Is a Crossbow More Powerful Than a Bow?

This is a highly contentious issue among hunters. As far as speed is concerned in determining power, compound bows deliver the fastest speed. The average recurve crossbow can range anywhere between 260 – 360 fps, whereas compound crossbows typically range between 295 – 470 fps.

However, as we have learned, crossbow power is not determined by speed alone; draw length and draw weight are critical components of assessing energy storage and power in a bow. Typical draw weights on recurve crossbows range from 100-195 lbs. Typical compound bow draw weights are higher than recurve bows and range from 150 – 340lbs, giving compound crossbows the edge in terms of draw weight also.

Compound bows tend to be more compact than recurve bows; they have shorter limb distances with width distances uncocked as low as 9 inches. In contrast, recurve bows have uncocked width distances between 20 – 27 inches; many compound crossbows have shorter draw lengths than recurve bows, favoring recurve bows in terms of power. However, the cam system compensates for the shorter limb lengths and therefore contributes to compound crossbows having overall superior power.