Crossbow Hunting Regulations in Washington

The following guide will help you navigate the waters of crossbow hunting regulations in Washington, and hopefully will teach you a thing or two about the requirements as well as restrictions that come with the territory. I tried my best to make sure the information I present below is as accurate as possible, though it’s quite likely that I might have missed something or forgot to mention an important piece of information. Which is why you should not consider what you read here to be official advice of legal value, and I recommend you double-check everything you read here or, and this is the best option, contact the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife in Washington for more accurate information.

Make sure to check out our list of top 5 recommended crossbows for hunting in the USA if you’re looking to get started.

Crossbow Hunting Regulations in Washington

Hunting with a crossbow in Washington during archery-only season is prohibited, unless you have a disability hunting permit, in which case you can hunt with a crossbow during any season where archery weapons are allowed. It is, however, legal to use a crossbow during any modern firearms season. As always, you’ll need to successfully complete a hunter education course / class before you can get a hunting permit – learn more about that here.

In order to legally hunt with your crossbow in Washington, it needs to have a minimum draw weight of 125 lbs., meaning pretty much any quality crossbow for $170 or more will make the cut. Hunter Orange clothing requirements are discussed in more detail on this page. What’s important to remember is that the minimum is 400 inches of  fluorescent hunter orange, and that it must cover the entire body from the waist up, including a hat.

Other requirements:

  • Arrow + broadhead must together weigh a minimum of 350 grain.
  • Minimum broadhead cutting-diameter is 7/8″.
  • Please note that using expandable broadheads for hunting is illegal.
  • Minimum draw weight is 125 lbs.

Please note that it seems there are certain types of crossbows that are currently not legal to hunt with in Washington, however information available on the subject is not conclusive. As a result, I strongly recommend getting in touch with the  Washington WDFW  via # (360-902-2200) and letting them know the exact specifications of your crossbow so that they can assist you. Please make sure to mention the exact type of scope you use as well.

Did We Miss Anything?

In case you believe we forgot to include some vital information in the above references, or if you have reason to believe that something has changed in the recent past making our guide outdated, we’d be greatly appreciative if you could drop us an e-mail using the Contact Us form. We will review every suggestion thoroughly, confirm it through proper legal channels, and as soon as we’ve got things sorted we’ll update this Washington guide immediately and let you know via e-mail. Thank you kindly for your contribution and please help us keep this place as reliable of a hunting regulatory resource as possible.

23 Comments

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    1. You can own a crossbow and we find out next month if it’s legal to use during modern season here in wa. I am a felon and know for a fact that felons can own crossbows as they are not a firearm in the federal or state court systems.

    2. yes, in washington state it is legal for a felon to own a crossbow, and also any other bow, just not a firearm. And you can also hunt with them as well, as long as you do not have any restrictions on obtaining a hunting license. Crossbows follow the modern firearm season, not archery.

  1. I have obtained by disabled hunter’s license, placard, crossbow approved license.
    How do I find information for a disabled crossbow hunter regarding the following:
    process for a disabled hunter to put in for 1 or more drawings?
    How does a disabled hunter apply for a drawing?
    access – is more than one area allowed?
    Can a disabled hunter hunt in firearm season with a crossbow?
    Can a disabled hunter hunt the Eastern Washington Area (with companion) and companion list for Western Washington area?
    Can a disabled hunter hunt more than just Elk, Deer in Washington State?
    special hunts
    out of state crossbow disabled hunter authorization and option.
    Alaska crossbow hunting an option.

    I have been hunting 5 seasons (early bow & late bow) since 2012. Having missed over 27 legal shots due to disability, is there anything I should be aware of for better chances of a successful hunt.
    My children rely on the meat we catch for food.
    May I hunt Turkey? If so, where?

    1. youre questions are pretty specific and numerous, I would contact the WDFW directly
      http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/contact/

      You should be able to email them the list of all your questions. ive contacted them numerous times over the years and they have always been polite and responded.

  2. Tanya, Please contact Dolores Noyes at WDFW the (Washington Department Of Fish And Wildlife) She is the ADA department manager in charge of all thing hunting and fishing for disable people. There are many special hunt applications available to us and many access locations and permits for hunters and fisher persons with disabilities. Please refer to this link to answer your many questions, it is a wealth for knowledge and I have had great successful hunts by being aware of what is available to we with disabilities. Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about the ADA Hunting and Fishing programs. Here is Dolores contact info http://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/road_access.html She is very nice and very helpful.

    -Mike

      1. clarification, you can hunt for frogs with bow & arrow, but it doesnt say anything specifically about crossbows, you would want to contact WDFW for clarification

  3. I want to know what a felon can use to hunt with In Washington state. Especially with I 594 in place. Can a person use a crossbow as a felon, a compound bow? How about a high velocity air rifle.lol. or even a strait bow

  4. Can u hunt turkey with crossbow. What qualifies expandable broadheads? Is “mechanical” just another term for expandable.

  5. Iam looking at using an air crossbow this next season,my question is, How much FPS ( feet per second is the minimum for it? I have a shoulder injury that is hampering my draw on conventional bows. Everything else is above the minimum, Arrow weight, Broadhead cut and so on.

  6. I would like to buy a crossbows. But all the crossbows I have seen have scopes.. Our scopes on crossbows legal in Wash.Stats to hunt with.

  7. I’m 21 and i live in Wenatchee Washington and I’ve been wanting to get a crossbow for a while now and i’m dying to got hunting with it but I was recently told that I could own a crossbow but I just couldn’t hunt with it in Washington State and I just saw this website saying you could and I just don’t know what’s true and what’s not so I’m hoping someone could help me out and tell me if I whether I can for sure hunt with it or not at all?

  8. Dear Crossbow Site; After reading these q&a’s,I’m a class C(mildest) felon, But it’s my conclusion that i can use crossbow/with scope during regular RIFLE season,here in Washington State. I do have a question on illumination of scope.I know on a regular bow, you’re allowed illumination from natural light, not battery or electrified illumination. But,since crossbow will be used during rifle season,electrified illumination should be legal? Is it?

  9. I’m a veteran but not wounded during combat. I have a bad should and can’t pull a bow. With a doctors letter can I get permission to use a crossbow?

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