How Accurate is Bow or Crossbow

Thread starter #1
I'm a firearms guy with only a little experience with archery equipment, and nothing modern. I used a recurve bow as a kid and I've shot my brother's mid 1970s compound bow a few times. No experience with crossbows.

QUESTION to those who are knowledgable or experienced:

What is the practical real-world accuracy of these weapons?
What kind of "group size" would you get shooting a crossbow at 25 yards? Let's say with a low-power crosshair scope, with decent arrows (the best you can get at a big box sporting goods store, but nothing custom-built or ordered from a special website). What if you took a shot from 50 yards? What do you consider the maximum effective range as far as accuracy goes, when shooting for a deer's vitals (forget ballistic performance for now).

Ditto for a compound bow. What kind of group would you consider "good" at 25 yards? 50 yards? I'm not talking about world record groups achieved by the best archers you can find with $5000 customized gear. I'm talking about what the top 10% of the bowhunters out there could achive most of the time, under decent conditions, with a $500 bow and some common hunting arrows from a major manufacturer.

For comparison, I'll tell you what I think firearms are "normally" capable of.

Scoped deer rifles are generally capable of a 5-shot group about 2" diameter at 100 yards. 1.5" is very good and an inch is excellent and remarkable. That's with factory ammo, not carefully developed handloads. In the hands of a pretty good shot, using a steady rest, such rifles can reguarly hit a deer's vital area at 300 yards. 400 is a real stretch but not impossible. 500 is wishing and hoping for all but the best long-range marksmen.

A duty-sized pistol with about a 5" barrel and open sights is normally tested for groups at 25 yards, and 50 yards is generally considered its maximum effective range. At 25 yards from a sandbag rest, held in the hands of a pretty good marksman, a four-inch group is good. Three inches would be very good, remarkably good.

With that in mind, what do y'all think of the accuracy of crossbows and regular compound bows?


Senior Member
Good question! I am interested to see the responses!
At 25 yards you can easily stack arrows on top of each other with alittle practice.. Most bowhunters on here can do that, I am talking compound bows here.. Most Bowhunters consider bow range 40-45 yards, i personally wont shoot much over 40 yards, 45 is pushing it for me.. Any ****her than that, too much can go wrong before the arrow makes contact, example deer ducking the arrow... You also lose too much Kinetic Energy and in terms lose penetration.. Id say 40 is the average for most bowhunters.. As far as groups at 40 yards, that all depends on how well you shoot.. But since you said top 10 percent of bowhunters, they can also stack em on each other at 40 yards.. Me not being one of those top 10 percent guys lol.

Crossbow is a whole nother animal. A clean 50 yard kill can easily be accomplished with one of those guys.. As far as its maximum effective range, i couldnt tell you cause i have never hunted with one, but i can tell you 50 yards is do able..

Hope this answers some of you questions.

I am a bow hunter and avid archer. i practice as often as possible. shooting firearms is easy compaired shooting a bow. shooting a bow is a total different animal and it uses mucles you never thought u had. Once you get use to it it is a blast. A 500.00 bow can stack arrows on top of each other all day long at 50 yds and in the right hands it is very possible to hit the same hole just like a rifle or pistol. A crossbow is a rifle that shoots an arrow and most new crossbows are very accurate out to 50 yds. Its really tough to compare a bow or crossbow to a rifle or pistol. hundreds of thousands of hunters use archery equipment every year and have great success in the woods and in compititions. I personally do not shoot at the same target with my arrows up to 40 yds because I do not want to damage them or make a robin hood I have several of them and it gets really expensive. If you keeps your arrows in good shape they can last you for a couple of years of repeated shooting unlike firearms. once the bullet is gone its gone. lol I hope you gone the archery family
I'm a compound bow hunter shooting a Hoyt Trykon.

I consider myself pretty average in the accuracy department, and I do shoot pretty much year round, putting five arrows downrange every day or so during the off season. I'm definitely not one of the "10 percenters" you refer to....

I put five arrows in a 3" group fairly consistently at 30 yards. I shoot occasionally at 40 and 50 yards for practice, but limit myself to 30 yards or slightly beyond in a hunting situation. Conditions would have to be perfect for me to take a 40 yard shot at a game animal.


Senior Member
This is a three shot group @ 30 yards from 7 years ago when I was shooting with a borrowed bow. I'd been shooting for about two weeks at this point. Since then I've ruined several arrows by either robin-hooding them or cutting off fletchings. Bottom line is, out to 40 yds, I can shoot a bow more accurately than I can a handgun and about as accurately as I could a rifle (offhand for the firearms). I shoot a 2007 model bow that I paid $700 for brand new. It's a basic hunting setup.

Here's a target from this year's online bow-hunter's challenge. 5 arrows, 2 @ 20yds, 2 @ 30 yds, 1 @ 40yds (This isn't that great, by the way. I came in last place in the competition shooting like this):

For reference, here's what I can do with a handgun offhand @ 25yds. Clearly I'm better with the bow:
Let's face it, rifles are superior to bows in just about any performance category you can think of. If this wasn't true, Pizarro wouldn't have defeated the Inca, Cortez wouldn't have defeated the Aztecs, and most of us would be logging on to the English Outdoor New forum and pining about the olde days when we chased foxes with horse and hound.

I shoot my bow a lot. I practice at relatively (for a bow) long yardages. On my best days, I can maintain a 4" group out to 65yds with my hunting bow. If the wind is blowing, throw that out the window. If I've had too much caffeine, throw that out the window.
Now on the other hand, I can shoot that same 4" group with my deer rifle at 200yds.

I have little experience with crossbows, but it seems all too frequent that I encounter crossbow shooters who claim their crossbow can hit bullseyes at 80yds. But 9 times out of 10, when put to the task, they are about as accurate as I am with my bow.

I like the above example of the pistol vs the bow. Your average bow hunter can shoot much tighter groups at 25yds than your average pistol shooter.


Senior Member
I can't speak to crossbows, but as far as compounds, they're accurate with some practice and decent form.

With practice, you should expect to get groups that are within the number of inches your distance shooting is by 10. For instance, at 20 yards, you should be able to shoot 2" groups. 3" groups at 30 yards, 4" at 40...5" at 50 etc etc.

Practice those 50 & 60 yard shots and all of the sudden, the 20-40 yarders look like chip shots.

Like others have said, it is addictive and is a totally different ballgame.
I am not the best shooter an no where near the top 10% but i do shoot at least once or twice a week. This was from a while back at 50 yards. But like all the other people have said we can shoot good up to about 50 yards. But i shoot up 70 yards just so it makes my 50 yard shoots seam easy. An i want shoot no deer past 50 yards.



Senior Member
I do know that my dad shoots a crossbow. 150 pounds. 4 power crossbow scope. and he will stack arrows on top of each other all day long if the conditions are right. 20, 30, 40 , 50 yards. But give him a compound and you may as well run for cover. I am happy in my groups if I can put a arrow within a inch or two of my intended target from any range. Some days I can, some days I cant. Just like today, I went out after work and at 40 stacked 3 right on top of each other. Yesterday at 20 i was around a 3 inch group. and even had a few "strays". Either way If I second guess myself on any circumstance, I dont take the shot. But compound bows in the right hands are deadly out to as far as the ability of the archer. The bow will do it, but will you?
i can usually manage to shoot decently well with my bow. if i havent been shooting alot and my arm is in good shape, i tend to shoot 3" groups out at 50 yards. first deer i killed last season was 65 yards...


Senior Member
i can usually manage to shoot decently well with my bow. if i havent been shooting alot and my arm is in good shape, i tend to shoot 3" groups out at 50 yards. first deer i killed last season was 65 yards...
Let me shoot rage broadheads.

I love Rage heads, just hit the deer anywhere and they're dead.:banana:
Let's not derail this thread.

I shot a buck at 54yds last year with Grim Reapers. The bow was capable. The archer was capable. The deer died swiftly.


Senior Member
I bowhunted when I was a younger man and my buddy and I would hang the little milk cartons from school lunch from string on a tree and put arrows through them at 25 yards all day with our compound bows. Being older, less in shape, and much less time to practice, I started crossbow hunting last year with an inexpensive recurve 175 lb crossbow. No problem putting arrows in a 3 inch group at 25 yds. That group moves to about 4 inches at 35 yards, and to about 6 inches at 40 yards. Killed two deer with it last season.

I bought a new Horton compound crossbow this year, and out fo the box, with a red-dot sight, it shot 2-inch groups at 25. I ruined 2 arrows from "robin-hooding" them. I haven't shot it since because of time constraints, but feel pretty confident that as I practice up for archery season, it should give me 2-3 inch groups out to 30 yards, which is about the furthest shot I'd have, anyway.
Thread starter #17

it looks like a bunch of you bow shooters shoot more accurately than I could do even with a iron-sighted rifle, shooting from the standing unsupported position, using only your hands and arms on the weapon.

I don't get 4" groups at 50 yards with an AK-47 or a Marlin lever action! More like 6" when I shoot standing on my own two feet.

I guess the real difference is not at close range, but rather at longer ranges. Due to extreme arrow drop, a 100 yard shot on a deer isn't a good idea, is it? You'd have to aim several feet over the deer's back. But with my rifle, if I can keep a 6" group at 50 yards, I can keep a 12" group at 100 and aiming just a couple inches above the animal's heart is all the compensation I need for bullet drop.


Senior Member
100 yards with a bow? No way!!! Arrows just lose too much fps and knockdown at that range. Personally, I will not take a shot over 50 yards with a bow at a game animal. There are just too many variables involved. I have heard that Crossbows do not retain their fps and knockdown as well as Compound Bows do. Is this true? I wonder because the draw weights of Crossbows are double or more of their Compound Bow counterparts. Can anyone explain this or know the science behind this?
Not sure how a crossbow bolt would lose KE faster than compound arrows. Crossbow bolts are typically heavier and faster, thus should retain KE longer.


I bought a crossbow to hunt with last deer season. At 25 yards I was shooting at different spots on the target. If I aimed for the main bullseye, I was hitting the prviously fired bolt. At 50 yards they were within an inch of each other. The bow is a Barnett with 320FPS rating.