No changes for crossbow regs as New Yorkers start Southern Zone season

Roy Letcher Crossbow Buck 2022
Roy Letcher of Newfane, N.Y., ventured south into Pennsylvania this fall to use his crossbow earlier than in his home state and scored on this nice buck.

If you have never used a crossbow for target shooting or for hunting big game, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. They are fun to shoot, can be extremely accurate, and it’s another way to get back out in the field if you can’t pull your vertical bow back any longer. It’s unfortunate that we are severely restricted on when and how we can use these management tools in the Empire State.

I started using crossbows in 1990 when Horton Crossbows in Ohio held numerous media gatherings to help create a better awareness for what they really represented – another tool to hunt with, another opportunity to spend time in the woods. As I sat alongside my father, Bill, Sr., we each shot at the target almost simultaneously. We slowly turned our heads to look at each other.

“There’s nothing wrong with these,” he said.

“They are fun to shoot,” I replied. “And I hit the bullseye on the first shot!”

So was our first indoctrination to the much-maligned crossbow. It has been an uphill battle ever since as we pushed to allow the crossbow into New York’s big game hunting seasons. We knew it would be all about education.

The current crossbow specifications have been in place since the beginning in the Empire State. Industry standards have changed through the years and that it is time to update the requirements. For example, in New York a crossbow must have compound or recurve limbs with a minimum width of 17 inches, a minimum overall length of 24 inches from the butt of the stock to the front of the limbs. It must be able to launch an arrow/bolt at least 14 inches long, with a minimum/maximum draw weight of 100 to 200 pounds.

If you hunt with a crossbow and you have completed your Hunter Safety Certification on or after April 1, 2014, you are good to go. However, if you have not (but completed everything earlier), you must complete the Crossbow Certificate of Qualification form on page 23 of the Hunting Regulations Guide and carry it with you when afield.

If you are planning on using a crossbow in either the archery or muzzleloading seasons, you must have a muzzleloading tag/privilege in addition to your regular hunting license. An archery privilege does not allow you to use a crossbow.

“This past year was another disappointing year for crossbow expansion,” reflects Rick McDermott, president of the New York Crossbow Coalition. “We will never give up the fight for crossbows – to be classified and accepted as archery equipment for starters. There was no movement on any of the legislation affecting crossbows that made it to the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee agenda in 2022. Both A1102 and A9724 would have eliminated the arbitrary restrictions on width and draw weights of crossbows, as well as classify crossbows as archery equipment. Both were voted to be held in committee by an 18 to 10 margin.”

“Going forward, it is all dependent on what happens during the elections this November,” says McDermott as he continues to push to make changes in the state. In the past, he has worked with politicians to draft proposals that would allow extended crossbow usage through full inclusion in the early archery season for senior citizens and youth. He has also pushed to let the Department of Environmental Conservation manage all aspects of the crossbow, effectively keeping it out of the hands of politicians in Albany.

“As we prepare for the 2023 legislative session, we must continue to grow our membership and collect additional video testimonials. Links to sample videos and instructions on how to upload them can be found on our website.”

For more information on the NYCC, check out the website at In the meantime, get out there and vote. The sporting community can be a strong voice.

Crossbow season in New York’s Southern Zone runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 18, the last two weeks of the early archery season (that began Oct. 1). It began in the Northern Zone on Oct. 12, three days before the muzzleloading season.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Bill Hilts Jr, Whitetail Deer

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