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Crossbow Hunting Qualification

Online Safety Training & Certification for Crossbow Use

This page serves as the New York State online training course for crossbow hunting qualification and certification. This is not required if you have completed the Hunter Education Course and received a hunter education certificate on or after April 1, 2014.

How to complete the online crossbow training course:

  • Read and understand all information on this page.
  • Print the certificate at the bottom of the page.
  • Sign and date the certificate.
  • Carry the signed certificate and appropriate licenses with you while hunting.

Game species that can be hunted with crossbows

  • Deer
  • Bear
  • Wild turkey
  • Most small game species, except waterfowl & other migratory game birds
  • Unprotected wildlife (e.g. red squirrels and woodchucks)

Find more information on crossbow use during hunting seasons, or view the 2014-15 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Guide.

General Crossbow Possession and Use

  • Crossbows cannot be used in the following counties of the state:
    • Westchester
    • Nassau
    • Suffolk
  • Crossbows cannot be used to take deer during the Columbus day weekend youth firearms deer hunt.
  • Without owner's permission, a crossbow may not be discharged within 250 feet of any:
    • home
    • farm structure
    • school building or grounds
    • public structure
    • occupied factory or church
  • Transportation in or on a motor vehicle: Crossbows must be uncocked if carried or possessed in or on a motor vehicle.
  • Optical sights can be used on crossbows.

Age Requirement

  • Must be 14 years of age or older to use crossbows in New York State.

Licenses Needed

  • Both a hunting license & muzzleloading privilege during the following seasons:
    • Any deer or bear muzzleloader season
    • Early deer or bear bowhunting season
  • A hunting license during the following seasons:
    • Any small game hunting season (Note: turkey permit is also needed to hunt turkey)
    • Early bear season
    • Regular deer or bear firearms seasons

Crossbow Safety Recommendations

parts of a crossbow
Parts of a crossbow
  • Before shooting your crossbow, read and thoroughly understand your crossbow owner's manual.
  • Make sure your fingers are well away (below rail) from the path of the bow string and cables.
  • Never dry-fire a crossbow (cock and fire without an arrow securely placed on the rail).
  • Make sure the crossbow limbs are free of obstructions before shooting.
  • Never carry a cocked crossbow with an arrow in it while walking.
  • If hunting from a tree stand, always cock the crossbow on the ground before climbing into the stand.
  • Once seated and secured in the tree stand, pull up your unloaded crossbow with a haul line.
  • Do not place an arrow on the crossbow until you are safely secured in your stand.
  • Never use a cocking device to uncock a crossbow.
  • To uncock a crossbow, shoot an arrow tipped with a field point into the soft ground or a target.
  • Always identify your target and the area beyond it before shooting.
  • To prevent wounding game, practice often and do not take shots at game that are beyond your effective range, generally less than 30-40 yards, similar to a modern compound bow.
  • To better understand how an arrow functions and the skill required for hunting with an arrow, DEC recommends all crossbow hunters take a bowhunter education course

Legal Specifications For Crossbows

  • A bow, a string, and either compound or recurve limbs with minimum width of 17 inches (outer tip of limbs excluding wheels and cams, uncocked).
  • Mounted on a stock with a trigger and working safety that holds the string and limbs under tension.
  • A minimum peak draw weight of 100 pounds and a maximum peak draw weight of 200 pounds.
  • A minimum overall length from the butt of the stock to the front of limbs of 24 inches.
  • A minimum arrow (bolt) length of 14 inches. (For big game, the arrowhead must be nonbarbed, with 2 or more cutting surfaces at least 7/8" wide).

Helpful Videos and Information to Review

View this short 4-minute video on the safe use of crossbows (produced by bowhunter-ed.com). If the video does not play properly, please try this alternate version of the video.



Also, visit the North American Crossbow Federation website (link leaves DEC's website) to view the "Crossbow 101" video (20 minutes) and other helpful information.

Printable Certificate of Qualification

printable crossbow certificate
Click the image to download and print the certificate (PDF, 1.6MB)
- Adobe Reader is needed.
Complete and sign the certificate, and carry with you along with your appropriate licenses while hunting.