As previously mentioned, a bolt harvests an animal by cutting through blood vessels and organs, causing major blood loss (exsanguination). For this reason, it is important for all crossbow hunters to know the proper shot placement on the animal they are hunting. They must also be confident that they will be able to hit that target from their hunting position.
The vital area on big game is the heart and lung area. A properly placed shot in this area will result in a quick, clean harvest of the animal. Crossbow hunters must keep in mind that their broadhead will go through these organs; however they must be mindful of the animal's anatomy. A broadhead will not travel through large bones such as the sternum or shoulder blades.
For crossbow hunters, there are two acceptable shots to take - broadside and quartering away shots.
Broadside shot placement
The broadside shot is without a doubt the best shot to take by a crossbow hunter. The vital area is a large target at this angle, and the bolt will easily pass through the rib cage, to potentially go through both lungs.
Quartering away shot placement
In the quartering away shot, the vital areas are also well exposed, and the liver is presented as an added target. The liver contains about 1/3 of the animal's blood at any given time, so a shot through the liver will result in a quick harvest as well.
When hunting from an elevated stand, keep in mind that the vital areas are less vulnerable from this angle. Be sure you are at an angle that will allow the bolt to penetrate the thick skin on the back, and pass through the vital area. Never shoot at an animal that is directly underneath your stand.
IMPORTANT! Hunters should practice shot placement using the same equipment they will when in the field!