When you’re looking for a youth crossbow you want something lightweight, maneuverable and compact. If strength is an issue a rope cocker may be too tough for your youth to pull, look for a bow also compatible with a crank cocking device.
Here are our top choices for a youth crossbow. From toys for little kids, functional crossbows that won’t break the bank that might make a good gift to the best out there to take your youth hunting with you.
The Best Youth Crossbow – Our Picks
- Barnett XP 380 with Crank – Best Youth Crossbow Overall – For serious hunting or target shooting
- Daisy Youth Crossbow – Most Affordable Functional First Youth Crossbow – Could be a great first crossbow gift
- Cabela’s Toy Crossbow – Best Toy Crossbow for Younger Kids/Toddlers
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers
Table of Contents
Barnett XP 380 with Crank
If you are looking to bring your teenager crossbow hunting with you, then look at no other crossbows except for the Barnett XP 380. This crossbow is the highest performing and one of the most powerful crossbows that will last years. This will be the only crossbow your teenager will need to own until they are older and ready to purchase their own.
The Barnet XP 380 shoots at an incredible speed of 380 FPS with 122-feet-pounds of Kinetic Energy. Perfect for large game animals. The butt stock and cheek rest are adjustable to provide a comfortable and custom fit. This crossbow is super easy to assemble with its single-bolt assembly.
Included with the crossbow package is a 4 x 32 mm MR scope, a side mount quiver, two 20” carbon arrows, a tension-reducing crank cocking device for the 185-pounds of draw weight, and some lubrication wax.
What we liked:
- Incredible power with an FPS of 380.
- Butt stock and cheek rest are adjustable for a custom fit.
- Contains Anti-Dry Fire Trigger System Technology.
- Single-bolt assembly for quick set up.
- Also comes with a 4 x 32 mm MY scope, a side mounted quiver, two 20” carbon arrows, a cocking device, and lubrication wax.
- Makes an excellent youth or beginners’ crossbow at an affordable price.
What we didn’t:
- May be too powerful for certain types of game.
Daisy Youth Crossbow
If your child or teen is ready to begin practicing with a more realistic crossbow, rather than a toy crossbow that shoots foam darts, then the most logical next step is purchasing the Daisy Youth Crossbow.
This crossbow fires real bolts and it should only be handled by young shooters who perfectly understand the dangers and potential harm that can be caused by this device. This is no longer a toy, and all safety precautions should be followed.
The Daisy Youth Crossbow has a draw weight of 29-pounds and the rear sight is 100% adjustable for windage and elevation adjustments. This crossbow is affordable, and it would make the perfect gift for the future hunter in your family.
Also included with this crossbow package are two 16-inch, 306-grain aluminum bolts.
What we liked:
- An excellent introduction to firing a fully functional and operational live crossbow.
- The 29-pound draw weight is ideal for youth and teen archers.
- Rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation adjustment.
- An affordable gift idea for the young archer/hunter in your family.
- Includes two 16-inch, 306-grain aluminum bolts.
What we didn’t:
- Not designed for use in the field and for hunting large game.
Youth Crossbow Reviews
Cabela’s Toy Crossbow
If you are looking for an affordable way to introduce a child or family member to the basics of operating a crossbow, then the Cabela’s Toy Crossbow is the perfect gift. This functional crossbow comes with six foam projectiles and a target. Before having your child or family member practice with a real crossbow, have them practice with this toy crossbow that will not only teach them some basic skills but will also provide hours of entertainment and fun.
Best if used for teens aged 14 and older, however, with adult supervision, you may introduce this toy to someone under the age of 14.
What we liked:
- Affordable and teaches crossbow basics like loading, aiming, and shooting.
- Comes with six foam projectiles and a target.
- Provides hours of entertainment and fun.
What we didn’t:
- Not to be used for any other purpose other than entertainment.
Choosing a Youth Crossbow
In this guide we will be covering how to select the best youth crossbow for a child, pre-teen or teen. Crossbows are not nearly as mainstream as compound bows or recurve bows, so that makes the challenge a bit more difficult. It is harder to find a good selection of crossbows built for children.
The first question you must ask yourself and the child is… is a crossbow is the right weapon for them? A crossbow is a unique cross breed between a firearm and a conventional bow. It gives you the ease of use that pulling a trigger always provides, but it gives a more primitive and personal experience than a firearm. You can watch the arrow fly through the air at the target. If you hunt, you can sometimes smell the animal before firing because it is so close. It is easier to learn how to fire a crossbow than it is learning to fire a conventional bow, but more challenging than a firearm.
A crossbow also has the additional burden of more string maintenance. It demands more responsibility. I suggest waxing the string every five shots on any crossbow because of the friction against the frame.
Regulations and Classes
You also must check your local regulations to see if hunting with a crossbow is allowed and how the schedule is different from a conventional bow. As for the learning process, you are mainly on your own. You can rarely find an archery class or school that teaches crossbow use. You really must have an experienced user to show the child how to use it.
Better for Hunting…
As for hunting, a crossbow can give a child the additional arrow speed and power that they may lack with a traditional bow. With a compound or recurve bow, a child must have a certain amount of strength to draw and hold the string back. However, there are plenty of mechanical advantages available through draw devices for crossbows such and rope and crank cockers. The average child can fire with significantly more power on a crossbow than they can on a conventional bow.
For me, the only reason I use a crossbow is for hunting. It allows me to be more accurate and shoot with more power than I can with a conventional bow. However, it opens up an additional hunting season for me to harvest meat. I hunt to fill the freezer… period. For that purpose, a crossbow can greatly help. For target shooting, I prefer a firearm or a conventional bow.
There is also the question of safety. Some people would say a crossbow is safer because it actually has a safety built into the firing mechanism. Generally when a crossbow is cocked or loaded a safety will engage that must by physically disengaged before you can fire the bow. Some bows even go as far as sensing whether a bolt is on the rack before they will allow that safety to disengage. Others would say that the ease of simply pulling a trigger makes the crossbow more dangerous. I think each option has its pros and cons. The key is proper safety training on any type of weapon.
Another variable to consider with a crossbow is the weight. The average crossbow is more than twice the weight of a conventional bow. For some children this will make it difficult to keep the bow steady. For others it will actually help keep the bow steady. Before you make the decision to purchase a crossbow for a child, you should go through a few tests with them and determine using random household object how much you think they will be comfortable holding for any length of time.
If you can, find a bow shop that has youth crossbows and let them hold one on a target without an arrow. See how comfortable they are and if they are able to hold the pin on target for at least eight seconds. This is how long it takes to get a good sight picture before firing. Many crossbows come with a scope these days, so the distance from the eye to the rim of the scope is very important. See how comfortable they are with the scope view.
Consider Starting with a Pistol Crossbow…
You can spend $20-$30 and buy a good pistol crossbow to let the child get a feel for this type of weapon. While the grip and power are very different, this was my first test drive into the crossbow world. It made me feel much more comfortable. People are generally far less intimidated by the pistol crossbow than the full size models.
Recurve vs Compound Youth Crossbows
Once you have decided to purchase a crossbow, there are a few more decisions to make. Likely the most important is whether to go with a recurve or a compound crossbow. I like a recurve crossbow. While it has longer arms making it harder to maneuver through thick brush, it is lighter and more accurate than a compound bow. There are fewer moving parts so overall there is less maintenance, except for the string itself. String replacement is also very easy on a recurve crossbow. It is a bit harder to draw back a recurve, but with the draw assistance devices you can always have a mechanical advantage.
Compound crossbows give you a mechanical advantage when drawing the string, but I find that benefit to be negligible. The arms are shorter so you have a smaller package, but it is heavier as well. The only real reason I see for buying a compound crossbow is if there is a serious issue with drawing back the string on a recurve.
There are not many specifications you need to worry about on a child’s crossbow. If you want the child to use it for hunting, you want the draw weight to be around 150 pounds. Other than that, it just needs to fit the child.
Youth Crossbow Style
Do consider the pattern and color of the bow. You will need a camouflage pattern for a hunter, but most target shooters just use a solid color. Be wary of the cost with crossbows as you do not want to spend several hundred dollars only to find out they do not use the bow. My first full sized crossbow only cost me $125.
Do pay attention to bolt weight and broad-head weight. This can greatly affect bolt flight, accuracy, and arrow penetration. You may have to try a few different bolts and a few different broad-heads to find some that work. I went through three different broad-head designs before I found one that flew true to my field heads.
Anything to share?
I hope this roundup was useful and led you in the direction of a quality target for your setup. Please let us know if we’re missing your favorite and need to add it to this review, or if there are any aspects of any of the above we’ve not covered correctly! Either leave a comment or send us some feedback!