Crossbow Hunting Regulations in California

Below you will find a summary of the current crossbow hunting laws in the state of Calirofnia. We try our best to keep these references up to date, however we can’t ever guarantee completely accuracy of the references provided and it is your responsibility to check with the California FGC to confirm the current legal situation. The following information should be treated only as a reference.

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

Crossbow Hunting Regulations in California

Using a crossbow for hunting is legal during all gun seasons. While a crossbow is not considered an archery weapon in California, it can be used as one (during archery season) by people with a disability or disease that makes it impossible for them to manually draw and hold the draw on a regular, vertical bow. To be eligible for the disabled archer crossbow permit, you must provide the California FGC (contact: 916-445-0411) as well as keep with you at all times while hunting, a document containing the following information:

  • Your full name, including signature
  • Full address, DOB, driver’s license number (or DMV number)
  • A description of your disability / disease
  • Your physician’s full name, license number, full address and signature

When hunting with a crossbow in California, please remember that all broadheads you use must have a cutting diameter of 7/8″ or larger – this goes for expandable broadheads as well, in which case what matters is the cutting diameter while the blades are retracted (opened). Also, please remember that it is illegal to have an arrow seated in the flight rail whenever transporting your crossbow in a motorized vehicle of any kind (be it a car, truck, boat, etc.).

For more information, please see the California FGC (Fish and Game Commission) mammal hunting regulations guide, archery and crossbows section, which can be found by clicking here.

Notice Anything Wrong?

Do you have reason to believe that any part of the above references and mentioned regulations are misleading or no longer accurate? Is there something you believe we should have mentioned here due to its importance and you would like to see it added for others to see? Please let us know and will happily comply with your request and make any required updates to our California crossbow hunting regulations guide as soon as we confirm the validity of the information you provide us with. We really try hard to keep this resource reliable and update, but like everyone we do make mistakes from time to time – so please be patient and help us improve. Thank you and stay legal please!


Add a Comment
  1. No place in northern CA will allow use of target practice with crossbows. Where in CA can I target practice with a crossbow. I live in Butte co. Thank you!

    1. At lodi archer in the town called lockeford its east of lodi ca, at the intersection of brandt rd and highway 88

  2. My husband is having the same problem in Nevada County. Archers seem to have a bias against crossbows everywhere in Ca

    1. It’s not a bias. It’s the targets they use. Crossbows destroy them easier and it costs money to replace which these ranges are usually volunteer run

  3. just buy an archery foam target and find a place away from people. Its not like its going to make any noise to alert anyone of your presence. There is barely any regulation regarding crossbows.

  4. I live in Santa Clara County. I just bought a crossbow, but just read i cant use in my County. Where can I use it?

  5. Just purchased a nice crossbow. I live in San Jose California. Where can I go have fun with my new town? Can I go to the mountain upeaks by Mt. Hamilton?

  6. I’m a disabled hunter with weight restrictions of about 12-15 lbs. I’ve been introduced to air bow hunting. Is the air bow legal for any game animals in California,other than coyotes

  7. I practice in my front yard. I live in Tehama Co. Just be sure to have a safe back stop and don’t shoot towards your neighbors house.

  8. My new neighbor had a party last Saturday afternoon during which we found a carbon Decimator arrow embedded in our backyard lawn while our grandkids (two and five) were out there playing. Turns out he set up a backstop about a foot from our shared fence. However, the backstop was shorter than the fence and we heard several other pings of arrows hitting the fence. From the make of the arrow, it seems that it was shot from a cross bow. How can I legally stop this guy from shooting in his backyard? His house is surrounded by two other homes besides mine that also have kids and adults for that matter who use their own backyards. Thank you.

    1. since he’s your neighbor and you don’t want to create bad blood which will only increase over time… i’d say approach him privately about it and let him know your concerns. suggest he hang some kind of thick padding over his fence or at least nail extra boards behind his target. maybe you can work out a solution.

  9. California is behind many other states in allowing crossbows, airbows, and big bore airguns for deer, pig and other big game hunting. Any requests to fish and wildlife appear to fall on deaf ears. It’s a crying shame.

  10. Hi this is Gerald Howse in Edmonton, geraldfrank@gmail dot com
    Send me a message please Theresa.

  11. Any more info on places to sight-in a crossbow? I called a couple of Archery ranges and they basically told me to return for a bow.

  12. Does anyone know anywhere in Southern California where you can practice on your crossbow? I live near San Diego.

    Thank you!

  13. I understand you can’t carry a firearm when hunting with a compound bow during archery hunting season, but can you carry a firearm when hunting with a crossbow during firearm hunting season?

  14. Hi, I am from Philippines and will be ordering crossbow from Cabela’s. The crossbow will be delivered to my shipping consolidator (prior to being sent to Manila,Philippines) address in San Fernando California.
    I would like to know if it is legal to ship crossbow to the said address?

  15. “Does anyone know anywhere in Southern California where you can practice on your crossbow? I live near San Diego”

    I live in Redlands, I usually sight in and practise with my crossbow and air rifles on BLM land, Bureau of Land Management land that is owned by the public, us. Get the ONX hunting app and set the layers up to show BLM land in your area. If you have any doubts talk to the sheriff of the county where the blm land is located. I have never had a problem. I hunt the areas that for jack rabbits with my air rifles.

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