Can You Use a Crossbow During Rifle Season – Expert Opinion

“Not going to lie, my crossbow is pretty sweet.”

Matthew Sitman

Not every archer likes archery for fun and winning competitions, but many love it for hunting. Here, for hunters, the most popular archery tool is the crossbow. However, hunting with crossbows squarely depends on specific regulations and seasons, which vary from state to state.

Considering this, there is a lot of argument about the crossbow’s legality and use during rifle season. And indeed, this premise leaves you with the central question, “Can you use a crossbow during rifle season?” The short answer is “yes”, but with a little caveat. Here, we are going to answer this in detail.

Crossbow Hunting: Navigating Rule, Regulation & Restriction

As mentioned in the introduction section, hunting with a crossbow is subject to maintaining some precise rules and regulations. Along with national laws, states typically introduce some special provisions. 

So, if you are a crossbow hunter, you must become familiar with those rules and regulations. Doing so allows you to use your crossbow for hunting in every state while avoiding legal consequences. 

However, you must check the below facts.

  • Seasonal Use: In some states, crossbows are only permitted during the archery season (October 1 to November 14, December 1 to January 1). On the other hand, some states allow you to use a crossbow at any time of the year.
  • Draw Weight: Many states ask the archers to follow the draw weight strictly.
  • Open Use: In some states, you cannot shoot a crossbow without a permit.
  • No Crossbow Licensing: Some states need no license to hunt with a crossbow. But they require a hunting license in general.
  • Zonal Limitations: In many states, you cannot use a crossbow in certain areas.
Banned States Can You Use a Crossbow During Rifle Season
Crossbow Hunting: Navigating Rule

Banned States: Can You Use a Crossbow During Rifle Season?

In most states, you are permitted to use a crossbow for hunting. But several states do not allow crossbows at all, regardless of the season. We give you the list of no-go areas.

  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Colorado
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota, etc.

06 Grounds: Why Use a Crossbow during Hunting Season

Crossbows offer multiple hunting perks as the choicest weapon in the wild. Let’s run through the reasons for selecting it.

  • Spotless Accuracy: Hunting with a crossbow means reaching a higher accuracy level. With proper technique, hunters can take precise shots that may not be possible with a firearm.
  • Less Noisy: Crossbows produce less noise than traditional firearms, limiting the frightening context for the target animals. The target does not flee as there is no noise to trigger its survival instinct, resulting in a higher success rate.
  • Robust: If you are passionate about hunting but lack physical strength, then a crossbow is your ultimate solution. In comparison to other bows, it requires less muscle power.
  • Traditional Experience: Hunting with a firearm is not challenging; it cannot trigger the wild and authentic feeling inside you. But a crossbow provides you with the same joy in hunting as your ancestors experienced.
  • Disabled-Friendly: For a disabled hunter, a crossbow is the best option in this exciting event.
  • Hunting Freedom: If your state allows you to use a crossbow during hunting and archery seasons, and if you have a year-round hunting license, it is an excellent advantage.

06 Features: Choosing the Right Crossbow for Rifle Season Hunting

Below are factors you must consider while choosing the right crossbow for the rifle season.

Draw Weight: Ensure your crossbow has a minimum draw weight of 90–120 lbs.

Stock Length: The associated stock length must be at least 25 inches.

Arrow Speed: Select the arrow that can travel 250–300 feet per second.

Size & Weight: A lightweight crossbow with a slick shape is better for hunting, ensuring easy movements.

Sight: For live animal shooting, sight plays a crucial role in shooting success. You must select the best sight equipped with excellent magnifying properties.

Price: Before purchasing a new crossbow for the next rifle season, try to find one within your budget. Here, we suggest you avoid all the cheap options. However, you can look for cost-effective crossbows.

08 Safety Precautions for a Crossbow during Rifle Season

Some safety precautions can enhance your hunting experience. You must follow them while hunting during rifle season.

  1. Always treat the crossbow as if it is loaded and cocked, even if it is not; take no chances. Use only manufacture-recommended crossbow bolts.
  2. During big game hunting season, you are not alone over there in the woods. There are other hunters and visitors. So never go for open shots as such shots may harm others physically.
  3. While you are inactive, keep the head of the crossbow pointing toward the ground. Do not point in any other direction.  Point it to the ground just like a live firearm, if not aiming for a shot. Make it a permanent habit.
  4. Always wear protective shields, like safety goggles, gloves, etc.
  5. Inspect your crossbow before going for every shot. You must ensure that your crossbow is in good working condition. Check for cracks, frayed strings, and other signs of wear and tear.
  6. Strictly follow the guidelines given by the authorities. It is essential to follow hunting ethics and professionalism.
  7. Master the user manual to solve fundamental technical issues of the crossbow.
  8. Good judgment is the key to safe and secure hunting. Do not let your emotions drive you to take any shots.

Can I use a crossbow during rifle season in PA?

You need an archery permit. Also, abide by the respective archery season regulations. For years, hunters have permission to use crossbows across spring gobbler, firearms bear, fall turkey, elk, and 14 days of firearms deer season.

Can I use a crossbow during rifle season in PA
Can I use a crossbow during rifle season in PA

Is my crossbow considered a gun?

On legal grounds, many jurisdictions often classify the crossbow as a firearm. However, it does not use any combustion, typical of a gun, to propel the arrow. Hence, there is no technical similarity but a legal thing.

Is my crossbow better than bows?

The crossbow decisively wins regarding overall power. However, the compound bow wins regarding portability. A crossbow is an awkward choice if you are hunting in the wild and chasing the game.

But it can bring you better hunting success from a treestand or a stable setup in the hunting range.

How far can my crossbow shoot?

An advanced crossbow can fly up to 500 yards if you are not trying to hit a target. However, the effective hunting range of crossbows is 40 yards. Still, seasoned shooters can manage to kill a game 80-90 yards apart. But average skills will get you good results across 60 yards.

How fast does a crossbow bolt travel in MPH, FPS, & KPH?

Depending on your archery skillset, you can get an average bolt speed of 250–326 feet per second or 170-222 miles per hour. However, if you can shoot it at 360 fps, your crossbow bolt can reach 400 km/h.


What are the cons of crossbows?

Crossbows are exceedingly heavy for a skinny guy or average Joe. A traditional bow has an excellent advantage in this respect. Also, crossbow shots are much louder than their conventional counterparts. Unfortunately, archery is a stealthy sport. So the loud thud is a big no for hunters in the wild.

Final Thoughts

We hope you have an in-depth answer regarding “Can you use a crossbow during rifle season?” You can use a crossbow during the big game hunting season in most states. 

However, using a crossbow during rifle season certainly offers you a range of advantages, including increased accuracy, reduced noise, and a memorable hunting time. But it demands crucial safety measures as you shoot in open ground.

Your precautions will protect many other people who are present within the range. Additionally, go crossbow hunting only when you can follow some precise regulations and restrictions to the letter.

Finally, you can achieve many successful shots in a single season by following those rules and maintaining all security provisions with a quality crossbow and accessories.

We are OutdoorLoops , a group of outdoor enthusiasts who love the thrill of the hunt. We believe in preserving our natural resources and we enjoy spending time outdoors with family and friends. We are passionate about the outdoors and the experience of hunting. Our goal is to provide an enjoyable and educational hunting experience for our guests.

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