Should crossbows be legal in the US?

Today, hunters in the USA are not able to use crossbows in hunting. In the last two decades, deer hunters have been using crossbows but are now an illegal hunting implement. What led to this? Did people kill many deer? No, this was a result of politics.

A legislation passed in the year 2010, allowed crossbows on trial basis for the year 2011 and 2012 hunting in the fall although it also restricted it to the regular firearms and the following seasons. The bill expired in 2012 on 31st December. But late in the year 2013, Assemblyman Robert Sweeney and D-Lindenhurst who chair the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee authored a bill. Sweeney’s district is in the southwest corner of the Suffolk County.

The bill which the New York Bow hunters highly supported would again allow using crossbows in hunting for another period of 2 years, but in hunting the big game which include bear and deer. This could be during the regular firearms and the late muzzleloading seasons and not during the normal bow hunting seasons. Furthermore, it would have eliminated Columbus Day weekend youth firearms hunting for deer, which happened in the fall of 2014 for the first time. A session veto by Gov Andrew Cuomo seemingly prompted by the many supporters of DEC supported youth hunt, killed the bill Sweeney had drafted.

At the beginning of year 2014, Crossbow advocates including Pulaski resident Rick McDeermott and who is the president of 1750 member N.Y Crossbow Coalition immobilized their hopes on legislation such as A283, which was sponsored by the Assemblyman Sean Ryan, O-Grand Island. The bill and another companion bill in Senate, S1699B which was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Galavan, R-xxx would put crossbows and the regulations related to their use for hunting on the hands of the Environment Conservation DEC Department. The two lawmakers were from New York. The bill passed in the Senate but didn’t get out of the Sweeney’s committee to full Assembly before its adjourning in June 21.

Essentially, we haven’t gotten movement by Sweeney to get crossbow bill in the committee’s agenda to be discussed and voted on. The chairman of the committee controls agendas. McDermott said that his group asked him the reason behind the lack of action. He said that there is no reason given.

When to use a crossbow

A crossbow is not an archery weapon and therefore you can use it for hunting during a gun season. But unfortunately, there is no separate disability which permits people with severe disability to use crossbows during hunting seasons. To legally hunt with a crossbow, you must obtain a hunting license. When hunting elk and deer, you should keep the following regulations in mind:

  • You should not attach any chemicals or explosive materials at the tip of your crossbow arrow when hunting.
  • Ensure that the arrow is not less than 20 inches in length measured from the tip attached to bold head to the nock.
  • The legal minimum weight of your arrow is 300 grains including the shaft and the broad head.
  • You can legally use an expandable broad head
  • There are no minimum requirements concerning the draw weight
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