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Modern Crossbows for Bow Hunting & Family Fun

Horton Legend SL Crossbow hunting for deer in Georgia will be legal during the 2002 archery season.  The first meeting of the Old Deer Hunters Association will come to order on September 14th in Oconee County, Georgia with crossbows.  Until this season, only people with disabilities that prevented them hunting with conventional bows could use a crossbow for hunting deer in Georgia.  Arkansas has allowed deer hunting with crossbows during deer archery season for many years. If you are unsure about your state, a complete list of regulations by state, is available from Great Lakes Crossbows at .

Crossbows are Tons of Fun

For those of you who have never tried shooting a crossbow, it is easy and a lot of fun.  Crossbows bring Barnett Quad 300archery to many people who don't have the ability to shoot compound bows, to the older generations and to people who don't have the strength to shoot longbows.  A perfect example is a petite lady friend of mine who can't pull a regular bow, but can use a crossbow with the aid of a cocking device.  She loves target shooting with the crossbow and routinely puts her arrows in a two inch group at 30 yards. For those of us whose eyes are failing in the later years, crossbows allow us to mount scopes so that we can see the target more clearly. I can barely see through the peep site on my compound bow, making it difficult to acquire my target, but with the aid of a low power scope on my crossbow, I can see the target clearly and more accurately place the shot.   Accurate shot placement is paramount in bow hunting. I have never been a great shot with my compound bow, but I am deadly at archery range distances with my Horton Legend and 3x Weaver scope.

Horton Legend SL and Barnett Quad 300

For our crossbow report we chose two of the most popular crossbows, the Horton Legend SL and the Barnett Quad 300.  John opted for the Barnett Quad 300 Package that includes a crossbow, multi-reticle 4x scope, bow quiver and 6 20" arrows. Cabellas sells this package for about $300.  Since I already had an extra 3x scope and quiver, I chose a Horton Legend without a package deal and the price from Cabellas was also about $300.  I added 6 Horton Lightning Strike 20" arrows and a scope mount for an additional $65.  One other accessory that comes in handy is a rope and pulley cocking device that cuts the weight by 50% when cocking the crossbow ($20).  

These compact bows weigh about 6-7 pounds, much lighter than the crossbows of decade ago.  They have safeties and sights similar to a rifle, making it easy for the rifle hunter to make the transition to archery. Both have conventional peep and pin sights and both can be used with a scope.  The pull weight for modern crossbows usually run from 150-200 pounds, so a pulley or crank cocking device will take a lot of the strain off your back when cocking.  I use the simple rope pulley device and it not only makes it easier to cock, it aligns the string in the same position for every shot.  Most modern crossbows use cams (like a compound bow) to produce arrow speed.  The arrow speed advertised for the  Horton is 300 fps and the Barnett 335 fps. The speeds will vary according to the weight of the arrow and point or broad head. I chronographed (Oehler P35) the Horton with an aluminum arrow and 100 grain target point and it shot consistently at 280 fps. This speed is comparable to most compound bows, so although the crossbow may look like a rifle, the power is the same as any other bow and it is still a short range hunting device, with a max range for big game of 40 yards or less.

Although both crossbows can be used with scopes, the Horton has a clear advantage over the Barnett.  The Barnett has a rail mount for the scope and you need a special multi-reticle scope for sighting at different ranges.  The Horton, on the other hand, has a built in distance "dial-a-range" compensator made into the rear sight and scope mount. There is a dial on the side of the bow with a numbered scale that lets you click in the estimated yardage and it works great.  After setting the dial at "1" you zero your scope at 10 yards. You can then move the point of aim for longer yardage by moving the dial up to 2 for 20 yards, 3 for 30 yards and so on.  Compensation for arrow trajectory will vary depending on arrow speed and broad head weight. It will work with any type of scope that uses a weaver type mount.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

There are always things about every product we use and report on that the Old Deer Hunters find great and not so great and that is what you need to know.  Fortunately most of this report is good.

The Good

Horton Look and Feel-- The Horton line of crossbow has a great ergonomic design and feel.  They also have great camo patterns like Mossy Oak Break Up.  The Barnett is easier in the wallet, and looks OK too, if you are a "Star Wars" fan.

Fast Shooting & Accurate--Both the Horton and the Barnett are easy to shoot and accurate.  With a little practice, you can consistently hit two inch bulls eyes at 25-40 yards.

Fun & Easy--Want to get your wife, son or daughter interested in shooting and hunting? This is a great way to do it and you can usually find a safe place to shoot in your back yard or close by.

More Hunters--The combination of the accurate crossbow and a scope site makes archery hunting a better proposition for more people.  Less wounded deer and more hunters in the woods. If you are a bow or gun hunter, please don't criticizes or complain about hunters using crossbows.  We need all the hunters we can get to continue our hunting heritage. Stick together against the anti-gunners and anti -hunters who want us all unarmed and out of the woods.   Think about trying it for yourself and the opportunities it may open for young and old hunters.

The Bad

Scope mounts-- The rail scope mount on the Barnett had to be shimmed.  Using the scope and mounts provided in the Package, there was not enough elevation adjustment in the scope to zeroed it.  John had to shim the mount to get it sighted in.

Loud!-- When compared to modern compound bows, crossbows are loud, and there is not much you can do about it. A pair of Limb Savers on the limbs helped some.  I put some rubber silencers on the string and they lasted about 3 shots.

The Ugly

Even if you are a "Star Wars" fan, That Quad 300 is an Ugly Bow!  Shoots pretty good, but ugly.

Crossbow Links

Horton Crossbows
Barnett Crossbows
Darton Archery
Ten Point Crossbows
Whammer Jammer
Bass Pro Shops

First Hunting Trip

The first 2002 meeting of the Old Deer Hunters opened on a rainy September 14th. I had set up an Ameristep Doghouse blind a couple of days before and it was the only dry spot on the hunting lease.  I got in the blind just at daybreak, got set up, and took a couple of range readings with my range finder. I had one shot out to 30 yards but most shots from the blind would be about 20 yards if the deer passed on the trail I was watching. I set the Horton "dial-a-range" dial for 20 yards and waited.  At 7:30 AM a doe caught me off guard, blew a freight train snort, and was gone.  I thought that would put an endGame Tracker to the deer parade, but 20 minutes later two more does came by in front of the blind.  The larger doe got into the blackberry vines before I could get a shot at her.  She had been eyeing the blind, but didn't seem too afraid of it. She started feeding and slowly circled back into an opening long enough for a broadside shot.  I heard the "twang" of the string at the shot, and the "whack" of the 100 grain Game Tracker GT Silvertip when it hit the deer and cut completely through her, just behind the shoulders.  The Hoton performed like a champ, and put the arrow right on the mark.

My first shot with the Horton Legend SL on the first meeting of the Old Deer Hunters put venison in the freezer.  Needless to say, I am hooked on crossbow hunting.  

Try a crossbow.  You will like it, I'm sure.



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