Choosing a crossbow for hunting in South Africa - Hunter with crossbow.

Hunting in the diverse landscapes of South Africa is a thrilling and challenging endeavor, requiring hunters to carefully consider their choice of equipment. Among the arsenal of available tools, the crossbow stands out as a great option, blending precision and power. In this guide, we look into the crucial aspects of selecting the right tool for a hunt in South Africa

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Importance of Choosing the Right Crossbow for a Hunting Safari in South Africa

The significance of choosing the appropriate archery tool cannot be overstated. South Africa’s varied terrain, from dense bushveld to expansive plains, demands a crossbow that aligns with the unique challenges presented by the country’s diverse ecosystems. 

Key Factors to Consider

  • Purpose of use, whether for big, medium, or small game.
  • Power and velocity requirements for the diverse landscapes you may encounter.
  • Accuracy and range considerations based on the environment.
  • Weight and portability for ease of maneuverability in the field. 
Ravin R26 Crossbow - An Excellent choice for hunting in Southern Africa.

Accuracy for Different Game Species

Africa’s hunting locales range from dense woodlands to open grass plains. The right bow should offer accuracy across these varied terrains, allowing hunters to adapt to different scenarios seamlessly. 

Power and Penetration for Plains Game

The pursuit of big game, including the renowned Eland, requires a bow with ample power and penetration. We explore the specifications necessary for ethically taking down large and powerful animals. 

Understanding Bow Hunting in South Africa Regulations

Hunting with a archery equipment in South Africa involves a set of regulations designed to ensure ethical practices and wildlife conservation. You may hunt with a crossbow on any concession which has the necessary bow hunting exemption permit or P3 exemption. Understanding these regulations is imperative for every hunter to operate within the legal framework. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Crossbow for a Hunt in Africa

Selecting the right crossbow for your South African hunting trip involves a careful evaluation of various factors. From the purpose of use to the specific demands of the environment, making an informed decision is crucial for a successful and ethical experience. 

Crossbows and traditional bows, such as recurve and compound bows, operate on the principle of stored energy. When you draw the bow string back, you’re essentially putting energy into the bow, and the draw, which determines the difficulty of pulling the string back, correlates with the amount of energy stored in the bow’s limbs. Upon reaching full stretch, the energy becomes stored in the limbs. Upon releasing the bowstring, this stored energy is unleashed, causing the limbs and bowstring to propel the arrow or bolt forward at considerable speeds. 

While higher draw weight equates to more power and speed, the drawback is the increased difficulty in pulling back the draw string. In contrast to vertical bows, like recurve and compound bows, crossbows employ a latch and trigger system that holds the string in place after being drawn. This feature is particularly beneficial, as anyone who has drawn the string on a regular bow can attest to the fatigue associated with holding it back while aiming. The latch and trigger system allows crossbows to accommodate much higher draw forces than vertical bows, providing increased power while maintaining user-friendly operation. 

It’s worth emphasizing that crossbows typically feature significantly higher draw compared to traditional recurve and compound bows. Although they may be more challenging and time-consuming to load, the advantage of the higher draw, coupled with the latch and trigger system’s ability to hold the bowstring back, positions these bows as an excellent choice for bowhunting. While some individuals enjoy recreational target shooting, their primary and most popular use remains in the realm of bow hunting. 

Purpose of Use: Hunting Big, Medium, and Small Game

Understanding the primary purpose of your equipment is the first step in the selection process. Whether you’re targeting small game, medium-sized game, or the bigger game of Africa, the specifications and power requirements will vary accordingly. This is a crucial consideration which requires some thought and should be suitable for all animals in your hunting package

Power and Velocity Requirements for Hunting in South Africa

The diverse landscapes of Africa pose unique challenges that require a tool with sufficient power and arrow/bolt velocity. We explore the correlation between draw force, arrow velocity, and the demands of operating in various terrains. 

Suitable Crossbow Draw Weight

The importance of selecting equipment with an appropriate draw force for the size and toughness of the game being pursued.

Small Game – Minimum 150 pounds
Medium Game – Minimum 175 pounds
Big Game – Minimum 200 pounds 

Arrow Velocity for a Safari in Africa

Achieving the right arrow velocity is crucial for penetration and ethical shots. These factors influence penetration and impact the effectiveness on different animal sizes.

Small Game – Velocity of 220 feet per second
Medium Game – Velocity of 275 feet per second
Large Game – Velocity of 330 feet per second 

Accuracy and Range Considerations Based on the Hunting Environment

 The varied environments in Southern Africa necessitate a bow that excels in accuracy at various ranges across different terrains with your broadhead attached.

Optics and Sighting Systems

The role of optics and sighting systems in enhancing accuracy and shot placement is not to be underestimated, for the bow hunter seeking precision in their shots. 

Crossbow for South African hunting - Crossbow hunter and trophy Warthog.

Weight and Portability for Ease of Maneuverability in the Field 

Stalking often involves navigating challenging landscapes, making the weight and portability crucial considerations. We explore the balance between weight and maneuverability in the field. 

Compact Design and Ergonomics

The benefits of a compact and ergonomic design are many, providing ease of use and maneuverability. 

Materials and Construction

The impact of materials and construction on the overall weight is important, selecting a balance that suits individual preferences. 

By meticulously considering these factors, hunters can make an informed decision when choosing, ensuring it aligns with the specific demands of their South African hunting safari. 

Types of Crossbows Available for Hunting in 2023

Compound crossbows are specifically designed to maintain peak draw force throughout the entire draw, enabling them to propel arrows at significantly higher velocities than their recurve counterparts. This enhanced speed contributes to arrows flying farther, experiencing less drop, possessing greater power, and penetrating more deeply into intended targets. Characterized by shorter and more rigid limbs, compound crossbows are compact and emit less noise, making them ideal for discreet maneuvering in and out of a tree stand. 

On the other hand, the recurve crossbow, a longstanding favorite, operates on a simpler principle. Its two flexible limbs bend back as you stretch the string, releasing energy when the trigger is pulled. While they are less complex, they lack the kinetic energy generated by the multitude of moving parts present in modern compound model. The arrow fired from a recurve type travels at a lower velocity. Although recurves have fewer moving parts, requiring less maintenance, their bow strings endure more strain and may need more frequent replacement or repair. Despite being larger and louder than compound bows, recurve types offer a cost-effective entry point due to their simplicity, translating to fewer expenses with fewer components. 

In summary, compounds excel in speed and stealth with their advanced design, while recurves, though simpler and more budget-friendly, compromise some speed and noise control for their straightforward construction. Both have their merits, catering to different preferences. 

Choosing the right type of crossbow is a pivotal decision for hunters, each design offering a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. In the context of South African safari conditions, understanding the characteristics of recurve and compound models is essential for making an informed selection. 

Recurve Crossbows


Simplicity and Reliability

Recurve crossbows are known for their simple design, which often translates to enhanced reliability. Fewer moving parts reduce the likelihood of malfunctions in the field. 

Ease of Maintenance

The straightforward design makes recurve models relatively easy to maintain. This is particularly advantageous for hunters in Africa, where varying terrains and weather conditions may require regular upkeep. 

Quieter Operation

Recurve models are generally quieter compared to their compound counterparts. This can be a critical factor when pursuing skittish game. 


Lower Arrow Speed

Recurve models, in general, may have a lower arrow speed compared to compound models. This can impact the effectiveness of shots, especially at longer ranges. 

Harder to Draw

Achieving higher draw forces with recurve types can be challenging, potentially limiting their suitability for targeting larger game. 

Compound Crossbows 


Higher Arrow Speed

Compound models are renowned for their ability to generate higher arrow speeds. This is an advantage when after plains game like Blesbok and Blue Wildebeest, where the power and velocity of shots can be crucial. 

Reduced Draw Weight 

The use of cams and pulleys in compound models allows for a reduction in draw force when cocking, making it easier to draw into firing position. 

Compact Size

Compound models often have a more compact design, enhancing maneuverability in the field. 


Complex Mechanism

The intricate design of compound crossbows can result in a more complex mechanism, which may require additional maintenance and can be prone to malfunctions. 

Popular Crossbow Brands and Models for South African Trophy Hunting 


Model Recommendation: Ravin R29X Sniper 


The Ravin R29X Sniper is known for its compact design, high arrow speeds, and exceptional accuracy. With an extended power stroke and advanced technology like Helicoil technology, it offers superior performance in the challenging landscapes of Africa. 

Ravin R 29 Sniper - One of the Best Crossbows for hunting in South Africa
Centerpoint CP400 For Crossbow hunting in Africa


Model Recommendation: Centerpoint CP400.


The Centerpoint CP400 is designed for speed and power. With a compact frame and innovative technology, it provides a good balance between maneuverability and performance. Its versatility makes it suitable for various scenarios. 


Model Recommendation: Mission Sub-1 XR


The Mission Sub-1 XR stands out for its exceptional accuracy and ease of use. With features like the Benchmark Fire Control technology, it offers consistent and precise shots, making it a reliable choice for South African hunters pursuing game of different sizes. 

Mission Sub 1 Crossbow
TenPoint Viper430 Crossbow


Model Recommendation: TenPoint Viper 430 


The TenPoint Viper 430 is known for its high arrow speeds and advanced technologies. With the ACUslide cocking and de-cocking system, it provides a user-friendly experience. Its power and accuracy make it suitable for tackling larger game. 


Model Recommendation: Barnett HyperRaptor 


The Barnett HyperRaptor is a powerful and compact design. It offers a combination of speed and accuracy, making it well-suited for South African conditions. The TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology enhances shot consistency.

Barnett HyperRaptor Crossbow

When it comes to hunting xbows, several reputable brands have earned recognition for their quality, innovation, and performance in the field. In the context of South African safaris, where diverse terrains and game species present unique challenges, the following brands and specific models are worth considering: 

Comparison of Different Types Based on South African Hunting Conditions 

Terrain Adaptability

Recurve crossbows, with their simplicity and reliability, may excel in varied terrains. Compound crossbows, with their compact designs, are suitable for navigating diverse landscapes. 

Power and Velocity

For hunting in Africa, where the demands of dangerous game like Cape Buffalo require substantial power, compound models with higher arrow speeds will offer an advantage. Consult your outfitter or professional hunter to discuss the requirements before making a purchase.

Noise Level

In environments where stealth is crucial, recurve xbows may have an edge due to their quieter operation. However, advancements in dampening technology for compound crossbows have mitigated noise concerns. 

The choice between recurve and compound models depends on individual preferences, personal objectives, and the specific conditions bowhunters will encounter. Each type has its merits and drawbacks, and understanding these nuances is vital for selecting the most suitable xbow. 

Features and Accessories to Look for in a Hunting Crossbow 

Selecting the right bow goes beyond the basic design; it involves considering a range of features and accessories that contribute to performance, accuracy, and overall experience. In the context of South African conditions, where diverse terrains and game species present unique challenges, the following features and accessories are crucial for making an informed decision. 

Optics and Sights for Improved Accuracy 

Quality Scope

A high-quality scope is paramount for precision shooting accuracy. Look for optics that provide clear visibility, adjustable magnification, and low-light performance, ensuring accuracy in varying conditions. 

Illuminated Reticles

Illuminated reticles enhance visibility in low-light situations, a valuable feature for dawn or dusk shooting. Consider models equipped with illuminated reticles for improved aiming and target acquisition. 

Cocking Mechanisms and Adjustability 

Integrated Cocking Devices

Xbows with integrated cocking devices simplify the cocking process, promoting consistent and even draws. This is especially beneficial for hunters where quick and quiet preparation is often essential. 

Adjustable Stock and Cheek Piece 

Customization is key for comfort and accuracy. Look for xbows with adjustable stocks and cheek pieces to ensure a proper fit and alignment with individual shooting preferences. 

Safety Features and Reliability for Game Hunting

Anti-Dry Fire Mechanism

An anti-dry fire mechanism is a critical safety feature, preventing the xbow from firing without an arrow in place. This ensures the safety of the hunter and the integrity of the equipment. 

Automatic Safety Engagements

Crossbows with automatic safety engagements enhance user convenience, reducing the risk of human error. A reliable and intuitive safety system is essential for safe hunting practices. 

In the dynamic landscape of South African hunting, the right features and accessories can significantly impact the performance of your equipment. Whether it’s optics for precision, adjustable components for comfort, noise dampening for stealth, or safety features for peace of mind, a well-equipped xbow enhances the overall experience. By carefully considering these features, hunters can select equipment that aligns with their specific needs and maximizes their success in the field. 

Budget Considerations and Value for Money in Choosing a Hunting Crossbow 

Selecting a hunting xbow involves navigating a spectrum of budget options, each offering varying features and qualities. It’s crucial to strike a balance between budget considerations and the long-term durability and performance required for successful trips. In the context of South African hunting, where diverse terrains and game present unique challenges, the following considerations can guide hunters in making a value-driven decision. 

Determining a Suitable Budget for a Crossbow 

Considering All-Inclusive Costs

Factor in not only the cost of the bow but also any additional accessories and maintenance requirements. This comprehensive approach ensures a more accurate assessment of the overall investment. 

Evaluating the Quality and Features Offered Within Different Price Ranges 

Entry-Level Budget

Models in the entry-level budget range may offer basic features and functionalities. Assess the quality of construction, safety features, and accuracy within this price range, ensuring that fundamental requirements are met. 

Mid-Range Budget

The mid-range budget allows for a broader selection of models with enhanced features. Consider factors such as improved optics, noise dampening, and adjustable components. Evaluate the value-added features that align with your needs. 

High-End Budget

High-end xbows typically come with advanced technologies, superior materials, and enhanced performance. Assess the inclusion of premium features like specialized coatings for weather resistance, cutting-edge optics, and integrated cocking devices. 

Balancing Cost with Long-Term Durability and Performance 

Material and Construction Quality

Assess the materials used in the construction of the xbow. While budget constraints may limit certain features, prioritize durable materials that can withstand the rigors of South African hunting conditions. 

Warranty and Customer Support

Consider the warranty offered by the manufacturer and the level of customer support provided. A solid warranty reflects the manufacturer’s confidence in their product, and reliable customer support can be crucial for addressing issues over time. 

In the pursuit of crossbow hunting, the key is to strike a balance between budget considerations and the value derived from the chosen equipment. Assessing personal budget constraints, evaluating features within different price ranges, and prioritizing long-term durability and performance contribute to making an informed decision. By carefully navigating these considerations, hunters can maximize the value for money and ensure their equipment is a reliable companion in the challenging landscapes of South African hunting. 

Factors to Consider 

Power and Speed

Look for models with high arrow speeds and ample power, considering the demands of South African safaris, especially when pursuing larger game.

Compact Design

Xbows with a compact and maneuverable design are advantageous in diverse terrains. They allow for ease of handling and navigation through challenging landscapes. 

Optics and Accuracy

Consider models with quality optics and features that enhance accuracy, crucial for making precise shots in varying environments. 


The Best Crossbow for Hunting in South Africa 

Determining the “best” crossbow for hunting depends on individual preferences, specific requirements, and the features that align with your needs. Both Ravin and Centerpoint are reputable brands known for producing quality models, each with unique characteristics. Let’s compare the strengths of these two brands: 


Key Features

Compact Design: Ravin xbows are known for their sleek and compact design, providing excellent maneuverability in various environments.

Helicoil Technology: The patented Helicoil technology enhances accuracy and efficiency by maintaining a perfectly balanced cam system.

High Arrow Speeds: Ravin often boast high arrow speeds, contributing to the effectiveness of shots, especially when pursuing game. 

Model Recommendation

The Ravin R29X Sniper is a noteworthy model, known for its compact design, advanced technology, and exceptional accuracy. It is well-suited for hunters seeking a powerful and precise model. 


Key Features

Versatility: Centerpoint xbows are recognized for their versatility, offering a good balance between power and maneuverability.

Innovative Technology: Centerpoint incorporates innovative technologies to enhance performance, making their crossbows suitable for various scenarios.

User-Friendly Features: Many Centerpoint models are designed with user-friendly features, appealing to hunters looking for a straightforward and reliable experience. 

Model Recommendation

The Centerpoint CP400 is a notable model known for its speed and power. With a compact frame and advanced technology, it provides a versatile option for hunters navigating diverse terrains. 

Both Ravin and Centerpoint offer quality xbows with distinct strengths. Assessing your specific requirements and preferences, as well as considering the features of recommended models like the Ravin R29X Sniper and Centerpoint CP400, will help you make an informed decision on the best type for your South African safari. 

Maintenance and Care 

Maintaining and caring for your equipment is crucial to ensure optimal performance, accuracy, and safety. Regular upkeep not only prolongs the life of your equipment but also contributes to a reliable and efficient experience. Here are essential tips for proper maintenance: 

Preserving Accuracy

Regular maintenance helps preserve the accuracy of your equipment. Ensure that strings, cables, and limbs are in optimal condition to maintain consistent and precise shots. 


Xbows operate under high tension, and any malfunction can lead to safety hazards. Regular inspections and maintenance reduce the risk of accidents, ensuring a safe experience. 


Proper care extends the lifespan of your equipment. Regularly checking and replacing worn components prevents unnecessary wear and tear, contributing to the longevity of your equipment. 


Inspecting Strings and Cables

Regularly inspect strings and cables for signs of wear, fraying, or damage. Replace any damaged components to maintain the integrity of your bow. 

Cleaning Rail and Trigger Assembly

Clean the rail and trigger assembly using a soft brush to remove dirt, debris, and residual wax. Ensure that the trigger mechanism operates smoothly and without obstruction. 

Waxing Strings

Apply bowstring wax to the strings and cables to maintain flexibility and prevent fraying. Be cautious not to over-apply, and wipe off excess wax with a clean cloth. 


Lubricating Rail and Friction Points

Apply a light layer of rail lube to the flight rail, serving as a lubricant for the string. Also, lubricate friction points, such as where the cables make contact with the barrel. 

Cocking Mechanism

If your xbow has a cocking mechanism, lubricate moving parts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This ensures smooth operation and reduces wear on components. 


Protecting Against Elements

Store your crossbow in a dry and cool environment to prevent exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity. Use a crossbow case to protect it from dust, debris, and potential damage during transportation or storage. 

Regular Inspections

Periodically inspect your stored equipment to ensure that strings, cables, and other components remain in good condition. Address any issues promptly before the next season. 

Proper maintenance and care of your xbow are integral to a successful and safe experience. Regular cleaning, lubrication, and adherence to storage guidelines not only optimize performance but also contribute to the longevity of your equipment. By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can ensure that your crossbow is consistently reliable and ready for the challenges. 


In conclusion, the process of choosing a xbow for harvesting game involves careful consideration of various factors to ensure an informed and successful decision. Here is a recap of the key points discussed in this article: 

Make an Informed Decision 

Choosing the right crossbow is a significant decision that directly impacts your experience in the diverse landscapes of Southern Africa. By considering the discussed factors, exploring reputable brands and models, and prioritizing proper maintenance, you empower yourself to make an informed decision. Whether you are pursuing big, medium, or the small game of Africa, the right equipment, chosen thoughtfully, will enhance your effectiveness and contribute to a memorable and ethical experience. Take the time to evaluate your preferences, needs, and the specific challenges of South African hunting, and select a crossbow that aligns with your goals for a successful and enjoyable African hunting Safari.

Adrian Anderson has been a Licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter for 32 years

Adrian Anderson first obtained his Professional Hunters license in 1991. He is a Big Five and Dangerous Game licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter. He has a tremendous love for wildlife and the African bush and enjoys sharing his knowledge with the hunting clients that he guides. Guiding hunters in Africa’s wild places is a passion and seeing them succeed with their goals brings satisfaction. With knowledge of the Safari industry built up over 32 years he is well qualified to give guidance to his hunting clients.