As crossbows grow in popularity, many hunters wonder "are crossbows legal where I live?". I will provide information that will help you figure out if crossbows are legal in your country or state. Keep in mind you need to be aware of the laws at all levels of government whenever you're hunting. Some crossbow laws are different at the country, state, and sometimes even down to the county or city level. You'll be able to find all of the information you need to know in this article.
Use the table of contents to quickly jump to your country or state.
Crossbow Laws In The United States
Feel free to use the table of contents below to quick jump to your state. In the United States, crossbow laws are set at a state level. TenPoint Crossbows, the manufacturer of the best crossbow on the market, has put together an interactive page explaining what the crossbow laws are by state, click here to see the laws for each state. They even include phone numbers to state officials if you need more clarification regarding what the crossbow laws are in your state. If you are not sure what some of the terminology means, review our crossbow glossary.
It is legal to use a crossbow in Alabama but with the following exceptions:
- Minimum peak tension (draw weight) of 100 pounds
- Bolt or arrow must be a minimum of 14 inches from nock to end of shaft
- There shall be no electronic or electrically assisted devices attached to the bow, except for sights or range finders
- Must have a working safety
Crossbows are legal in Alaska as long as the hunt or area does not restrict crossbows. If you are hunting for big game in Alaska, then you must meet these specifications:
- 100 pound draw weight minimum
- Bolt is AT LEAST 16 inches in length, tipped with a broadhead, and weighs at least 300 grains
- Broadhead is fixed, replaceable, or mechanical - the broadhead cannot be barbed
- No electronic devices attached, except for scopes or sights that do not emit light externally
- Crossbow must be shoulder mounted
A crossbow can only be used in Arizona for hunters who have been deemed to have a physical disability stopping them from hunting with a normal bow, under law R12-4-216. Permits are issued to these hunters on either a temporary or permanent basis. Review the following pieces of information to learn more about crossbow hunting in Arizona.
- Arizona Crossbow License Application Information
- Arizona Crossbow License Application Form
- Arizona Crossbow Permit Information
Once you have your permit, the following regulations apply:
- Minimum 125 pound draw weight
- Bolts or arrows a minimum length of 16 inches
- Broadheads must be at least 7/8th inch in width
- Broadheads must have metal cutting edges
Arkansas allows crossbows during archery seasons and have very few limitations which are:
- Crossbows must have 125 pound draw weight minimum
- Must have a mechanical safety
California does not recognize crossbows as archery equipment, but categorizes them similar to guns and are legal during gun seasons. If you get a disability waiver, you can use your crossbow during archery seasons, click here to download the California crossbow disability waiver. The following rules apply to hunting in California:
- For big game, arrows and bolts using broadheads need to be at least 7/8th inch wide, note that broadheads will be measured in their open positions if they are not fixed width
- For small game and birds (except pheasants), any arrow or bolt may be used
- Hunting pheasants in California or other migratory birds, you must use a flu-flu fletching arrow or bolt
Crossbow hunting is legal in Colorado during all gun seasons. You must have a disability permit to use a crossbow during the archery season. NOTE: Crossbows are not legal to use on big game during the archery season. Buy your Colorado hunting license here. The minimum crossbow requirements in Colorado are:
- Draw weight needs to be a minimum of 125 pounds
- Power stroke (or draw length) must be a minimum of 14 inches, which is measured from the front to the nocking point
- A positive mechanical safety is required
- Bolt or arrow should be at least 16" in length
- Broadheads are required to have no less than two steel cutting edges
- Broadheads must have an outside diameter of 7/8" or more
Crossbows are considered legal bows in Connecticut. There are a few unique crossbow hunting laws in Connecticut including:
- Minimum draw weight of 125 pounds
- Bolt or arrow must be 18" in length at a minimum, NOT including the broadhead
- Broadheads must have at least 2 blades
- Broadheads must be at least 7/8th inch
- You CANNOT be in possession of a firearm while crossbow hunting in Connecticut
- Your crossbow cannot have a folding stock
Hunters in Delaware are allowed to use crossbows to hunt game during gun seasons, but must have at least 400 square inches of hunter orange on. The following stipulations are added for crossbow hunters:
- Crossbow pull weight (draw weight) must be 125 pound at a minimum
- Crossbow must be manufactured after 1980
- A mechanical safety is required
Crossbows are legal to hunt with in Florida. There are a few stipulations if you're hunting deer or turkey:
- Broadhead must be equipped and have 2 sharpened edges
- Broadhead must be a minimum of 7/8th" in width
It is legal to hunt with crossbows in Georgia.
- A broadhead must be used on your arrow if you're hHunting deer, bears, or feral hogs
Crossbows are legal in Hawaii by special permit only.
Crossbows are legal to use during the "any weapon season", but are only legal in the archery season if you have a disabled archery permit. When using a crossbow to hunt big game, the following are crossbow requirements in Idaho:
- Broadheads need to be at least 7/8" in width, expanding broadheads are not legal in Idaho
- At least 150 pound draw weight
- Electronic devices are not allowed to be attached to an arrow or the crossbow, except for nonmagnifying battery powered scopes with lighted reticles
- Bolts or arrows must be a minimum of 300 grain weight
- Arrows are required to be at least 12" long, from nock to broadhead
Illinois allows the use of crossbows to all archery hunters, but only for particular dates. Please check the listed source for those dates. Otherwise, crossbows are limited to those who have a documented disability, or those 62 years or older. Illinois crossbow hunting laws are as follows:
- A minimum of 125 pound draw weight, and a maximum of 200 pound draw weight crossbows
- Crossbow length must be at least 24 inches long
- A working safety is required
- Arrows or bolts must be fletched and a minimum of 14 inches long
- Broadhead has to be one of the following materials: metal, flint, chert, or obsidian-napped
- Expandable broadheads must be metal
- All broadheads must be at least 7/8th inches when fully opened
- Flu-flu arrows are required when taking upland game
Crossbows are allowed during archery season in Indiana if you have a valid hunting license in the state. Crossbows are legal in deer reduction zones. Here are some requirements:
- Minimum of 125 pound draw weight
- Mechanical safety in working condition
During the archery season, only physically handicapped hunters with a permit from the Iowa DNR, or residents 70 years of age and older can use a crossbow. Otherwise, crossbows are legal during the late muzzleloader season. For Iowa hunting season dates, click here. The following regulations apply to crossbow hunting in Iowa:
- Crossbow must be required to use two hands to shoot
- Arrow or bolt must be equipped with a broadhead
Crossbows are legal in Kansas during archery deer seasons. If you are a disabled or temporarily disabled hunter, you can apply for a permit to hunt deer, antelope, elk, wild turkey, and other big game.
Crossbows are legal in Kentucky during certain times of the year. Visit Kentucky's Fish And Wildlife Resources page for more information regarding the type of game you like to hunt. The following are crossbow requirements in Kentucky:
- No minimum draw weight is required
- Crossbows must have a working safety
- Arrows or bolts can be made of wood, carbon, or metal
- No chemicals are allowed on broadheads
- Broadheads must be at least 7/8" wide when fully open or extended
Louisiana allows the use of crossbows if you have an archery license. The following are requirements to hunt in Louisiana with a crossbow:
- Minimum of 30 pounds draw weight
- No poison, drugged, or explosive arrow tips
- No infrared, laser sight, or night vision sights - non-projecting red or green reticles are allowed
Crossbow hunting in Maine is legal to anyone 16 years or older, as long as you have a valid big game hunting license or an archery license. There are a few time frame limitations though. You cannot use a crossbow to hunt deer in the following seasons: Expanded archery, regular October archery, or muzzle loading. You cannot use a crossbow to hunt turkey during the fall turkey season. If you're over 70 or have a special handicap permit, you can hunt with a crossbow during any season.
Crossbows are legal during seasons where vertical bows are also allowed. For more information check out Maryland's DNR site.
Crossbows may only be used by permanently handicapped people who carry the proper permit. Read more on Mass.gov.
Crossbows are legal in Michigan except for a few cases. Visit Michigan's DNR for more details.
Crossbows are legal in Minnesota during the firearm, turkey, and bear seasons. Handicapped hunters with a permit have expanded rights. Also, if you're 60 years of age or older, you have expanded rights. Check Minnesota's DNR site for more info.
Mississippi legalized crossbows to be used in the full archery season. Mississippi's wildlife, fisheries, & parks website offers more information regarding their crossbow laws and regulations.
Missouri allows hunters to use crossbows legally during the archery deer and turkey seasons. Missouri's Department of Conservation contains all the crossbow laws for the state.
Montana only allows the use of crossbows during gun seasons. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks site.
Nebraska considers crossbows to be archery equipment when hunting big game. Big game hunters who are aged 12 to 29 have to be certified in Nebraska's Bowhunter Education. For more crossbow laws in Nebraska, visit Nebraska's Game & Parks site.
Nevada only allows hunters to use crossbows legally during their "Any legal weapon" hunt. Nevada does not consider crossbows as archery equipment, and therefore you cannot hunt with a crossbow during archery hunts in Nevada. Source: Nevada Department of Wildlife.
New Hampshire crossbow laws allow for hunters to hunt deer in their firearms season, but you must purchase a crossbow hunting permit. Handicapped hunters with a permit have expanded rights in New Hampshire. Check out NH's Fish & Game site for more details.
Crossbows are legal in New Jersey and have the same rights as other archery equipment. New Jersey's Division of Fish & Wildlife site has more information.
During New Mexico's "Any legal sporting arm" or muzzleloader hunts, crossbows are legal. If you're a certified mobility impaired hunter, you can legally use your crossbow during all hunts. Source: New Mexico's Game & Fish.
New crossbow laws and regulations were setup for New York back in 2014. Read here for more info: New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Crossbows in North Carolina are allowed when bow and arrows are legal. A minimum of 150 pound draw weight is required in North Carolina. Source: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Crossbows are legal in North Dakota during the deer gun season and muzzleloader season. For specific crossbow regulations in North Dakota, visit the North Dakota Game And Fish Department.
Crossbows in Ohio are legal during the archery season. Ohio DNR Wildlife.
Crossbows are allowed in Oklahoma for hunting under the same rules as conventional archery bows. Source: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Crossbows are NOT LEGAL in Oregon currently, however there are groups trying to push changes to this law. Some groups are just trying to allow crossbows to be legal for disabled hunters. Source: Oregon Department of Fish And Wildlife.
Hunting with crossbows is legal in Pennsylvania during the archery deer and bear seasons. Source: Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Crossbows in Rhode Island used to be classified as a firearm, but they are now classified the same as other archery bows. Crossbows are legal in Rhode Island during the archery deer season. You must successfully complete the Bow Hunter course and also make sure you have an archery deer permit.
You cannot hunt any wild bird, including turkey, with a crossbow in Rhode Island. Source: Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Crossbows are allowed in South Carolina during all archery, muzzleloader, or gun season. It's legal to take deer, turkey, and bears with a crossbow. Source: South Carolina DNR.
Handicapped hunters are allowed to use crossbows in South Dakota during archery season. Source: South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks.
You can hunt with a crossbow in Tennessee during all hunting seasons. You can hunt big game, small game, and migratory birds legally. Source: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
You can use crossbows to hunt in Texas during archery seasons. Grayson County has an exclusion that does not allow crossbows. Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife.
In Utah, you can hunt deer with a crossbow during the general season any legal weapon hunt. You are not allowed to use crossbows during the archery season or muzzleloader hunts. Source: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Disabled hunters over 50 can hunt with crossbows without the need to get a disability permit in Vermont. If you're 49 and younger, you will need to obtain a disability permit to use a crossbow. Source: Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Hunters in Virginia are allowed to use crossbows during the firearms and archery seasons. They have separate crossbow permits for seasons that are deemed to be archery only. Source: Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries.
Washington has a slightly stricter disability clause than other states, requiring hunters to have a permanent, non-operable upper extremity disability, signed off by a physician. Source: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Crossbows are legal in West Virginia during archery seasons. The following counties have exception to this law: McDowell, Logan, Wyoming, and Mingo. As an additional exception, if you're a class Y/YY holder, you are allowed to hunt with a crossbow in these counties as well. Source: West Virginia DNR.
Crossbows are legal during archery season in Wisconsin. Source: Wisconsin DNR.
Wyoming allows the use of crossbows during archery seasons. Source: Wyoming Game & Fish Department.
Crossbow Laws In Canada
Each Canadian province has set their own rules about crossbow legality. A list explaining in detail what the crossbow laws and regulations are in Canada has been put together by TenPoint Crossbows. Crossbows
Hopefully I was able to answer the question of "are crossbows legal where I live?" This information is correct at the time of posting, but if you see any inaccuracies, please leave a comment below and I will be sure to make the necessary updates!
Crossbow Laws Across The World
If you didn't see your country listed here, don't worry! I found this article on Wikipedia that covers many other country's crossbow laws. If you would like to share your country's laws with me, feel free to leave a comment below and I will add it to this list!
NOTE: This article is a guide to help point you in the right direction. Please refer to your state's crossbow regulations before hunting. If you see any factual errors or crossbow hunting information that needs to be updated, please use the contact form or the comment section below to let me know. Happy hunting!