Sawyer grew up in a hunting family and wanted to hunt with his father.  Dad loved the idea of hunting with his 10-year-old son, but worried that a rifle may be beyond the ability of the young man.  Instead, Dad considered buying a crossbow for Christmas which would allow Sawyer to hunt deer from a ground blind in a bushy field behind their home.

As luck would have it, father and son sat snugly inside the ground blind when a fat 8-point buck came by and Sawyer downed it with a single arrow.  A hunter was born.

Fast Forward Four Years

Sawyer made a lethal shot with a muzzleloader thanks to his training with a crossbow.

While visiting my hunt club last weekend, I met Sawyer and his dad as they showed off an 8-point buck the lad had taken with a muzzleloader during Maryland’s special early season.  “The buck was quartering away, and Sawyer made an excellent shot,” dad said proudly.

No doubt the skills that Sawyer learned with his crossbow transferred to his introduction to firearms.  Crossbows are a short-range hunting tool yet have many of the same hunting elements as a rifle such as trigger pull, shot placement, use of a scope, shooting positions, the need for a rest and others.

Ideal for Young and Old

If you’d like to introduce a person to hunting and shooting, a crossbow should be on your list as a holiday gift.  Sawyer’s learned to shoot with the Excalibur Micro, a short, light bow that shoots about 300 fps, ample speed and penetration for whitetail deer or for shooting targets in the back yard.

Crossbows are very versatile and teach the fundamentals of shooting without the perceived dangers of a firearm.  All you need is an area with a solid backstop and you can shoot in your back yard without violating “firearm ordinances” for noise and center-fire discharge.

Purchase a 3-D deer target and you can teach any new hunters the biology of a whitetail and have them practice with target points.  There’s so much excitement at the moment of truth that it’s critical that a new hunter have realistic practice to prepare for that shot.

A Book of Basics

This book covers crossbow hunting from A to Z.

“The Ultimate Guide to Crossbow Hunting” is an excellent book on crossbow hunting and covers a wide variety of topics from choosing a bow, to safety, to hunting adventures around the world, including the full story of Sawyer’s first deer.  It’s available from Amazon and carries a 5-star rating at last check.

If you are a spouse looking for a perfect gift for a special hunter, consider gifting the book as well.  Hunts vary from Alaska to Africa and it’s one that most hunters will embrace whether they shoot a crossbow, compound bow, or firearm.

Do Your Homework

As much fun as a crossbow can be, it’s not a toy and should be purchased with forethought.  Most archery shops carry crossbows and visiting a store and talking directly to a sales person is a good way to start.  Also, consider buying a used bow if you want to keep the cost down.  Crossbows last for many hunting seasons and hold their value much better than compound bows.

YouTube offers a wide variety of crossbow material.  If you choose to buy a bow on-line be sure to watch the appropriate safety and assembly information first.  A bow that shoots 300 fps is ideal for whitetail deer at moderate range, so don’t get caught up in “the need for speed.”  Accuracy, dependability, and ease-of-use are most important when buying a person’s first bow.