Great Bows for Small Potatoes

“I got it for next-to-nothing,” said my wife as she emerged from the local pawn shop.  She is a jewelry expert and often browses pawn shops where owners don’t know the value of gems.  I noticed the CAMX Crossbow for sale and mentioned it would make a great Father’s Day gift, and it did.  I asked the owner if they sell many crossbows and he replied, “Not now, but things will pick up once hunting season arrives.”

Used Bows can be Great Deals

From now through the end of July, you will see plenty of yard sale signs and even if you aren’t a thrift sale shopper, it’s not uncommon to see a crossbow among dozens of toys and other goods.  Maybe the owner changed jobs, chose not to hunt, or had a divorce.  Regardless of the reason, crossbows have a long lifespan and may be hunted as-is or can be upgraded with new strings and cables.

I Loved the CAMX

About 10 years ago, I saw a demonstration at the Archery Trade Association Show where a vendor repeatedly threw the CAMX crossbow across a concrete floor and banged it against a brick wall. Despite this abuse, the bow shot accurately every time.  I was so impressed that I took the bow to Africa and the outfitter loved it so much that he bought it.  I have friends who still use them as they seem to be indestructible.  Sadly, the company went out of business, yet you may still find one at a yard sale or pawn shop.

What to Look For

The CAMX bow my wife bought was in excellent condition and still had the original scope caps in place.  When considering a used crossbow, be sure to examine the cables and strings carefully.  If they show signs of wear, use this as a bargaining point to reduce the price.  If the bow is more than five years old, you should replace them anyway.  If possible, ask to shoot the bow, even if just an arrow into the ground.  This way you will know that it cocks safely and that the trigger pull is acceptable.

Timing is Important

Early to mid-summer is the best time to buy a used bow.  Yard sale numbers explode at this time and hunter interest will be much lower than in the fall.  Consider buying a used bow at an archery shop at this time of the year.  They will be anxious to move last year’s inventory and you can return to the shop if something goes wrong or doesn’t work as advertised.  Also, you will get much more attention today than in August and September when shops are swamped with excited customers anxious to begin the season. Some archers want a new bow every year and buying their lightly used gear can save you hundreds on a bow that will last for many years.

Ask About Accessories

If the bow you are considering does not have a scope, quiver, or arrows? Ask about them.  CAMX crossbows shot arrows with flat nocks as shown above.  They will also shoot half-moon nocks but shafts must be oriented properly so the edges of the nock don’t cut the string.  Be careful that the arrows you purchase match those designed for the bow.  TenPoint bows, for example, won’t shoot arrows with flat nocks consistently and their newer models specify specific nocks.  Scopes are interchangeable and you might consider using a red dot scope instead.

Determining Value

Finding the retail value of a compound or crossbow is easier than ever.  Use your smartphone and search E-bay, Amazon, or another retail sight to look for similar models.  For models like CAMX that are out of business, search by the brand name “for sale.”  The trick to getting a great bow for “next-to-nothing” is to attend lots of sales and put on your best horse-trading skills.  Have your local pro shop on speed dial so you can learn the cost of replacing strings and cables.  Examine the limbs carefully for cracks or damage, but these too can be replaced.  In this era of high inflation and new bows costing more than ever, you can score your first crossbow or a trusty backup for small potatoes.  Squirrel away some cash and be ready to strike when opportunity knocks.