On Crossbows During the Regular Bow Season

Near the end of last week's ATA (Archery Trade Assoc) show, another writer and I were comparing notes about new products and trends we'd noticed. "Did you see how much the crossbow market has expanded?" he asked. "There are more companies making them now than ever."

I couldn't feel too smug that I'd spotted the same thing. You didn't have to wander too far through the Columbus Convention Center without bumping into a crossbow display. There were dozens of makes and models, and companies scrambling to capitalize on this expanding market.

There's no doubt that crossbows are here to stay. And I've long supported their use by elderly or injured/physically challenged people who can't draw a conventional bow. But just last year, another friend caught me off guard when he asked "do you think crossbows should be legal during regular archery seasons, by anyone who simply chooses to use one?" It was one of those rocked-back-on-your-heels moments when I honestly couldn't come up with an opinion…largely because I hadn't given the topic much serious thought.

Obviously, plenty of other people have. Many bowhunters will never be convinced that a crossbow is a bow, and therefore able-bodied hunters who prefer that weapon should have a separate season or a shorter one. Then there are states like Ohio, where crossbow hunters enjoy the same privileges as any bowhunter. I've talked to the head deer biologist there, and he said the situation was virtually a non-issue.

So I forced myself to think this over. I agree with purists who feel that a crossbow is not a bow. However, their effective range (40 yards and under, on average) and how they kill (by causing massive hemorrhaging to an animal) are virtually identical. So why create a special season for them? I guess if there's a big deal here, I'm missing it, and I wouldn't mind if my home state legalized crossbows for use in our archery season. Your thoughts?