Modern crossbows are highly accurate and tweaked to a measure of near-perfection. They are designed and manufactured to be fast and efficient, with nearly consistent bulls-eye accuracy directly after purchase, though some user tweaking may be necessary. And yet things are not always that perfect. So why do you sometimes keep missing animals with your crossbow?

The ten most common reasons why people miss animals with a crossbow are:

  1. Bows that don’t fit properly
  2. Using the wrong bolts
  3. Loose crossbow components
  4. Improper cocking
  5. Improper tuning
  6. Maintenance issues
  7. The way you shoot
  8. Improper lining-up
  9. Wrong scopes
  10. Misjudging the range

Many of these factors are often overlooked. In a highly specialized sport like hunting or fishing with crossbows, it’s crucial to remember everything that should be checked before taking a shot. Eventually, they will become a habit, but even seasoned crossbow shooters sometimes miss some of these aspects. Let’s look at all of them in more detail.

Crossbows Will Miss If They Don’t Fit The User Properly

A one-size-fits-all crossbow does not exist. With so many different lengths, widths, and weights around, it is worth taking your time to shop around for the perfect crossbow fit for you. Most users can feel if it’s right for them since it won’t feel too wide, heavy, or long. Some expert advice may also help. If you cannot hold a crossbow on target comfortably, it is not the right crossbow for you.

The Wrong Crossbow Bolts Could Cause A Miss

Crossbow manufacturers always recommend a particular type of arrow or bolt. This is not just them trying to make more money; they actually know the exact kind of bolt that will work best with this specific crossbow. This is based on the crossbow model’s power stroke and other features. The bolts have to be the right weight, balance and even have the right fletching length to optimize accuracy.

You can also test a few different bolts and see what works best. You should try to find a bolt that shoots the straightest since that indicates the right combination of weight and balance for your specific crossbow model.

Crossbow Components May Come Loose

There are many accounts online of crossbow hunters who prepared their equipment correctly before leaving home, just to have their shots consistently miss once they arrive at the hunting grounds. More often than not, upon inspection, they find a loose component, like a scope. Movement will loosen parts over time; it’s a good idea to check it properly before hitting the woods.

Rather check your crossbow for loose components too often than not often enough. It’s a high-precision machine, and it deserves all the care and attention you can give it.

Cocking A Crossbow Incorrectly Could Cause A Miss

When you cock a crossbow, it’s entirely possible that the serving could go off-center. This could lead to bolts shooting to the left or right of where you’re aiming. To ensure that you have the crossbow cocked adequately, you can mark the center point of the serving while it’s at rest and check that it’s centered when cocked, or you can buy specialist equipment to help you with cocking precision.

Improper Crossbow Tuning

Your crossbow has to be tuned regularly to ensure good aim. This is because the bowstring stretches, affecting the brace height. To fix the brace height, you simply replace the bowstring or, on compound models, the cables.

You also need to check the tiller or balance between the limbs and ensure that they are the exact same length on each side of the crossbow’s barrel. This can easily be adjusted in non-compound crossbows by turning the adjustment screw in the front part of the barrel.

Maintenance Issues Leading To Missed Crossbow Shots

Just like any finely -tuned machine, a crossbow requires regular maintenance. Numerous things should be serviced regularly on any crossbow, and the manufacturer’s manual should include a complete maintenance guide. At the very least, a maintenance session should consist of the lubricating of the flight rail and waxing of the bowstring.

Some crossbows also require that you oil the trigger box, check for frayed strings, and so on. Just check the owner’s manual, or search online for your crossbow model. You should find instructions on exactly what should be done, and how frequently.

Mistakes We Make While Shooting A Crossbow

Modern crossbows are not as cumbersome as they used to be, but that does not make them the easiest weapons to shoot. To improve our accuracy, we should always use some kind of support, like a bench or even a stick, when shooting to add stability. The trigger should also be squeezed, not pulled or jerked, to avoid the crossbow moving while taking the shot.

We Miss Shots If We Don’t Line The Crossbow Up Properly

The crossbow’s limbs should always remain level, running parallel with the ground. If they are not perfectly level, gravity will take its toll on your bolt and throw its trajectory out. This can be pretty complicated, especially when the landscape is curved, but using a rail or something similar will help you correct the alignment of your crossbow’s limbs.

Using The Wrong Crossbow Scopes

This might seem obvious, but it’s enlightening to see how often scope problems cause a missed shot. Obviously, the scope should be properly mounted, but the type of scope you use can also have an effect. Taking a long-range shot using a multi-dot scope could cause visibility problems and make you lose your aim. That’s why most crossbow hunters prefer multi-crosshair scopes.

Misjudging The Range To The Target

Though manufacturers are working hard to improve crossbow range and efficiency, the approved maximum is 40 yards / 36 meters. Even at this range, it’s very easy to misjudge a shot and miss. Sometimes our perceptions about distance can be adversely affected by poor light or the surroundings. Having a clear idea of the distance to the target is essential to ensure a clean shot.

A good rangefinder is always an excellent investment for a serious crossbow hunter. We cannot always rely on our eyes or instinct to tell us the truth about range and distance.


A crossbow is an excellent weapon for hunting or even fishing, and many crossbow enthusiasts are taking this even further. Knowing how you can improve your shots is not only for bragging rights. It can also help you to hunt or fish more humanely, ensuring clean kills every time. You never need to miss an animal with your crossbow again if you follow these tips.


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