How Far Can You Shoot a Crossbow?

Last Updated on September 15, 2022 by Dwayne Easton

Please note that the arrow’s travel distance will be affected by the length of the shaft/broadhead and the configuration of your crossbow. This article will explain how the weight of the shaft/broadhead and how it affects how far a crossbow is capable of shooting.

But… How far?

Four factors will determine the answer:

  1. What is your technique?
  2. Are you practicing target or hunting?
  3. What is the velocity (FPS), of the crossbow
  4. What is your scope quality?

If you don’t care about hitting a target, a 300+ FPS crossbow such as the Barnett Jackal and the Buck Commander will send an arrow over 500 yards. However, at this distance, the arrow won’t have enough juice to make a pass through. It’s also impossible to aim accurately beyond 500 yards with a crossbow. To compare FPS between the best crossbows, see our comparison table.

Notable: All x-bows on our Best Crossbows Rankings page have sufficient kinetic energy to hunt deer and elk up to 50 yards.

A hunting range that works

The average effective hunting range for a crossbow with 300+ FPS is 50 to 60 yards. It is possible to go further – an 80 yard shot could still kill large and medium game. It is important to know if you can hit the target with precision and penetrate the vital organs. Most people are unable to do this with consistency. Crossbow hunters prefer to shoot from 35 yards. This is not because the shot won’t kill the animal from further away, but because they want to make sure the arrow lands where it needs to.

Target practice ranges that work

There is more room to error here. An arrow with a field tip can penetrate a compressed foam target or any other material in modern archery targets from well beyond 180 yards. This is if you have a crossbow that has a speed of 300+ FPS. It would be quite difficult to hit the bullseye consistently at such a distance. However, people are skilled enough that they can shoot two arrow groups with crossbows from 80+ yards.

It is important to remember that the arrow velocity will decrease significantly at these distances. Even the most powerful crossbows will have a slight drop in arrow velocity after 30 yards.

Here’s a better example: A 400 grain arrow fired from an 350 FPS crossbow will drop the following:

  • At 20 yards, 0 inches
  • 3.81 inches at 30 meters
  • 10.81 inches at 40 meters
  • 21.13 inches at 50 Yards

The trajectory drop will be more noticeable at longer distances. This article will provide more information about arrow ballistics as well as a comparison chart showing crossbow arrow drop with different FPS.

What is The Scope Factor in The Equation?

The above numbers have obvious implications. To compensate for arrow drops, you need to aim your crossbow higher if your target is farther away. If you are looking to shoot targets far away, you will need at least three reticles (or red dots) in your sight.

A typical 3-dot/3-reticle scope will have the top dot or the reticle sighted at 20 yards. The second will be sighted at 30 yards and the third at 40 yards. You can also find scopes that have more reticles, so the lowest reticle may be seen for up to 60 yards. The 40-yard target range for most crossbows is 40 yards. This means that you will need to use your intuition and experience to determine how high you should point your crossbow to hit the target.

Summary

  1. A modern, powerful crossbow can reach 500 yards if you don’t care about hitting the target.
  2. Hunting can be done up to 80 yards by a skilled shooter. However, a novice hunter should limit their hunting to 60 yards and less (30-35).
  3. Target practice is all about your ability. 180 yard shots are possible, but accuracy will be a challenge.