check out a local archery club -- a lot of bow hunters also have crossbows.
It would be a good idea to shoot a few to learn the differences.
More importantly, learn how to safely operate one.
Also, some archery shops might have a few used ones, taken on trades.
You can pick up one from a pwan shop but please take it to an archery shop, to be checked for functionality and safety.
Bothh of my crossbows were purchase for about 1/2 the listed prce and are used.
I got a Horton from the bargain cave at Cabela's last year. It ran me just over $400 with scope and half a dozen bolts. I Got it after trying to go cheap on a PSE. The right limb snapped on the 6th time I cocked it....so don't go cheap. I was the third guy in 2 weeks with that problem!
i have a parker spartan i bought this past sep. for my son to use thinking he would get more time in the woods hunting. he used it exactly three times. it shoots great. i may sell it because i dont think he will use it much this year because of football. let me know if you are interested. i would give a good deal and it comes with extras. i bought it because it was recommened on HPA.
As I mentioned via PM, I picked up a new Terminator 175 HP with the Hawke MAP scope for $415 shipped to my door. 340fps, lifetime warranty. I would suggest the Terminator at that price point.
However, like I also mentioned, I went to Cabelas and held each one, got a feel for the stock hold and liked what the Terminator felt like. Your preference might be different.
I was pleased to find it dramatically reduced when shopping online. Best deal out there currently for the Terminator is about $450 but you might find one cheaper if you keep shopping. It's a discontinued model so the deals won't last forever. (But the warranty will!)