Crossbow Shooting 101 – Basics & Fundamentals

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I love shooting crossbows and have liked them ever since they became legal for everyone during archery season in Texas back in 2009.  Over the last several years, I have owned three crossbows: the Barnett Wildcat C5, the Barnett Buck Commander Xtreme (BCX) Carbonlite, and the Barnett Raptor Reverse . All three of these crossbows have performed flawlessly and work as hard as I do in the field at at the archery range.

To properly shoot a crossbow and bring out its maximum performance potential there are two vital components you need. First, you need a rope cocking or crank cocking device to evenly cock the string. You can cock a string by hand but it is painful and can set your string in the wrong place, thus making the crossbow string’s loading on the limbs uneven and leading to a shot way off your intended target. You also need a good steady rest such as a monopod or bi-pod to steady your shot. When I started shooting, I used a monopod but like the steadiness of two points of contact on the ground now so I use a bi-pod shooting rest. These can be found at more sporting goods retailers online and in retail stores.

A “ready to hunt kit” that many crossbows come with today should include some string and rail lube wax which you should apply to the rail of your crossbow every 5 shots or so. If your crossbow does not have this, lube wax it is cheap to buy and looks a lot like a chapstick-style tube.  As with any bow, you want to pay attention to the string and maximize its life by applying string wax to it after every 10-15 shots or so. I use the same lube wax for the string and it seems to work just fine for both the rail and string.

For hunting, I strongly prefer Grim Reaper Broadheads and their mechanical crossbow broadhead with an 1  1/2″ cut radius. If you care to, you can get replacement blades and other parts that can be replaced on a Grin Reaper broadhead in a rebuild kit from many retailers or online at I have harvested dozens of game animals over the past several years using these quality broadheads and most every wild hog and whitetail deer I have taken with them has not run over 100 yards after a well placed bolt in the vitals area. In many cases, deer and wild hogs will drop within sight making the tracking job ever so easy. Grim Reaper’s slogan is “Shorter Bloodtrails… Longer Stories.” and they stand by that standard in my experience. If you are into fixed-blade broadheads, they carry those too. I have many videos of my crossbow hunts on YouTube which you can also watch on my website at under the Videos tab. I also prefer to shoot Gold Tip crossbow bolts and my current favorite are the Gold Tip Laser III bolts. These have performed very well for me over the years and they are as tough as nails. 

Here is a video I made a few years back where I talk about the tools I use in the field for shooting a crossbow for maximum performance and accuracy. Thank you as always for watching, reading, and listening!

Dustin Warncke


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