The Forest Crossbow Guide

The Forest Crossbow Guide: A Bow, but Better

The Crossbow: Quick Facts

  • Weapon Type: Ranged
  • Maximum Range: +50m
  • Shots to kill a cannibal: 2
  • Headshot Bonus: Yes
  • Reload Time: 3 Seconds
  • Ammo Type: Crossbow Bolts
  • Maximum Ammo: 10 Bolts
  • Found At: Shipwreck Cave

So you’ve decided that the mighty bow just isn’t good enough for you. Perhaps it isn’t accurate enough or doesn’t have that umph you’re looking for. You want something with a mechanical advantage. Fortunately for you, there’s the crossbow. 

The crossbow is an accurate and deadly ranged weapon capable of killing most cannibals in two shots to the body or just one to the head. If you’re looking to add the crossbow to your arsenal, this The Forest Crossbow guide will show where to find it and how best to start using it. 

Where is it?

Shipwreck Cave

The crossbow is tucked away in one of The Forest’s three offshore caves, specifically Shipwreck Cave. The weapon is located at the end of the cave atop a pile of bones and underneath Schematic 1.


Getting There

Shipwreck Cave location

Before you head out for the cave, I suggest you have access to the rebreather and a raft.

While you can technically reach the end of the cave without using either of these things, the rebreather can make underwater searching much less stressful, and the raft can keep the sharks from eating your ankles while you cross the water.

Shipwreck Cave location


The easiest way to locate Shipwreck Cave is to find the island above it. This small island is located at the very bottom left corner of the map, southwest of the peninsula the Tree of Life sits on top of.

The island should be obvious from a distance due to the presence of the front end of a massive ship beached on the shore. Note that the detached bow should have several crossbow bolts stuck into it that you can grab.

Shipwreck Cave location


From the island, head southeast until you spot a log tied to some ropes floating on the surface. This can be hard to spot if the sea is rough or your water graphics settings are higher.

Swim down beneath the log until you reach an underwater cave. The other method is to swim from the island along the shipwreck until you find a hole cut in the deck.

From there, it is a straightforward path until you reach a cave with a single chamber. The crossbow and the first schematic can be found beneath the drawing of a ship on top of a pile of bones. You can also find several bolts scattered around the cave.

Shipwreck Cave inside drawing of a ship on top of a pile of bones


About the Crossbow

Now that you have the crossbow in hand, there are a few things to remember that make it functionally different from The Forest’s other ranged weapons. This section will give you a rundown of the costs and benefits of using the crossbow.



The crossbow is, by far, the most accurate ranged weapon in the game, even beating The Forest’s only available firearm. The crossbow and the flintlock pistol are the only weapons that allow the player to aim down sights. In fact, the crossbow cannot be fired without aiming it first.

Unlike the bow, the ammunition for the crossbow will be limited, so pick your shots and make them count. Keep in mind that the firing arc for the crossbow is much tighter than either the crafted bow or the modern bow.

This means that in close range you want to aim at least a half-inch below your intended target. At mid-range that distance shortens to just below your target, and at long range you should increase your aim height by about half of what you would for your bow. 


The crossbow is a powerful weapon. A single bolt fired from the crossbow at any distance is capable of killing a regular cannibal if it strikes them in the head.

If you’re less accurate, two bolts to any part of the body will work just as well. Even large mutants are no match for the crossbow’s power, requiring only around 3-5 bolts to kill a mutant on normal difficulty.

This sets the crossbow apart as one of the most powerful weapons in the game in terms of pure damage output.



As great as the crossbow is, it does suffer from a couple of major drawbacks. The first of these is the fact that the crossbow must be reloaded between each shot.

Each reload will cost you about three seconds and switching weapons or performing other tasks requiring your hands before the animation is completely finished will cancel the reload, meaning you have to start over.

Three seconds may not sound like a lot, but when you’re surrounded by mutants three seconds could mean you end up hanging by your feet again. The one benefit to counteract this is that once the crossbow is loaded, it can be fired immediately, unlike the bow, which must be drawn.


The crossbow uses special bolts that can only be obtained at a few locations and cannot be crafted. Additionally, you are very limited in how much ammo you can carry, with your bag only allowing space for ten bolts and no way to increase that limit.

On the bright side, there is sometimes a chance for you to recover a bolt you’ve fired from whatever it is stuck into, just like with arrows. Assuming what it’s stuck in doesn’t go sprinting into the trees before you get a chance to reload.

Crossbow Vs. Modern Bow

forest crossbow Headshot Bonus

The modern bow (my pride and joy) is probably the closest competition for the crossbow. Below is a quick rundown of some comparisons between the two weapons to give you an idea of where the crossbow stands among other ranged weapons.

Damage (Number of Arrows/Bolts to kill a regular cannibal)

  • Modern Bow- 3 Modern Arrows or 5-6 Wooden Arrows
  • Crossbow- 2 Bolts


  • Modern Bow- Accurate
  • Crossbow- Extremely Accurate

Reload Time

  • Modern Bow- ~1 Second
  • Crossbow- ~3 Seconds

Ammo Types

  • Modern Bow- Wooden Arrows, Bone Arrows, Fire Arrows, Poison Arrows, Modern Arrows
  • Crossbow- Crossbow Bolts

Max Ammo

  • Modern Bow- 50 Arrows
  • Crossbow- 10 Crossbow Bolts

Headshot Bonus

  • Modern Bow- 1 Shot = 1 Kill
  • Crossbow- 1 Shot = 1 Kill

Only Headshots

If you’re still a little apprehensive about using the crossbow, here are a few tips to help you become the William Tell of the forest you’ve always dreamed of.


If you haven’t already, I recommend building an archery target to practice using the crossbow. The archery target not only provides a clear idea of what you are aiming for, but also ensures that you always get your bolts back (as long as you hit the target.)

Since the crossbow doesn’t have sights, it can be difficult to determine if you are aiming at the right point or not. Set a point of reference on the crossbow, so you always know what you are aiming at. Personally, I always make note of where the tip of the crossbow bolt is in relation to my target.

Aim for the head, but not at the head.

You will pretty much never aim directly at the target’s head if you want to hit it. At close range, a good rule of thumb is to point the tip of the crossbow bolt right at the base of your target’s neck.

At mid-range, try and put that point right on their chin. Long range is mostly a judgement call, so refer to the above section titled Practice.

Lastly, since mutants don’t really have a definite head, don’t bother aiming for where you think they keep their brain. They don’t have one, and it won’t increase your damage, so aim for the biggest center of mass.

Getting Ammo

Restocking your crossbow bolts can be difficult and frustrating if you don’t know where to look. Fortunately for you, I’m about to tell you where to look.

  • There are multiple bolts around Shipwreck Cave, where the crossbow is found
    • Some are stuck into the beached portion of the ship on the island above the cave
    • Several more can be found in the cave itself, stuck into walls and lying among the bones
  • The southernmost watchtower at geese lake has a few bolts
  • The underwater cave to the north of Shipwreck Cave, called Kanji Cave, also contains several crossbow bolts
  • In the easternmost inland lake, beside the largest lake, there is a sunken boat with 4-5 bolts

Depending on your game settings, crossbow bolts should respawn in the locations they are found originally. This may not always occur at locations where they are stuck into objects, such as the beached ship hull, but if you need more, you should be able to reliably source them from Shipwreck and Kanji caves. 


Question: Can I craft crossbow bolts?

Answer: No. Unfortunately, the only way to acquire new crossbow bolts is by finding them.

Question: Is the crossbow better than the bow?

Answer: In terms of damage, range, and accuracy, yes. However, the crossbow is limited to basic ammo and is slow to reload. 

Question: Is the crossbow better than the flintlock pistol?

Answer: The crossbow is more accurate than the flintlock, but the pistol wins in terms of damage. Both weapons take about the same time to reload.

Go Get Em’

forest crossbow archer's cap

Now that you’re familiar with the crossbow, it’s time to go put some eyes out. Even if you aren’t super excited about what the crossbow has to offer, it is still a fun weapon to use and practice with. So grab your fancy archer’s cap and make the cannibals fear the trees again.

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