Crossbows have several advantages

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Recent movies like “The Hunger Games” may have spurred a little interest in archery but for some hunters the bow is a staple they could not imagine hunting without.

“I love bow hunting more than rifle hunting,” said Matt McDougal, hunting manager at Bass Pro Shops in Portage. An avid hunter, McDougal was raised bow hunting and would not hit the field without his trusted crossbow.

Hunters, McDougal said, like the crossbow. He said there are several advantages to hunting with a crossbow over a compound bow, also a popular hunting weapon.

“The crossbow can be a little more accurate. It’s kind of like shooting a rifle,” McDougal said.

Crossbows fire further, delivering a slightly longer flight of the arrow than a compound bow.

“Another advantage to the crossbow is it is a much faster shot. You get more feet per second out of a crossbow,” McDougal said. The shorter arrow makes for more kinetic energy creating the faster flight.

On the downside, a crossbow makes more noise than a compound bow, a problem when hunting skittish wildlife. Compound bows have noise suppressors on their long strings, something most manufacturers do not put on the shorter crossbow strings.

“The compounds also can be a little easier to carry to the stand,” McDougal said.

Like shooting a rifle

Bass Pro Shops carries archery supplies for youths to adults at any skill level. A lengthened crossbow season this year is helping spawn interest and fuel purchases. In past seasons, hunters had two weeks to use their crossbows during the long archery season. This year, they can hunt with their crossbows from October through Jan. 6.

“Right now our crossbow sales have been through the roof,” McDougal said.

McDougal said crossbows are usually the best bet for youth hunters due to the let off of the draw. To hunt legally in Indiana, a bow of any kind must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds. Regardless of the draw weight of a crossbow, once you pull back you do not have to maintain that draw weight until you release. A compound bow is more challenging because the hunter holds that draw weight until he shoots.

“Basically, it’s like shooting a rifle but you’re shooting an arrow,” McDougal said.

The ease of use makes the crossbow a good choice of weapon for hunters, especially youth.

“There are different devices you can add on that makes it a lot easier for people to use. We see adults purchase them and sit up in a stand with their 12 and 13 year olds and they are able to hunt with them during archery season,” McDougal said.