What Not to Do With Your High Speed Crossbow at Full Draw
Have you ever seen the MTV show Ridiculousness? It’s full of funny videos about people doing ridiculous things that don’t usually end well. It’s very entertaining, but witnessing an event worthy of the show isn’t quite as funny in the moment.
Pretty scary event that turned out to be ok. It would have been way worse in 2020 with crossbow speeds climbing past 450fps. TenPoint now makes 7 crossbows that travel 400+.
In 2002, we were hosting an indoor shoot at our archery shop in Michigan called All Seasons Archery. It was a packed house with 32 shooters on our indoor range. The shoot was very competitive with several 58-60 spot shooters attending.
A new guy (let's call him John) came that we had never seen shoot before. He proclaimed to be an excellent shot and said he had even won a state title several years back. He was certainly hoping to impress those in attendance, but the impression he left was not what he had hoped for ...
The Savage Drop Away Arrow Rest
From what I can remember, "John" was shooting a Mathews MXZ at 70 lbs. (a lot for spots) with a Savage Deringer drop away rest. The drop away rest and the weight he was shooting was a recipe for disaster.
The rest was like the old TM Hunter arrow rest in that the arrow would rest between two prongs. But the rest would fall away because it had a magnet that would hold the rest up. When the arrow was released, the inertia from the crossbow would drop the rest away and the arrow would fly without fletching contact. In theory it was a good design, but in reality it had flaws.
About a third of the way through the shoot, there were only two shooters left on the line: "John" and Bob Webb. Bob was one of the best shooters in the house, and later went on to win the Senior Pro Division at the Las Vegas Shoot. They each had one arrow left to shoot. Based on his experience, we all understood why Bob was still shooting. However, we wondered what kept "John" on the line. It would soon become evident.
"John" was having a hard time with his arrows staying on his arrow rest. Given the poundage he was shooting, it made sense. The arrows must have been bouncing along the rest as he pulled back and would just fall off. This happens often, even with the most advanced shooters. However, it appeared he had an additional problem of the magnet releasing and dropping the rest when he got the arrow back on.
The Unthinkable Happens
Down to his last arrow, "John" was at full draw for what seemed like 20 seconds. He was struggling to get the arrow on the rest, and once he did, the magnet would let loose and he would attempt to prop it up. This would cause the arrow to fall off and he would have to start all over again. At this point, all eyes were on him and everyone was just hoping that he would let the crossbow down and start over. We have all been there, and that is what we are recommended to do.
Unfortunately, his instincts told him to grab the arrow with his hand that was holding the riser. When he released his hand, the force of the bow shot back at him. "John" had shot himself with his own crossbow.
It seemed like everything went flying as he staggered back. Fortunately, he did not fall, but when the bow came back, it recoiled and hit him just above the eye socket. Within a matter of seconds, he had a bump on his forehead the size of a golf ball.
Thankfully, we had a few shooters with medical backgrounds in attendance and he ended up being just fine.
The Moral of the Story
Don’t let your instincts take over and cause a potential life changing event. Let your crossbow down after holding it for an extended period.