Hunting is an age-old activity that has evolved immensely due to man’s ability to develop state-of-the-art weaponry.
Today, the rifle and the crossbow are the commonest among avid hunters. But which one is better?
Which one offers the hunter value for their time in the woods?
It would be unfair to pick one over the other without first trying to get the pros and the cons of each.
However, before delving into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth noting that there are regulations and laws in various States/Countries governing the use of either the rifle or the crossbow.
As such, a serious hunter should be familiar with these, including but not limited to licensing.
Remember that the hunting season may also dictate the type of weapon allowed.
Learn about this too.
Now, without much ado, let’s look at the pros and cons of hunting by a rifle and by a crossbow.
Read on, for they say, a hunter is as good as his weapon.
Pros and Cons of Rifle Hunting
a. Luxury of Shooting From a Distance
This is, hands down, the major advantage that you get with a rifle.
The average rifle can allow accurate shooting distances of up to 1,000 yards. What does this mean?
As a hunter, you don’t have to be close to the target to hit. Bang! From that vantage point and its game over.
The best you can with a crossbow is a mere 80 yards, at best.
b. The Rifle Is Accessible, Affordable and Easy to Use
The initial costs of acquiring a hunting gun are much lower compared to crossbows and their related gear.
It’s a lot easier to use a rifle than a bow: spot the target, aim, and shoot. It only needs a few days’ practice to get the hang of it.
Unlike the crossbow, the rifle hunter doesn’t have to possess unique skills.
c. Higher Chances of Hunting Success
Apart from the luxury of shooting over a long distance, the rifle with its telescopic accessories gives the hunter a higher chance of hitting the target.
A rifle hunter just needs to spot the animal and voila! The target is down. And if thrill comes from this, then you are home.
Unlike arrows, ammunitions maintain a good amount of juice enough to offer it a clean pass through your prey over extended distances.
Compared to the crossbow, it’s easier to move around with rifle and a packet of ammunitions as you scout for favorable hunting grounds.
Things might be a little bit tough with a crossbow and a load of arrows especially in rough terrain.
a. Rifle Hunting Is a ‘Crowded Field’
Rifle hunting is a crowded field. This is already a disadvantage.
Now, doesn’t this obliterate the thrill? With so many hunters prowling the game trail, one sure thing is that not all get what they want.
So, if you really want to have the upper hand in the woods, getting a crossbow might be the way to go.
b. Limitations and Capping
The rifle hunting season is shorter compared to the crossbow one.
In many places, rifle hunting is restricted to weekends and in specified locations.
Numerous States forbid rifle hunting over the week. This could be bad news if your most appropriate hunting time falls within the forbidden hours.
c. Gun’s Noise and Echo Scare Away Game
Whereas it offers precision and greater success with targets, the accompanying gun echo scares the rest of the animals away.
Now imagine a whole bunch of excited trigger-happy hunters in the vicinity of each other. Everybody has a rifle and wants to hunt!
Things could never get worse!
d. Cold Season Is Low Season for Rifle Hunters
Rifle hunting is adversely affected when it falls in line with the cold season.
This impacts hunters and game alike.
Many states have restrictions on rifle hunting this time of the year.
Pros and Cons of Crossbow Hunting
a, Sense of Accomplishment and Reward for the Hunter
A crossbow hunter needs to be close enough to his target for a clean shot.
This often means hours of camouflaging and steal thing.
When finally the animal is within a shooting range, the hunter pulls the trigger and with it comes victory and a feeling of reward for hard work.
b. Luxury of Solo Hunts
Unlike rifle hunting that’s crowded, crossbow hunting is an open secret of being less crowded.
The hunter has the luxury of choosing what to hunt knowing they have no serious competition within sight.
c. You Can Hunt for Extended Periods
With many states allowing an extended hunting season for bow hunting, those guys with a crossbow have a unique opportunity to put their special skills into action.
This is turning many a rifle hunter into crossbow hunters.
d. Less Noisy Compared to Rifles
Although they do generate some noise, it’s nothing compared to rifle noise.
And as such, when close enough to the target, other game may not be scared off like in the event of a crossbow being fired.
a. Crossbow Involves Shooting in a Short Range
When a hunter is not within range, top distances are 50-70 yards or so, the chances are that you won’t hit the target.
This becomes even more challenging when your camouflage doesn’t bond well with the surrounding.
You cannot fire from a distance, but get too close, and the animal will bolt faster than the crossbow bolt.
b. Reloading a Crossbow Is Much Slower Compared to a Rifle
It’s a no-brainer that a crossbow hunter takes much more time to reload his weapon than it does a rifle hunter.
The impact here is that in case of a mishit, likelihood of game scampering out of sight is greater.
c. Crossbows Are Quite Expensive
Whereas they may offer greater thrill on the hunting field, acquiring a crossbow is not a small change affair.
Especially if you want to purchase the gear, special wear, etc.
d. Hunters Forced to Track Game in Case of Mishits
One of the cases against bows, in general, is that if a hunter fails to get a clean hit, the animal may scamper into the wild.
This forces the hunter to physically track it down. If not found, the animal ends up suffering until it dies or is devoured by predators.
Hunting is universal and the reasons for it are dynamic.
But the choice of hunting weapon is a matter of individual tastes and preferences.
However, every hunter will tell you that his wish is to have a rewarding experience.
So, before you grab that rifle or crossbow, spare a moment to consider its merits and demerits.
Enjoy your hunting!