Crossbow Hunting Information

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

Crossbow Hunting Qualifications and Safety Information

Crossbows may be used by any person age 14 or older to hunt deer, bear, unprotected wildlife and most small game species except waterfowl and other migratory game birds. Crossbows may not be used to take carp or any other fish.

Hunters who plan to hunt with a crossbow must have in their possession while afield either their completed Hunter Education Certificate of Qualification card dated on or after April 1, 2014 OR the completed Crossbow Certificate of Qualification located below.

Crossbow safety information

  • Before shooting your crossbow, read and thoroughly understand your crossbow owner’s manual.
  • Make sure your fingers are well AWAY (below rail) from the path of the bow string and cables.
  • Never dry-fire a crossbow (cock and fire without an arrow placed on the rail).
  • Make sure the crossbow limbs are free of obstructions before shooting.
  • Never carry a cocked crossbow with an arrow in it while walking.
  • If hunting from a tree stand, always cock (but do not load) the crossbow on the ground before climbing into the stand.
  • Once seated and secured in the tree stand, pull up your unloaded crossbow with a haul line.
  • Do not place an arrow on the crossbow until you are safely secured in your stand.
  • Never use a cocking device to uncock a crossbow.
  • To uncock a crossbow, shoot an arrow tipped with a field point into the soft ground or a target.
  • Always identify your target and the area beyond it before shooting.
  • To prevent wounding game, practice often and do not take shots at game that are beyond your effective range, generally less than 30–40 yards, similar to a modern compound bow.
  • To better understand how an arrow functions and the skill required for hunting with an arrow, DEC recommends all crossbow hunters take a bowhunter education course.

Practice safely, practice often, and learn the capabilities and limitations of the crossbow and the arrow it shoots.

Suggested references to review

NYSDEC Crossbow Hunting Qualifications: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/98061.html