Shoulder problems? Crossbows keep you in the game
I was guiding crossbow hunters in Colorado long before they were allowed to be used during bow season. I had a Ranching for Wildlife program for antelope, and my state-issued tags were good for rifle or any lesser weapon. I chose to offer archery only and the beacon allowed crossbow hunters to join my archery hunters at camp. Even back then, crossbows were effective hunting tools, although I always preferred a compound bow. Then, after decades of shooting heavy compounds, including pulling out around 100 pounds for big game like Cape buffalo, shoulder fatigue and overuse caught up with me. Last summer the pain got to the point where I didn’t like archery anymore and I couldn’t train enough to feel confident for the archery season.
I had an MRI in August 2021. As the orthopedic surgeon went through the images, he pointed out a tear in my rotator cuff, a tear in my labrum, a bone spur, and arthritis. I could forget drawing a bow that season, but he offered to write me a doctor’s note to use a crossbow, which is not allowed in Colorado during bow season. As someone who once made a living shooting a compound bow as an outfitter and TV host on the hunt, I was more discouraged having put my bow aside than I was over it shoulder diagnosis.
I submitted my crossbow application to my local Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) office, but was told approval could take months. Weeks into the season, I sent CPW a letter documenting my long history of big game hunting in Colorado with compound, assuring him that I was not using my injury as an excuse to go archery. during archery season. It helped because I got a permit a few days later.
In the meantime, I had started researching crossbows, which had come a long way since the ones my hunters brought to camp 15-20 years ago. Intrigued by new technologies and the latest and greatest designs, I focused on Ten Point’s lightweight Vengent S440, which the company touted as the fastest and fastest forward-draw hunting crossbow. narrowest ever produced. Not only did this game-changer throw bolts (or arrows, since the bolts that come with it as standard are fletched) at 440 fps, it measured just 5.8 inches axle-to-axle. It also featured a consistent two-stage S1 trigger designed with a roller trigger system that promised zero creep. Any imperfect shot would not be the fault of the crossbow. Equally important, the Vengent S440 featured the new safe and quiet ACUslide cocking and decocking technology. This makes firing, cocking and disarming easier while putting almost no pressure on your shoulder, so safety is given as much priority as speed and accuracy. (To watch TenPoint’s video on the ACUslide, click here.) This also makes the crossbow particularly ideal for young shooters. or others who lack sufficient upper body strength.
I was hooked, but this bow was so popular it was nearly impossible to find. I only had it in the second week of the archery season. I was lucky because the best guy in Ten Point had hunted antelope with me during my outfitting days. and sent me one.
I was surprised at how easy this crossbow was to set up, although the accompanying RangeMaster variable speed scope with lighted aiming points was not legal for use in Colorado, which prohibits magnification crossbows during archery season. So I used a non-magnification red dot sight which made it easy to shoot from zero to 60 yards, which is what I’m used to when shooting with compound. Once he was sighted and I figured out my aiming points, I was shooting tight groups at all yardages. As for this S1 two-stage trigger, I was impressed with how a stainless steel latch locks the trigger box at full power. This takes the strain off the ACUslide unit and ensures your trigger box is in the same place for every shot. TenPoint claims that this feature increases downstream accuracy by 48%. I was ready to head for the hills
I had already missed the first two weeks of the season by a month and only had a few days before a friend I was guiding arrived. He was interested in buying the ranch we were going to hunt because I was also the listing broker. There was a giant mule deer that I saw every time I went to the ranch before my crossbow arrived, but by the time it appeared the males were losing their velvet causing them to change models often. I spent those few days trying to find the male but never saw him, then spent the next week guiding and calling elk for my friend and wife. (When you’re bowhunting with your spouse and enjoy watching them hang out with an elk, notice that your own success rate goes down.)
With a few more days, I finally had the ranch all to myself. I spent the mornings looking for that big mule deer at the bottom of the property and the evenings trying to approach a handsome bull. The weather was super hot and dry for September. I didn’t get a break until late last afternoon when the temperature dropped 30 degrees and it rained.
I hiked a mile to the back of the ranch where I had heard bulls howl just beyond the fence, marking the boundary of my property as they walked towards their sleeping area that morning. Several bulls started howling from the neighboring property long before I reached the boundary. I knew they would be moving in my direction and I climbed to a high glass point. Several bulls were chasing cows as a few cows started moving towards me. I trumpeted. Two of the bulls I was watching responded, but to my surprise there were three more buglers between me and where I had started my hike.
I was in the last 45 minutes of shooting light. I decided to go after the bulls that were already on the property, moving as fast as I could for a quarter mile. I found a good place to settle down and started calling. All three bulls responded, and one was heading towards me. I let out a few cow cries. When the bull responded again, I knew it was within 100 yards and closing in. I had a shooting stick with an elk decoy attached. I placed my bow on it as the bull appeared, passing by a bush that I had just moved 50 yards away. I called and he stopped. He watched the cow decoy as the bolt went all the way through where my red dot was. He sped off to run, and I trumpeted. He turned, walking down the slope. He took two steps and his hindquarters went through his antlers as he collapsed.
The fact that I didn’t have to draw my bow and had the lure to watch made it extremely easy to land a good shot when the bull came within range. So if you are a die-hard compound bowhunter and have a shoulder problem, I recommend getting a crossbow and a special crossbow license if needed, so you don’t have to miss your favorite time of year in the woods.
Ten Point’s Vengent S400 keeps you in the game
I was looking forward to testing Ten Point’s Vengent S400, and couldn’t have been happier with its performance, although a range of models at all price points are available if your shoulder gets you in a bind.
As for comparing ratings with other people who have shoulder problems, visit any online archery forum and you will see how many hunters suffer from shoulder pain. Archery Talk Forum regularly features comments from hunters who say they love shooting their compound bows but haven’t been able to shoot them in months. Even Crossbow Nation answers questions from hunters asking how an injured shoulder affects cocking a crossbow. My answer: Check out the Vengent S400. I could say my shoulder injury kicked in as revenge, so I decided to hunt with a Vengent, but I wouldn’t want you to roll your eyes. This bow was a game changer for me and kept me in the game, but it’s also a game changer for the crossbow industry.
Here are his fine points for quick reference:
- S1 two-stage trigger with creep-free design
- Micro-Trac Barrel reduces string-to-rail contact by 50%, extending string life and, as TenPoint says, outperforming “railless” crossbows by hundreds of shots.
- ACUslide Quiet and Safe Arming and Disarming System
- RangeMaster Pro multi-coated variable speed scope with illuminated aiming points
- Tec-X Stock: Reduces stock size and reduces weight by ½ pound.
In addition to the above, the TenPoint Vengent S400 comes with a spirit level, six Evo-X CenterPunch premium carbon arrows with 100-grain practice points, a six-arrow Tech Quiver, and a soft case. MSRP: $2,049.99; tenpointcrossbows.com