Is a Crossbow Good for Self-Defense?

When we think ‘self-defense’, we often think of baseball bats, guns, daggers, martial arts, and so forth… but what about a crossbow? This weapon is often overlooked, despite being effective and easy to use.

For most people, crossbows will offer more accuracy and power than regular bows, as, while they use the same principle to launch the arrow, bows require archers to do this manually, which requires skill, strength, and stamina, while a crossbow uses a locking mechanism to maintain the draw. By the way, if you want to know what to wear when practicing archery, check out our article here.

This means the shooter only needs to pull the string into lock and then release the shot via depressing a lever or trigger. This allows you to handle stronger draw weight but also enables you to hold the draw for longer with significantly less physical strain, which is likely to increase the accuracy of your aim.

Benefits of Using a Crossbow for Self-Defense

  • It’s silent - which is ideal whether you’re shooting at a home invader or aiming at a target, as you won’t be alerting them to your presence.
  • It’s easy to shoot. while you still need training on how to use a crossbow, they’re still easier to shoot than a recurve or longbow.
  • Another benefit is the consistency of this weapon, as the draw weight is always consistent and you needn’t worry about the manual strain of drawing the weapon.
  • The ammunition is also reusable, unlike a firearm. This is a particular advantage if you’re in a situation where you have no access to more ammunition. If using a gun, once a bullet is gone, it’s gone.
  • Crossbows are very versatile, as there’s a wide range of arrows and bolts you can choose from, which allows for great versatility. A razor broadhead is best for killing power or causing injury, however, they’re also more difficult to retrieve from the body. Therefore, you need to strike a balance between lethality and recoverability.
  • They have the power to kill - which is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Disadvantages of Using a Crossbow for Self-Defense

  • One of the main disadvantages of a crossbow is that you can only load one arrow at a time, and reloading can take as long as a minute if you’re inexperienced. In a time-sensitive situation, this isn’t ideal.
  • It can be difficult to use in tight quarters, so you can easily make noise by knocking something nearby if you don’t have sufficient space in which to wield the weapon.
  • In terms of range, a crossbow won’t have the same range as a firearm. This could be a disadvantage when using it for self-defense or hunting. Most quality crossbows will shoot in the 25- to 50-yard range, although some may reach up to 80 yards or even exceed 100 yards.
  • Crossbows may also be harder to repair than say, a longbow or a recurve. They have more complex construction and more intricate parts that may break or need to be replaced in time. The question is whether or not you have the skill, and materials, to make those repairs.

Is it ok to leave a crossbow cocked overnight?

Like we said above, one disadvantage of crossbows is that you can only load one arrow at a time, and reloading can take a while if you’re inexperienced.

You might be wondering whether you can get around this by leaving your crossbow cocked overnight, so it’s ready to use when you need it. The answer is no - this isn’t advisable.

The reason for this is not only because it’s a safety concern, but because it’s advised that you discharge or de-cock your crossbow at the end of a day of hunting or use.

While crossbows can be cocked for long periods when you’re out hunting, a crossbow should not be left cocked for longer than a 24-hour period, as this can cause premature stretching of the string and cables which can lead to a loss in crossbow performance.

Is it legal to use a crossbow in the U.S.?

There are different laws regarding crossbows in each state, and in some legal jurisdictions, it may even be considered a firearm, despite the fact that no combustion is required to fire it.

Crossbows are mainly used for hunting and recreation, and all states, with the exception of Oregon, allow the ownership of crossbows but with some restrictions.

Each jurisdiction will have its own definition and interpretation of the weapon, for example, some permit the use of smaller crossbows or apply different rules to these. There may also be minimum ages for possession or sales of crossbows. There are also specific rules around using them for hunting.

Check out the rules in your state, here