If you’re a hunter who is starting out with a new crossbow, you may wonder what accessories are really needed and what accessories are recommended to finish out your kit. Crossbows require certain accessories to ensure a successful hunt.
Some, like crossbow bolts and scopes, are easy to understand, but some accessories are esoteric to crossbows, such as cocking devices, could be a bit puzzling to the novice. Then, there are the nice to have accessories that you don’t necessarily need, but once you have them, you’ll wonder how you got by without them.
In this guide, we cover the 10 best crossbow accessories, the ones that are must-have for hunting, and then eight more optional accessories that can further enhance your crossbow.
10 Best Crossbow Accessories
If you’re a crossbow hunter, there are 10 must-have crossbow accessories you’ll need before you start hunting. Many crossbow packages will come equipped with many of these items out of the box, while others will require you to piece them together for a complete crossbow.
1. Crossbow Scope
Like a rifle, if you’re hunting any distance more than a few yards, you’ll benefit from a scope. Crossbow scopes are crucial for precision shots, which means a quick, clean kill and more meat on the table. Your crossbow may already have a scope, red dot sight, laser sight, or fiber optic sight, but many crossbows do not come with them, or you may wish to change your sight or scope to something that will work better for you. Most scopes are optical scopes or red dot scopes. Using a scope accurately takes practice, so once you choose your scope, you should practice adjusting the scope for different magnifications.
2. Crossbow Bolts
Crossbow bolts are the arrow shaft you use to shoot at your game. Similar in design to arrows, but much shorter, crossbow bolts are made from aluminum alloys and carbon fiber. They are shorter than arrows that you use in bows, but many people use the term bolt and arrow interchangeably when talking about crossbow bolts. (The same cannot be said for arrows used in bows.) Although most top crossbow bolts nowadays have vanes or fletchings like arrows, a bolt does not have to have stabilizing vanes.
3. Crossbow Broadheads
At the end of the crossbow bolt has to be some type of tip to cut through an animal. In most cases, you’ll want to use crossbow broadheads at the end of your bolt to ensure the animal you hit will go down and stay down. While field points are good for practicing, crossbow broadheads are made to take down large animals. Crossbow broadheads come in two different types: fixed and mechanical (also known as an expandable blade). Fixed blades are razor-sharp blades that stay the same size. Mechanical blades open during flight, allowing faster speed and excellent penetration.
4. Cocking Device
Most hunters find a cocking device to be an indispensable tool to have with their crossbow. Although you can manually cock a crossbow, most hunters choose to use a cocking device, especially if they have a high powered crossbow. The cocking device is a hand-operated winch that you have mounted on your crossbow. The winch is a type of hand crank that enables you to cock any crossbow, no matter what the draw weight is. An alternative to the hand-operated types of winches is the rope cocking device which enables you to cock your crossbow at roughly half the draw weight.
5. Crossbow Quiver
If you have a crossbow, it’s an absolute necessity to have a quiver for your crossbow bolts. Depending on what you like, you can carry a quiver either on your belt or on your crossbow. Be sure to get one that is strong enough to carry broadheads.
6. Crossbow Sling
Another required item, you need to have a crossbow sling if you’re planning on walking anywhere with your crossbow. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wishing you had a sling so you can have your hands free and not set down your crossbow every time you use your binoculars, climb over some deadfall, or even have a drink of water.
7. Crossbow Stand/Holder
Once you’re done with using your crossbow, you’ll want to set it someplace where it won’t get knocked around. A crossbow stand or holder will help you keep your crossbow pointed safely. while still having it available. Crossbow stands are made from either metal, plastic, or wood and they are beneficial either at the range or at home to keep the crossbow pointing downward, while still being ready to use.
8. Crossbow Case
If you’re planning on taking your crossbow anywhere, you should have a crossbow case to keep it from getting damaged or having your optics get misaligned in transit. Plus a good crossbow case will carry your crossbow’s accessories as well. Choose a crossbow case that offers soft-sided protection and an easy way to get at your crossbow. Zippered cases are excellent, especially those with 330 degrees of the zipper that will allow you to get your crossbow and other accessories fast.
9. Field Points
You’re going to need field points as well as broadheads when you’re sighting in and practicing with your crossbow. Using the broadheads during practice will eventually damage and dull them quickly, which is why you need to purchase field points of the same weight as your broadheads for practice.
10. Crossbow Target
While you may be tempted to use a standard archery target for your crossbow — don’t. Get a crossbow target. They are denser than standard archery targets. This means that they will withstand the higher speeds and kinetic energy generated by crossbows. There are many types of crossbow targets to choose from. These include bag targets, layered foam block targets, 3-D practice targets, and 3-D competition targets. The cheapest is the bag targets which are designed primarily for field points. The layered foam block targets are usually used with broadhead targets but can be used with field points. The 3-D targets are designed in the shape of the animal you’re hunting and are made for either practice or competition. Many are designed for broadhead practice.
Related: Parts of a Crossbow Explained
8 Optional Accessories
Some accessories for crossbows aren’t mandatory, but they sure make hunting and using your crossbow easier. Although the following accessories are optional, you’ll wonder how you lived without them. They include lighted nocks, a noise dampening kit, string wax and conditioner, rail and trigger lube, shooting sticks, discharge target, arrow puller, and stock extension.
1. Lighted Nocks
One of the best thought out developments for crossbow bolts are lighted nocks. Although they’re not legal in some states, in other states they make the difference between losing your bolt and finding it, regardless of whether you hit or miss. They light up when shot, thus allowing you to track and recover your bolt.
2. Noise Dampening Kit
One challenge hunters have is staying silent. If your crossbow makes noise, you can risk spooking your animals. Having a noise dampening kit and applying it to your crossbow’s limbs, string, and foot stirrup will greatly reduce you scaring off your prey.
3. String Wax & Conditioner
Sure, you can just buy a new string when yours starts looking suspect, but why not keep your crossbow string in good shape from the start? String wax and conditioner will keep your crossbow’s string in good condition. Be sure to use string wax made only for crossbows. Other types of wax may gum up your crossbow.
4. Rail and Trigger Lube
Another way to keep your crossbow in good shape is to use rail and trigger lube on your crossbow. Only use lube intended for crossbows as other types of lube can actually gum up your crossbow string or even damage your crossbow. Lube your crossbow whenever the rail looks dry or somewhere after 50 to 60 shots.
5. Crossbow Monopod/Bipod
If you’re looking for having some stability while you hold your crossbow, choose shooting sticks that will help improve your aim. Pick a crossbow monopod or bipod shooting sticks that will help improve your accuracy.
6. Discharge Target
When you’re done hunting, you’ll want to unload your weapon — only there’s no safe way of discharging your crossbow without a discharge target. You can replace the broadhead with a field point and then discharge your crossbow by firing into the discharge target.
7. Arrow Puller
Arrow pullers are a must have to safely remove your crossbow bolts from the target or the ground without damaging your arrow shaft. It allows you to grip the bolt securely and allows you to pull it out with minimal tugging and less chance for damaging your bolt.
8. Stock Extension (Butt Plate)
Occasionally the stock on your crossbow may not be long enough for your reach. In this case, you can have your crossbow fit you properly with a stock extension. It goes on the back of the crossbow’s stock, giving you some length so that your crossbow fits you, making your aim more accurate and using it more comfortable.