The speed of ammunition in a crossbow depends on many factors – including draw weight, but also cam dynamics and kinetic energy.
Although speed is not everything when it comes to accurate and successful shots, it is quite important. Knowing the draw weight on your crossbow will allow you to determine what type of animals you can hunt or the targets you can shoot.
So let's take a look at what the draw weight on a crossbow is.
What is draw weight?
Draw weight refers to the force needed to draw the bow – in simpler terms, the further you can draw the bow, the more draw weight you have.
The draw weight, therefore, is dependent upon the draw length – or how far you can draw the bow. The draw length is calculated from the position at rest and the position when it is drawn.
Thus, the total energy of a bow is the multiplication between the draw weight and draw length, which is then divided by two.
What does this mean? It is intended that the bow is stronger when you can pull it further back and also how difficult this is.
When looking up a bow’s specs, manufacturers quantify the bow strength as bow’s energy measured in joules or foot-pounds and the arrow velocity, which can be measured in feet per second.
What impacts the draw weight?
Several specifications of your crossbow impact the draw weight and length. Firstly, the size of the crossbow can impact this. Consider a pistol crossbow versus a recurve crossbow. The first one is a mini version of a crossbow; thus, the draw weight is much smaller than other types. Similarly, recurve crossbows are considerably stronger; therefore, the draw weight is also bigger.
The shape of a crossbow can also impact the draw weight and length. The curved shape of a recurve crossbow, for instance, allows you to have more draw weight and length because the ends curve away from the user, giving you more power in your shot.
Lastly, the materials used to manufacture the crossbow are also important to draw weight. More specifically, the rigid and flexible qualities of the weapon can influence the draw weight. Most weapons nowadays are made from different materials to suit these specific needs.
Therefore, we can safely conclude that the bigger the crossbow, the more power it is. This means that handheld crossbows, for instance, are considerably weaker than those aiming from the shoulders. A newer model made of fiberglass is stronger and more flexible, enhancing the draw weight and length, while an old model that has steel limbs is definitely weaker.
What is the amount of draw weight needed for hunting?
This question might seem straightforward; however, one needs to take into account the fact that not only draw weight affects crossbow energy. And to determine this, one should also establish the exact amount of energy needed to hunt.
We established that the draw weight is the force you need to apply to draw back the crossbow to the cocked and locked position. If you have a recurve crossbow, the weight increases as you go farther back. If you have a compound crossbow, you will benefit from higher arrow energy for any draw weight because of the wheels or cams.
So, once we established how it works, some recommendations are depending on what you aim to hunt. If you go for small game such as rodents, rabbits, or ducks, you do not need more than 150 lbs.
Remember that this should be in your weapon’s specifications. A crossbow of 150 lbs can offer you around 220-250 fps, which can successfully take down anything between rodents, antelope, and even deer. If you are deer hunting, make sure you are patient to get a clean, humane kill targeting a vital organ.
For bigger animals with more fat, such as small bears or elk, you will need a crossbow of at least 175 lbs. The advantage of these animals is that they are quite slow to get away from your arrow, but you need more raw power to penetrate the game.
Thus, speed is less important than raw power, although most 175 lb crossbows can fire ammunition at 300 fps or more. A 175 lb crossbow is also more difficult to cock, so you might want to look into assistive devices, such as a handy foot device.
So, what is draw weight on a crossbow? Overall, draw weight is quite essential for the strength of your crossbow.
But it is not the only consideration when calculating crossbow energy, which is what is needed when hunting animals of different sizes. By reading the information above, you should be able to ensure that you have the correct crossbow for your next hunting trip.