than you would be with the compound bow. Crossbows, simply put, are also harder to load.


In conclusion, we can see that the crossbow has a lot going against it when compared directly to the compound bow. Shooting a compound bow is easier, frankly, and almost always more accurate.

Still, isn’t it cool to shoot a crossbow? And isn’t it cool and fun to tell someone you shoot a crossbow? In the end, this might not be enough to convince all buyers.

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