How to Shoot a Crossbow

Shooting a crossbow is different than shooting a traditional recurve bow. Instead of relying on your personal strength like a recurve bow, the crossbow has more mechanical features that make it easier to hit a target.

Before doing anything with your crossbow, the first thing you should do is read the owner’s manual. This will show you where all of the safety features are and if there are any special steps that need to be completed before shooting a bolt. You should look into how often the strings need to be waxed between shots, too.

Once you know you have completed all of the safety steps, then you can begin preparing the bow for your first shot. This involves cocking the bow. Your bow will have one or two methods: manual and crank.

Get Started by Cocking the Bow

If you have a manual bow, you will need to use the stirrup to use your leg strength to stabilize the crossbow. Then, you evenly pull the string back so it can cock. If your crossbow has a heavy draw weight, then you can use a rope cocking device to make it easier. The cocking device will center the string and provide relief from the draw weights over 100 pounds by using a pulley system. If your crossbow does not come with a rope cocking device, it is worth it to buy one.

Cocking the Bow

Cocking the Bow

If your bow has a crank, you will appreciate it because it is much easier than the manual device. While the crank is much easier to use, it does take a long time. So, you cannot use any form of quick fire with the crank. This type of cocking device works with a winch. They could be integrated into the bow and some are separate. All that you need to do is set the crank and turn it. When you are finished, the crank goes back into its spot so you can safely shoot the bolt.

Prepare to Shoot by Loading the Bow

When you are finished cocking the bow, it is time to load the arrow. This is one of the easy steps because it does not require any strength. All you have to do is put the bolt in the barrel, align the bolt in the channel, and place the nock on the string. It is important that the fletching is pointing in the right direction; check your owner’s manual for the proper fletching alignment.

Crossbow Bolts

Crossbow Bolts

Sight the Bolt and Aim

Once the bolt is in the channel and is safely nocked, the next step is to aim. This is much easier to do if you have a scope; but, you can aim without one. Most crossbows have either a scope or a sight pin. No matter what you have, line up the scope or the pin, and get ready. It is always a good idea to be sure you do not have anything in the way of your bow or your target – this includes your body parts, like your thumbs, fingers, and arms. When the limbs release, it can be painful if they hit you.

Sight a Crossbow

Sight a Crossbow

Shoot the Bolt

When you have done everything else and your target is in sight, it is time to fire the crossbow. The nice thing about crossbows is that they fire with the simple squeeze of the trigger. They shoot like rifles. Once you have fired, you will notice the limbs release and the bolt rush through the air.

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