How Far Can a Crossbow Shoot: Determining the Effective Range

Crossbow shooting is an activity that has been around for years. Although it might seem classic, some people still prefer to hunt with a crossbow. That is why they are also eager to determine how far can a crossbow shoot so that they can estimate how far they need to be away from their target. With that said, if you are a beginner or want to explore crossbow hunting, you should also be familiar with such. Likewise, you must also know which type of crossbow you should own.

How to Choose a Crossbow: The Things to Keep in Mind

When it comes to crossbows, you can find endless options in the market. As confusing as it may sound, all you need to do is narrow down your choices. To know exactly what you need, you need to identify what your purpose of owning a crossbow. Is it just for target practice? Or are you planning to go hunting with it? If yes, what animals will you hunt?

In addition, you also need to choose between a recurve crossbow and a compound crossbow. A recurve crossbow is a classic that has been around for centuries because of its simplicity and reliability. It has a basic bow and string with no pulleys or cables. The downside of this is that its overall speed is quite low and it tends to have much higher draw weight.

Compound crossbow, on the other hand, is new and quite popular mostly due to the higher speed level of the arrow and the lower draw weight. Having pulleys and cables make it portable and easier to shoot from confined areas such as a deer blind. Although it has several advantages over its counterpart, it is still quite prone to failures.

Another thing that you need to consider when buying a crossbow is the range that it can reach. As mentioned earlier, this is important for hunters so that they know the right distance wherein there is a higher chance of hitting the target.

How Far Can a Crossbow Shoot: The Effective Ranges

There is an age-old myth that states that shooting a crossbow is quite similar to shooting a gun. In a way, the mechanism between the two is indeed quite similar. There are also certain functions in a crossbow and a gun that are the same, for instance, a safety switch or a button. However, that does not mean that when you shoot your crossbow, it will reach up to 200 yards like a gun.

So, how far can a crossbow travel when shot? Sadly, there is no definite answer because the distance depends on multiple factors, and some of them are the following:

  • The technique you use and how good you are at it.
  • Your level of experience.
  • The velocity of the crossbow.

Nonetheless, most crossbow manufacturers indicate the speed of their products which can help you estimate the maximum distance the crossbow can reach. For instance, if target hitting is not a major concern for you, then using a solid 300+ FPS crossbow, like the Buck Commander or Barnett Jackal will send the arrow easily over 500 yards, that is if you shoot it up into the air.

  • Effective Range for Hunting

If you use a 300+ FPS crossbow, the hunting range on an average will be anywhere between 50 and 60 yards. Of course, it could also go as far as 80 yards and still be quite powerful to hunt a medium or a big game. However, what comes into play is how well you can shoot the arrow, with what precision and how well it penetrates the game’s vital organs.

Very few people have the ability to aim with perfect precision, let alone do this on a consistent basis. That is why you will notice that many people tend to shoot crossbows not more than 35 yards away. This is not due to the fact that anything far away from this distance will not kill, but at this distance, there is almost sort of a guarantee that the arrow will go exactly where it is aimed at. Wounding and not killing the animal is something no one would want. An ethical hunter only aims to kill the animal with one shot.

  • Effective Range for Target Practices

When it comes to target practice, there is more room for error. Again, if you opt for a 300+ FPS crossbow, the arrow with a field point will easily penetrate into a compressed foam target from as far as 180 yards. However, constantly hitting the bull’s eye from such a far distance will be nothing short of a miracle. However, several people are highly skilled and are capable of shooting two-inch arrow groups from as much as 80 yards away and even more.

Do keep in mind that the velocity of the arrow will severely start deteriorating at such distances. As a matter of fact, the trajectory of an arrow that gets fired from an extremely powerful crossbow will also begin to start slowing down a little after 30 yards.

Hence, to give you a better understanding of this, using a 400-grain arrow fired from a crossbow with 350 FPS will have the following drops:

  • 0 inches at about 20 yards
  • 3.80 inches at about 30 yards
  • 10.80 inches at about 40 yards
  • 21.10 inches at about 50 yards

As you can see, the longer the distance, the drop in the arrow’s trajectory will be far more pronounced.


Although there is really no exact answer to the question “How far can a crossbow shoot?” we are assured that this article can serve as a reference on how far the arrow goes in different kinds of situations.

To recap, for hunting, it is quite possible for the arrow to travel even up to 80 yards assuming that a professional shooter shots it. In most cases, it will travel to a maximum of 60 yards, so, you must be at least 35 yards away from your target if you want to kill it with one shot. On the contrary, if you are just practicing, the arrow could possibly travel as far as 180 yards if you are already experienced, but if you are just randomly shooting a modern crossbow without a target, it will travel as far as 500 yards.

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