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How Far Can a Crossbow Shoot?

How Far Can a Crossbow Shoot
Written by Catherine Weeks
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Crossbows have been a popular hunting weapon for centuries, and with modern advancements in technology, they have only gotten better. These powerful weapons are capable of shooting bolts over good distances with incredible accuracy. They are the perfect tool for hunters who want to take down their prey from short to medium distances. But how far can a crossbow shoot?

On average, a crossbow can shoot 40 – 50 yards, accurately and effectively. However, some modern crossbows can travel as far as 600 yards or more. But the hit will not be nearly as accurate or effective as 50 yards.

There are other variables that affect the distance a crossbow can shoot. In this article, you will get a better understanding of how much distance you can expect a crossbow to travel. We will also take a look at the factors that determine the crossbow effective range and give you tips on how to enhance your shooting skills and stay safe while using a crossbow.

How Far Can A Crossbow Shoot

How Far Can Crossbows Shoot

The type of crossbow and its intended usage are two elements that affect the typical firing distance of a crossbow.

Standard Crossbows

Standard crossbows are designed for target shooting and are typically less powerful than hunting crossbows. The typical effective range of such crossbows is between 30 and 50 yards.

In comparison to hunting crossbows, these crossbows are often smaller in size, draw weight, and limb assembly. And this leads to a slower bolt speed and lesser range.

Hunting Crossbows

Effective crossbow hunting range is around 50-60 yards, although some high-end models can reach distances of 80-100 yards or more. It’s important to note that factors such as wind, arrow weight, and the shooter’s skill can impact the accuracy of a shot at longer distances. Also, the more distance the bolt travels, the less effective and inaccurate the shot will be.

These crossbows are designed to deliver bolts with enough kinetic energy to take down game animals humanely, which typically requires a shorter range than what is used in competitive crossbow shooting.

Competition Crossbows

Competition crossbows are designed for accuracy and long range shooting. These crossbows typically have a higher draw weight and a more refined limb assembly compared to hunting crossbows. On average, competition crossbows can shoot bolts up to 70-80 yards with accuracy and precision. Some high-end models can shoot up to 100 yards or more. These crossbows are used in crossbow archery competitions and shooting ranges, and are preferred by competitive archers and shooters.

How Far Can Crossbows Shoot Accurately

Crossbows can achieve high accuracy and precision, particularly at short to medium ranges, and are a viable alternative to traditional bow hunting.

Typically, crossbows with a draw weight of 150 lbs can shoot accurately up to 50 yards, while crossbows with a draw weight of 175 lbs can shoot accurately up to 60 yards. The capability of the shooter also plays a significant role in determining the accurate shooting distance.

As a general rule, hunters consider 30-40 yards as the maximum effective hunting range for a crossbow, but with modern technology and advancements, some high-end models can shoot accurately up to 80 yards or more.

It is important to note that while a crossbow may be capable of shooting a bolt a certain distance, it does not necessarily mean that it is the best or most ethical range for hunting purposes.

What Is The Effective Range Of A Crossbow

The crossbow effective range depends on several factors, which you will find below. Generally, crossbows with higher draw weights and lighter arrow types tend to have a longer effective range compared to those with lower draw weights and heavier arrow types.

As a rough estimate, crossbows with a draw weight of 150 lbs can shoot accurately up to 50 yards, while crossbows with a draw weight of 175 lbs can shoot accurately up to 60 yards. However, it’s important to note that these ranges can vary greatly depending on the specific conditions and shooter proficiency.

In practical hunting scenarios, the effective range of a crossbow is often limited to around 30-40 yards, as this range offers a good balance between accuracy and ethical hunting practices. Beyond that, the accuracy of the shot can become increasingly unpredictable, making it more difficult to humanely take game.

Factors that Affect Crossbow Shooting Distance

Factors that Affect Crossbow Shooting Distance

There are several factors that determine how far can a crossbow shoot, including the draw weight, bolt weight, crossbow design, and environmental conditions.

Draw Weight

The draw weight is the amount of force needed to pull the bowstring back to the cocked position. The higher the draw weight, the more energy the crossbow can store and the farther the bolt can travel.

Bolt Weight

Another thing that affects the shooting distance of a crossbow is the bolt weight. Heavier bolts store more energy and travel farther than lighter bolts, but they also lose velocity faster and are affected by wind resistance.

Crossbow Design

The design of the crossbow, including the limb assembly, cam system, and bowstring, can also affect the shooting distance. High-quality crossbows with well-designed systems can shoot bolts farther and with greater accuracy than lower-quality crossbows.

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions, such as wind, temperature, and altitude, can also affect crossbow shooting distance. Wind can cause bolts to veer off course, while high temperatures can cause the bowstring to stretch, reducing the draw weight and shooting distance.

Enhancing Crossbow Shooting Distance

The factors listed above can affect the shooting distance and accuracy range of your crossbow. Nonetheless, instead of just depending on how far can crossbows shoot, you have to try your best to achieve the distance you want. There are a number of things that you can do to improve the maximum crossbow range.


You need to practice to increase your crossbow accuracy and skill. Practice can be more fun if you do it with a friend and make it a competition. Or you can also practice using a 3D target while in a hunting stance. The more time you put into practice, the better you will get. Just keep a positive attitude and have fun while improving.

Upgrading Bolts

You can just upgrade your crossbow arrow or bolts. It is one of the simplest methods to increase crossbow range. For instance, aerodynamic bolts are created to cut through the air with minimal resistance, increasing the shot distance. You can use them.

Maintaining Your Crossbow

Keeping your crossbow in top condition is also important for enhancing shooting distance. Regular cleaning and lubrication of the limb assembly, cam system, and bowstring can help maintain the energy stored in the bow and improve accuracy.

Improving Shooting Technique

Another way to enhance crossbow shooting distance is to improve your shooting technique. Anchoring the bowstring at the same spot on your cheek, using a consistent trigger pull, and learning proper form can all help improve accuracy and increase shooting distance.

Using Accessories

Finally, using accessories such as scopes and stabilizers can also improve the range you can achieve with your crossbow. Scopes can help you aim more accurately, while stabilizers can reduce bow movement and improve accuracy.

Safety Precautions When Shooting Crossbows

While crossbows are powerful weapons that can be a lot of fun to use, it’s important to take safety precautions to avoid injury.

Wearing Safety Gear

Always wear safety gear when shooting a crossbow, including a quiver, arm guard, and finger tab. Eye protection is also a must.

Avoiding Over-Drawing

Avoid over-drawing the bowstring, or pulling it back too far. This can cause the bow to break or result in injury.

Following Hunting Laws and Regulations

It’s also important to follow hunting laws and regulations, which vary by state or country. Make sure you understand the rules and regulations regarding the use of crossbows for hunting and target shooting.

Keeping the Crossbow Pointed in a Safe Direction

Always keep the crossbow pointed in a safe direction, away from yourself and others. This includes when you are loading, unloading, or carrying your crossbow.

Not Shooting at Hard Surfaces

Do not shoot at hard surfaces, such as rocks or metal, as bolts can ricochet and cause injury. When crossbow bolts ricochet, they can fly in unpredictable directions and cause harm to yourself or others.


1. What is the difference between a standard crossbow and a hunting crossbow?

Ans. Hunting crossbows typically have a higher draw weight and longer limb assembly, making them more powerful and suitable for hunting. Standard crossbows are usually lighter and more compact, making them better suited for target shooting or recreational use.

2. What is the average shooting distance for a hunting crossbow?

Ans. 40-60 yards is the average shooting distance for a hunting crossbow. But, there are also some high-quality models that can shoot up to 100 yards.

3. What is the difference between a competition crossbow and a standard crossbow?

Ans. Competition crossbows are designed specifically for competitive archery events and have features such as adjustable sights, lighter weight, and higher accuracy. Standard crossbows are generally not optimized for competition and may not have the same level of accuracy or customization.

4. What safety precautions should I take when using a crossbow?

Ans. Always make sure to use appropriate eye and ear protection when shooting a crossbow. Also, ensure that the crossbow is properly loaded and aimed before shooting, and never point the crossbow at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Additionally, be aware of your surroundings and the trajectory of the bolt to avoid hitting anyone or anything you don’t want to.

5. Is a crossbow faster than a bullet?

Ans. No, a crossbow is not faster than a bullet. A bullet from a firearm can travel at speeds of up to 3,000 feet per second, while a crossbow bolt typically travels at speeds of around 300-400 feet per second.

Final Thoughts

How far can a crossbow shoot depends on a lot of things like what kind of crossbow it is, the type of arrow used, how strong it is, and how good the shooter is. Usually, crossbows with 150 lbs of strength can hit a target accurately up to 50 yards away, and those with 175 lbs can hit a target accurately up to 60 yards away. But, as mentioned before, there are many things that can impact these distances. For hunting, the farthest you should typically shoot is around 30-40 yards, since this gives you a good chance of hitting the target accurately and being a responsible hunter.

About the author

Catherine Weeks

Cathy believes that hunting is not about downing an animal; rather, it’s about enjoying the purity of this challenge and making a connection with nature.

She loves country music, horses, shooting, and hunting; and spends her weekends in the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.

Though Cathy has hunted most of her life, it was not until her partner gave her a bow that she realized she had finally found her passion.

She is always determined to share her missed opportunities, dedication, emotions, and small details that people often forget to mention when they talk about their hunting experiences.

Cathy also works to promote wildlife preservation and protect natural resources. She thinks “patience” is the most important thing that can make a big difference.

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