Crossbows vs. Bows – Which Ones Are Better?

Here you will see a complete breakdown of the topic of crossbows vs. bows. We will compare the two tools in an easily presentable format so that by the time you finish this article you will know which one is better crossbow or a bow.

And which one you should choose if you are a bowhunter or simply a hobbyist?

The paragraph below contains the main takeaway from the article:

As a general rule, it takes less effort to use a crossbow than a bow. And they are more accurate as well. So, if your purpose is to be as accurate as possible, use a crossbow. if you want to get more of a workout while shooting then a bow is better.

After the short explanation above, let’s continue with a deep dive into the differences between crossbows and bows.

Visual Demonstration Of The Differences

Ease of UseXCrossbows are easier to use
AccuracyXCrossbows tend to be more accurate
Which One Is More SilentBows are more silent than crossbowsCrossbows
Power GeneratedXCrossbows generate more power (you will see why that is important a little later on)
Quicker To ReloadBows can be reloaded a lot faster than crossbows (up to 8 shots a minute)3 to 4 shots a minute
Which One Is Heavier2 lbsCrossbows are heavier (6lbs – 8lbs)
The Average Price100$300$-500$
Difference between Crossbows and Bows

Now, you will see a breakdown of each point above in greater detail. Starting with if crossbows are easier to use than bows.

Is a Crossbow Easier To Use Than A Bow?

Crossbows are far easier to use than any bow currently in existence. The main reason for increased ease of use comes from the crossbow firing mechanism. Unlike the bow where the archer is holding the full force of a fully drawn bow with his or her muscles crossbows don’t have that.

Crossbows transfer the responsibility of holding the crossbow fully drawn from the user to the weapon itself.

Here is a visual demonstration of that.

Crossbows vs. Bows – Side-by-side comparison

As you can see the archer on the right part of the above picture is struggling to draw the bowstring and hold the bow fully drawn while he aims. Now, if we are talking about bows with 40,50, or 60 lbs draw weights you can see how this can be a problem.

It takes well-developed upper back muscles to be able to consistently draw the bow like that whenever you want. Crossbows are far easier to use. You can draw the crossbow using both of your hands and feet or you can use an aid that helps you do that.

Once the crossbow is fully drawn the trigger then holds the crossbow fully drawn and ready to fire. The user does not need to do anything extra.

Small Historical Sidenote

The ease of use was a major factor in why medieval armies preferred using crossbows whenever possible. Archers were expensive and hard to replace because they needed all that extra training. While an ordinary peasant can be trained to use a crossbow within a few days.

How Long Will It Take You To Master A Crossbow Vs. A Bow?

You can learn how to effectively shoot a crossbow within an hour. You can get decent at firing a bow within 5 hours of regular practice.

With bows, it will take a lot longer. You have to memorize the proper form to safely perform the shot. It takes time to build up the proper upper body strength to fire the shot. And to absorb the proper archery form into your muscle memory.

This whole debate on ease of use leads us perfectly to the next segment which is accuracy. So, which one is more accurate, the crossbow or the bow?

Is A Crossbow More Accurate Than A Bow?

Yes, crossbows, all things being equal, are more accurate than bows. The difference in accuracy stems from the crossbow not transferring the burden of drawing to the user but to itself.

Remember the previous segment where you saw why using crossbows is easier than bows? Well, this is the main reason why it is much easier to aim with crossbows than with bows.

Imagine drawing a 50lbs bow, as you aim your back and arm muscles are holding the full force of the bow and that can get tiring really fast. The way to get around that is the compound bows which have a “let off” that makes it easier to hold the bow at full draw.

The added ease is the main reason why compound bow users are more accurate than recurve archers.

All in all, it is not quite fair to give this much importance to a tool when it comes to accuracy but since it is a quite common question I decided to include it here.

Crossbows are far more accurate than bows because, unlike an archer, a crossbow user can focus his or her full attention on aiming, thus getting better results.

Since we answered this question let us move on to the next important distinction in the crossbow vs. bow debate. Which one is louder?

Which One Is Louder – Crossbows vs. Bows?

A crossbow is louder than a bow. A crossbow can produce noise up to 125 decibels, while a standard recurve bow barely surpasses 80 decibels of noise.

You can look at this video below for a short (3:45) demonstration of how loud the newer high-tech crossbows are.

Video demonstrating how loud crossbows are

As for bows. They are more than 30% less noisy than crossbows. Slightly more if you add string silencers and do some extra adjustments to your bow.

So, if you are a bowhunter and you value silence when hunting using a bow is a no-brainer. Just like the guy in the video said. The sound your tool produces will reach your prey faster than the projectile.

So if a deer hears the firing of a crossbow, that sound will cause the deer to react and quickly run away. Causing you to miss. So being as silent as possible while hunting is to your advantage. For those that are practicing target shooting on a range this difference is likely meaningless for you.

Now, let’s move on to the next important distinction. The power generated.

Which One Is More Powerful A Bow Or A Crossbow?

Crossbows can generate over 100 ft-lbf of kinetic energy while bows produce from 60-90 ft-lbf of kinetic energy. Crossbows due to their bigger draw weight routinely generate more power than modern-day bows.

So, crossbows are more powerful, but why should you care? The reason is quite simple. A more powerful projectile causes a quicker and less painful “end” to the prey.

Ensuring the most humane “end” is a goal of every legitimate bowhunter. And crossbows are a more efficient way to do that.

When it comes to target shooting the fact that crossbows are more powerful does nothing to you.

Crossbows vs. Bows – Which One Is Quicker To Reload?

Bows are far quicker to reload than a standard crossbow. While an experienced crossbowman can fire 3 to 4 times a minute an experienced archer can fire up to 8 times a minute.

The whole process of loading a crossbow is quite, “challenging” let’s say. You can see the demo in this short 4-minute video explaining the process from start to finish.

How to load a crossbow

As you can see, it’s a handful. While a crossbowman is engaged in this process an archer can shoot every arrow in his or her quiver. As you can see in this article, archers don’t need that many arrows in their quiver.

So a win for the bow!

Are Crossbows Heavier Than Bows?

A crossbow weighs at least 6 lbs when it’s not fully equipped. The weight of a fully equipped crossbow ranges from 6 lbs to 15 lbs at most.

Depending on the accessories strapped on the crossbow and the material from which it is made.

How Much Do Bows Weigh?

A standard recurve bow, with 40lbs of draw weight, weighs up to 2 lbs at most. A bare-boned compound bow weighs up to 3 pounds.

Like with the crossbow a bow can support many add-ons, such as sights, bow quivers, stabilizers, etc. This of course adds weight to the bow.

But suffice it to say, it is far easier for you to carry around a bow that weighs 2lbs than a crossbow that weighs 6-8 lbs.

So, another win for the bow.

Now, let us continue to our next segment which is the price tag. So which one is more expensive a crossbow or a bow?

Are Crossbows More Expensive Than Bows?

Yes, an average crossbow is more expensive than an average recurve or compound bow.

You can get a crossbow for 300 dollars and more while a standard recurve bow can be as cheap as a hundred dollars on Amazon. You can see the prices by clicking here. It will take you to Amazon where you can shop around.

Feel free to see if there is anything you like.

My Recommendation

If you are bowhunting I recommend experimenting with a crossbow. That is not to say you can not hunt effectively with a bow. It’s just that the accuracy and power provided by the crossbow are hard to ignore in this context.

If you are target shooting then you should not stray too far away from a bow. You will be richly rewarded by the upper body development that comes from repeated bow use and your ability to focus on purpose will be developed even further.

That is all from my end.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

You can see how European bows compare to the bows of Native Americans, just click here.

Or take a look at this article where I compare compound and recurve bows. Just go here.

Take care

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