There are two categories of target crossbow shooting: Target and Sport. These are described below. If you are technically minded then there is also a very good explanation of crossbows on youtube (and below) which explodes some of the myths regarding crossbows. Produced by John Clark, Secretary General of the World Crossbow Shooting Association (WCSA).
The target crossbow can be tracked, trackless or 'U' track and fully equipped (excluding telescopic sights or electronic triggers). The draw weight is 95lbs (43 kg) max. Draw length 12". The total weight of the crossbow can be up to 22lbs (10 kg). Butt hooks are allowed as are open or aperture sights (no magnifying sights). No loading devices are allowed, the crossbow must be drawn by hand.
The target crossbow on the right is a Spirit2000. It is a tracked crossbow fitted with recurve carbon composite limbs, a palm rest to support the bow and butt hook to anchor the butt of the bow under the arm when shooting. The crossbow is fitted with a tunnel foresight incorporating a spirit level and a diopter rearsight. The trigger is a Feinwerkbau match trigger with two stage mechanism allowing adjustment of the first stage travel and release pressure.
These types of crossbow are extremely accurate if set up and tuned properly. The best can achieve groupings of a few centimetres at a range of 65m. which is a requirement at international level as the "10" ring is only 60 mm. diameter.
Crossbow bolts can be made from any safe material. The length of a bolt must be between 12" to 18" (30 to 45 cm). Fletching Vanes must be fitted and points must be target types only. The back of the bolt is fitted with a nock, a small flat disk of plastic which protects the end of the shaft and rests against the string when the bolt is placed in the crossbow
Target crossbow bolts are commonly made from high tensile strength aluminium alloy tubing. The higher the tensile strength, the truer the bolt and the longer it will stay straight in use. On the down side, they are more expensive and much more spectacular when you split one with another bolt.
The crossbow bolts shown on the left are made from Easton X7 tubing and have stainless steel round nose points. The white nocks at the back are made from PTFE and help deflect any bolt striking the back of one already in the target. The fletchings are made of plastic and may be set at a slight angle to the shaft to impart spin to the bolt as it travels through the air giving it stability.
The specifications are much the same as target crossbow but with a maximum draw weight of 150lbs (68 kg) and a maximum physical weight of 12 lbs (4.5 kg). Telescopic sights may be used in this category.
The sport crossbow is essentially an entry level bow which is mass produced from cast and pressed components and used with little or no modification. The limbs are of recurve construction and typically made from solid glass fibre. The trigger mechanism on these types of crossbow are often made from pressed steel and hardened to keep costs down.
Sport crossbows are shot at shorter distances outdoors than target crossbows but nevertheless still provide a very challenging and popular sport. It is an excellent introduction to the sport.
The sport crossbow on the right is a tracked crossbow with a basic grip and wooden stock. The sights are a simple pin foresight and open 'V' rearsight. A retractable foot stirrup is fitted to this crossbow to aid drawing the string.
Target Crossbow. 90 bolts are shot in 'ends' of 3 at a 60 cm target face at 65, 55 and 45 metres (maximum score 900). Sport Crossbow: 60 bolts shot in 'ends' of 2 at a 60 cm target face at 55, 45 and 35 metres (maximum score 600).
For both Sport and Target Crossbow: 60 bolts are shot in 'ends' of 3 at a 40 cm target face at either 25 or 18 metres (maximum score 600). 80 bolts shot in ends of 4 at a 25 cm target face at 10 metres (maximum score 800). Negative scoring applies in this round so any line cutters count the lower scoring ring.
Most of the competitions and tournaments are in the Midlands, see Events.