What States Are Crossbows Illegal? US Crossbow Regulations

What States Are Crossbows Illegal? US Crossbow Regulations

Crossbows have been used throughout history as powerful hunting and warfare tools, their unique combination of accuracy and power making them both practical and fascinating.

Today, crossbows continue to be popular among hunters and sport shooting enthusiasts alike.

However, the legality of crossbows in the United States varies significantly from state to state. In this article, we will explore the complexities of crossbow regulations across the nation, delving into the states where crossbows are illegal, as well as restrictions and guidelines in others.

By understanding the diverse tapestry of crossbow laws in the US, hunters and hobbyists can ensure they are compliant with local regulations and avoid any legal pitfalls.

So, whether you are an experienced crossbow user or a newcomer to the world of archery, this comprehensive guide will provide valuable insight into the legal landscape of crossbow use in America.

Overview of Crossbow Laws in the United States

Crossbow laws in the United States are a patchwork of federal, state, and local regulations that govern the ownership, use, and transportation of these powerful archery tools.

Each state has its own set of rules, and in some cases, the laws even differ between counties or municipalities within the same state.

This makes understanding crossbow regulations a challenging task for enthusiasts. In this overview, we will discuss the key aspects of crossbow laws in the US, including their legality, hunting regulations, and any relevant restrictions.

  1. Legality: Crossbows are generally legal in most states, but there are a few exceptions. Some states have outright bans, while others have restrictions based on factors like age, physical ability, or specific hunting seasons. It is important to research your state's laws before purchasing or using a crossbow.
  2. Hunting Regulations: Crossbows are popular among hunters for their precision and power. Many states allow crossbow hunting during archery or firearm seasons, while others designate specific crossbow seasons. Regulations may also differ depending on the type of game being hunted. Be sure to review your state's hunting regulations to determine when and where crossbow hunting is permitted.
  3. Age Restrictions: Some states have age requirements for crossbow ownership or use. These restrictions typically range from 16 to 18 years old but may vary depending on the state. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with your state's age restrictions to ensure you are in compliance.
  4. Permits and Licensing: In some states, a permit or license is required to own or use a crossbow for hunting purposes. These requirements vary by state and may include a hunter education course, archery safety training, or other prerequisites. Always check your state's licensing requirements before using a crossbow for hunting.
  5. Transporting Crossbows: Transporting a crossbow from one location to another may be subject to specific rules and regulations, especially when crossing state lines. Generally, crossbows should be unloaded and secured in a case during transport. Be sure to review the transportation guidelines for both your departure and destination states.
  6. Local Ordinances: In addition to state regulations, some cities or counties may have their own crossbow laws. These local ordinances can further restrict the use, possession, or transport of crossbows within their jurisdiction. Always consult local regulations before using a crossbow in a new area.

Understanding the various crossbow laws in the United States is essential for responsible ownership and use.

Before purchasing, possessing, or using a crossbow, make sure to thoroughly research your state's regulations and any local ordinances that may apply.

By staying informed and adhering to the law, crossbow enthusiasts can enjoy their sport while ensuring the safety and well-being of themselves and others.

States Where Crossbows are Illegal or Heavily Restricted

As of the writing of this article, there are no states in the United States that completely ban crossbows.

However, some states impose heavy restrictions on their use, particularly in hunting or requiring a special permit. These states include:

  1. Oregon: Crossbows are prohibited for hunting big game, and their use is restricted to disabled hunters with a valid permit.

States with Partial Crossbow Restrictions

Several states have partial restrictions on crossbow use, mainly focusing on hunting regulations or requiring specific permits. Some of these states are:

  1. California: Crossbows are allowed for hunting during the general firearms season but are prohibited during the archery-only season unless the hunter possesses a disabled archer permit.
  2. New York: Crossbows are permitted during specific portions of the archery season, and the use is restricted to hunters aged 14 or older. In some areas, crossbow hunting may be further limited by local regulations.
  3. Pennsylvania: Crossbow hunting is allowed during specific seasons or portions of the archery and firearms seasons. Restrictions may vary depending on the type of game being hunted and the location.
  4. Rhode Island: Crossbows are legal for hunting during the firearms season but are prohibited during the archery-only season. Disabled hunters may be eligible for an exemption with a valid permit.
  5. New Jersey: Crossbows are legal for hunting during specific seasons and for disabled hunters possessing a permit. Some areas may have additional restrictions, so it's important to check local regulations.
  6. Connecticut: Crossbows are allowed for hunting during the firearms season but are prohibited during the archery-only season. However, disabled hunters with a valid permit may use crossbows during the archery season.

It is essential to note that regulations are subject to change, and local ordinances may impose additional restrictions on crossbow use.

Hunters and enthusiasts should regularly check their state's regulations and any local ordinances to ensure they remain in compliance with the law.

Traveling with Crossbows

Traveling with crossbows requires careful consideration of the laws and regulations in your departure location, destination, and any states in between. When preparing to travel with a crossbow, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Unload and Secure: Always unload your crossbow and store it securely in a protective case during transportation. This ensures safety for you and others while adhering to the legal requirements in most jurisdictions.
  2. Research Destination Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the crossbow laws and hunting regulations in your destination state or country. Some areas may have restrictions on crossbow use, ownership, or transportation that differ from your home state.
  3. Local Ordinances: Be aware of any local ordinances in cities or counties you'll be visiting. These regulations may impose additional restrictions on crossbow use or transport, and it's essential to comply with all local laws.
  4. Transporting Across State Lines: When traveling through multiple states, review the transportation regulations for each state you'll pass through. Some states may have specific requirements or restrictions on transporting crossbows.
  5. Air Travel: If you plan to fly with your crossbow, contact the airline in advance to understand their requirements for transporting archery equipment. Typically, crossbows must be checked as luggage and packed securely in a hard-sided case.
  6. International Travel: If you're traveling internationally with a crossbow, research the import and export regulations for each country involved. Some countries may require permits or have specific restrictions on crossbows.

By following these guidelines and staying informed about the laws and regulations surrounding crossbow transportation, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience while traveling with your crossbow. Always prioritize safety and compliance to enjoy your archery pursuits responsibly.


In conclusion, crossbow laws and regulations in the United States are a complex and varied landscape, with each state having its own set of rules governing their use, ownership, and transportation.

To ensure responsible and lawful crossbow usage, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your state and any local ordinances that may apply.

By staying informed and adhering to the laws and regulations in your area, you can enjoy the sport of crossbow shooting while ensuring the safety and well-being of yourself and others.

Responsible crossbow ownership and use will not only contribute to a positive reputation for the sport but will also help to protect and preserve the privilege of using these powerful and fascinating tools for generations to come.