Is It Legal to Shoot a Crossbow in Your Backyard for Fun?

Bill Taylor
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What is a Crossbow?

How a Crossbow Works

A crossbow is functionally similar to a recurve bow, which is widely used in Olympic competitions. The name comes from the way the limbs of the bow curve away from the archer when unstrung. A bow is considered crossbow when it uses a trigger mechanism to hold the bowstring ("cros") while the crossbowman loads the projectile. The ancient Chinese developed the crossbow, and it migrated to Europe in the Middle Ages. Crossbowmen were relatively rare due to the need for brute strength to draw the bowstring and the lack of sophisticated accuracy compared to a bow and arrow.

Crossbows are more common today than they were hundreds of years ago, and bow hunting is now illegal or highly restricted in many areas. The most popular theme is for hunting small game such as squirrels, prairie dogs, and rabbits. It has the advantage of being very quiet and effective. Crossbows are also used for bowfishing, shooting fish through the ice.

There are two types of crossbows… compound crossbows and recurve crossbows. Both types use the same type of arrows, but are different in how they are constructed. The compound crossbow is the most common, and most effective, type of crossbow today. The recurve crossbow is similar to an ancient crossbow, but it is less durable and less effective.

Types of Crossbows

Sure, both guns and crossbows are fairly simple in that they rotate a projectile that may or may not have a tip on it. But there are key differences between the two, such as ammunition and effects. Within the two types of crossbows there are sub-categories too!

Mass Assault Weapon

Fully automatic – capable of shooting many rounds with one pull of the trigger.

Semi Automatic – requiring you to pull the trigger for every shot.

Collapsible – able to be broken down and folded for ease of portability.

Recurve – Describes a bow in which the tip of the limb curves away from you as you look down the limb towards the bowstring.

Compound – A bow in which the limbs can be greatly lengthened by mechanical devices on the bow.


Light Crossbow – It is lighter than a longbow for greater mobility in traveling, but is weaker.

Longbow – It is heavier than other types of bow for greater penetrating power, but is more difficult to draw.

Self Bow – The bow is not made from any wooden staves, but rather from one piece of timber.

Compound Crossbow – It has a mechanical device that makes it more accurate and easier to use.

Recurve Crossbow – It is a smaller version of the longbow, and is easier to use when hunting.

Pros and Cons of Using a Crossbow

There’s some debate over whether or not crossbow hunting is more humane than traditional hunting methods. The argument for using a crossbow is the arrow is larger and more damaging to the animal, which leads to it dying a less painful death.

However, many traditional hunters argue that the crossbow is less humane because it’s easier to shoot an animal. Traditional hunters have been working with firearms for years, so they have learned the skill of shooting from long distances.

Crossbows, on the other hand, are more of a firearm that must be reloaded if a larger animal is shot. And some experts in the hunting community believe that a person who owns a crossbow is less likely to respect the animals life since there’s less skill involved in hitting the target.

The final decision on using a crossbow is up to you, but if you do decide to buy one and use it, there are a few laws and regulations you’ll have to abide by.

In most states, you’ll need a license to own a crossbow, and these licenses are typically more expensive than any other license for traditional hunting.

The Legalities of Shooting a Crossbow in Your Backyard

One thing that I’ve found with living in a “non-hunting” state is that private landowners can do whatever they wish on their private property. If you legally own private property with your own house or house trailer, you’re probably allowed to shoot guns, cannons, or even a crossbow on that property.

Is that not the most comforting thought you’ve ever heard?

Yes, the police will still try to make you evacuate the premises as best as possible. But under the law, you have the right to shoot as many people that you feel deserve it … within reason.

But before you get the idea that you can blast away in your backyard with a crossbow, there is some more specific information that I’ll give you.

Crossbow Hunting Permit for Texas

As far as I’ve gathered from the internet, and from talking to people in Texas, a person does not legally need a permit for crossbow hunting. I’d actually double check with your hunting store to be certain, though.

How People Use Crossbows Today

Crossbows have been popular for a long time. A lot of people still own them and there are thousands of online owners that use crossbows. If you decide to purchase a crossbow according to some of the benefits that it offers, you will enjoy it. If you are not familiar with the crossbow then you should look online to see what crossbows are made out of and all that the parts mean.

Crossbows have been used for hunting as a weapon of war. However, when you purchase a crossbow for hunting then it gives you the ability to practice and learn more about the weapon. It is not about using the weapon to kill an animal for food because there are other ways of doing that.

If you practice with your crossbow and you also practice with your gun then your accuracy and skill level will increase. If you know more about the weapon that you are using than you will have an advantage over the opposition. One reason why you should get a crossbow is that it is a great way for you to set up some additional activities.

Crossbow competitions have been occurring for years and will continue to happen. Every area has different groups that are associated with this type of competition. These groups are a big part of our societies because they help to promote crossbow competitions and help new people interested in the sport start learning about the sport.

Tips for Using a Crossbow

Like with any type of bow, even if you have used a crossbow or even an actual archery bow before, there are some things to keep in mind while using a crossbow.

The Benefits of a Crossbow
A crossbow is an interesting hybrid of a gun and a bow and arrow. It’s like a gun in that it’s just a straight-shooting projectile, but it’s also like a bow in that you are using a compound pulley system to pull it, similar to the string and pulley worked on an archery bow.

For this reason, which we will cover further below, you need to use a crossbow somewhat differently than you would a hand gun.

Tips to Shoot a Crossbow – Take Your Time

A big reason why people have accidents with a crossbow is because they aren’t patient enough to really get into the groove of crossbow shooting.

The advantage that a crossbow has over a gun is that you can draw back the bow string muscle against the pull of the pulley. This means that you get to stretch the bowstring out to a greater distance than you could with just one hand, which lets the arrow go at a greater velocity (remember F=mv).

Final Thoughts

We hope that you’ve found our Backyard Shooting Guide an enjoyable and informative read. While we do realize that safety is the priority when it comes to gun storage and shooting, we also feel that it’s important to enjoy the many things that you can do in your backyard. After all, you want to make the most out of your outdoor space.

As seen in the post, the safest way to enjoy shooting at home is to take safety precautions and obey any local laws. Always follow the manufacturer instructions and see if there are any state or local laws prohibiting your activity. To repeat: always be safe, always be smart, and always use common sense.