The scope on your crossbow is critical to accuracy and success.  In fact, today’s modern crossbows shoot so well that the brand of the bow may be less important than the scope.  If your scope has a series of reticles without yardage numbers, you are in for trouble.  Also, many high-end scopes don’t adjust for arrow speed, which means you can’t experiment with other arrow and broadhead weights to enhance accuracy.

School of Hard Knocks

When that big buck steps out, there is no time to think, only execute as you have practiced.

I’ve shot thousands of arrows over a 40+ year archery career and taken game from caribou to elk to kudu.  During these decades of experience, I’ve learned that you cannot think at the moment of truth.  When that big buck or bull presents a shot, you must act instinctively, just as you have practiced. Even then, things can go wrong.

Case in point, two years ago I killed a whitetail doe at 32 yards and made the exact shot I’d planned.  I ranged the distance and squeezed off the shot that was almost instantly fatal.  An hour later, I rattled in a huge buck, but it smelled the blood of the doe and spooked. I drew it back by rattling but only a few steps at a time.  As my heart pounded, it finally stepped into an opening at 42 yards.  I came down two marks on my crossbow scope and released.  The arrow fell just below the ribcage, because, I should have come down three marks for 42 yards.

The mistake: If your scope does not have numbered reticles, get a new one.

Adjustable Scope Speeds

This TruGlo Opti-Speed scope will adjust to the speed of your arrow.

High-end scopes that have numbered reticles may not adjust for speed.  To improve this, for example, TruGlo makes the Opti-Speed scope that is velocity-calibrated with a BDC reticle.  It allows you to use arrows other than those that come with your bow from speeds of 215 to 450 fps.

Never used arrows less in weight than the manufacturer recommends, but heavier arrows can give better arrow flight, better penetration, and will reduce vibration at launch.  One of my favorite mid-price bows is the CAMX 330.  I experimented with 750-grain arrows in that bow and found by doubling the weight of the arrow, the sound of release was nearly cut in half.

More companies are introducing custom arrows and broadheads for crossbows in varying weights, but you need a velocity-calibrated scope to shoot them without guessing.

Illuminated Reticle

Trophy animals are notorious for moving in low light, and an illuminated reticle can make the difference.

Success in archery, with a compound or crossbow, requires exact aiming and shot placement.  The old rifle adage, “aim small, miss small” is equally true for crossbow scopes.  In early morning and late afternoon, when game is most likely to move, the ability to have an illuminated reticle can be a huge help in concentrating on an exact aiming point.

Last fall I hunted elk near a secluded waterhole on the east side of a mountain.  Light was dim a full half hour before legal shooting light ended and by switching on my illumination, I knew I’d have a crisp aiming point down to the last second.

Instead of lighting the entire reticle, the TruGlo Opti-Speed brightens just the center, which provides precision for lethal shots. Check it out at