Shooting a crossbow might seem like a piece of cake - but shooting it accurately is not.

There are some valuable tips and tricks on improve your crossbow accurately - and we’ll discuss all of them in this guide!

So, if you wish to learn how to shoot a crossbow accurately, continue scrolling.

We’ll get into the details of what could be affecting the accuracy of your crossbow - and so much more!

How To Shoot A Crossbow Accurately:

1. Picking Out a Right Crossbow:

compound crossbow

The first - and the most crucial - step to shooting accurately is having the right crossbow for you to begin with.

When your crossbow is suitable for you, you should be able to hold it and cock it quickly without experiencing any discomfort, especially if you’re a beginner.

Fit Weight and Size

On that note, the right crossbow shouldn’t be too heavy or too large for you.

You can easily get by with a crossbow that’s slightly too small. But the too large bow may be uncomfortable and challenging to use in cramped spaces like a ground blind.

And that can affect your accuracy, as well.

There are many crossbows out there, but there’s not a single universal one that suits everyone well.

So, remember:

How well your crossbow fits you is linked to how accurate you’ll be while using it.

If the crossbow is too heavy for you or too large to lift and hold, it’ll be nearly impossible to shoot anything with it.

Comfortable handle

You’ll notice that crossbows have stocks similar to rifles. And, well, the concept is the same as with a rifle.

The crossbow shouldn’t be difficult to handle, uncomfortable, or too large to navigate.

Fit strength

Keep in mind the length required to pull the trigger; it could be too long if you have a more petite upper body.

Zero creep trigger

Furthermore, the trigger should have little to zero creep; the pull should be smooth and crisp to ensure accuracy.

Go by the rule that bigger is not always better; the crossbow should be right for you.

2. Prepping The String Well:

With the right crossbow picked out, it’s time to do the prep work to start hunting - finally!

Lubricated the Rail

First off, you should ensure that the rail is lubricated enough.

Usually, the crossbow comes with the rail lube, which is good enough to use on your crossbow.

But if there isn’t, any decent hunting shop will have the lube you need.

Wax the string

And again, some string wax was likely included in the crossbow package.

Using both lube and wax is the principal for shooting with a crossbow.

It will prolong the life of your crossbow and the string.

Your string will wear out after a while, but if you take good care of it, it won’t give out during a hunting weekend.

3. Sighting in a Solid Scope:

Some crossbows come with a built-in scope; yours might not.

Or it does - but it’s a poor-quality scope that might not be enough for you since most entry-level crossbows come with poor-quality scopes.

Whatever the case, you’ll need to calibrate your scope to ensure that pinpoint accuracy.

The key to accuracy has a solid scope - so the bare minimum and the standard would be a 32mm optical lens.

At the very least, it should be able to magnify 4x for you to see the vitals and stay accurate at a certain distance.

2 Basic Types Of Scopes

That said, there are two different types of scopes for crossbows:

  • Multi-dot
  • Multi-crosshair scopes

Both can come with the illumination you can fine-tune to see better, but entry-level hunters will likely stick to a multi-dot.

Do note that whatever scope you do choose, it’s crucial to mount it properly.

So, if you’re having issues with it, consider taking the crossbow to a hunting shop and having someone help you out.

When mounted, your crossbow should be adjusted to the range from which you plan to shoot.

To be entirely sure you got the setup right, test your scope before shooting.

4. Cocking Consistently:

Cocking the crossbow seems simple enough, but several things could go wrong.

That’s why you need to take your time cocking the crossbow for the very first time.

Using too much force could do tremendous damage to your new bow!

For the ideal accuracy every time, follow the correct procedure for cocking the crossbow every time.

Crossbow Cocking procedure:

1. Take the crossbow’s stirrup, put it on the ground, and use your foot to secure it down.

2. You will take the string and draw it with your hands, ensuring you pull with the same force on both sides.

3. Holding the string with both hands, you should take it to the cocking mechanism, ensuring it goes over the latch.

You’ll know when it does because it will make a “click” sound - so don’t let go of the string before you hear it!

4. When the string is correctly placed, take a bolt out of the quiver and put it in the groove at the top part of your crossbow.

Place the Bolts Straightly

The best way to ensure that the bolt is placed the right way is when fletching - the feather at the end of the bolt - is in the groove.

Your bolt being in the right place is necessary for good accuracy.

The bolt needs to be completely straight and aligned with the crossbow - if the bolt is even a bit off-center, it can affect your accuracy a lot.

If it's your first time using a crossbow, you might be worried about the crossbow shooting on accident.

Here’s some reassurement:

That cannot happen, as modern crossbows have a safety mechanism that prevents your bow from releasing the bolt unintentionally.

5. Eliminate Canting:

Crossbow canting can happen to everyone, especially those that lack experience shooting a crossbow out in the field.

What is crossbow canting?

Canting is a term used to describe when the hunter leans the crossbow to the left or right.

Because the crossbow is leaning to one side, it can affect your accuracy to the point of missing your target entirely.

How to fix it?

bubble level prevent canting


To prevent this from happening, use the small level on your crossbow to see if you’re canting - helping you be more precise in the process.

Canting can also be eliminated with the use of the multi-crosshair scope.

If canting is something you keep having issues with, it could be due to the size or weight of your crossbow.


The crossbow has to be the right fit for you - or accuracy will be near impossible to reach.

6. Pick Wiser Range:

Set Your Target to 20 Yards

Now that we’ve covered the oh-so-important prep work, it’s time to take your crossbow out and shoot some targets. Yay, the fun part!

Pick Shorter Range

Expect that your accuracy will not be perfect at first - you might even miss the target entirely.

That doesn’t mean you should give up; all that means is that you need to keep working on each of these steps until you feel like you’re one with your crossbow.

On your first try, you should aim to shoot from shorter ranges.

Most crossbow companies will advertise that their crossbows can shoot at ranges well over 40 yards, but we certainly advise against it.

For shooting a target, sure, you can shoot at any range you like - even from 100 yards away.

However, when it comes to hunting games, big or small, it’s crucial to deliver an ethical shot - hitting a vital.

Estimate range

At first, you might have issues figuring out how far your prey is.

The lack of experience might result in you not accurately estimating the range.

That whitetail could be 20 or 30 yards away, but if you miss the range, you’ll likely lose that perfect accuracy along with it.

Use a rangefinder


That is why you should consider investing in a neat little tool called a rangefinder.

A high-quality range finder is something that every hunter should have in their equipment.

It helps you achieve pinpoint accuracy immensely.

You can use a rangefinder to see the distance to a tree, a stump, or how far away any object is from your hiding places, such as a tree stand or a ground blind.

Once you measure that distance and a whitetail moves past that mark, you’ll know how far away it is - and how to set your scope and crossbow.

7. Tighten All The Parts:

tighten crossbow


Everything can become loose when your crossbow puts in a few years of service - like bolts and screws.

Loose screws can affect the torque of the crossbow, and it can affect the crossbow to shoot a bit off-center because everything vibrates more than it should.

That is why, when your crossbow isn’t exactly new anymore, you should take out a screwdriver and tighten all the bolts.

Check the bolts on the stock as well, and tighten them too if need be.

8. Shoot At 20% Front Of Center:

bolt parts

The front of the center is the percentage of the weight of the arrow located in the front. The heavier the front end is, the quicker the arrow will start to drop.

That is precisely why there is a Front Of Center formula that allows you to get the most out of your arrows.

Test your arrows at 10% and 20% Front of Center to see what works better for your arrows and you.

FOC = (Point Of Balance, measured from the back / total arrow length with broadhead - 0,5) * 100

9. Squeeze That Trigger:

trigger control

The number one mistake hunters seem to make is that they pull the trigger instead of squeezing it.

When you squeeze the trigger, you ensure that the arrow is fired out from a stable place.

When pulling onto the trigger, you will add some unnecessary jerk and vibration to your shot, which can cause your shot to be off-center.

It may not seem like a lot, but you could miss the shot by a few inches at longer distances.

10. Use A Shooting Stick

Shooting Sticks for Crossbow and Rifle

Shooting sticks are great for shooting, and they can give you that extra ounce of stability when you need it.

Many shooting sticks are very lightweight and can fit in your pocket or small backpack, making them convenient to have with you all the time.

Shooting sticks offer you less canting and drifting, so you feel more stable and confident when shooting.

Using one can truly make a difference in your hunting success!

Bottom Line

To conclude, there are several steps you need to take to achieve that pinpoint accuracy with the crossbow.

But some gadgets - like the solid scope and a rangefinder - can help you achieve accuracy much easier.

Keep in mind that practice makes perfect, though. And enough practice will practically eliminate “inaccuracy” from your vocabulary.

What’s your solution for shooting a crossbow accurately? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.