Can a Convicted Felon Own a Crossbow?

For felons that wish to hunt, finding out that it is illegal for them to own and/or possess a firearm can come as a big disappointment. Many felons think that since they are not allowed to have a firearm, that their hunting days are over. Is it possible for a felon to hunt? Can a felon hunt with a crossbow? Are felons allowed to own a crossbow? In this blog post, these questions, along with general hunting questions will be answered in great depth.

Crossbow vs. Firearm, Which Can A Felon Have?

It is a common mistake for felons to confuse the term firearm and crossbow. Many felons see that they are not allowed to have a firearm and automatically dismiss the idea of them being able to own a crossbow. Just because a felon cannot possess a firearm does not mean they are unable to have a crossbow; felons are legally allowed to own a crossbow due to the many differences between a firearm and a crossbow.

The differences between a crossbow and a firearm are common knowledge. The reason the differences are mentioned in this article is to provide insight into why lawmakers choose to allow felons the right to possess a crossbow. The primary purpose of this section is to help justify the law.

One of the first noticeable differences is the fire rate and the type of ammo each weapon takes. It is not possible to “rapidly fire” a crossbow, as the crossbow must be reloaded after every shot. The ammo is also a considerable factor when drawing the line between a firearm and a crossbow. One takes bullets and another takes arrows.

The concealment of a crossbow is also much more difficult. A handgun is able to be placed in a jacket pocket or in a holster on a belt, but a crossbow is commonly slung across someone’s back- making it much harder to conceal.

There are countless other differences between the classifications of a firearm and a crossbow, but these were worth mentioning because lawmakers took these differences into consideration when deciding if a felon should be able to possess a crossbow.

This explanation may seem like overkill, but it is very important for lawmakers to look at every detail when drafting laws, especially if the laws being made involve weapons.

How A Felon Can Obtain a Crossbow.

The process of getting a crossbow for a felon is very straightforward. Felon’s follow the same procedures for buying a crossbow as anyone else. All that is required is the money to purchase the crossbow and a place to buy it.

Background checks are not required when purchasing a crossbow, or any form of bow for that matter, hence why being a felon has no relevance when making the purchase.

Can a Felon Buy A Crossbow Even If They Are Not Hunting?

In some cases, felons want to buy a crossbow without the intent to hunt with it. This is completely legal. As long as the intended use for the crossbow is legal, then felons are able to purchase one.

Are Felons Allowed to Hunt?

It has now been established that felons are allowed to have a crossbow, the only question that remains now is, “can felons hunt?” Any felon that wishes to hunt must abide by the same rules as all of the other hunters; this means hunting within the allotted time period and using the proper equipment when hunting.

Felons that wish to hunt are permitted to hunt with a crossbow, compound bow, or recurve bow. These three bow types are among some of the most popular bows for not just felons to use, but for bow hunters in general. Felons typically do not have any additional restrictions placed upon them, but restrictions may be imposed on a case to case basis.

Hunting in the United States (deer hunting that is), can be broken into two seasons, bow hunting and gun hunting.

Even though there are two hunting seasons, felons, or any other hunters that are using a crossbow are able to hunt longer than gun hunters. This is because bow hunters are able to, in most states, keep hunting through gun seasons.

If a bow hunter wishes to continue to hunt through gun season, they are legally required to wear the same amount of orange hunting gear that gun hunters are mandated to wear- this is simply for safety.

So yes, felons are lawfully permitted to hunt, so long as they are following all of the rules and regulations as the hunters are also bound by. The next section will talk in detail about some of the key rules that all hunters are required to follow.

Hunting Laws All Bow Hunters Must Abide By.

All bow hunters, felon or not, are required to follow the same set of rules. There are a variety of different laws that hunters must abide by- this section will cover the most common laws bow hunters must follow.

First off, bow hunters are not required to wear as much blaze orange as gun hunters are. Bow hunters are able to use camouflage to blend in with the hunting environment but must still wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange at all times while hunting.

A common place for bow hunters to wear their 400 square inches of blaze orange is on their hats or gloves since these areas of the body protrude (unlike the chest for example). Where the 400 square inches of blaze orange is located does not matter, it just must be visible.

Some hunters prefer not to wear orange because they are under the false impression that wearing orange hurts their chances of getting a deer. Deer are unable to see color, so it makes no difference if a hunter wears orange, it is just a safety measure for other hunters.

Acquiring the proper licenses to hunt is another necessity; a hunter must have deer tags to place on the deer they kill. These tags are put into place to limit the amount of deer a single hunter can kill in a season.

To get a firmer grasp on the laws that hunters must follow, go into your local sporting goods store and talk to a representative. The employee will be able to help you meet all of the required safety standards. From the weapon to the clothing, all of your hunting needs can be met at a sporting goods store like Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops.

Ways a Hunter Can Have A Safe Hunt.

Hunter safety is the most important part of hunting. If a hunter is unable to act in a safe manner, they may face legal action brought on by other hunters who have been endangered. It is important for all hunters to understand key safety tips to keep everyone alive and well.

Here are a few tips to have a safe hunt.

  • Understand how the crossbow works. This may seem obvious, but it is quite common for hunters to abstain injury from the weapon they are using. The most common injury from a crossbow is loss of fingers from reloading, or injuries to the eye or face from reloading. Practice using your crossbow at a range or secluded area before going hunting. Consider taking safety classes if you want to ensure your safety.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. It is important to keep in mind that there may be other hunters in your area. When hunters are in the woods waiting for deer, they may mistake any noise they hear for a deer and forget about other people and act in an impulsive manner. Before firing or making any impulsive actions, take a deep breath and understand your surroundings.
  • Use safe weapons. Make sure the weapons that you are using to hunt are well maintained and up to date. Issues in this section typically occur with guns and ammo but have the potential to expand to crossbows and other forms of bow arrows. Look over your bow to make sure there are no abnormalities such as a broken gear, a loose string, or obstructions of any kind.
  • Be respectful. Respect while hunting expands to more than just good manners, it reaches over to respecting other hunter’s space and equipment- as well as the laws of the land you are hunting on. Respect has never hurt anyone.


Can crossbows be used for self-defense?

Yes. Crossbows are able to be used for self-defense. Many felons own a crossbow for this very reason since they are unable to own a gun.

How far can a crossbow shoot?

Every crossbow is different, some crossbows are able to achieve a maximum distance of 500 yards, while others barely reach 80 yards. It all has to do with power and the drawback weight. For specific crossbow brands, talk with a sporting goods salesperson, they will be able to answer any questions you have about a specific crossbow.

Are crossbows more accurate than compound bows?

This question depends on which you prefer. Some people find that they are able to hit their targets more constantly with a crossbow due to the sights and the trigger, while others find success with a vertical bow due to the possible attachments and the manual drawback.

Overall, the majority of shooters have found vertical compound bows to be slightly more accurate, but it really boils down to personal preference.

Thank You for reading! Do you like to hunt? Do you prefer a crossbow or a vertical bow? Let us know by writing a comment down below!


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