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A youth crossbow is hands down one of the best tools to introduce your kiddo to hunting, and for a number of reasons:
- Even though it’s not a toy, this device is way easier – and safer – to use for hunting than a rifle.
- There’s very little recoil, or in some cases, none at all.
- It doesn’t take nearly as much practice as rifle shooting. Especially if it comes equipped with a scope.
- Animals won’t freak out due to noise. Which translates to easier hunting, therefore a greater level of satisfaction. And less chance that your kid’s enthusiasm will be quenched with a cold shower.
- It doesn’t require nearly as much physical strength and stamina as bow hunting.
- Every single crossbow I’ve ever seen is ambidextrous. Therefore, it can be comfortably used by right- or left-handed people, to the same effect. Which means no adjustment periods or fast disappointments.
However, before you treat your young one (or yourself) with a crossbow, make sure to check your state regulations. In all states except Oregon, crossbow hunting is legal at the time of this writing. However, in most states, it comes with certain stipulations.
Some will only allow it during archery seasons. Others will allow it but prohibit crossbow deer hunting, yet others (such as Hawaii or Massachusetts) will only issue licences to hunters with special disabled permits. Or to people over the age of 60 or more.
In any case, you need to do your homework in order to comply with the law, teaching your kid a thing or two about responsible citizenry in the process.
Main Concerns When Buying a Crossbow for Your Kid
- Safety. As with all things meant for minors, this is the top concern. And you shouldn’t just take the manufacturer’s word for it. Supervision goes without question. But you should also do your best to teach your child to properly load, unload, hold, and fire their youth crossbow. Even if it’s more of a toy than an actual weapon, killing is not something to play with.
- How heavy is it? When unloaded, most crossbows will be easy enough to grab and hold. But depending on the type of bolt and other accessories, it can be quite heavy. And even if it only weighs one pound too many, it’s enough to affect the shooting accuracy. Apart from this, there’s also a parameter called draw weight, which produces resistance while cocking, and ultimately results in a certain velocity of the bolt. It takes actual strength to pull that string back.
- How old is your kid? I totally get that there are 7-year-olds who will want a crossbow as a birthday present. But that’s just not acceptable, and the lack of physical strength is the least of concerns here. Too young a child doesn’t have enough focus and mental strength to operate a potentially deadly weapon. Some people state 10 as the minimum age threshold. But I wouldn’t go below some 15 years of age. Or, if you want to produce an even younger enthusiast, I recommend crossbow toys that can’t inflict any harm on anyone (or anything). Again, keep in mind that you need to comply with your local laws in this respect too.
- Which accessories will you choose? Crossbows for youths and adults can be a bit different in size, weight, ease of use, and parameters. But they still function the same way, and need various other auxiliary tools to maximize your chances of hitting the target. No matter how accurate your shots are, you’ll miss the target (or even worse, badly hurt the game instead of killing it) if you can’t estimate the range accurately. That’s why both you and your kiddo will need a good rangefinder – check this article for our guide and recommendations.
Best Youth Crossbow for Hunting – Top Options and Reviews
Magnum Enterprises Wooden Rifle Youth Crossbow Set with 3 Arrows – A Starter Crossbow for Smaller Kids
If this crossbow looks like a toy to you, that’s because it is a toy.
Before you scoff at me and leave this article, let me repeat one important point. Not even all adults are mentally fit to carry and use a weapon. Much less so are kids, being far too young for us to be able to learn who they really are. If your child really is a child, get him or her a toy. Later on, when they grow enough to earn your trust, an actual crossbow may or may not do. But before the age of 15, a youth crossbow should not even be a consideration.
And as far as toys go, this thing won’t disappoint your boy or girl. It’s ridiculously easy to use but still provides some of that feeling that makes shooting so amazing. Made entirely of wood, it’s sturdy and durable, and will likely live long enough to be a hand-me-down for another kid.
Even so, it should only be used with adult supervision.
- Non-lethal and completely safe – both for the user and any creatures that might get in their way
- Relatively high-quality, made of wood
- Works like a real crossbow and is therefore a nice training toy for a future hunter
- Made in USA
- None observed – it does everything a toy should do and nothing more
BARNETT Recruit Terrain Youth Crossbow – Editor’s Choice
There are a few great youth-friendly crossbows from Barnett Recruit series. But the reason I chose to feature this one is that it hits that sweet spot between power and ease of use.
Don’t expect those 140 pounds of draw weight to be able to kill a grizzly bear. But it’s more than enough to give your youth a taste of hunting, and little enough that nearly any older teen can cock it. To make things easier and more user-friendly, there’s a rope cocker included in the package. And if that doesn’t work, it’s also crank-cocking compatible.
Also, there’s an entry-level, 4×32 scope that comes with it. And an anti-vibration device for less recoil and less loosened parts. Also, it’s a relatively safe crossbow thanks to the safety, anti-dry-firing mechanism.
- A very accurate weapon
- Powerful enough to work, not too powerful to require titanic physical strength
- Offers quite a bang for your buck
- Safe enough for young hunters to use
- Lightweight enough for teens
- May be too small for very tall kids
Wicked Ridge by TenPoint Lady Ranger Crossbow – A Great Pick for Young Lady Hunters
I am not a fan of classifying professionals based on their gender. However, crossbow hunting is an exception due to the sheer physical strength necessary to cock the device.
That’s why this crossbow was made with women in mind. It’s not specifically a youth crossbow, since both girls and women can use it. But I also want to add teen boys to this list, if they don’t mind the pinkish-purplish camo design. It’s both small-sized and lightweight enough, yet lethal enough for a clean kill of small or midsize game. The rope cocker will reduce the 150-pound draw weight by a whopping 50%, and is self-retracting, which translates to an even more user-friendly experience.
As for recommended age, I’ve seen some user reviews claiming that their 12- or 14-year old girls use this crossbow with ease. While it speaks to its agility and ease of use, I definitely don’t think you should intend it as a present for such a young girl.
- A great crossbow for girls but also adult women of smaller frame
- Great for teen boys too (if they don’t mind the color)
- Very easy to cock and carry, due to light weight and rope cocking device
- Powerful enough to kill smaller game
- Comes with a scope, quiver, and three 18-inch carbon arrows
- None observed
CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow Package – Crossbow for BIG Boys
Let’s get one thing clear. This youth crossbow for hunting is definitely no toy. It’s a full-blown crossbow, and you should treat it accordingly. Even a 15-year-old would have some difficulty pulling back the string. So, you should only consider it for a kid that’s 17 or 18, and pretty strong.
For most people who are looking to surprise their teen, that will be this crossbow’s greatest con.
Other than that, it’s a very powerful crossbow. The 185 pounds of draw weight sounds like much, but it’s not difficult with the right technique and a helping device. With right bolts, its velocity is 370 feet per second, which can ethically take down an elk at up to 40 yards range. The stock and foregrip are adjustable. As for accessories, there’s a so-so 4×32-mm scope, a rope cocker (which will make the cocking easier for your kid), and a safety mechanism that prevents dry firing. A pretty safe tool too.
For what it offers, it’s also one of the cheapest crossbows out there.
- A full-blown and fully equipped crossbow
- Very reasonably priced
- As safe as it gets
- Very quiet
- Vibration reduced to a minimum
- Comes with a bunch of accessories (arrows, rope cocker, parallel quiver, scope)
- Takes a BIG kid to operate it
- The scope is not top quality