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Crossbow Laws by State 2024

Crossbow Laws by State 2024

Crossbows, a weapon with a rich history dating back thousands of years, have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent times, especially in hunting and recreational shooting. Unlike traditional bows, crossbows feature a horizontal bow-like assembly mounted on a stock and are typically fired using a trigger mechanism. Their design offers several advantages, including increased accuracy, longer effective range, and the ability to hold a drawn position for extended periods, making them appealing to hunters and sports enthusiasts alike.

In the United States, regulations regarding crossbow use vary from state to state, with each jurisdiction imposing its own set of rules and restrictions. While some states permit crossbow hunting during specific seasons or for certain game species, others may limit their use to disabled hunters or entirely prohibit their use altogether. For instance, states like Arkansas classify crossbows as archery weapons and allow their use for big game hunting, while states like Oregon prohibit their use entirely.

Interestingly, the legality of crossbows can also depend on factors such as the hunter's age, physical ability, and completion of relevant certification courses. For example, in states like Alaska and Hawaii, crossbows are allowed, but certain conditions must be met, such as completing a certification course or providing a physician's note confirming a disability that prevents the effective use of a traditional bow. Additionally, some states impose minimum draw weight requirements or specify the type of game that can be hunted with a crossbow.

As crossbow technology continues to advance and interest in the sport grows, it's essential for enthusiasts to stay informed about the regulations in their state and adhere to them accordingly. Understanding these regulations not only ensures compliance with the law but also promotes safe and responsible crossbow use, contributing to the preservation of wildlife and the enjoyment of outdoor activities for generations to come.

Crossbow Laws by State 2024

Crossbow laws vary greatly from state to state and may change at any time. It is advisable to confirm current regulations with local officials before hunting.

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Crossbow Guidelines
Additional Details
AlabamaAllowed during deer season. Hunters must have a permit and be aged 16 or higher.
AlaskaAllowed in any hunt that does not restrict the use of weapons. Wielders must complete certification course.
ArizonaLegal with license, which may be temporary or permanent.
ArkansasClassified as an archery weapon. Legal for big game, but not for elk. Bolt tips may not be poisoned.
CaliforniaNot permitted for hunting during archery season or from a moving vehicle.
ColoradoAllowed during firearm season. A hunting license is required. Prohibited during archery season, though disabled hunters may obtain a special disability permit.
ConnecticutAllowed during archery season to hunt deer, turkey, and other permitted game.
DelawareAllowed during general hunting season. Prohibited during archery season, but disabled hunters may obtain a special permit.
FloridaAllowed during deer and crossbow seasons. Permits required include a Florida hunting license, crossbow hunting permit, and a deer permit.
GeorgiaAllowed during all hunting seasons, including firearm and archery seasons, but may at times be restricted to specific in-season species. Crossbow hunters must obtain and possess a primitive weapons license.
HawaiiAllowed only for disabled persons who cannot effectively operate a traditional bow (physician's note required) and for feral hogs (special permit required).
IdahoAllowed during general hunting season. Prohibited during archery season, though disabled hunters may obtain a special permit.
IllinoisAllowed during the archery deer season (archery hunting license required).
IndianaAllowed during archery season and deer reduction zone season. Crossbow license is required, and applicants must pass a hunter education class and be more than 13 years of age.
IowaAllowed during primitive weapon hunting season. Disabled hunters may get permit for other seasons. Hunters aged 70+ may get permit to hunt antlerless deer w crossbow.
KansasAllowed for big game and only during January archery season. Electronic arrow-control devices are prohibited.
KentuckyAllowed only during specified crossbow season. Hunters must be at least age 18 and must wear orange when crossbow season overlaps with modern gun season.
LouisianaAllowed during all seasons except migratory bird season. Archery permit required, and hunters must be between 16 and 59 years of age.
MaineAllowed during October archery season and Fall wild turkey season, and for deer, bear, and moose during the corresponding firearms seasons. Archery and crossbow permits required, and hunters must be at least 16 or supervised by an expert hunter.
MarylandAllowed for all game except waterfowl, weasels, beavers, mink, muskrats, and river otters. Not permitted during primitive weapon season. Disabled hunters may hunt with a crossbow without a permit.
MassachusettsAllowed only for disabled persons who cannot effectively operate a traditional bow (physician's note required). Crossbows may be used only during daylight hours, beginning 30 minutes before sunrise and ending 30 minutes after sunset.
MichiganPermissions vary by peninsula. Allowed on lower peninsula for hunters aged 10+ for any season in which firearms are allowed. Upper peninsula is similar, but bans crossbows during the December archery and muzzleloader seasons.
MinnesotaAllowed during firearms season (firearms license required) and for ages 60+ or disabled hunters during archery season (archery license required).
MississippiAllowed during open deer and turkey seasons. Hunting and bow/primitive weapon licenses required, and hunters must wear orange during gun season for deer. Hunting dogs not permitted.
MissouriAllowed during all seaons for all hunters. Electronic calls may be used alone, but not in conjunction with artificial light or night vision equipment.
MontanaAllowed during firearm season, but not archery season. A 2021 state bill to grant disabled hunters permission to use crossbows during archery season died in committee.
NebraskaPermitted during archery season. Hunters must carry their bowhunter education certificate.
NevadaAllowed during any hunting season except archery-only and muzzleloader-only seasons. Disabled hunters may obtain a permit to use crossbows during archery season.
New HampshireAllowed during deer firearm season, no crossbow permit needed. Not allowed in archery seasons, although disabled hunters may obtain special permission.
New JerseyAllowed during all seasons except muzzleloader and shotgun season. License requires either previous year bow and arrow license or hunter education certificate.
New MexicoAllowed for hunting turkey, bears, cougar, elk, deer, javelin, pronghorn, Barbary sheep, oryx, Persian ibex, and bighorn sheep. May be used during restricted muzzleloader deer hunting and sporting arm seasons.
New YorkPermissions vary by hunter age. Hunters aged 12+ may use crossbows to hunt deer. Hunters aged 14+ may use crossbows to hunt bears, small game, and other unprotected game. Licenses required in all cases.
North CarolinaAllowed during bow and arrow hunting season and open, gun, archery, and muzzleloader seasons. Migratory birds are off-limits. Fewer restrictions on Sundays.
North DakotaAllowed only for disabled hunters and only during the deer gun/rifle season. Hunters born after 1961 must take a hunter education course to obtain a hunting license.
OhioAllowed for all game other than migratory birds. Attachments capable of projecting a beam of light (such as laser sights) are prohibited.
OklahomaAllowed during archery season. May be used alongside leverage-gaining devices.
PennsylvaniaAllowed during archery seasons for deer and bear. Hunters must have a general hunting license and archery stamp.
Rhode IslandAllowed during deer archery season. May also be used to hunt coyotes, but not turkeys. State has requirements for minimum draw weight and broadhead size.
South CarolinaAllowed during archery, muzzleloader, and gun seasons for deer, bear, and turkey. Further allowed on private and WMA lands during all hunting seasons.
South DakotaAllowed only for disabled hunters unable to operate a traditional hunting bow. Firearm safety training and hunter education class required. Mechanical broadheads are prohibited during elk season. Cutting diameter of head must be at least 7/8 inch and as long as the arrow is wide.
TennesseeAllowed during archery, muzzleloader, and gun seasons. May not be used in conjunction with night vision devices.
TexasAllowed during general hunting, archery only, and Easter spring turkey seasons. Archery stamp required for deer during archery season.
UtahAllowed during firearm big game hunting season, but not during archery-only seasons. Hunters must be age 12+ for permit and 16+ to hunt unaccopmanied by an adult.
VermontAllowed during archery-only seasons. Bowhunter education course required.
VirginiaAllowed during archery and firearm seasons. Archery permit required during archery-only season. Also requires hunting permit, which may in turn require hunter education course completion.
WashingtonAllowed during firearm season, but not archery season. Must have at least 125 pounds of draw weight.
West VirginiaAllowed during big game firearm seasons. Must have at least 125 pounds of draw weight and a functional safety switch.
WisconsinAllowed for all hunters during archery and firearm seasons.
WyomingAllowed during archery and firearm seasons.
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