Last updated on July 1st, 2021
If you’re an experienced archer who is just starting to dabble with shooting crossbows, chances are you know all about adjusting the weight of your compound bow. If your bow is too heavy to draw back, you can simply adjust the draw weight to make it easier to draw. So you can do the same thing for a crossbow, right?
Wrong. You can’t actually lower the draw weight on a crossbow at all. There are several reasons for this, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
Why can’t you lower the draw weight on a crossbow?
Learning more about why you can’t lower the draw weight on a crossbow needs us to understand how crossbows work. This is in terms of their poundage and how you draw them back.
Crossbows are very different from a recurve or compound bow. A vertical bow usually only has a typical draw weight of between 40 pounds to 70 pounds, depending on the type and model.
Some compound bows are known to have heavier draw weights, but 70 pounds is the maximum that you can use in competitions. However, a crossbow often has much heavier weights.
Compounds legally have to start with a draw weight of at least 75 pounds, though this will vary from state to state. This is mostly due to the fact that those who hunt game with their crossbows will need a bow powerful enough to give you a clean kill and not cause the animal any unnecessary distress.
Crossbows often come at much heavier weights, with 80 pounds being the starting point. There are some that are around the 50 pound mark, but 80 pounds tends to be the average.
The majority of crossbows tend to be between 125 pounds to 150 pounds, with some even higher than that. Some more modern specialized models can reach up to 290 pounds! The higher the poundage, the heavier the bow is to draw back.
Latch and trigger draw system
Because crossbows have heavier draw weights, they need a better system for helping you to pull back. Crossbows have a latch and trigger system.
This allows you to pull them back, and then when they are at full draw they will remain that way until you press release. This is so that you don’t have to strain to hold all that poundage back while you try to aim carefully. This latch and trigger system is also what allows crossbows to have heavier weights.
So if you’re struggling to pull back the heavier weight of your crossbow, why can’t you simply just lower the weight as you can with a compound bow?
This is because the limbs or risers of your crossbow are under a lot more pressure than a standard recurve or even compound bow. The bolts that connect the limbs to the risers are also under this same pressure.
If you try to loosen the bolts in an attempt to lower the draw weight, they won’t be able to do as good a job of holding your crossbow together. Loosening the bolts of your crossbow can even have dire consequences, as it can seriously damage your bow.
This being said, there are a select few models on the market that allow you to adjust the draw weight of your crossbow. Some manufacturers have even come up with creative ways for you to adjust the draw weight of your bow!
Certain crossbows will have limbs that can be switched out to allow you to adjust the draw weight. Others will allow you to hold the string at different positions along the barrel. Each of these different positions will have a different draw weight and length so that you can adjust it to suit your needs.
However, these models are few and far between, and most of the crossbows on the market tend to be the static type that you can’t adjust.
What is the best draw weight for a crossbow?
The golden rule when it comes to choosing the best draw weight for your crossbow is to opt for a model that you can comfortably pull back repeatedly. There are some caveats, of course.
If you opt for target shooting instead of hunting, then there’s no real hard and fast rule in terms of what poundage you need. You should shoot what you feel comfortable shooting. Never choose a crossbow that’s going to be too heavy for you, as you’ll struggle to pull it back.
When it comes to hunting, things get a little trickier. You will need to opt for an absolute minimum draw weight of between 75 pounds to 125 pounds depending on your state.
This is because you will need to be using a bow that has enough power to give you a quick and efficient kill so that the animal doesn’t suffer. There may also be a maximum draw weight of 200 pounds depending on your state.
Generally, the heavier the poundage, the better your crossbow will be for hunting.
To try and determine the best draw weight for you, you should practice with a variety of poundages to see which one feels most comfortable. Don’t go all out on the highest draw weight you can get your hands on – you’ll want to be able to pull it back comfortably, repeatedly.
The more you pull it back, the more tiring it will be. So there’s no shame in opting for a slightly lower poundage if you find that more comfortable. It will also be the safer choice for you and those around you.
So now we know the answer is no, you can’t lower the draw weight of your crossbow. This is because if you try to adjust the bolts or the limbs, you could damage your bow. Which we’re sure you don’t want to happen!
Just as you should never dry fire a traditional bow because of the dangers it might pose to yourself and others, you should never try to adjust the weight of your crossbow unless it has been specifically designed to do so.