Crossbows have been around since God was a little boy, or at least historically since around 350 BC. Since then and up through modern times, improvements have made them smaller, lighter, more compact and with optic packages that enable everyone from the casual target shooter to big game hunter to head out with a weapon that is extremely accurate, deadly on paper or game, and often opens up new shooting opportunities when traditional firearm seasons are closed.
Depending on where you live, you’ll likely find that hunting regulations with a crossbow have become more relaxed, and are opening the doors to new bird, small game and big game challenges for everyone from rural to urbanite sportsmen. Anyone heading to the field should definitely check with their local Fish/Game or Wildlife department, but a handy resource for seeing most regulations can be found at here.
On a recent visit from the Hawke Sport Optics folks to Colorado, where we had the opportunity to see tons of fine optics (scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes) for sportsmen looking for high quality without the ridiculous price, we also had the opportunity to see a combination crossbow package, complete with a scope that is quite literally ready for some serious shooting and hunting out of the box. It’s called the Parker Tornado HP Perfect Storm and includes just about everything you can think you’d need when heading to the field. Accessories include the Hawke 3X-32 millimeter illuminated multi-reticle scope; roller cocker rope; six Red Hot high velocity arrows; six 100 grain field points; six 100 grain broad heads; wax/lube kit; sling, and soft case. It’s a complete modern system with all the accoutrement expected by today’s modern hunter.
The crossbow itself is a high-tech 165 pound pull weight bow that features an inverted cam system on the limbs that shortens the overall length of the bow by several inches on the front end, and makes for a shorter and more compact package. Other top innovation is the use of a “bull pup” all metal trigger system that fits most of the mechanism/workings inside the pistol grip. Again, it allows the crossbow to be several inches shorter on the back end than many competitors and sports an overall length of 31 ½ inches, while tipping the scales at around 8 pounds.
Out of the box, assembly is a “no-brainer,” as the stock comes with limb mechanism already full strung, and the scope and brackets already mounted for you. Simply attach the limb/scope mechanism to the stock with a half dozen Allen-wrench type screws and the Tornado is ready for the range.
There’s easy to follow instructions on cocking the bow and handling it safely. Once you get used to “pulling the rope,” it’s a relatively easy process to draw, cock and lock the bow. The Tornado also features an automatic safety system that sets the firing mechanism into the “safe” position. This is coupled to an “anti-dry fire” feature that prevents an accidental firing without an arrow in the correct position. We found both the safety features to work the way they were designed. Once a crossbow is cocked, even with an auto-safety feature, the additional “smart” technology of not letting it even dry fire is a great and reassuring feature!
Our test bow came equipped with a retractable Hawke Sport Optics bipod, which adds a great deal of stability, whether you’re shooting from a bench, or out and down in a sitting position. The Tornado’s stock has a comfortable cheek weld on an elevated comb, and fits well into the shoulder, whether you are either a right-handed or a southpaw shooter.
If you’re like a lot of shooters and aren’t used to all the new technology that has been developed for the crossbow market, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. No longer do you have to shoot with an open-sight, or worry about elevation pins and a post. Thanks to the Hawke Sport Optics HK3244 3X scope, which is included as part of the Tornado package, its easy to dial in and focus, and features a full 4-inches of eye relief so that when your cheek hits the stock, your face is properly positioned to use the optics to sight in on your target.
Glass is clear, clean and provides a full 50-feet FOV (field of view) at 100 yards. The etched glass reticle is also hunter friendly, and features both red and green illumination with five brightness settings for each color. However, if you are like many of us hunters, we forget to turn the scope “off” when we head in from the field. With the glass etched reticle system, even if the batteries give up the ghost, you can still used the aiming points! The hollow circle aim points are centered between range finding brackets and graduated from 20 yards out to 60 yards. Each has a “see-through” design that allows the shooter to “see through” to the target and not have the target obstructed or covered up.
Parker bows claims that the compact, yet powerful Tornado will sling its Red Hot arrows with a 100 grain broad head down range at a blazing 330 feet per second (FPS) and generate over 100 pounds of kinetic energy. We chronographed our test arrows at 327 FPS. Not bad for an out-of-box bow with no fine tuning.
When we fired at 20, 30 and 40 yard ranges, accuracy was all within 2-3 inches of the bulls eye, and well within the “kill zone” for everything from turkey to small game and varmints to big game. At 50 yards, the accuracy of a 3-shot group was within a 5-inch circle around the bulls eye. Even at the 50 yard mark, the penetration into the foam target, buried the broad head and actually required pliers to dig it out from the target. No question, hunters would have plenty of deep penetration while hunting in the field.
Our three attempts to use the Tornado on a Colorado spring turkey adventure came up empty. Late snows, quiet birds and crappy weather resulted in the fact that we never got to fire a shot in anger at a Jake or a Tom. However, there is little question that had the opportunity presented itself, there would have been one dead bird on the ground.
Small, compact and powerful, with optics designed for serious hunting applications, the Parker Tornado HP is indeed a silent storm for the modern crossbow sportsman.