When you buy your first crossbow, you’ll probably wonder what accessories you need. There are some must-haves and some nice-to-haves, but some things are unnecessary.
Some may even be foreign to a novice, such as cocking devices. But they’re very much necessary. Let’s take a look at the top crossbow accessories.
Best accessories for your crossbow
Before you start hunting with your crossbow, there are some must-have add-ons to acquire. A few crossbow kits will come with extras, but in some cases, you’ll want to upgrade or purchase your add-ons.
Much like rifle hunting, if you’re shooting over more than a few yards, you could use a scope. It’s easier, faster, and more ethical to use a precision scope. It also avoids damaging the meat (or pelt). Your crossbow may come fitted with a fiber-optic sight, red dot sight, or laser sight, but many won’t come automatically equipped. It takes practice to get the best out of your scope, so you should practice before hunting with it.
Cocking deviceMany modern hunters use cocking devices, or a rope cocker, with their crossbows. It is possible to manually cock a crossbow, but it can take a lot of upper body strength, particularly for a high-powered crossbow. A cocking device is a winch that you mount to the crossbow. A winch is a hand crank that will let you cock any crossbow, irrespective of the draw weight. You could also use a rope cocking device, but these aren’t as advanced.
Stock extensionA stock extension – or butt-plate may be required if your crossbow isn’t quite long enough for your reach. It will go onto the back of your crossbow’s stock, adding length so that your crossbow fits perfectly and is more comfortable to fire.
It can be confusing as many use the terms arrow and bolt interchangeably. Crossbow bolts differ from standard arrows; they are shorter and usually made from carbon fiber and aluminum alloys. However, even if the materials are the same, that doesn’t mean they’re the same. Carbon bolts and carbon arrows aren’t the same things. Though lots of bolts have vanes or fletchings similar to arrows, bolts don’t need to have stabilizing vanes.
The most crucial part of your bolt is the tip; at the end of your crossbow arrow will be a tip used to cut through the animal, typically game or poultry. Field points are great practice bolts, but they’re not designed for taking down entire animals. You’ll want to consider broadheads as they effectively take down a large animal in many cases. Largely, crossbow broadheads are sorted into two categories, mechanical and fixed. Mechanical broadheads may be known as expandable blade heads.
A crossbow sling is an essential item if you think you’ll be carrying around your crossbow. If you don’t have one, you’ll find yourself wandering around with a cumbersome kit that you need to set down to drink, eat, climb or use your binoculars.
A crossbow stand is a great idea to prevent it from getting knocked over or damaged. A stand will keep your crossbow safe while remaining available. Crossbow holders can be made of plastic, wood, or metal and can be beneficial at home or away to keep the crossbow pointed down while still being ready to use.
Crossbow caseIf you’re planning on traveling or hunting with your crossbow, you should have a crossbow case to prevent damage or need to realign your optics at the destination. You should consider a lightweight, camo crossbow case. It would be best to prioritize soft, zippered cases that allow easy access to your crossbow. A 330-degree zipper is ideal as you can get to your crossbow fastest that way, particularly if you have a standard recurve crossbow. The best crossbow cases will hold your bow accessories, too.
Field pointsYou’ll want to invest in some field points in addition to broadheads for sighting and practicing with your crossbow. Using broadheads for practice will dull them, which is a waste, but field points of the same weight as your broadheads are excellent to practice with.
Many novices don’t realize that archery targets and crossbow targets are different. A crossbow target is denser than an archery target, meaning they’ll be able to withstand the high speed and increased force offered by a crossbow.
There are several types of crossbow targets, including:
- Bag targets: The cheapest target type, primarily used for field points.
- Foam block targets: Built to withstand additional force, these targets are primarily used with broadheads.
- 3D targets: 3D targets are usually designed in the shape of a person or animal, made for practice or competition, and are primarily used for broadheads.
Lighted nocksLighted nocks aren’t legal in all states, so you should consult your local state law.However, if they are legal, they can make a difference between retrieving your bolt and not. They’ll light up when fired, allowing you to recover your bolt.
Noise dampening kit
One of the easiest ways to spook deer and lose your shot is to make too much noise. One of the best ways to stay silent is to purchase a noise-dampener kit. By applying it to your crossbow’s string, foot stirrup, and limbs, you’ll reduce your chances of scaring off prey.
String wax and conditioner
Good string care is an overlooked part of crossbow ownership. While bowstrings aren’t difficult to replace, you should practice good care in the first place by using string wax and conditioner. Remember to use conditioner and wax explicitly made for crossbow strings. Otherwise, you could do more harm than good.
Rail and trigger lube
Another critical way to look after your crossbow is to use rail and trigger lube. Only use the correct lubricant for your crossbow as others could cause damage; for example, your string could become gummed up. Lubricate your crossbow whenever it looks dry or around every 60 shots.
Consider investing in a bipod or monopod, which can help you improve your aim alongside treestands to further enhance the convenience and overall hunting experience. Consider investing in a bipod or monopod if you need additional stability while aiming.
When you’ve finished hunting for the day, unloading or decocking your weapon is one of the last things you’ll do. But, there’s no safe way to discharge your crossbow unless you have a discharge target. You can replace your broadhead bolt with a field point and discharge it by firing it into the discharge target.
An arrow puller is an essential item to safely remove your bolts from the ground or target without damaging the arrow shaft. It allows you to hold the bolt securely and pull it out with less tugging, therefore less chance of damaging your bolt.
If you’re using a crossbow, a quiver is necessary to make your life easier. You can carry a quiver on your crossbow or on your belt depending on your preference. You should get one strong enough to carry broadheads.
Crossbow hunting and bowhunting are growing in popularity, but there is a lot of fluff out there, and it can be hard to know what is essential, nice to have, or useless. A few things to keep in mind:
- Good crossbow care can prolong the life of your crossbow and string.
- A crossbow sling or case can make it easier to transport your crossbow.
- A cocking device can help you use a crossbow with the highest draw weights.
- Lighted nocks and monopods can make it easier to fire accurately – and find your bolt afterward.
If you keep this list in mind, you can’t go far wrong when you’re on the lookout for new accessories to help you hunt. Whitetail season is right around the corner!
Check out our Complete Guide to Crossbow Hunting