It’s no surprise that more and more hunters are starting to pick up the crossbow, an age-old tool with some modern upgrades.

Many states have started relaxing regulations on crossbow hunting to coincide with its popularity among sportsmen and women. There are certainly still some disagreements on the sustainability of crossbows–especially when it intrudes into bow season–but the numbers don’t lie. Crossbow use is on the rise and the industry is striving to keep pace. A variety of different models and styles offered by brands such as Barnett, TenPoint, and Excalibur take a commanding presence in the archery business, and had quite the influence this year at the 2013 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show in Las Vegas.

The reason for this is as simple as the weapon itself. Crossbows are easy to operate, sturdy, and accurate. The gentle learning curve means that the weapon is ideal for younger hunters just starting out, while the ease of use also suits older or disabled hunters who many find bows unwieldy. The popularity of crossbows is growing exponentially, such as in the state of Michigan which saw its number of crossbow hunters double since 2009.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, a survey of crossbow deer hunters revealed that:

  • Crossbow use appeared to help increase hunter participation and deer harvest
  • 77% of crossbow hunters agreed that they were more accurate and confident with crossbows
  • 50% of crossbow hunters said that the weapon allowed them to hunt more frequently than they normally would. That percentage is increased to 70% when the same question is asked of new archers.
  • 30% of crossbow hunters stated it was more satisfying than hunting with other types of bows
  • Most hunters that used a crossbow indicated their experience using crossbows met most or all of their expectations, and nearly all crossbow hunters planned to use crossbows again in future seasons
  • Authorization of crossbow use is an important factor for recruiting and retaining new archers
  • The mean age of crossbow stamp holders was 50

Image from Dwight Stone (Gripnerd) on the flickr Creative Commons

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