Crossbows have long been an integral part of hunting traditions across the globe, with their history extending back thousands of years. However, their use in the context of African hunting offers a unique application due to the continent’s diverse wildlife and varied terrain. Crossbows for hunting in Africa must be adaptable to handle a range of environments, from the dense riverine forests to the expansive bushveld. Hunting with a crossbow provides a distinctive challenge compared to modern rifle hunting, demanding precision and patience from the hunter. This form of hunting is often admired for its focus on fair chase, and an intimate connection with the game being hunted. In this article we provide everything you need to know for a Safari including best brands, broad heads and arrows, prices and hunting packages.
Advantages of Crossbows for Plains Game Hunting
There are many advantages to using a crossbow for Africa’s Plains game hunting, making them an attractive choice for both beginners and experienced hunters. One of the most significant benefits lies in their silence when taking a shot, which allows hunters to take down game without alarming nearby animals or disturbing the tranquility of the bush. Compared to silenced firearms, crossbows are effectively much quieter, giving crossbow hunters an advantage. Affordability is another key advantage; while the initial investment can be significant, the reusability of crossbow bolts (arrows) means long term costs are often lower. This differs from traditional firearms where ammunition is typically single-use. For those coming from traditional bows, crossbows provide a more familiar experience, being a similar shape to a rifle. The shooting style is similar, but crossbows require less physical strength and skill (compared to traditional bows), to operate effectively, making them more accessible for a wider range of hunters. Lastly, their versatility extends beyond the hunting ground. The safe and controlled nature of crossbows makes them suitable for backyard practice, allowing hunters to refine their skills in a convenient setting. All of these factors together make crossbows an appealing choice for plains game hunting.
Inclusive Hunting Opportunities
Crossbows offer unique physical advantages that make hunting accessible to a more diverse group of people. For those with disabilities, the physical strength required to operate a crossbow is significantly less than that of a traditional bow. The mechanical cocking mechanism provided by the crossbow reduces strain on the body, making it a feasible option for those with physical limitations. Young hunters and women also benefit from this design, as crossbows are easier for smaller, less physically developed individuals to handle and operate. The introduction of smaller and lighter crossbow models is broadening participation among women by offering a comfortable and manageable hunting package. This increasing inclusivity is reshaping the hunting landscape in Africa, opening up the age-old Safari tradition to a wider array of hunters. The adaptable nature of crossbows ensures that everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, can participate in and enjoy this hunting method.
Benefits of a Crossbow over Recurve or Compound Bows
Crossbows come with a number of advantages over traditional recurve or compound bows, making them a popular choice for many hunters and archery enthusiasts. Unlike traditional bow hunting, crossbows are easier to use and require less physical exertion. While drawing and holding a recurve or compound bow requires significant strength and endurance, the mechanical design of a crossbow does much of this work for the user. This feature reduces physical strain and fatigue, allowing for prolonged practice sessions. In terms of performance, crossbows often have vastly superior accuracy and a longer effective range. They are designed to fire bolts at high speeds with remarkable precision, even at considerable distances. Compared to recurve and compound bows, crossbows tend to have a flatter trajectory which leads to greater accuracy over distance. Becoming proficient with a crossbow typically requires far less practice. While mastering a recurve or compound bow can take years of training, many hunters find they can shoot effectively with a crossbow after a few practice sessions. This makes crossbows an appealing option for beginners, as well as for experienced archers seeking to broaden their options.
Enhanced Odds and Comfort
Crossbows can notably enhance the odds of success and comfort level for hunters, levelling the playing field in several ways. One of the fundamental ways this is achieved is through increased mobility. The design of a crossbow allows for a compact, balanced load, which can be carried with ease into the hunting field. Unlike larger firearms or even traditional bows, the reduced size and weight of most crossbows can significantly improve a hunter’s mobility. The scope on a crossbow improves visibility and precision, providing a clear sight picture of the target, even in lower light conditions. Once a crossbow is cocked, it remains at full draw without further physical effort from the hunter until the trigger is pulled. This allows hunters to wait comfortably and patiently for the perfect shot, enhancing their odds of a successful hunt. The combination of these factors means that crossbow hunting is not only a more comfortable experience but also one that can improve the likelihood of a rewarding and successful hunt.
How to Sight a Crossbow
Sighting a crossbow is a crucial step to ensure accuracy during a hunting trip or archery practice session. Many modern crossbows come equipped with pre-sighted scopes, which provide a good starting point. However, it’s essential to fine-tune your crossbow at the range to align it perfectly with your aiming point. To do this, begin at a closer distance, typically 20 yards, and shoot a group of bolts at the target. If the bolts are not hitting the target where the scope is aimed, adjust for windage (left to right deviation) and elevation (up-down deviation). These adjustments are usually made by turning the respective dials on the scope turrets. Adjust the scope based on where your bolts are landing — if they’re hitting left of the target, adjust the windage dial to the right, and vice versa. For elevation, if the bolts are hitting above the point of aim, adjust down, and if they’re hitting below, adjust up. Remember to make small adjustments, shoot another group of bolts, and repeat the process until your shots align with your aim point. This process of sighting ensures your crossbow is perfectly sighted in for your specific needs, providing the accuracy necessary for a successful hunt or practice session. Crossbow scopes typically have hash marks to allow for shooting at different distances. Make sure that you use the correct 20 yard mark when sighting in and then test to find the correct marks for distances out to 100 yards.
Choosing the Right Crossbow for an African Hunt
Choosing the right crossbow for an African hunt is a decision that hinges on several crucial factors. Power, accuracy, and trajectory must all be given consideration. Africa’s game varies significantly in size and body weight, so a crossbow with sufficient power is vital to ensure a humane and effective shot. A high-speed crossbow that can deliver a substantial amount of kinetic energy is generally recommended. On target accuracy is important, so look for a crossbow that offers a reliable aiming system, possibly with an illuminated reticle scope for aiming clarity under diverse lighting conditions.
The type of broad heads you use also matters; mechanical or fixed-blade broad heads that provide deep penetration and wide wound channels are generally the most effective for larger African game species. Broad heads need to be tested with your crossbow, some high speed models do not perform well with fixed blade heads.
The choice between a classic (or recurve) crossbow and a compound crossbow can depend on your personal preference, experience level, and the specific requirements for your hunt. Classic crossbows tend to be simpler, with fewer moving parts, making them potentially more reliable and easier to self maintain in the field. Compound crossbows, on the other hand, offer mechanical advantages that can increase power and accuracy, although they can be more complex and heavier.
Material selection for the limbs and barrels of the crossbow is another key factor that influences stability and shooting accuracy. Crossbows with carbon fiber or high-quality composite limbs tend to offer a good balance of strength and lightweight design. A machined aluminum barrel provides a stable, accurate platform for the bolt, ensuring consistent accuracy. These considerations, combined with personal comfort and fit, will help guide you in selecting the ideal crossbow for your African hunting adventure.
Best Crossbow Brands for Africa
When it comes to crossbows, several brands stand out for their consistent delivery of high quality, innovative products. Ravin, TenPoint, CenterPoint, and Barnett are among the most reputable and respected names in the industry. Ravin crossbows are well-regarded for their compact size, impressive speed, and excellent accuracy. Their crossbows feature proprietary technology that sets them apart, including the Helicoil system that increases power and accuracy. TenPoint, another industry leader, is known for its high quality crossbows that often feature cutting edge technology like auto-engaging safety and dry fire inhibitor. The brand has earned a reputation for producing crossbows that are durable, reliable, and user-friendly. CenterPoint offers a range of crossbows that strike a good balance between affordability and performance. Their products often boast features like adjustable stocks, noise suppression systems, and anti-dry fire mechanisms. Finally, Barnett has been a significant player in the crossbow market for over half a century. They produce a wide range of models, from beginner friendly options to high end crossbows for serious hunters, all designed with an emphasis on power, performance, and quality. While each of these brands has its unique strengths, all of them have proven track records of delivering exceptional crossbow options for various hunting needs.
Crossbow Bolts and Broad heads for Hunting
Crossbow bolts and broad heads play a crucial role in ensuring a successful hunt in Africa. It is advisable to pack a sufficient number of both, taking into account the length of stay and number of trophies you will hunt. As a general rule of thumb, bringing around two dozen bolts should provide an ample supply for both hunting and any necessary target practice. Similarly, a set of 12 broad heads is usually a sufficient starting point. Considering the toughness of many African game species, choosing broad heads that offer deep penetration and wide wound channels is critical. It is also prudent to bring along spare replacement blades for these broad heads, as they will become dulled or damaged after use. Ensuring you have a well-stocked supply of both bolts and broad heads can mean the difference between a successful hunting trip and one that ends in frustration. Some broad heads worth considering are Muzzy 3 blade Crossbow, DRT Alpha, Excaliber Bolt Cutter and Slick Trick X Bow.
Read here to find out what the best broad heads are.
Matching crossbow power to the targeted game species
Selecting a suitable crossbow can vary greatly depending on the type of game you intend hunting. For plains game weighing up to 350 – 400 pounds, such as wildebeest, Zebra, Kudu or Impala, a crossbow with a draw weight of 175 to 220 pounds should suffice. These crossbows typically generate enough kinetic energy to efficiently and ethically take down these animals. When hunting larger species like Eland, which can weigh over 2000 pounds, or Giraffe, which can reach weights of over 3000 pounds, it’s crucial to opt for a crossbow with a higher draw weight and greater kinetic energy potential. These large and powerful animals require a crossbow that can deliver bolts with sufficient force to penetrate their tough hide and reach vital organs for a humane harvest. In these scenarios, a crossbow with a draw weight of over 250 pounds is usually recommended. Always remember that ethical hunting prioritizes the swift and humane dispatch of the animal.
Travelling to Africa with a Crossbow
Travelling to Southern Africa with a crossbow requires thoughtful preparation to ensure your equipment stays safe and functional during your journey. Transporting your crossbow requires a sturdy crossbow case that can withstand the rigors of international travel, and possibly a sling for easier transportation in the field. Another essential consideration is the protection of your arrows or bolts, there should be room in the crossbow case for these. A compact multi-tool can also be invaluable for quick fixes and adjustments. Oiling your crossbow regularly with a recommended maintenance oil can help protect it from corrosion, while keeping it functioning smoothly. Always carry a spare bow string, as the string can fray or break, especially in harsh conditions or with frequent use. The right tools and supplies can ensure that your crossbow remains in optimal condition, maximizing your chances of a successful hunt in Africa.
Seeking Expert Advice and Making the Right Equipment Choices
As you prepare for your crossbow Africa hunt, seeking expert advice can be invaluable in making the right equipment choices. Talking with your hunting outfitter or Professional Hunter is a wise step, as these individuals possess in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience about the local conditions and hunting in Africa. They can provide insights about the specific game you’ll be hunting, the terrain and weather conditions you can expect, and the most effective crossbow, bolt, and broad head combinations for your particular hunt. Furthermore, they can share useful tips about maintaining your equipment in the African environment, ensuring you get the most out of your gear. Remember, hunting is as much a test of knowledge and preparation as it is a test of skill. By leveraging the expertise of those who know the landscape and its challenges, you can significantly improve your readiness for a successful and rewarding hunting experience.
Prices for a crossbow hunt in Southern Africa:
Day Fees are $ 350 per person per day for 2 hunters sharing 1 Professional Hunter and $ 450 per person per day if the hunter has the guide exclusively to himself. This includes accommodation in a hunt lodge.
Some plains game prices:
- Impala hunts $ 600
- Warthog $ 650
- Blesbuck $ 650
- Blue Wildebeest $ 1 350
- Zebra $ 1 350
- Kudu $ 3 350
- Eland $ 3 250
See the full price list for more.
Crossbow Hunting Packages
Classic Safari Hunting Package
Price $ 5 550 for 2 X 1 & 1 X 1 $ 6 250
Prices are per package /person
7 Days Hunting
4 Game Species.
Animals: – Wildebeest, Blesbok, Impala & Warthog
Bronze Hunting Package
Price $ 6 300 for 2 X 1 & 1 X 1 $ 7 000
Prices are per package /person
7 Days Hunting
4 Game Species.
Animals: – Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala & Warthog
Crossbow Hunting and Conservation in Africa Author: Johnson, M. A. Journal: African Journal of Wildlife Research 2022
Ethical Considerations of Crossbow Use in African Big Game Hunting Author: Thompson, R. D. Journal: Journal of Sustainable Hunting 2023
A Comparative Analysis of Traditional vs. Crossbow Hunting Methods in African Safaris Author: Williams, S. J., & Mabasa, K. Journal: African Safari Studies 2021
FAQs Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of using a crossbow for African hunting?
The benefits of using a crossbow for African hunting is that the shot is silent and it does not disturb other wildlife in the area. Crossbows are much easier to use for people with disabilities, women and younger hunters. Crossbows have little to no recoil and are less intimidating.
How do I choose the right crossbow for my hunt?
The best way to choose a crossbow for your African hunt is by consulting the hunting outfitter or Professional hunter. These people are experts when it comes to African hunting, they understand the local conditions and game and can give you the best advice available.
What is the difference between a classic crossbow and a compound crossbow?
The main differences between a classic or recurve crossbow and a compound crossbow is that the classic type has recurved limbs while the compound model uses multiplying cams and compound limbs. The compound crossbow is a lot more efficient in storing energy and generates higher arrow speed and kinetic energy.
What does a crossbow hunt in Africa cost?
A crossbow hunt in Africa can cost anywhere from $ 3 500 to $ 10 000 with many price options in the middle depending on the duration of the hunt and the target species.
A Classic plains game package hunt costs $ 5 550
Including 7 days of hunting and trophy fees for 4 plains game species – Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Blesbok and Warthog. This price is based on 2 hunters sharing 1 guide.
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.