Crossbows range in price from several hundred to nearly $2000 for top of the line models.  Basically, they all shoot an arrow and many archers wonder what they get for paying a premium price.  If you are thinking about buying your first crossbow, you may want to start small with an eye on upgrading as you gain more experience and demonstrate a need for more expensive gear.  Often premium crossbows come with special cocking systems, high-end scopes, and other amenities that drive up price.

Meat and Potatoes  

An arrow through the heart of a whitetail deer doesn’t depend solely on the price of the bow that launched it.  If you are not ready for caviar, there’s plenty of meat and potatoes out there that will get you into the crossbow hunting game and put venison on the table.  Here’s a look at three great bows priced under $500.  Each is a great place to start and crossbows hold their resale value well, so when it’s time to move up, you’ll have the down payment.

Wicked Ridge Ranger

This is the perfect bow for a youngster or a smaller framed adult.  Whizzing an arrow at 300 feet per second, it generates 70 ft-lbs. of kinetic energy, equivalent to many compound bows that draw between 60 and 70 pounds.  Aside from shooting a fast, powerful arrow, the bow handles easily due to its light weight (under 6 pounds) and ACU52 cocking system.

One of the easiest mistakes a new shooter or hunter can make is to forget a cocking rope.  It’s a slip-up even experience hunters make and its tremendously frustration when it happens.  The ACU 52 cocking systems eliminates this problem by making the cocking rope and hooks part of the bow.  It cocks like most crossbows with a rope and then the handles and string retract into the stock.  They are held by magnets so they won’t loosen or fall out.

Sighting with the Ranger is precise thanks to the TenPoint 3X multiline scope that is matched to the 18-inch carbon arrows that come with the kit.  The scope is mounted on a short picatinny rail that sits solidly and forms a sight bridge that prevents the scope mounts from moving.

A three-arrow detachable quiver is handy for hunting and practice.  It’s so compact that it can be carried on the bow or fits easily into the side pocket of a daypack.

Lady Ranger

Generalizing about gender is always a slippery slope, yet it may be safe to say that women care about their appearance and their gear.  The Lady Ranger is built with the same great features as the model mentioned above, but comes with a splash Muddy Girl color that personalizes the bow and helps make it special.  As increasingly high-profile women step into the hunting world, young gals are learning the fun and challenge of bowhunting and the Lady Ranger is the perfect way to start.

Warrior G3  

The Warrior G3, a 2016 Field & Stream ‘Great Buy’, offers prime rib features at a meat and potatoes price.  At an MSRP of $449 and an approval rate from consumers of 4.8 out of 5, this may be the buy of the year.  Despite its low cost, the Warrior G3 package packs a punch with an arrow speed of 320 fps that develops kinetic energy just shy of 100 ft-lbs.  This energy comes from a 165-pound draw weight and a frame that weighs a modest 6.6 pounds.

The Warrior comes with a 3-arrow quiver, but lacks the built-in cocking system of the Ranger models.  Fret not, TenPoint’s ACUrope cocking rope and pouch attach to your belt to keep it handy for a fast second shot, although it’s doubtful you will need one.

These two Ranger models and the Warrior G3 prove that quality doesn’t have to be expensive.  These make great first-bows and as the images posted by satisfied customer attest, are effective hunting tools.  For video and more details, visit

Joe Byers
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