How To Cock a Crossbow? (All Methods)

How to cock a crossbow? Three practical ways to cock the crossbow: manual procedure, rope cockers, and cranking devices. Before starting the process, always set the safety on 'fire.'
By Rebecca Rios | Updated On November 19, 2022
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How To Cock a Crossbow?

People love hunting, and hunting devices, including the crossbow. But the real question for most of you is how to cock a crossbow? This article is a detailed guide about the correct procedure to cock a crossbow. In this article, I have listed numerous effective yet quick methods for cocking a crossbow. Scroll the article till the end to find a relatable solution.

How To Cock a Crossbow?

Learning the correct way to cock a crossbow is essential because success depends on little things while hunting. Even an improperly-cocked crossbow can lead you to miss your prey, which I am sure you do not want. So, you should know the standard procedure to properly cock a crossbow. Apart from the handy gadgets that make the job easier, you will learn plenty of mistakes that should be avoided while cocking the crossbow. So, let’s dig from the beginning.  

Related Article: How To Build A Crossbow? A Detailed Guide To Homemade Crossbow

What Is The Meaning Of ‘Cock The Crossbow’?

If you are wondering what the meaning of ‘cock the crossbow’ is, let me explain it first. The phrase ‘cock the crossbow’ means getting the crossbow ready for firing. Always remember, you should not put the bolt in the crossbow before shooting it.

There are typically three methods to cock the crossbow, each with pros and cons. These methods differ based on strength and type of bow. I am explaining all the procedures in detail. The decision will be up to you to select the best way to cock a crossbow. You can find the most suitable method by testing each technique in the archery store. The final decision will be your preference according to your comfort level and strength.

Precautionary measure: Do not insert the bolt in the crossbow before cocking it. Also, ensure that string is drawn back safely before loading the crossbow with a bolt. If you load the bolt before the string, the possibility of slipping it while cocking the crossbow exists. In this way, you will injure yourself by shooting your foot. So, protect yourself before loading and firing the bolt from the crossbow.

Safety measure: Before starting the procedure, it is mandatory to know about the safety measures. These two protection tips are necessary for all kinds of the crossbow.

  1. Detach the safety before cocking the crossbow.
  2. Make sure your foot is perfectly fit in the foot stirrup. This simple step can protect you from any mishap or damage to the crossbow.

How To Cock a Crossbow Easy Procedure?

Undoubtedly, it is an easy way to cock a crossbow. Hand cocking the crossbow is also the fastest method you can opt for, even in the field. But as a disclaimer, this method is risky to damage your crossbow or cause severe bodily injury. So, ensure you are strong enough to cock the crossbow through this method without tearing any muscle. A foot claw is the only requirement for cocking the crossbow with bare hands. In the foot claw of the crossbow, you can secure your foot while pulling the string back.

These are the basic steps to cock the crossbow with bare hands:

  1. Move ‘safety’ to ‘fire position.’ Safety is usually present at the side of the crossbow or can be found on the rear of the sight bridge.
  2. Place the ball of either foot in the cocking stirrup when manually cocking the crossbow. In this way, you will avert from slipping while cocking.
  3. Manually pull the string back while bending over the stock. You can use any universal crossbow chocking device or apply pressure with the arms, legs, lower back, or hands.
  4. Now, pull the string back evenly along the barrel to the latching and safety mechanism.
  5. Some compound and recurve crossbows have longer stock, so you must incline on the side while cocking. Otherwise, bending over the stock to reach the string is impossible.
  6. While cocking, be attentive to fix the string in the same trigger-latch position. A cocking aid guarantees the correct string placement.
  7. After cocking the crossbow, engage the safety again. On the latest models, safety is enabled automatically. Also, never shut down the safety unless you are ready to shoot by pointing the arrow.
  8. After enabling safety, load the arrow, and you are ready to shoot.
  9. Ensure to seek help from the crossbow’s manual before cocking the bow. The manual will also guide you about the safety procedure.
  10. Always keep the forepart of the cocked crossbow in the downward direction, even if an arrow is not loaded.

A significant drawback of hand cocking is dry firing. Dry firing is firing the bow without loading the bolt. The possibility of dry firing is high and can be dangerous for the bow and yourself. A crossbow contains enough potential energy, and it can be harmful when it is not transferred to the bolt but to the bow back. Harm to the bowstring, slider, limbs, and rails is possible; even bow exploding can happen. So, be cautious while handling the crossbows.  

An additional tip if you want to proceed with this technique is to mark the string with two lines by flight track. This way, you can place the string in the center of the latch. Then, release the string after hearing the clicking sound from the trigger box. The objective behind this technique is to apply even force on both limbs. This way, you can remain consistent; hence pressure will not be applied on either limb. Consistency is the key to ensuring precision, accuracy, and consistency while cocking and shooting the crossbow.

Pros:

  • Effective yet speedy method to cock the bow.
  • It can be done manually without any cocking aid.
  • Little chance of the mechanism breaking.

Cons:

  • Chances of dry firing due to shooting the latch unequally.
  • It involves chances of injury or hurting the fingers. This way, you can cock the bow unevenly.
  • Oil and acids from the fingers can corrode or damage the bowstring.
  • While cocking the bow, this method can create severe tension on the limbs.
  • Possibility to cock the bow uneven.

It is the answer to the frequently asked question what is the correct way to cock a crossbow manually? This method is applicable in all types of crossbows, including; recurve crossbow, compound crossbow, or reverse limb crossbow.

However, some experts believe the reverse limb crossbow should not be cocked with bare hands. This is because the crossbow design demands a high potential to reach the trigger box. But archers do not adopt hand cocking these days. The reason can be the effort required for the procedure, the risk involved while hand cocking, or the availability of various cocking devices.

The world is evolving, and so are gadgets. So, cocking a crossbow manually is an old term now. Now, what are these cocking aids? Let’s find out.

Read More: 4 Best Crossbow Hunting Games In 2022

How To Cock a Crossbow With a Rope Cocking Device?

How To Cock a Crossbow With a Rope Cocking Device
How To Cock a Crossbow With a Rope Cocking Device?

Manually cocking a crossbow can be arduous due to the strength and power required for the entire process. Especially if you have any mobility issue or disability, then cocking the crossbow by hand is almost impossible. The easiest and the best way to cock a crossbow is any device to make the crossbow primed and ready for action.

Cocking the crossbow with a rope is the most popular and effective method. This method requires less potential on the arms, hands, legs, and back. Another perk of cocking rope is its affordability than other cocking tools. Cocking rope cuts down 50% off the total weight, producing accuracy while shooting. Rope cockers do not involve any automatic mechanism; hence, these are comfortable to use.

They operate on the phenomenon of pulleys. Place the cocker correctly and fix the foot inside the stirrup. Then, pull the rope cocker upwards until the string is cocked accurately. And the bow is cocked. Many archery brands have launched their rope cockers for the feasibility of the users. The price of the rope cockers depends upon the quality of the cocker or the type of bow, but the primary purpose remains the same.

Design: A rope cocking device consists of a long rope with 2 handles on the end and 2 composite hooks. The hooks are attached to the rollers to draw the string. If you are a frequent crossbow user, a rope cocker is undoubtedly a must-have. Hence, if you are tired of cocking the crossbow by hand, my recommendation is to use rope to cock a crossbow. The results will be astonishing in terms of time and effort.

The below steps are intended to guide you about how to cock a crossbow with a rope. Follow the simple steps to quickly cock the crossbow:

  1. Start by putting the crossbow on the ground. Place your foot in the foot claw. It will provide stability required for cocking the crossbow.
  2. Put the rope of the cocking device on the stock.
  3. Hook the clamps in the string. It should be placed close to the shooting rail. Make sure the position of the hook is outwards.
  4. Perform the above action on both sides. Check the pressure that should be even on both sides.
  5. The position of hooks should be accurate. After checking the place of the hooks, pull back the handles of the rope cocking device. While pulling, your position should be bent but stand up for the pullback to use the power of the back and shoulder.
  6. When the bow is wholly drawn, the string will lock in its place.
  7. The bow is cocked and ready to load the arrow.
  8. Ensure the safety is switched on before loading the arrow.
  9. Now, you can load and shoot the bolt.

The main drawback of a rope cocker is the extra-long rope. Therefore, it is suggested to adjust the length of the rope according to the cocking stroke. Otherwise, your shoulder can injure while pulling the string back, and the bow can be crooked. Another annoying fact about rope cockers is that they must be attached correctly before every use.

An additional tip is although the chances of dry fire are meager; you should consider some situations to avoid adverse consequences. For example, improper adjustment of the rope cocker and the failure of the retraceable system can result in dry fire. So, what you have to do is replace them.

Pros:

  • Low-priced than other cranking devices.
  • It can be easily replaced in case of any damage.
  • User friendly.
  • Almost no noise hence, quiet procedure.
  • Universally applicable.
  • Conveniently available.
  • Best to maintain consistent accuracy while cocking the bow.
  • Minimum chances of dry fire.
  •  The rope cocker reduces the draw weight in half.

Cons:

  • Chances of dry fire are present in case of failed attachment points.
  • It can be challenging to cock, if rope cockers are incorrectly adjusted.
  • The need for adjustments over time.
  • Wrongly fixed rope cockers can deface the crossbow.
  •  A retractable system can break.  
  • Replacement should be done if the retractable system breaks.

Be patient while cocking the bow with rope for effective results. Otherwise, dry firing or damage to the bow can happen. Thankfully the cost of damage is just one limb, which is quite economical. The whole process of cocking is reliable and straightforward. Another feature of rope cockers is parts that can be replaced easily.

You may also like: How To Sight In Crossbow Scope? (All Types Explained!)

How To Cock a Crossbow With a Crank?

How To Cock a Crossbow With a Crank
How To Cock a Crossbow With a Crank?

The third and final aid to cock the crossbow is the crank. Crank is the best crossbow chocking device due to its high level of accuracy. Cranking devices can be built into the crossbow and are usually equipped with a removable handle. The handle is removed from the shooter’s sight for less hindrance while firing.

The crossbow crank handle helps in reducing the weight by about 5 pounds. Due to less weight, the cranking method is best for beginners, youth, and even injured people. Crank also ensures even pulling off the string. Many brands have launched their crossbow cocking crank with every model. Cranking devices are more expensive than rope cockers but worth the hype as less effort is needed to cock the bow.

The procedure of cocking the bow with a crank is easy. Just rotate the handle until the string is fixed in the correct position. The course of action is described below:

  1. Place the crossbow on the ground and fix your foot in the crossbow’s stirrup.
  2. Immediately check the safety. It should be in the fire position.
  3. Connect the crank with the cranking device. Make sure your crossbow’s manual is in front of you while cocking. It will help you to perform the operations according to your crossbow’s type and model.
  4. Follow the manual instructions and release the spool.
  5. Draw/pull the rope with hooks till it reaches the string.
  6. Now, fasten the hooks around the string. Ensure an equal distance between the hooks.
  7. Numerous cranking devices have a handle for rotation. Flip the lever to engage the crank handle.
  8. Start cranking until you hear two clicks.
  9. Again ensure safety. Safety should be switched ON.
  10. Detach the hooks from the string and liberate the lever.
  11. Now, the bow is cocked to load and fire the bolt.

The only irritating drawback of the crank is time. It takes a little longer to set the device and pull the string. This factor can be annoying, so if you cannot wait, you should consider a manual or rope cocking option.

An additional tip is to be patient and practice as much as possible. You have to wait for the complete setup. Also, if you are a beginner, then there must be some actions that you must learn and master. But all this will take time and practice. However, the end should be rewarding, and this cock a crossbow equipment reduces the effort needed to cock the bow accurately.

Pros:

  • Effective for disabled or back-injured people.
  • Effortless as it has almost no cocking weight.
  • No chances of dry firing.
  •  Consistent cocking with more accuracy.
  • Easy to use due to the latest techniques.

Cons:

  • Costly than other cocking devices.
  • The clicking sound can be annoying for some people. However, some models have a sound-off option.
  • Slow in speed according to the price and hype.

Practice makes a man perfect, and cocking a crossbow is no exception to this rule. It does not matter what way you are adopting to cock the bow. The only thing that matters is the efficiency with which you do the job. I have described all three methods of cocking the crossbow in detail, including the pros and cons. The procedures mentioned earlier will apply in the compound, recurve and reverse compound crossbows. Follow similar steps to cock the crossbow.

Manual cocking is a little more demanding than rope and crank cocking. Cocking devices make the task easier in less time with great accuracy. Now, the decision is up to you. I hope what is the correct way to cock a crossbow is no more a question. For more in-depth information, check the best distance for crossbow hunting article.

How Do You Decock a Crossbow?

After cocking the crossbow, the next question is how to decock a crossbow? No, dry firing is not the solution. So, if you are considering dry firing to decock your bow, stop thinking about it. Dry firing can damage your bow and can injure you too.

Check your crossbow manual before practicing any procedure. There can be instructions about the decocking according to the type and model of your bow. Many brands have crossbows that can be decocked by firing the bolt in the soil. Ensure the shooting point is a safe zone. Decocking the crossbow is simple and more secure with a decoking arrow or discharge bolt. It is a strong arrow and works the same way. Just shoot the arrow into the ground, and you are done.

You can also use a rope cocking device to decock the bow. If you use a crank machine to cock the crossbow, rotate the crank handle in the opposite direction. It will release all the tension from the limbs and the strings. It is the most reliable method of crossbow decocking.  

Continue Reading: How Far Will A Crossbow Shoot?

Some Tips For Fast Crossbow Cocking:

  • Shorten your crocking rope. For beginners, the rope can be very long. Adjust the length according to the shooting stroke. Otherwise, it can injure your hands or shoulders, so be careful while using the cocking devices.
  • Mark the cocking rope by putting a line in the center of the device. It ensures that you begin with the center line. It also reduces the chances of crooked shootings.
  • Label the string to angle the bow straight. Label each side of the string when the crossbow is at rest. Check the position of the string after labeling; it must be equal to the distance of the arrow track. If a string is not equal, re-cock and adjust it again.
  • Keep and read the owner’s manual before starting the procedure of your crossbow.
  • Observe your bolts/arrows before shooting them.
  • Secure your foot tightly in the stirrup while cocking the bow.
  • Alert the trigger safety until you are set to shoot.
  • While shooting, keep your finger beneath the string.
  • Always check your safety before the cocking procedure.

Some Don’ts For Effective Crossbow Cocking:

  • Do not use a broken or damaged bolt/arrow.
  • Do not take off your safety harness in a tree stand.
  • Do not hold on to the crossbow by the trigger.
  • Do not attempt to cock the crossbow by hand.
  • Do not mount on the tree stand with a crossbow hanging on the shoulder.
  • Do not remove your foot from the clamp until you are assured that the safety is switched ON.
  • Do not play with the rope cocking device. It is a gadget for cocking, so do not tie it to your arm or hang it around your neck.
  • Do not shoot the bolt if someone stands in front of you, behind you, or even beside you.
  • Do not put your finger on the trigger when ready to fire.
  • Do not dry-fire your bow for practice purposes.
  • Do not point your bow at something you are not intended to kill or destroy.

FINAL VERDICT

So, next time when someone asks how to cock a crossbow? You know your answer, right? In crossbow hunting, a single shot is powerful enough to kill or destroy anything. So, be careful and do not dry fire no matter what the situation is. Each method to cock the crossbow has its benefits and drawbacks.

Choose wisely according to your requirements and specifications. Manual crossbow cocking is time-saving but with the worst accuracy. Crossbow crank vs. rope differs by time and consistency. To cock a crossbow with a cranking device is more time-consuming but gives the best consistent shots. Opt for the best and enjoy hunting!

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