Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Long Range Crossbow Hunting
SCOPE: To allow the TAC 15 to reach its full long range potential and be effective in the field, it is important to outfit it with a capable optic. There are a wide range of scopes to choose from to meet both long range and field requirements. However, based on preference and experience I selected Zeiss.

Long Range Crossbow Hunting
Zeiss Rapid-Z 1000 yard ballistic reticle.

A number of Zeiss models offer crisp optical clarity during low-light conditions, a Rapid-Z 1000 yard ballistic reticle, and tactical target turrets for maximum elevation adjustments to further compensate for ballistic drop at long ranges. I've used two Zeiss scopes with the TAC 15 with success at long ranges: When I first began using the TAC 15 I mounted the Zeiss Conquest 4-14x40 Target with Rapid-Z 1000. With the zoom power set to 6x magnification on this scope, the Rapid-Z 1000 reticle matches the ballistic drop of the PSE TAC 15 crossbow out to 100 yards. For example, the top "1" mark on the reticle equals ten yards, the "2" mark equals twenty (20) yards, "3" equals 30, etc. all the way up to the "9" mark equaling ninety (90) yards, and the bottom "10" mark equaling 100 yards. On the other hand, if the Rapid-Z 1000 reticle is not your preferred method for long range shooting, manual adjustment of the elevation turret to compensate for ballistic drop is another method to shoot long distances. The TAC 15 scope rail is slanted at least 20 minutes-of-angle (MOA) to allow for maximum elevation adjustment of the scope.

RANGE-FINDER: Another critical tool in shooting long distances is range estimation. After some research and comparison, I selected the Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide for its optical clarity and ability to yield accurate measurements over 1000 yards; more than enough for the crossbow.

Long Range Crossbow Hunting
Manufacturer: Swarovski
Mode: Laser Guide
Magnification: 8x zoom (fixed)
Objective: 30 mm
Distance: 1500 yards
Weight: 13.6 oz

ARROWS (BOLT): PSE recommends one type of arrow for use with the TAC 15: their 26.25 long 425 grain arrows. The arrows come from the manufacturer with 100 grain field tips pre-installed. In the field, I use broad heads to match the weight and flight pattern of the field tip. Selecting the right broad head is very important for stability of the arrow during flight trajectory at long ranges. This ensures the time spent sighting in the crossbow at the range equally transfers to accuracy in the field. Since there are a number of quality manufacturers to choose from, I decided to go directly to the source; I contacted PSE to inquire which broad head they recommended for the TAC 15 crossbow. They were hesitant to provide a recommendation of one manufacturer over another, but instead described the optimal design, e.g. 100 grains, three-blade mechanical broad head, and do not use ones which have a rubber band to secure the blades. Since there are a number of manufactures with broad heads that match this description I was still left with a daunting choice. I pressed the PSE customer service representative further, "Exactly which broad heads do most of your staff use?" The response was a resounding "NAP" or "New Archery Products." This helped me narrow down my choice. Upon reviewing the variety of NAP broad head models, I selected the NAP Spitfire MAXX which offers 100 grains, 1-3/4 cutting diameter, stainless steel blades, and claims field tip accuracy. The NAP Spitfire MAXX met the requirements explained by the PSE customer service representative perfectly.

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Manufacturer: New Archery Products (NAP)
Model: Spitfire MAXX
Weight: 100 grain
Cutting Diameter: 1-3/4" inch
Blades: Mechanical, stainless-steel
Point: Cut-on-contact, micro-grooved ferrule

Long Range Crossbow Hunting

Also I've recently outfitted the TAC 15 arrows with another addition, Firenock Lighted Nocks. The lighted nocks not only make it easier to follow-up on a shot in the field, at the target range they also allow the shooter to observe the stability of the flight pattern of the arrow once projected and then make adjustments to the TAC 15 accordingly to ensure a true flight.

STEP 3: PRACTICE: Having the proper equipment to shoot long ranges is important, but knowing how to use it quickly and effectively is even more important. From the TAC 15 crossbow itself, to the arrows, the rangefinder and the scope, all must work together in unison and at their maximum potential to have an effective long range weapon system. For example, if there is a slight nick in an arrow fletching it could have a catastrophic effect on the accuracy of the arrow at long distances. Likewise, if your rangefinder is yielding inaccurate measurements, the scope adjustments to accommodate the shot will likely result in a missed shot. But perhaps even more important are your physical capabilities: eyesight, steadiness, stamina, patience, discernment and mental calculation.

Long Range Crossbow Hunting

For example, as recent as a couple of years ago my nearsighted vision was such that it only allowed me to see things close up without the visual aid of glasses or contacts. To further complicate the matter, my contacts would often dry out from fatigue in the field or from allergies, causing blurred or distorted vision. If I wore my glasses as an alternative, they too often became fogged or caused complication in proper field-of-view when looking through a scope. To improve my physical impairment, and to expand professional opportunities, I opted to undergo lasik eye surgery to correct my vision. Now my farsighted abilities are better than 20/20 at long distances without the use of visual aids like glasses or contacts.

Likewise if you have poor problem solving skills or fail to understand cause-and-effect, long range shooting may become extremely frustrating to you, even more so after investing a significant amount of money into your setup. For example, if you know from the research and experience of others that a certain weapons system (such as the PSE TAC 15) is capable of a fine degree of accuracy out to long distances, yet you are unable to replicate that accuracy on your own, instead of blaming your inaccuracy on faulty equipment, or merely giving up, you must have enough mental dexterity to observe your shortcoming, investigate the phenomena, test your hypothesis for failure, obtain new information, and formulate corrective measures.

Using the PSE TAC 15 setup, I can hit targets all the way out to 130 yards. I shoot laying down flat in the prone position because it offers me the most stability that I can apply in a field environment. I could probably shoot farther with more practice and different scope, but at this yardage I've reached the maximum adjustment for my scope.

This year I've switched from using the Zeiss Conquest 4-14x40 to the Zeiss Victory Diavari 6-24x72. My decision to switch was due to the increased light-gathering capability and increased elevation adjustments of the Zeiss Victory Diavari. Upon looking through the Victory Diavari scope for the first time, I knew upgrading to this scope would not be a simple plug-and-play operation. The 6-24x72 model also uses the Rapid Z 1000 ballistic reticle. But the Rapid Z 1000 ballistic reticle appears much larger in the Victory Diavari then it does in the Conquest, meaning the Rapid Z 1000 ballistic sweet spot for the PSE TAC 15 for the 6-24x72 Victory Diavari is not the same as the 4-14x40 Conquest.

As I began planning for my trip to the range to sight in the new scope, I attempted to find the easy way out to find the answer on where the new ballistic sweet spot is; as recommended in the user manual I navigated online to the Zeiss' Rapid Z Ballistic Calculator. But unfortunately I found that the data points of the Zeiss Rapid Z Ballistic Calculator were only set up for rifle ammunition and didn't offer the ability to plug in simple ballistic data points associated with the kinetic energy and velocity of the PSE TAC 15 crossbow.

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