Wimpy shoulders, no upper body strength, arthritis: school me on crossbows

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Dec 20, 2005
Spring TX
Woo HOO! The state of Texas has finally figured out that crossbows are BOWS. That means that during archery season, I can go out and hunt if I get a crossbow. I've wanted one since forever since I cannot, absolutely CANNOT, pull a bow to a poundage to allow me to hunt legally (let alone ethically). As of this year, I get my wish.

I have rheumatoid arthritis, a crappy rotator cuff in my right shoulder, zilch upper body strength (did I mention I can't pull a recurve or compound bow? lol) and I need to know...

1) will I be able to cock a crossbow?
2) does it matter which style, in terms of my particular limitations?
3) any recommendations for value and quality?
4) anything else I don't know enough to ask? :rolleyes:

I'm going to be leaving on vacation tomorrow for a few days so if I don't respond promptly, I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't gotten to Starbucks for wi-fi yet :neener:

I'm not an expert on crossbows, but I have been shooting them for a few years now.

It would be hard for me to say if you can or cannot draw one, but there are a few things to consider. A common method of drawing a crossbow is to put your foot in the stirrup at the front and pull the string back with both hands until it locks. Really it relies on your leg and back muscles, and your grip strength more than your biceps or shoulder like a regular bow. An excellent accessory is a EZ Loader, which is a pulley and rope system. While it slows down draw time getting it set, it cuts the effort needed in half, and is much easier on the hands.

Compound crossbows might be a little easier to draw for you than recurves. Not sure if I can recommend a specific type for you, so I suggest at least giving a few a try at a local shop. Also, there is a great book called simply Crossbow Hunting by William Hovey Smith that might be helpful for you.
Well, I guess muscle powered weapons are much less than ideal for those who don't have much body strength.

I think you would need very complex mechanical cocking devices if you want to use a powerful crossbow. Those would be heavy and bulky.

Why don't you use a gun for hunting? It seems to me that you live in a country where that would be perfectly legal. There is a reason why guns are called "equalizers"!

Regards from Germany

Excaliber is a very accurate crossbow.

I'm attachiing a couple pictures of the Vixen II packages, 150 LB. I would recommend this model for you.

Each comes with scope and all accessories you need including a rope cocking aid. The only difference between the two is the scope.

EX Vixen 2 PA.jpg EX Vixen II.jpg

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Do a web search on crossbows; you'll find some that have an optional crank (windlass) for cocking. Any such model should be very good quality, and high priced as well.

Be sure to spend some practice time with it before you go out on a hunt. You'll need to learn the trajectory of crossbow bolts, and in connection with that, you'll need to learn the exact range of your target (or carry a rangefinder).

Be ready for sticker-shock, too; like any hobby, this can run into big bucks. Good luck, and have fun.
Different season, different weapon...

Joerg--Springmom wants to hunt during archery season, as well as gun season. There are separate seasons for the different weapons in most states.

Recently, most USA states are coming to realize that a crossbow is NOT a silent rifle, and more and more states are allowing crossbows to be used during "archery" seasons. Earlier, "archery season" meant hunting with a standard bow and arrow, only. That makes it difficult if you're handicapped in the shoulders and/or arms.

Many of us hunt with archery equipment during archery season, and pick up a firearm for use during firearm season. It means more time in the woods to be able to do both.

Springmom--There are winch-like cocking devices available for most crossbows, in addition to the simple pulley arrangement that Glistam mentioned. A little slow and fussy to work, but anyone who has the arm strength/flexibility needed to point and shoot a X-bow, can operate such a winch. And since you don't get a follow-up shot with any X-bow, anyway, the time needed to re-cock it is of small consequence. Mentioning arm strength brings to mind shooting sticks, etc--there is plenty of that type of equipment available for X-bows, also. Point of all this is, that you are not much limited at all in your choice of X-bow. You'll need to do a bit of research as to exactly which model/make you favor. I second Glistam's advice to try out several models at a shop.
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The Barnett Wildcat C5 is a lightweight crossbow that you can get with a built in crank & pully to cock it with. My local archery store only sells this model and says they are very reliable. You can also get it with a red dot scope.
The USA is great but not perfect...

Joerg S--You do have this advantage over us in the States: As I have heard it, most European countries where you can hunt, allow you to do so at night. Even for "game animals."

(Not familiar at all, with the various Euro countries' hunting laws. i could be all wrong about the above, where YOU are.)

Most states in the US don't allow any night hunting, or allow it only for pest control or similar purposes. And frankly, the deer, at least in my area, seem to know this, and seem to have become much more nocturnal.
I think it's a shame that crossguns are legal in Texas too but they're sweeping the country.

Crossguns fire a bolt, use a trigger release and are fired from the shoulder like a rifle.

For a real bowhunter they're probably less effective than a real bow but they do let people hunt archery season that can't or won't put in the practice time that a hand drawn bow requires.

Archery has some early season advantages because it used to be a primitive weapon and at one time it was actually difficult to become proficient with. Modern compounds are easy enough but now people think crossguns are bows. Where is the challenge?

I enjoy my rifles but I also know the difference between a scoped centerfire rifle and a flintlock.
Smokey Joe, correct, night hunting is very common here. Actually I think most game is taken in the very early morning hours, at first light. Especially the wild boar is so clever that it is best to hunt at night, when the animals are less alert.

But obtaining a hunters license is very hard. You have to go to school for a year or so, and there is a very tough test, lots of people fail. Then you need to have a hunting territory, which you have to rent from the owner. Usually this means you have to pay any damage the game causes to the agriculture out of your own pocket, as you failed to protect it. 10 or 15 wild boars can destroy a whole corn field in a single night, they eat 2% and trample the rest.

Hunting is only for the well off, the average guy can't afford. And the average guy here is by no means poor.
XD have to agree about those that won't learn to use a long/recurve/compound bow. With respect those that can't should still be allowed to bow hunt. Springmom, if a pulley or winch is still too much for you to manage a compound lever system like a chain binder can be built, the advantage would be the longer the lever the greater the mechanical aid you would gain. Somewhat cumbersome for a tree stand or stalk, but workable for a ground blind. The type/make that you use this on is not important. Crossbows are not magic wands and much practice will be required to get to the point of making clean kills. Follow up shots will take too long to be of any use, a true one shot one kill senario.

I thought I would go that route when crossbows became legal in Virginia because of my disability. It was just an OK experience. YMMV.

For cocking I took my 30 y/O nephew who resembles a 54 Buick and is equally as strong.
Now that is a practical solution! The European noblemen did it the same way, they simply brought servants for the musclework.
I know zilch about crossbows,

Still, for fish tacos, this middle-fifty--long-haired-mustached- bearded fellow, can darn sure learn how to draw one back, and hand it to a Southern Belle.

I come complete with Southern Drawl and everything...*wink*

Archer...this keeps you from having to do this...

Welcome! Here are 2 links that will absolutely help you!

This is the site to learn anything you wanted to know about crossbows. Its full of good people who love to help out newcomers. It is going through a software transition at the moment, so if the link does not work, keep checking back. It is worth it.


The other is a statewide club formed by members of that forum. Ask GuideGirl any questions you have. She has taken game with a crossbow on almost every continent. She is passionate about the sport and loves to help newbies. Tell her GES sent you over.

I hunt with a crossbow due to unhealed elbow fracture. But many states have no crossbow restrictions based upon handicap or age.

Hunting crossbows start at 150 lbs and go up from there. Heavier weight = increased difficulty drawing the bow.

Rope cockers reduce cocking effort by approx 40%. They sell for about $25.

Crank cockers are not available for every model. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

Buying used but like new is a good strategy to save money. Horton, Ten Point, and Parker are USA-built names.

As far as the arguement that they are not archery equipment, they were in existence way before compound bows. Why are you guys dissing the sport by using such modern and thoroughly unfair tactics. You probably don't want to hear that though. As far a recommendation, I use the Excaliber and really love it. The scope that Excalibur makes is second to none. You tune it for the velocity you are shooting with your combination of bolt and broadhead and then sight it in for 20yds. Inside the scope you will see markings for 20, 40, and 50yds. The marks are spot on. You will probably make most of your shots at 30yds or less and it is still challenging to get that close to whitetail. I also like to use mechanical heads due to the lack of being affected by side wind compared to a regular broadhead. Good Hunting.
I have Muscular Dystrophy and hunt with an Excalibur Vixen crossbow I got in 2003. I cannot draw a bow beyond 25 lbs, and even those I can't draw repeatedly.

-A crank is a must based on your situation, also be aware that a crossbow is loud
-A crossbow is NOT an Arrow-Gun
-A crossbow is NOT a "Bow with a trigger"
-A crossbow IS an object unto itself with it's own advantages and disadvantages

On your situation, and my experience:
-You will need a crank cocker, they are nice but mine from Excalibur is loud. I cock before I hit the woods and carry loaded.
-Less is more when it comes to magnification, remember that you are shooting 20-40 yards.
-Limb clearance is something you only mess up once
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