crossbow vs compound bow

Crossbow vs Compound Bow: Which Is Better?

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Are you considering getting yourself a new bow for the next archery season?

In that case, we are certain that your research may have got you to several articles that make a direct comparison between crossbow vs compound bow.

We are also sure that you have heard it all from people trying to make the case for both of them.

With crossbows, you will often hear people saying how versatile it is and how easy it is to use it.

With compound bows, however, there are always those people who are for it due to its traditional style of use and how much lighter it is.

Now, how do you decide which one of these two is for you? Well, for that, we recommend scrolling below.

What Is a Crossbow?

A crossbow is basically a mechanical bow that makes use of moving parts so that it can project the arrow rather than drawing the bowstring manually to shoot it (as in the case of a traditional bow).

The major similarity that it shares with a traditional bow is that this one shoots out shorter arrows, which are often referred to as bolts.

With all the moving parts and mechanisms present, drawing a crossbow’s string needs virtually no effort, but you can be sure that it would deliver power.

A crossbow is also fairly strong and quite accurate, which is why it is often used to hunt several types of wildlife animals.

Additionally, the mechanism and design of a crossbow allow it to be used horizontally rather than vertically like a compound bow or longbow.

What's also interesting to note is that crossbows have been in existence since medieval times. Still, thanks to modernization and technology, they have evolved and become more intricate.

What Is a Compound Bow?  

Compound bows are quite similar to a crossbow as they are both powerful and mechanical.

The major difference here is that it does not come with a trigger system. This means that you will need to use your draw strength in order to shoot the arrow.

This makes it slightly more difficult to use compared to the crossbow, which is easier to draw and fire thanks to its trigger system.

Compound bows are mechanical and make use of cables and pulleys to shoot out an arrow with a lot of power.

The arrows in a compound bow are attached to the string, and this can be drawn with a release.

When you draw the bowstring, its cams rotate and stop when it gets drawn fully. The archer will then use the strength in their arm to hold the arrow in position and thereafter to release it.

Crossbow vs Compound Bow  

It goes without saying that there are differences between crossbows and compound bows.

The best way to understand these differences and to know which one may work the best for you, we need to present a case for both of them.

What better way is there to approach this than a detailed list of each of their pros and cons, right?

Pros and Cons of Using Crossbows

Below, we will provide you with a detailed list of the pros and cons when it comes to using crossbows.


  • Beginner-Friendly

Crossbows are undoubtedly much easier to learn and even shoot with great accuracy when compared to other kinds of bows.

You can check out these mini crossbows if you are a beginner, as well.

  • More Kinetic Power

You can purchase crossbows that have significantly more kinetic energy and draw weights compared to a compound bow.

  • Ready to Fire

Crossbows are quicker to use as they are ready to fire the moment you nock a crossbow arrow and cock the crossbow. They continue to be ready to fire indefinitely if they’re not loaded.

  • More Compact Frame

While it may certainly not be as narrow as a firearm, crossbows are still quite compact. This makes it easier to hunt with in overgrown thickets, bushes, and even in tighter spots, such as a tree stand.

  • Stays Cocked

As mentioned earlier, you need to hold a compound bow’s string to aim and fire, but this is not the case with crossbows.

As such, it puts a lesser strain on the joints and muscles once it has been cocked.

  • Can Be Used by Persons With Disabilities

Because of its versatility, crossbows are excellent to work with, even for people who have physical disadvantages.

  • Higher Draw Weights for Everyone

With a crossbow, you will not be limited in the draw weight by your physical abilities.

  • Easier Transition From a Rifle

If you have used a rifle or shotgun for hunting before, you will find that the crossbow has a similar feel and action.

This makes it easier for people to transition to a crossbow if they are used to using rifles or shotguns.

crossbow vs compound bow


  • Higher Draw Weight

A crossbow needs about two times more draw weight to send an arrow at the very same speed the compound bow would need.

This means that a 150-pound crossbow will send an arrow at the same speed as an arrow that is shot from a 75-pound compound bow.

  • Loaded Weapon

Once the crossbow has been cocked, it is important that it is treated as a loaded weapon. In that sense, just like a rifle, it is prone to be misfired.

  • Slow Reload

Nocking an arrow with the compound is definitely much faster than cocking a crossbow.

Once you have made a shot, you have to use a cocking rope or cocking device to pull the crossbow’s string back.

  • Heavy

Crossbows are definitely unwieldy and heavier in comparison to a compound bow.

  • Can be Noisier

Crossbows tend to be quite noisy when they are released because of all the power that is stored up in their limbs.

  • Has to be Unloaded

Crossbows have to be unloaded at the day’s end. They also require either an unloading bolt, a discharge target, or a crossbow defuser.

  • Regulations Are Inconsistent

One of the biggest downsides of crossbows is that every state has different limits of the draw weight. Some even need special permission from the authorities before you can use one.

Pros and Cons of Using Compound Bows  

Below, we will provide you with a detailed list of the pros and cons of using compound bows.  


  • No Need for a Cocking Device

Compound bows have no need for a cocking device. Here, you will only have to nock an arrow. Still, you do need a release aid, though.

  • Stealthy

Compound bows have a much quieter operation. Its longer limbs allow for a much more gradual and efficient release of the stored energy of the bow.

  • Mechanical Advantage

You will notice that with compound bows, there is a “let off” when an archer pulls the string.

When the bowstring is half-drawn, the draw weight also reduces to half, thus making it much easier to hold and draw a heavier compound bow.

  • Reloads Faster

Compound bows can be reloaded significantly faster compared to crossbows.

You don’t have to be Robin Hood. With this, you will just have to pull out a new arrow and draw back again. There will be no cocking or cranking necessary.


  • Need to Be Physically Stronger

An archer’s physical strength will limit the draw weight even when it has a 50% let off.

  • Hold and Fire

With a compound bow, you will have to nock an arrow and draw to shoot. This does not stay in a position that is ready to shoot longer than the archer can hold the draw.

  • Axle to Axle Is Longer

Even though compound bows are much more compact, they can still be troubling to shoot in thicker brambles.

  • Needs a Higher Level of Skill

Compound bows are not very versatile; you’d need a lot of practice to become proficient at it.

  • Not Ideal for Persons With Disabilities

Since the compound bow isn’t that much versatile, it tends to be quite troubling to use by those folks who have a physical limitation.

Which One Should You Choose?

Now that we have made the case for crossbow vs compound bow, it is time to decide which one of the two you should settle for.

It’s clear that both of them have their own set of pros and cons.

With a crossbow, its greatest advantage over its counterpart is that it has the ability to be in a ready-to-fire condition. On the other hand, compound bows are much faster to reload.


These are much easier and quicker to learn and are ideal for people who have physical limitations. While they are slower to reload, they have much more kinetic energy in comparison.

Additionally, for people who are used to shotguns and rifles, the transition to using crossbows would be a much easier and quicker process.

Compound Bows

These are definitely much quieter and lighter compared to crossbows. However, it would need a significant amount of practice to become proficient with using it.

This is an ideal choice for those folks who are looking for an approach that is much more traditional to bowhunting.


It goes without saying that both of these bows are excellent choices.

Choosing one solely depends on what suits your needs. Just make a choice of keeping in mind both of their limitations and advantages.

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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