HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 12 - BOWHUNTING


A crossbow must be cocked before it can be loaded with an arrow. How’s this done? The simplest way of cocking a crossbow is to place your foot in the stirrup, then to reach down, and pull the string back manually. To do this, you'll need to be able to dead-lift at least 150 lbs. of weight. If you can’t handle that, you'll need to use a cocking device, like a rope or crank. In some states, in order to legally use a crossbow, you have to be able to pull the legal weight for that state. Check with your state authorities if you aren’t sure.

To uncock your crossbow, you can shoot it, or you can use a cocking aid to uncock the bow. You should carry a blunt arrow with you just in case you need to shoot it for this purpose. You can actually leave your crossbow cocked all day long—as long as there’s no arrow or ‘bolt’ in the notch, it won’t be able to do any damage.

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Longer, heavier bows are generally more forgiving of operator error. Smaller bows tend to be more reactive to any mistakes.


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