I first started archery hunting and competing in shooting sports as a teenager in upstate New York. Because of both, I had an advantage over my classmates when we tackled archery in physical education classes. Whether it was shooting my compound or the green plastic stick bows in the gym, archery tested my patience and coordination. It was a lot of fun, too!
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As an adult, my bow shooting days dwindled as I pursued a career as a professional competition shooter. I took advantage of bow season, when the timing worked out with my shooting schedule, but I was never able to spend as much time as I liked to with my bow. My focus and priorities were on the range, pulling a trigger instead of a bowstring. Perhaps you can relate?
Though I have shot a crossbow a handful of times, I’ve never had much of an opportunity to work with one. I have always found them intriguing and have appreciated the advantages they offer over long, recurve and compound bows. With the evolution of marksmanship features I appreciate as a riflewoman, I’m excited to test my archery skills once again.
Enter the CenterPoint Pulse 425 (MSRP $499.99), a crossbow with plenty of built-in features that a shooter can appreciate. Designed for the backcountry hunter, with the included 4x32mm illuminated optic, the crossbow weighs in at just under 8 pounds. The stock and stirrup fold up, making a compact package for treks in the field. Other features I appreciate as a novice crossbow user are the three, 20-inch carbon arrows with field points, a detachable quiver, and a rope cocker found right in the box. Once assembled, this bow is ready to take it out and shoot.
If you own a rifle and you have not yet shot a crossbow, the similarities between the two are significant, making the transition to archery easier. First, let’s address length of pull. It’s the ideal stock length of a long gun that accounts for how long your arms are along with ease of which to settle the stock into your shoulder and acquire a proper cheek weld. Many women look for female or youth-specific options that offer a shortened length of pull. Modern sporting rifles most often come with adjustable stocks that allow the user even more customization. Borrowing this feature, the CenterPoint Pulse 425 utilizes a 6-position adjustable stock.
It’s not just the stock that’s adjustable, the cheekpiece is too. Simply loosen the four screws holding it in place, two on each side, and you’re able to slide the cheekpiece up or down for proper fit. After that, it’s a matter of tightening the screws to lock it into place.
Being able to fit the stock and cheekpiece on the CenterPoint Pulse 425 is a big advantage, especially when shooting with an optic. The included optic is simple to mount onto the rail, and by experimenting with the stock length and cheekpiece, you can tailor this crossbow to you. An ideal stock length and cheek position allow for proper eye relief, making it easier to see the target and reticle. I love that I can adjust this crossbow to me, and other members of my family, easily.
Whether it’s a rifle or a crossbow, improper stock length and issues with eye relief can jeopardize your opportunity to get on target. Just as you can practice mounting your rifle to your shoulder efficiently, you can go through these same motions with the crossbow. As with rifle training, add position work into your crossbow shooting sessions. You can practice settling the stock into your shoulder and looking through the scope to learn how to get on target quickly. You can also train getting into supported positions like kneeling or fold down the stirrup to serve as a bipod for shooting from prone or a bench. You don’t have to shoot arrows to improve your crossbow handling or sight and target acquisition either. Practice these skills at home just as you would dry fire your rifle.
Now, it’s important to note that you should treat a crossbow like a rimfire rifle. You don’t want to dry fire it. Dry firing a crossbow can cause major damage, just like dry firing a rimfire firearm can break the firing pin. To help prevent this, the CenterPoint Pulse 425 incorporates an anti-dry fire trigger and auto safety. These features protect the user by not allowing the safety to move from “safe” to “fire” unless an arrow is in place.
Your experience with a rifle will give you an advantage with a crossbow, but as you practice these skills, keep in mind you may have to modify your support hand grip from how you would grasp the fore end on your long gun. The CenterPoint Pulse 425 features an adjustable foregrip that allows the user to acquire a safe and comfortable grip, but it is a lower and different grip than how you would grasp your rifle. The design prevents the user from placing their fingers in the way of the string, cables, and arrow path.
Another feature rifle shooters will appreciate is the pistol grip. Unlike bows with the use of either the fingers or a release, in many ways the crossbow looks and feels like a modern sporting rifle. A pistol grip allows you to carry either a rifle or crossbow in one hand, while easily controlling the muzzle or rail direction. The same safety rules apply, and trigger finger discipline crosses over between both with keeping the finger straight and outside the trigger guard until you’re on target and ready to shoot.
With features that encourage safe practices and the ability to customize the crossbow to the user, there are plenty of aspects to this crossbow that a rifle shooter will appreciate. Perhaps the most significant is pressing the trigger. Because you cannot dry fire crossbows, trigger control learned with the rifle is a valuable skill to bring to your crossbow shooting. From ideal trigger finger placement to pressing the trigger smoothly straight to the rear for a precise shot, those with experience with their rifle will bring these skills to the arrows they shoot on their archery targets. In fact, precision rifle shooting experience and practice can help improve results with the crossbow as you train positions, breathing, trigger control and follow-through.
If you’re interested in giving archery a try this hunting season, but don’t have experience with a bow and crossbow hunting is allowed in your state, a crossbow is a great way to get started. You don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy time with a crossbow either. The best part is that your rifle shooting skills will create a faster learning curve. Trigger control and discipline, as well as safe handling practices, will help you transition from firing ammo to slinging arrows in no time.
Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world and captain of Team Smith & Wesson. She has won more than 120 championship titles in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in seven different shooting disciplines. Learn more about the champion, author, veteran, hunter and outdoor television personality at JulieGolob.com. View all posts by Julie Golob
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