Crossbows have become increasingly popular both in the hunting and target archery disciplines. For many hunters wanting to go back to more traditional techniques, the compound bow has become the go-to weapon of choice. The reasons vary for all individuals but leveling the playing field between hunter and hunted is often one of the main reasons.
At the same time, there are many hunter and target shooters that come from a rifle shooting perspective and they simply find it easier to adapt to the crossbow rather than a compound bow; the perception is that it can be a lot easier to learn to shoot a crossbow.
Dependent on how difficult you want to make it for yourself, you will likely want to mount a scope to your crossbow. Just like with rifle scopes there are many different types available and your choice will depend on what your primary use will be. On this page, you will find out what features to focus on as well as our top recommendations for the best crossbow scope options available.
Why You Should Use A Cross Bow Scope
When it comes to shooting a crossbow, few people think of using a scope. After all, bows are classic, traditional weapons; it hardly makes sense to put a scope on the crossbow.
Or so people may think. That said, a crossbow scope offers numerous advantages that shooting without a scope does not. These include improving your score when target shooting, hitting your prey more often when hunting, and granting higher overall confidence in your aim.
Improving Your Scores
Competitive target shooting may seem like an amusing way to spend an afternoon, but for some, it’s a deadly serious sport. Competitors will take any steps they can in order to improve their scores, and one of these involves using a crossbow scope. The scope allows archers to more accurately hit their targets each and every time.
However, there is a learning curve. Beginners should shoot between 20 to 100 arrows before attempting to sight a scope. Until an archer is able to cluster their shots from around 20 yards, it will be difficult for them to effectively sight their scope. Once a base level of accuracy is achieved, the scope will allow archers to hone it even further.
Basic scopes are accurate to around 20 yards, but it is possible to invest in more advanced models that are accurate up to 50 yards. The type of scope also plays a major role; the distance indicators can greatly affect the way the archer aims. A center-dot scope may work better in some cases than a crosshair; eventually, it boils down to personal preference.
Where the bolt lands can make a huge difference in your score. When the line between 5 points and 10 is as thin as the fletching of your bolts, you want to make sure your shots land on the right side of the line. Ensure you don’t lose the competition; make sure you know how to sight your scope and take the most advantage of your shots.
Imagine, if you will, a quiet, dark morning. In the distance, you sight the tell-tale silhouette of a 15-point buck. You line up your shot, pull the trigger…and watch as the bolt flies harmlessly passed its target, scaring the deer back in the bushes.
A scope can ensure you never again miss a once-in-a-lifetime shot again. Much like target shooting, a crossbow scope can help hunters nab their prey each and every time.
Crossbows are already beneficial to hunters because the silent draw and firing mean a silent kill. Even if you miss, nearby prey is unlikely to realize they’re in danger, unlike the sound of a gunshot. It will echo through the forest and alert every animal within earshot that a hunter is on the prowl.
Once you have zeroed in scope and have become adept at using it, you will be able to better account for the parabolic arc of the crossbow bolt. This ensures you hit your targets with far more frequency — and far greater accuracy — than ever before.
One of the biggest advantages of using a scope is the confidence it lends to your aim. When you know that you’re likely to hit a target, all the nervousness vanishes from you. The anxiety that may cause you to make a careless mistake will be absent, allowing you to reach a state of total focus.
Whether you’re target shooting for a prize or trying to nab the biggest deer of the season, every shot matters. Attaching a high-quality scope to your crossbow will help you make sure that the majority of them land where you’re aiming.
That said, there is no magic tool that will enable you to hit your target every single time. That will come from practice and a steady hand. The more experienced you become as an archer, the better your aim will be — and the better your base aim, the more advantage you can take of a crossbow scope.
Start practicing today. Like many things, crossbows are easy to learn but difficult to master. The more time and sweat you put into learning the unique eccentricities of your bow, the better a shot you’ll be. To help you make a good decision on what crossbow optics to buy, we have put together the following guide to features you need to consider.
Features To Consider
Unlike most rifle scopes, crossbow scopes are generally fixed power scopes. What this means is that when you look at a scopes specifications you might see something like 3X, 5X, or 7X. This means that the scopes are fixed at that magnification and cannot be adjusted.
This generally speaking makes the optics more straightforward to use as you have far fewer adjustments to make for every magnification adjustment. The reason for this is that scopes have to be zeroed in, and this will happen for a target at a specific distance. As soon as you switch to a different target distance or magnification you have to compensate for that using turret adjustments or if time doesn’t allow, indicators on the reticle.
The level of magnification that you choose will greatly depend on what you are shooting at. For turkey hunting, a 3 to 5x magnification is probably more than enough. Anything more than that will result in being zoomed in much too close making it difficult to find the target through the optics.
On the other hand for deer hunting or target shooting at distances 75 yards and beyond, you will likely need 5 to 7X magnification or even higher. This will result in far more detail appearing through the scope which would be very distracting at closer ranges. Especially competitive target shooters will most likely want the flexibility of variable magnification up to 12X. This will allow for much more flexibility, as competitions can make many varying target distances.
The most basic scopes on the market will come with little or no adjustments available on the turret. This may well be perfectly fine for some people, but I believe that for the little extra that it will cost you would be well served with such features.
The two most important adjustments are elevation and windage. Basically, the further away you move from a target the higher you will need to aim. And the more cross wind you have the further to the side you need to aim.
When the time doesn’t allow for the calculated adjustment you can use indicators (lines or dots) on the reticle to compensate. But with simple adjustments, you can become a lot more accurate.
The turret adjustment will be measured in Minute Of Angle (MOA) where each click is equivalent to a specific fraction of an inch measured at 100 yards. For example, you may want to compensate for ½ inch elevation which would result in 4 1/8 inch clicks of the turret.
The actual amount you need to dial in will very much depend on the type and speed of the bow as well as the arrow itself. It is probably best to make up a calculation sheet that you can carry around until you know the values without needing to look them up.
This is a feature that can be very convenient but will cost a bit extra. It basically results in the reticle being illuminated, which can be very beneficial when aiming at targets in low light conditions or in very busy backgrounds like heavy foliage.
The reticle will then stand out much more and there usually are different color settings as well, so you can adapt to the prevailing conditions as well as your own preferences.
Make sure you get the right scope rings if they are not included with the model you choose. This is very important as a secure fixing of the optics can make or break your setup. Scope rings need to allow for the exact same diameter as your scope and you should avoid variable diameter rings.
The reason is that the tighter the fit around the scope tube the less of an impact the crossbow’s recoil will have. A tight fit will hold the scope in place even after hundreds of shots.
Hopefully, our best crossbow scope reviews will help you in your decision-making process. We are certain that all of the above models will satisfy your needs at different budget amounts and that you will not be disappointed. Adding a great scope to your gear will greatly improve your skillset and you will gain added confidence in your ability, whether on a hunt or at a shooting range.