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October 23, 2008

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Pennsylvania Considers Crossbows For Archery Season

From Pennsylvania’s The Morning Call:

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is poised to act on a hotly debated proposal that would dramatically expand hunters' ability to pursue deer and bears with crossbows.

The measure, which will be considered Friday during the commission's meeting in Washington County, would permit crossbows during all of the state's archery deer seasons as well as the archery bear season. . . .

Currently, crossbows are permitted only in the general firearms seasons for deer, bear, elk and turkeys. They also are permitted for use by archery hunters in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D and by disabled sportsmen who hold valid crossbow permits.

What do you think? Should crossbows be legal during archery seasons?


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Every year the hand wringers whine and cry about how crossbows will ruin archery and they take no skill to use.

That's the same tired argument that was used by the anti-compound crowd 30+ years ago when they first came out. Compounds were gonna ruin archery, it didn't take any skill to hold and shoot these newfangled bows, blah, blah, blah.

Compounds didn't kill archery then and xbows won't now.

And yes they are a bow.


The object of the bow hunt is to have a primitive weapon that restricts the hunter's ability to take deer more than a rifle. With bows this is mostly achieved by restricting range.

I have owned a crossbow for a while. It doesn't shoot any further than a combpound bow, probably a little less. I tried a compound bow recently and had no trouble landing accurate shots with it at a good distance. It's not really harder than the crossbow. But the crossbow allows people that can't handle the pull of bow to hit the woods in the fall. I'm all for it.

Curt Paul

Crossbows are a very effective means of harvesting big game. It takes alot more skill to take game with a crossbow than with a firearm. Most crossbow kills are 30yds. or less, therefore hunting accidents are less likely to happen. Most anyone can kill game 100 to 300yds. with a rifle, try getting one within 10 yds. thats where the real thrill is!

Concerned Hunter

In Wisconsin, crossbows are not allowed during the archery season. The exception is for the elderly & disabled. The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association considers the crossbow to be a "superior" weapon and should be allowed in the gun & muzzleloader seasons, but not in the Archery season. I agree...


A "superior" weapon? Have you ever tried to manuever one of these things around in a tree?

What you gain in not having to draw and release is more than offset with extra weight and sheer bulk.

Killing a deer with a bow (and that's what a compound is) isn't easy, especially when you are hunting a specific class of deer (like mature bucks).

And while people can complain about xbows, they will be accepted into the archery seasons as the years pass (just like compounds were).


John D

Don't compare a compound to a crossbow. They are for cripples and don't belong in the woods during archery season. Unless you are an impaired human.

PA will be making yet another step toward fu(king up what was once a fine tradition in the state.


John D,

You can hold on to that way of thinking, but the times are changing whether you wish them to or not.



I am no cripple but I have had many shoulder reconstructions. I guess I just played too many contact sports. I can a pull a bow no problem but my doctor told me that practicing with a bow (i.e. repeated pulling) would likely cause some problems. So I can't practice enough to become an ethically good shooter. So I use a crossbow.

How about women and little guys or youth? Here in Ontario the legal draw weight for a deer bow is 40 lbs. I know many people who can't manage that.


Please, I do not see the big deal. With all of the accesories that can be added to a compound bow today, including red dot scopes, the only true differance between an compound and an xbow is that one is held vertical and the other horizontal

Jim in Mo

Dom & Chris,
I agree with you, as a retiree I too have left shoulder problems that cause misery after practicing with my bow so I gave it up. I'm seriously considering asking my doctor for his recommondation to Mo. Dept.of Cons. for my x-bow permit.
Dom, as far as small statured people; practice, practice, practice. They can do it, we did.


Here in Arkansas, xbows are allowed through out the regular archery season as well as all gun seasons. Do you know how many people of sound body, age, and stature that I have seen lugging around a crossbow? Only 1. I primarily hunt public land across the state and see hundreds of archers per year. I also have around 15 guys that I hunt with at least once a year; none of them carry a xbow. As far as my view point, let the xbows in with regular archery. Are the antis arguing based upon principle or worries of overhunting, overcrowding? I think that arguing on principle is sheerly bull crap and selfish, and overhunting and crowding is not a worry. Like I said, I've only seen one hunter of hundreds carrying an xbow. Whatever happened to encouraging anyone to hunt in anyway that's legal? I figure the antis only shoot over/unders for ducks as the third shot in a pump is unethical and a semi-auto might condemn one to hell.


I live in PA, and we have a lot of dumb rules / regulations. I still use my flintlock in the early muzzleloader season when inlines are aloud. Am I at a disadvantage? Probably. Doesn't really matter, because I don't see hardly any deer anyway. The only gripe I would have is that you don't have to try and draw a xbow when there is an animal right below you without it seeing you.

Jackson Landers

In most eastern states, the problem is too many deer and fewer hunters to hunt them year after year.

Back when special archery seasons were first introduced, the situation was very different. Deer were fewer in numbers and there were a lot more hunters. Hunter opportunity was a real issue and the archers needed a special opportunity to take deer without competition.

That's not the case now. What purpose exactly is served by trying to maintain a purity of either archery seasons without crossbows or muzzleloader seasons without in-lines? Folks, we're not exactly in any danger of running out of deer. So how is it any of our business what tool our neighbors chose to hunt with?

The whole point of these special seasons was hunter opportunity. The type of bow or rifle that I choose to take into the field is none of anyone else's business. If you think that a crossbow is 'cheating' then don't use one. You go your way and I'll go mine and neither of us loses anything.

Jacob McMichael

Here in OH xbows are legal. I personally use a compound, and incessantly tease the xbow users who are in good enough physical state to shoot a compound, but opt to use a xbow cuz they're easier. However, though I consider the compound hunter to be superior, I am fine with the use of crossbows. Likewise, I consider the traditional archers to be superior to myself.

John D

If the state wants more deer killed, lengthen the backside of rifle season. Why pollute the woods with K-Mart-equipped Xbow hunters during the most pure time a man can be alive?

No one is entitled to any season. Just as I don't complain about not playing football on Sundays, folks who can't draw a bow should have a seat and wait till rifle season. Honestly, I could give a damn what PA does. I do, however, feel the need to remind people that one of the beauties of archery season is that it's hard. Not everyone can do it. If it was all about numbers, states would start their rifle season October 1st and let it run for two months until the allotted number of tags are filled.

Who would rather see states work to preserve our fine sporting tradition and manage the herd within relatively static guidelines for method of take? I damn sure would.

Mike A.

Something everyone has missed so far....the real question is: how will the PA game commission make more money off of xbows? Will it be a separate stamp? I can pretty much guarantee you that it's a revenue issue (as far as the State is concerned).

Furthermore, the argument that what type of weapon you use doesn't matter is a poor argument. If that were the case, then I suppose it would be acceptable to hunt with hand grenades. There is a reason for different seasons and different weapons. I say only allow xbows for disabled and veterans.

Mike A.

Something everyone has missed so far....the real question is: how will the PA game commission make more money off of xbows? Will it be a separate stamp? I can pretty much guarantee you that it's a revenue issue (as far as the State is concerned).

Furthermore, the argument that what type of weapon you use doesn't matter is a poor argument. If that were the case, then I suppose it would be acceptable to hunt with hand grenades. There is a reason for different seasons and different weapons. I say only allow xbows for disabled and veterans.

Daniel Baughman

I am a PA bowhunter, and I do not welcome the addition of crossguns to archery season.

Crossbows put a hunter at an advantage as compared to compound bows. You do not have to draw them in the presence of game, they have a flatter trajectory, can be rested on a solid surface just like a rifle, are often topped with scopes, and they do not require the shooter to have consistant form. A crossbow takes away all the difficulty in shooting an actual bow, minus having to judge distance.

I am not completely opposed to having a season that allows them statewide, for a week or so, just as the PGC allows a brief inline ML season in October. I am, however, opposed to calling it archery season.

William R

I am a crossbow, compound, recurve, and long bow owner/user. I can shoot my compound more accurately anyday, than anyone (including myself) who shoots a xbow. With todays compounds, the speed and trajectory are one and the same with the xbows. You can buy compounds with the same FPS and energy as a top of line xbow. For the comment made about not having to have consistant form with a xbow, your wrong there. If your string isnt in the exact same postion everytime, your shot is off target (1/32nd of an inch can make an inch or more difference on target placement). If your bolt nock isnt consistantly aligned with the string, your bolt is off target. If your firmness of grip on the xbow is inconsistent, your bolt can go off target as much as 8in. Xbows and compounds have many pros and cons but I wouldnt say either has any significant advantage over the other. The advantage a crossbow has is the benefit of not having to draw without being seen by animal. The advantage a compound is that they can shoot quietly with incredible speeds without having the animal reacting as much before the arrow hits the animal. Theres pros and cons to both. Both are difficult to have all the pieces of the puzzle to go right to get the opportunity to down an animal. I believe crossbows should be legal, the day of primitive weapons have been gone since the recurves and longbows were put in the attics years ago when compounds came into play. If you argue that a compound is a primitive weapon, I dont think so, I cant say I ever saw a picture of a Native American packing a matthews or hoyt.


I think that the essence of archery is the vertical string and loading the bow by hand and muscle power. Quietly drawing a bow at close range to an animal and remaining unseen is all part of it. Using a crossbow eliminates the need for these skills. I think that if people want a special season for crossbows they should have it but it should not be part of the archery season for deer. If crossbows are allowed in bow season why not lazer guided bolts? Must all traditions be destroyed because relatively fewer people are willing to learn the disciplines and skills involved?

John D

Amen Ray.

It comes down to a rampant American misconception that everyone is "entitled." If you want to use a crossbow, use it during gun season. Or how about this: if you can't draw a bow, wait for gun season. Every state has one.

From a man who's fired crossbows, please don't try to say shooting one is as critical as shooting a bow. If you can put your head on the stock and squeeze the trigger, you can drive tacks with those things. Just like with a gun. A bow requires a great deal more physical and mental control to shoot accurately, and there is another world of variables to deal with.


Do a google on Stryker xbow. This bolt gun has only been on the market for a couple years. It not only eliminates the loss of down range energy(where the compound was better), but it crushes it. This xbow delivers twice(155lb ft) the KE of the top end compounds, and does it with a heavier projectile. The fastest compounds shoot 5gr pr lb of draw weight, so 70lb bow shoots a 350gr arrow and the top bows shoot 350fps. The Stryker shoots a 420gr bolt at 405fps, using ONLY 175lb draw weight. This shows it will not suffer lack of KE at longer distances, like the common xbows. The bowtech rep says he the stryker can shoot 5" groups at 100yds, when put on a bench like a gun. He said it can slap bolts(touch each other)at 75yds, and has enough KE to cleanly take deer at that distance. Folks, this is not apples to apples, and Mathews hasnt jumped in on this either. Wait till these big companys spend some money on research and development, we could be seeing 100yd shots being easy. Thats a great management tool, but it doesnt belong in the archery seasons!

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