When a truck drives over a crossbow, it's not supposed to work, right?
Dan Wallace, host of Excalibur's Huntin' The Backwoods, explains the importance of using a reliable crossbow.
Back in 1995, Dan started shooting crossbows due to a shoulder injury sustained while he was working as a Deputy Sheriff in Ohio. After a number of surgeries to repair the damage done to his shoulder, he realized that he would not be able to continue shooting vertical bows.
After buying several different crossbows he found himself constantly saying "Man, I could shoot my vertical bow a lot better than what any of these things can shoot." In those days he was constantly having tuning problems with compound crossbows that shot inaccurately.
Finally in 2001, Dan purchased his first Excalibur and quickly learned that the recurve limb set design eliminated the compound crossbow issues. "I found a crossbow I could trust, without question."
Dan addressed some questions and had some insightful things to say about his choice of crossbow, and how dependable it needs to be.
1. How important is it to have a reliable product, and why do you count on your crossbow?
It all comes down to confidence. I can't tell you how many times I've seen it happen in the field where someone, for one reason or another, has their confidence shaken and they make mistakes. That can translate into lost or wounded animals and a disenchanted hunter.
If you know you have a reliable product your confidence in your equipment is naturally higher. If you're constantly worried about the reliability of your equipment, it will shake your confidence. If you use equipment that has proven itself time and time again your confidence is higher.
I count on my crossbow because regardless of what I throw at it, I know it's going to perform. It has proven itself in all harsh conditions.
2. What is the benefit to having a crossbow that is durable?
The question really isn't why would I have a durable crossbow. The real question is why wouldn't you?
Let's just admit it - stuff happens in the woods. Maybe your bow is bouncing around in the back of a pickup truck, or getting smacked around by brush on a four wheeler, or just being exposed to harsh climates and dirt, dust and debris. Accidents happen, too. We don't intend to drop our crossbow, or cut the string, or dry fire it, but sometimes it happens.
Maybe if deer or moose or bears or anything else you might hunt lived in nice, comfortable, climate-controlled environments you could get away with a less durable crossbow. But the reality is these animals live in tough environments with an awful lot of variables that are working against you.
Let's say you've paid for a bear hunt or a moose hunt up in Canada, or you're taking your crossbow on your first African safari and you drop your bow or bang it up against a tree. Maybe it's a really dry, arid place and your crossbow is covered in dust, or maybe it's just the opposite - you're in a really wet, muddy place and you fall on top of your crossbow sinking it into the bog.
These kinds of things happen all the time. I know because I've either seen it all or it's happened to me. If you're not carrying a durable crossbow when things like this happen you won't have the confidence you need when the moment of truth presents itself. In fact, you'll likely be thinking "Man, I hope my crossbow is okay."
Look, you don't want to be careless with your equipment, but like I said, bad things can happen in the woods. Do yourself and your confidence a favor and make sure your crossbow is tough enough to handle whatever you might run into out there.
3. Can you name some instances where your crossbow prevailed due to a hunting accident?
A couple years ago I was on a fly-in moose hunt in Ontario. We'd been out beating the bush for four days and were having very little luck getting a bull to answer our calls. So, we jump in a small boat and headed out on a 45-minute ride to a spot where our guide had some luck in the past.
We make it across the lake and we let out a cow call and immediately and a bull answers us. We start gathering up our gear to get into a better spot when I notice that the string on my Excalibur had been partially cut. It must have shifted around in the boat and rubbed against a sharp object in the hull of the boat as we crossed the lake.
My guide took one look at the string and was in total disbelief. He actually said "We finally get a bull to answer us and your bow is out of commission." He was not happy at all, but I told him "This is not a problem."
I dug into my pack and pulled out a spare string. I didn't have a stringing aid in my pack, but because of the Excalibur's recurve design I was able to change the string out right there on the shore of the lake in less than two minutes.
With the new string in place we headed into the bush and in less than 15 minutes I had a big Ontario bull standing 22 yards away. A trip of the trigger sent an arrow right through his lungs and I had filled my Ontario moose tag.
If I had been shooting any compound crossbow we would have been completely out of luck. I suppose I could have risked a shot, but in the back of my mind I would have been worried about the string breaking either when I cocked it or shot it.
4. Can any other crossbow handle this type of abuse, if not, why?
I helped Excalibur in their Destruction Challenge video series this year. The challenge consisted of 10 videos where I put the product through extreme durability testing like being towed behind a quad or thrown off the top of a silo.
I have serious doubts about whether compound style crossbows in particular can handle the type of abuse we subjected the Excalibur to during these tests.
I have shot compound crossbows in the past and have seen first-hand the issues you can run in to. Get a little debris in the cam and your string can jump. If you drop the bow and bend a cam, you're out of commission. If the string stretches or gets nicked, your accuracy will suffer. There are just too many things that can go wrong when you have so many moving parts and such a complex system.
The other side of it is if something does go wrong, nine times out of ten you have to take it somewhere to get it fixed. There are two inherent problems with that. First, it costs money. Every time you go to a pro shop you have to open your wallet and it's usually not cheap. Second, it costs you time in the field. That may be okay in the off season, but if you're in the heart of the rut or if you've spent money on an outfitted hunt somewhere you'll never get that time back.
One of the benefits Excalibur has over all the other products out there is if something does go horribly wrong and you break a limb, or your stock breaks, it's a simple fix right in your garage. You can change a string, a limb, or just about anything else in the time it would take you to drive to the pro shop to get your compound crossbow repaired.
5. What inspired a Crossbow Destruction Challenge, did something blow you away in the field?
I am constantly amazed by how complicated manufacturers can make their equipment for no apparent good reason. The more complicated things become the more likely you are to have problems.
When you have exposed, open cams on the end of a crossbow limb, weak cam connectors, split limbs, and the reality of string stretch, it's just a matter of time before you're going to be heading to the bow shop for repairs.
The beauty of an Excalibur is its simplicity and that's really where the inspiration for the Destruction Challenge came from. If you take away the problems that the compound limb sets pose you're left with an already reliable product. But with the destruction challenge we wanted to see just how tough and reliable these bows really were.
We wanted to put these bows through some significant stress to see how they would perform. The big idea behind it all really is if these bows could withstand the torture we would put them through then anything that would happen in the field, or in the course of normal, careful operation would be a walk in the park.
Excalibur constantly receives customer testimonials, really no different than mine. Did your crossbow survive the bumps and grinds of last year's hunting season? They want to know your tough testimony. You might even win my favorite model, a Micro 355! Check it out.