I settled in behind the crossbow and made sure I had limb clearance on the shooting bench and rest I was using. I had to make sure I was dead steady to shoot the target at long range. When I squeezed the trigger, my arrow launched like a javelin thrown by an Olympic medalist. The arch was impressive, and the arrow climbed high above the target before it started to lose its battle with gravity, dropping quickly. The arrow sunk into the target butt, very close to where I was aiming.

The shot was at 100 yards, and the crossbow I was shooting had no problem transferring energy to the arrow to travel the distance. In fact, it had enough energy to sink well into the target on impact. Let’s face it, if you’re shooting a fast bow, like a TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX shooting 385 fps, or a Horton Vortec RDX shooting 340 fps, you could likely lob an arrow 200 yards. It would take some tinkering and practice to find the right trajectory, but it could be done. It would be hard to define and figure out exactly what the maximum distance is that you could shoot any crossbow, but for most of us it isn’t a question we ask.

When it comes to hunting, shooting targets is the best way to determine how far your crossbow will shoot at an animal. There is an enormous difference between shooting targets, and leveling a crosshair on a live animal. A target is static and won’t move due to environmental conditions. Anyone that has spent any time hunting knows that a deer, turkey, or even a squirrel, moves a lot and when in a hunting situation you need to ensure your shots are ethical.

Ethics are always personal and usually instilled by a mentor that taught you to hunt. An animal standing at 100 yards could easily take one or two steps in the time the arrow requires to fly that far, meaning you are off target, or worse, you wound the animal. Would the arrow kill and animal at that distance? Yes, if the arrow hit in the vitals. However, you owe it to the animals you hunt to take them cleanly and humanely, and the risk of shooting long distance and having an animal move is significant.

Setting standards for hunting different game will ensure you harvest an animal when you pull the trigger. I know my TenPoint Nitro RDX or Carbon Phatom RCX, can shoot incredibly fast, and cover extensive distance, but I never shoot at a white-tailed deer that is over 40 yards. From my experience, they are a creature that is wound like a tight rubber band, and any noise or disturbance, or movement, is going to make them duck and run. Every archer knows a mature deer can duck an arrow. We’ve all seen it, and if you’ve hunted any length of time, you’ve experienced it.

My 40-yard rule for crossbow hunting whitetails has allowed me to cleaning take the ones I’ve shot at. The last deer I harvested was at 38 yards and was an example of why we need to set range limits. The buck had his head down feeding, and when I pulled the trigger, he heard my crossbow fire and ducked. My arrow hit high and severed the deer’s spine. I’m sure if the deer had been at 45 or 50 yards, it would have successfully ducked the arrow.

Instead of trying to maximize the range you can shoot at game, try honing your hunting skills to set up and ensure a 20 to 30-yard shot. You won’t be disappointed, and you won’t have to deal with that empty, aching pit in your stomach when you make an undesirable shot.


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Brad Fenson is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys unique landscapes and outdoor adventures. His passion for the outdoors leads him across North America, collecting incredible photographs and story ideas from the continent’s most wild places. His passions are hunting, fishing, camping, cooking, and conservation. Fenson started writing over three decades ago and has been in print in over 65 publications in North America. Fenson co-authored several bestselling book projects and has earned over 65 national communication awards for his writing and photography.

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