The decision to allow most people to use crossbows during Wisconsin’s regular archery season  is drawing mixed reactions from people in the hunting community.
Earlier this week, the Natural Resources Board approved a crossbow season that would run concurrent with the nearly four-month long archery season. The approval also expanded crossbow use to more hunters, not just those who are elderly or disabled .
Anthony Schmidt, a co-owner of La Crosse Archery in the small city of Onalaska in western Wisconsin, said the change has fired up hunters.
“Crossbow sales are going nuts, maybe 200 percent to 300 percent further than it was last year, and last year was crazy,” said Schmidt. “So, that tells you that our industry is growing.”
Crossbows has been somewhat controversial due to perceptions that they're as accurate and powerful as rifles. Schmidt, however, said that’s not always the case.
“There are some compounds crossbows now that you can shoot consistently at a pie plate at 100 yards or 120 yards, but that’s such a small percentage of these bows,” said Schmidt. “You’re going to spend $2,000 easily in order to obtain that kind of accuracy.”
Bill Herrmann of Chippewa Falls, who has been bowhunting for 50 years, said that the accuracy of crossbows gives them a huge advantage over traditional bows, and that he expects high deer kills to eventually lead to shorter crossbow seasons
Herrmann also said he doesn’t expect many bowhunters to switch over to crossbows just because they’re now able to.
“The people that are in archery are dedicated archers. They’re not going to be using crossbows,” Herrmann said. “The people that are going to be using crossbows are the people who don’t want to put in the time and effort to learn how to shoot a bow.”
Wisconsin's crossbow and archery season starts Sept. 13.