BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO CROSSBOWS FOR KILLING ZOMBIES AND BIG GAME
I have been asked by one of the forum members to outline the basics for buying / shooting / hunting Zombies and big game with a crossbow, also known here as an "xbow." First, choose a good, solid crossbow from a reputable manufacturer. This is no place to skimp. The last thing you want when you need that Zombie DEAD or you have that once in a lifetime buck in your sites is for your cheapie crossbow to fail. You can buy a conventional, limbs front bow or one of the newest wave of reverse limb bows, otherwise known as RDT bows. You can read my previous post about RDT bows to help guide you in that decision. No matter which type of bow you choose, stay with one of the proven manufacturers. As stated in my previous post I am partial to Horton Crossbows as I have owned and hunted with them for over 36 years. I feel they give you the best bow for your buck. There are probably about 6 other crossbow manufacturers out there that crank out good bows. Just stay away from no name bows, very cheap bows (under $300.00) and bows being turned out by "new" manufacturers as their products are unproven and you don't want to be their guinea pig.
WHAT SIZE (POUNDAGE) crossbow do you need for your purposes? For hunting big game, a minimum of 150 lb. pull is what I would recommend. I prefer 165 lbs.or more. At some point it all gets kind of complicated because some lower poundage xbows can actually shoot arrows faster than their bigger, heavier brothers, so if arrow speed is important to you then do that research on the specific bow you want before you buy it. Generally, I have found that any xbow shooting accurately at speeds over 300 fps ( feet per second) will drop big game humanely. Bows rated at less than 150 can shoot fast, especially some high end RDT bows, but if a bow is only 125 pounds and shoots at speeds well under 300 fps I would avoid them for big game hunting. They will work fine on a whitetail-sized animal out to about 25-30 yards, but I wouldn’t shoot a buffalo with one at 40 yards. You could probably still easily kill Zombies with an xbow in that poundage range, as you will often be close enough to do a head shot on an already dead being, who is in decay and not a big, live, breathing mammal like a deer. The arrows from slower / lighter xbows fall off too fast and are not powerful enough to humanely kill big game at lengthy, ethical hunting distances. The advantage to buying a lower poundage xbow just for close-up killing of zombies is that you can cock some of them by hand, without any cocking aid, thus your reload times are quicker.
Speaking of cocking aids, make sure your new xbow includes one of the following: cocking rope, cocking sled or other cocking aid. If not you will need to purchase one. You do NOT want to cock a 150 lb. or higher poundage crossbow with your hands. It is possible, but not recommended, especially for repetitive shooting. Trust me. And the RDT xbows are almost impossible to cock by hand due to their severe string angle. On conventional style crossbows, if you do cock it by hand, it is a good idea to mark your string on both side of the rail with a sharpie to ensure straight cocking.
BUY SOME ARROWS: Some folks want to call xbow arrows 'bolts.' This is a holdover / misconception from days past. Today the general consensus is that if it has fletching or feathers on it then it's an ARROW, if it has none it is a bolt. If you buy a complete xbow "package," you will commonly get the bow, scope, quiver, cocking device or rope and usually 3 - 6 arrows. Usually these arrows will not be enough for your needs, so buy at least 6 more to have on hand. Also, some xbow makers include cheaper arrows in their package deals and you might not want to hunt Zombies or big game with those, use them as emergency spares, de-cocking arrows or target practice. Most good xbow makers sell arrows tuned to a particular model of xbow they sell. Do the research and when you know for sure what the manufacturer recommends for your bow, buy those arrows. Don't try to cut corners here. Many good, modern xbows are fully capable of 2 inch groups or WAY better at 30 - 40 yards PROVIDING you use the proper arrow / field tip / broadhead weight combinations and you cock the string STRAIGHT BACK. I use carbon arrows, they seem more stable and durable to me than aluminum.
BUY A SLING if one is not included with your crossbow. You are going to want it.
OBTAIN A TARGET. My advice; if you are going to be a SERIOUS xbow shooter buy a target rated for 400 fps arrows. The last thing you want is for your arrows to fly THROUGH the target, tearing your fletching off. HINT, bag type targets are more effective if hanging from a frame or tree limb. They can absorb higher poundage hits than if they are setting on the ground, etc. There are a zillion xbow targets out there, you will just need to do the research. I currently use a target called the "Blob" and am very happy with it, however, it weighs 75 lbs and you must use an arrow release agent on the arrows.
I am going to lay the rest of this article out using Horton Crossbows as my main reference example because I currently own three different Horton models and they are the ones I am most familiar with. However, the basics are all the same with most xbows, so the principles should apply across the board. If you buy a crossbow that has some special or different features just be sure to factor those concepts into your care and use of that xbow.
WHERE TO BUY A CROSSBOW: You can buy a good crossbow at a local archery shop, from a big box hunting chain, online, and sometimes at stores like Wally World. What I usually do is go to a local store and check out the xbow in question so I can hold it, feel how it's balanced, etc. Then I go home and do an extensive internet search for that xbow. You can often save a substantial amount of money buying from an online source. Just make sure it is a reputable biz before you buy from them and understand that if you do buy from an online source and it is defective, you will probably not be able to return it to that seller so you will be dealing directly with the manufacturer for your warranty repairs. Again, that's why it's important to buy from a reputable xbow maker with a good reputation for Customer Service. MAKE SURE you register your new xbow for it's warranty as soon as you get it out of the box. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and keep proof of purchase and proof of warranty registration in a safe place. These xbows are complex, under a ton of stress when cocked and can be very expensive to repair, so you may need that warranty at some future point.
NEXT: READ your xbow owner's manual BEFORE you do ANYTHING else. It will include vital information, which if not followed could result in catastrophic xbow failure or human injury. There are things your manufacturer needs you to know to PROPERLY operate their equipment.
OK, on to pre-firing xbow prep: first thing to do is any assembly required. Then wax your string. Buy some good bowstring wax and wax the string MAKING SURE to keep ALL WAX off of the center serving, or middle of the string. Leave about a 2 inch area in the center of the string unwaxed. If you wax the center serving it can actually push wax into the safety / trigger mechanism over time and gum things up. I usually stop waxing my string in the center and anywhere the string contacts the "barrel." I wax from that point out on both sides. Rub the wax onto the string and then hold the string between your thumb and index finger, slide your fingers along the string back and forth to melt the wax into the string fibers. Your goal is to keep the myriad smaller strings "glued" to each other with the wax. I also wax my xbow cables if they are made of string material. IF YOU DO NOT WAX YOUR STRING YOU WILL EVENTUALLY RUIN IT AND POSSIBLY EXPERIENCE PREMATURE WEAR WHICH CAN LEAD TO STRING BREAKAGE CAUSING CATASTROPHIC XBOW FAILURE AND POSSIBLE EXTREME HUMAN DAMAGE. Don't BECOME a Zombie that way! Keep an eye on your string, inspect it EVERY time you plan on shooting your bow. If you have excessive fraying of the string or notice any of the servings coming undone contact your manufacturer immediately. Do not shoot the bow in that condition. Some xbow makers recommend you change your string every two years whether you shoot it a lot or not. Check the owner’s manual.
NEXT: Mount your optics. Cheaper xbows come with a pin-type site, better ones come with scopes or red dot scopes. Regular optic / scope type sights are more reliable than a red dot type site. For low light conditions you can buy a lighted reticle scope which means you can turn the knob on the top and light your up your crosshairs in red or green. However, if that battery were to die, you would still have a functioning optic with normal black lines. If a red dot dies and you don’t have a replacement battery, you are out of luck, no deer, possible Zombie food..
NEXT: Apply RAIL LUBE to the rail or "barrel" of your xbow. Failure to follow your manufacturer's directions in this area WILL cause string damage, possibly melting and ruining your string's center serving. Most crossbow strings cost any where from $20.00 to $50.00 with some custom strings costing nearly $70.00, so don't go there. Most xbow makers recommend using rail lube every 10 - 20 shots. I recommend applying when there is any hint of the rail becoming dry. This is a MUST.
NEXT: Mount your quiver. Become familiar with it's operation.
NEXT: Mount your sling. I HIGHLY recommend you use quick release swivels.
NEXT: This is where I would put a few drops of lube on the cams. I use RemOil but whatever your favorite lube is would probably work. I like stuff with Teflon in it, avoid stuff with solvents in it. If I have been hunting in the rain and my xbow is soaked I will spray the cams and other metal parts down with WD-40 as I believe it will displace the moisture out of the cam bearings, etc. Then, before the next outing I will wipe off all the WD I can and put a drop of RemOil, etc., on the cam bearings, etc.
NEXT: Whew! You should now be ready to shoot / site in your xbow. Go to your shooting area and preferably shoot your bow from a rest. I start out at about 15 yards. I use a picnic table and a rolled up piece of carpeting, etc., to rest my front hand on. You can also use a typical gun rest similar to a “lead sled,’ any set up that will allow you a solid place to sit and a solid rest for your shooting arm.You will site in the xbow just like a rifle. MAKE SURE YOU COCK YOUR BOW ACCORDING TO MANUFACTURER'S INSTRUCTIONS AND... KEEP YOUR THUMB AND FINGERS BELOW THE PATH OF THE STRING AT ALL TIMES. Guys HAVE lost thumbs and fingers shooting crossbows. Seriously. AND WEAR SAFETY GLASSES in case of an arrow or other malfunction. Make sure all living beings and loved ones are BEHIND YOU during this process. Resting your front hand on the carpet or whatever, take one initial shot at your target. Then adjust your optics from there. MY ADVICE: take one shot then go and remove that arrow before you shoot again. I have personally sighted in two Horton Vision 175s (RDT bows) that were so accurate right out of the box that the second arrow HIT THE FIRST ARROW and destroyed it. At $4.00 to $10.00 per arrow you don't want to do that! So, you took a shot. If the arrow was two inches left of center then click your scope, etc., the recommended (on the scope) amount of clicks to the right. If it is high, click it down, if low, clicks up. Take another shot and repeat the process until zeroed in. Then move back to 30 yards and see where you are with a few more shots and adjust accordingly.
There are varying opinions as to how far out you want to ETHICALLY shoot at a big game animal with a crossbow. Here in heavily wooded northwest Indiana most of my shots at deer with a xbow are 30 yards or less. In my experience with crossbows you should NEVER shoot beyond 40 yards at a living critter. There are just too many variables at those distances and you want to ETHICALLY and HUMANELY kill your quarry to minimize suffering, etc. I have been told by the bowtechs at Horton that my Horton Recon 175 is capable of accurate shots out to 90 yards but I still won't shoot at a deer past 40 with it. In my opinion, the arrow just loses too much energy, etc., that far out. I also use folding mechanical broadheads for hunting because I feel they are inherently more accurate because they "plane" less than broadheads with their big metal heads / surface area. Make sure the field tips you practice with are the same weight as the broadheads you will hunt with. For example, I shoot 100 grain field tips for practicing and my broadheads are also 100 grains.
When I get to my stand, whether it is a tree stand or ground blind, etc., I take off my quiver and sling. You don't need them in the way and making noise when you go to shoot. If I am in a tree stand I will hang my quiver and cocking device on a hook or limb so they are readily available. The really nice thing I have noticed about the RDT xbows is that they set in or on my tree stand much better than my old "limbs front" xbows. The "limbs front" bows are front heavy and always trying to fall forwards out of your hands or off the tree stand. The RDT bows, because of their center of balance, etc., are far more stable in the stand. I use 22' metal ladder stands with shooting rails and my RDT bows sort of "lock" right in on top of the shooting rails.
As always, NEVER climb a ladder or tree stand with a loaded crossbow. Take the arrow off the barrel and put it in the quiver. Use a string and pull the bow up after you get to the top. NEVER WEAR A LOADED CROSSBOW SLUNG ACROSS YOUR BACK. Last year a hunter managed to kill himself doing that. NEVER put a loaded crossbow in a vehicle or on an ATV. NEVER CLIMB A FENCE WITH A LOADED CROSSBOW. NEVER DRY FIRE ANY BOW, ESPECIALLY A CROSSBOW. THE STRING WILL BREAK AND THE BOW WILL BLOW APART CAUSING SEVERE BOW DAMAGE AND POSSIBLE CATASTROPHIC / TERMINAL HARM TO NEARBY HUMANS... ESPECIALLY YOU. Always, always make sure your arrow is AGAINST the bowstring before you pull that trigger or it can result in a mock dry fire situation, again with the results mentioned above. And at the end of the day, when hunting is done, you need to "de-cock" your crossbow. As a rule, NEVER try to decock your crossbow with your bare hands or the cocking device. Instead use an old arrow and either fire it safely into the ground or into a target or "de-cocking bag," which can be purchased for around $20.00.
FINALLY, everything outlined above is my personal opinion / learned experience based on over 36 successful YEARS of crossbow care/ shooting and hunting. I am sure there are many other divergent opinions on these subjects and I would encourage you to give them the proper consideration due to them. And for your hardcore Zombie fans, the bow Daryl carries in “The Walking Dead” is a Horton Scout lightly painted over with black paint. Horton is also now offering a special, limited edition Zombie RIP crossbow on their home page! Prepare for the coming Zombie apocalypse NOW!!
So there you have it, a Beginner's Guide To Crossbows For Zombie Killing And Big Game. If anyone has further questions feel free to ask.- Property of GrizzWolf
Last edited by GrizzWolf
on Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.