Hunting is a common practice in many cultures and countries, and people hunt for various reasons. A crossbow is a self-defense weapon and a hunting weapon, and modern crossbows are powerful and effective enough to bring down buffalo. That is all well and good for big game, but can a crossbow be used to hunt rabbits?

Hunting with rabbits with a crossbow is possible if you have a low poundage crossbow and the right bolt tips to prevent destroying the meat. Hunting a rabbit with a crossbow is challenging due to the close range necessary to make the shot. In some regions, it is illegal to hunt with a crossbow.

Rabbits are hunted as both game and vermin control, and various methods have been used for hunting these creatures over the years, from shotguns to rimfire rifles and even catapults. So, where does the crossbow fit in as a rabbit hunting device, and can it be used as such?

Can A Crossbow Kill A Rabbit?

Crossbows development has come a long way since their invention by the Chinese in 700BC. In those times, it was developed as a weapon of war, but eventually, with modern technology improving the features of a crossbow, it was also used for hunting.

Crossbows have the power to kill a rabbit, but there are other challenges that come with using a crossbow for this purpose that make rabbit hunting a challenge.

Vertical bows, such as the longbow and the compound bow, have been popular hunting weapons for many more years than the crossbow, and this is for good reason. Vertical bows have a longer range and are much more accurate over distance than a crossbow.

This was not only true in the early days of these weapons but still holds true today, even with the increased poundage of between 150 and 225-pounds of modern crossbows. The same challenges presented by hunting with a crossbow in the early days still persist with the modern crossbow.

The higher poundage of modern crossbows increases the power and killing potential of the weapon. However, the crossbow bolt power still rapidly decreases over distance compared to vertical bow projectiles.

This makes high poundage crossbows still short-range hunting weapons to ensure accuracy, proper penetration, and shot placement to produce a clean kill.

High-poundage crossbows are suitable for hunting large game at close range but are totally unsuitable for hunting small game such as rabbits. The bolt’s power will demolish the rabbit, and no meat will be salvageable from the animal.

Consequently, the crossbows best suited to rabbit hunting are low poundage crossbows in the region of 40-pounds.

Is It Possible To Hunt Rabbit With A Crossbow?

A crossbow certainly has the ability to kill a rabbit, and many people use a crossbow for this purpose, but there are some aspects of rabbit hunting with a crossbow that bear discussion.

Hunting rabbit with a crossbow is possible, but there are aspects to this hunting that are different from other types of hunting, making it challenging and requiring the right equipment.

Low poundage crossbows are required for hunting rabbits. This implies a few points regarding using a crossbow in this role.

  • You need a dedicated small game crossbow. The low poundage crossbow needed for rabbit hunting would not be of much use for any other hunting or shooting activities.
  • Short-range hunting. The lower poundage of a crossbow for rabbit hunting implies an even less effective range. This means you need to get much closer to the rabbit for an effective kill.
  • Less accuracy. A lower poundage crossbow reduces accuracy, requiring hunting with this type of weapon to be done at a shorter distance.

These aspects of smaller poundage crossbows are not the only factor making rabbit hunting challenging. The rabbits themselves as the quarry must be taken into account.

Rabbits are prey animals to a wide variety of predators. Consequently, they are alert and always on the lookout for danger. The speed at which rabbits can depart a danger zone can easily prevent a moving shot from finding its mark.

The combination of the crossbow limitations and the rabbit’s wariness mean that you need to get up close to the rabbits with the added challenge of escaping detection by the rabbits’ keen sense of hearing, smell, and eyesight.

For many hunters, this challenge is what makes rabbit hunting with a crossbow an exciting undertaking, and a means to test their hunting skill, not only in shooting the crossbow with accuracy but also getting close enough to the animal to do so.

What Bolt Is Needed For Rabbit Hunting With A Crossbow?

The crossbow bolt is an important aspect of hunting with a crossbow, especially if you are hunting for meat. Traditional hunting bolts used on rabbits would rip through the rabbit and destroy much of the usable meat on the animal.

Broadheads are the normal hunting tip on crossbow bolts, but the standard broadheads for large game are unsuitable for rabbit hunting. Most bolt tip manufacturers include a range of small game broadhead bolt tips that are a better choice for rabbit hunting.

Another bolt tip that works very well for small game such as rabbit and squirrel is a blunt tip. This tip is not sharp but has a plastic or rubber blunt tip. This type of tip will kill the rabbit via blunt force trauma rather than a penetrating shot.

Is It Legal to Hunt Rabbit With A Crossbow?

Hunting rabbits with a crossbow may be possible, but is it legal? The answer to this question will largely be determined by where you live and where you will be doing your hunting.

The rules regarding both the hunting of rabbits and using a crossbow to perform the hunting vary from region to region.

In the United Kingdom, hunting rabbits with a crossbow is illegal. In the UK, all forms of bowhunting, whether crossbow or vertical bow, are deemed illegal.

In the USA, hunting rabbits with a crossbow is allowed, but with very specific limitations depending on the state where you will be hunting. In some US states hunting with a crossbow is limited to certain seasons, while in other states, you are only allowed to use a crossbow if you are a disabled hunter and have a disabled hunting permit.

With such a range of varying restrictions on hunting with a crossbow, you need to research the specific rules and regulations for crossbow hunting in the region you intend to hunt.


Hunting rabbits with a crossbow is possible, but you will need the right crossbow and the correct tip on the crossbow bolt to minimize the damage to the meat on the rabbit.

Crossbow hunting rules and regulations are very strict, and in some locations, the activity is banned altogether.

If you intend to hunt rabbits with a crossbow, ensure you find out the legality of the hunt in the region where you will be hunting. The penalty for not observing these rules can lead to jail time in some locations.


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