How To Uncock A Crossbow (5 Effective Methods)

There are many ways to safely uncock a crossbow, including discharge target and unloading bolt. Hence, how to uncock a crossbow is no longer a tangled query for novice hunters.
By Rebecca Rios | Updated On February 1, 2023
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How to Uncock a crossbow

Crossbows are easy to use and handy weapons. All you have to do is to load the bolt and cock the bow at the time of the shooting. You do not have to suffer the fatigue of drawing weight by risking your arms and shoulders. So, this is a plus point of crossbows that is why crossbow users are increasing continuously.

Everything is great, but you must be extra careful while uncocking the crossbow. You cannot dry fire or shoot your bolt into the ground. It is dangerous and can damage the crossbow. Do you exactly know the answer to this crucial question; how to uncock a crossbow?

If you are a crossbow user or planning to become one and know the exact procedure to uncock the crossbow, then hats off to you. But if you do not know the answer to this question, you must be dry firing by ignoring all the safety precautions.

Understanding and practicing the proper procedure to uncock the crossbow is very important. In this article, I will list all the possible ways to uncock or decock your crossbow safely and smoothly. Wide Hunt has numerous other step-wise guides for crossbow hunting. Make sure to check those as well.

How to uncock a crossbow?

Hunters are aware of the fact that only some hunting ventures are successful. Sometimes you have to return without the meat, so no shot is needed in the field. In this situation, unloading the weapon is requisite to travel back home. As carrying a loaded weapon is dangerous. So, many novice hunters often wonder how to uncock a crossbow. Many times even skilled hunters need more proper knowledge. So, do not worry; learning is a process.

Here you will be educated about different procedures to uncock a crossbow. But first, let’s find out the importance of the uncocking process. So we can proceed to the solutions with complete knowledge.

Importance Of Uncocking/Decocking Procedure:

It is important to place a crossbow safely by unloading it. In a cocked crossbow, there is so much energy and tension in the bow’s arm. I am sure you do not want to keep that tension in the bow’s arm when you are not using it. While traveling, a misfire can occur by pressing the trigger. It can be dangerous for you and the people around you. It is recommended to uncock the crossbow to avoid this situation.

The procedure of uncocking removes the energy and tension from the crossbow limbs and string. That is why it is important to uncock the crossbow. The crossbow is safe to carry and store once it is uncocked.

Five Effective Methods To Uncock The Crossbow

You got to know what is unloading the crossbow and its importance. Now, your question must be how? How to uncock the crossbow? The answer is straightforward and, luckily, understandable.

As I always say, your crossbow manufacturer better knows what he has made. So, it is best to seek help from the crossbow manual. Always try to prefer the method of uncocking the crossbow mentioned in your manual, as that particular procedure suits your bow.

Apart from that, there are numerous ways to safely uncock the crossbow. The best part is that certain products and devices made unloading the crossbow quick and easy. All these gadgets are designed to uncock without damaging any part of the bow.

I will start with the effortless and most popular method of uncocking.

1. Shoot Into A crossbow Discharge Target

The most common method of uncocking the crossbow is using a purpose-built target called a discharge target. Discharge targets are small and portable. These targets can be made at home. These targets contain a thick material that stops the bolt at a close range without damage.

There is a problem associated with this method. You have to carry a discharge target all along with you. Although these targets are small, they will make room in your luggage. But compared to other uncocking targets, a discharge target takes less space. In the benefits column, a discharge target method is quick, easy, and applicable for all the models. Also, you can DIY a crossbow discharge target at home.

how to uncock a crossbow
Uncock A Crossbow


First, select a suitable location to place your target. Check the surrounding is clear and perfect for shooting. You can uncock the crossbow by placing the discharge target on the ground. Position yourself to release the bolt at the target. It is suggested to use a bolt with field points.

Keep the distance minimal for a successful shot. Remove the safety of the crossbow and shoot the bolt at the target. The bolt will not pass through the target as it is filled with thick material or foam. Take off the bolt from the discharge target. Now, you are all set for the traveling.

2. Shoot With An Unloading Bolt

If you do not want the hustle of discharge target, then there is another option of discharge bolt, also known as unloading bolt. An unloading bolt is targeted on the ground at an appropriate distance (six to ten feet almost). Ensure the ground is soft and not rocky or rigid. There are two types of unloading bolts; let’s have a look at the types:

Single-Use Bolts

These bolts are discarded after a single use. They are relatively less in price but can only be used one time.

Reusable Bolts

As the name reflects, these bolts are of continual use. They are pricey, and users should carefully check the damage or breakage after each use.

Biodegradable Bolt

There is another type of unloading bolt known as the biodegradable bolt. These bolts are environment-friendly for single-use bolts and for the bolts that are lost during the uncocking process.

An unloading arrow is an effective option to decock the crossbow, but these arrows demand soft ground. You will have to look for it. Similar to the discharge target, a discharge arrow also takes up space in the luggage.


Check the crossbow safety and remove the regular hunting bolt. Now, adjust an unloading bolt in place of the regular bolt. Make sure the bolt is fixed against the bowstring. It is time to check the surrounding. Is the environment appropriate? Is any bystander present near me? First, answer these questions and target the ground in front of you. Remove the safety of the crossbow and shoot the bolt on the ground. Preserve the bolt if it can be used later, and you are good to go.

3. Use A Crossbow Defuser:

Another method of uncocking the crossbow is the defuser, also known as the de-cocker. The use of a crossbow defuser is increasing with time. A crossbow defuser is a cross-shaped device that fits in the crossbow. The purpose of a defuser is not firing but holding the crossbow limbs so bow tension can be released safely. It uses mechanical force to release the string tension and bring the crossbow back to the rest position.

An additional benefit of a crossbow defuser is that it is a silent device; it produces no sound. A crossbow defuser is a great option if you plan to hunt again in the same area. A crossbow defuser is the latest crossbow unloading device, so it is valuable.

One drawback of a crossbow defuser is its size. It is comparatively larger than other decocking devices or products. So it will occupy more space in your kit. If you are not limited the space, it is a useful gadget to unload the crossbow.

Also, the working of one crossbow defuser is different from the other. They are simple to understand; the only problem is that the working of each model is different. So, any mishandling can damage or break your crossbow. The solution to this problem is to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions to understand the working of your crossbow defuser.


Start the procedure by removing the crossbow bolt. A total of six screws are fixed at the top of the defuser. Loosen all these screws to adjust the fingers. Now, it is time to fix the defuser on the top of the crossbow. Ensure the defuser is parallel to the crossbow’s flight barrel. Now, adjust the fingers and tighten the head screws (the same screws loosen at the start).

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly adjust the defuser in the crossbow. Double-check the defuser to make sure it is fixed properly. After checking other adjustments, remove the safety of the crossbow. Pull the trigger. It is time to go home as the crossbow is uncocked successfully.

4. Use A Cocking Rope:

A cocking rope is also used to unload the crossbow. The procedure of a cocking rope is simple compared to the methods mentioned above. But of course, every ease comes with a price, so pressure or strength must be applied in this method. Also, inspect cocking rope for wear and tear before each use.


Move the crossbow downward so that the foot stirrup touches the ground. Put your foot in the foot claw. Hold one end of the rope in one hand and simultaneously attach/hook the second end to the other side of the crossbow’s handle. Apply pressure on the end of the rope that you are holding in your hand. Now, as soon as you press the trigger the crossbow string will return to its original position.

5. Simply Shoot Into The Ground:

One of the easiest methods to uncock the crossbow is to shoot the bolt into the ground. All you have to do is to shoot a crossbow bolt, but where? A discharge target method is mentioned above, but if you do not have a discharge target, this method is applicable. In this method, no tool or product is needed to uncock the crossbow.


First, ensure the surrounding is safe enough to shoot the bolt. Then, target at a distance of almost ten feet. Prefer to use the ground where the soil is soft; this way crossbow bolt will not break, and you can later reuse it. Decock/uncock your crossbow by shooting the bolt.

How not to uncock a crossbow?

The query on how to unload a crossbow is answered in detail. Now, let’s jump on to another important point, what should be avoided while uncocking the crossbow? Never uncock a crossbow with hands or without any tools. It may seem safe and easy, but don’t try it, as it is unsafe. Your crossbow will not uncock, but you will end up harming yourself or damaging your crossbow. You do not want that, so stay away from it.

My first suggestion is to listen to your manufacturer’s instructions. Suppose they suggest a particular way (tool or device) to uncock your crossbow; follow it. But if you want to try something on your own, I suggest following any of the above-mentioned uncocking methods. Almost all the tools or devices mentioned in this article are safe to uncock your crossbow. If you do not have any gadget to uncock the crossbow, do follow the no. 5 method (simply shoot into the ground).

How to uncock a crossbow without firing it?

Uncocking a crossbow without firing is possible, but this method is only recommended if you have no other option. In this method, stretch the taut string while keeping the bow un-cocked. With the string taut, the bolt will be launched. This process is called static discharge. A major drawback is that you do not feel vibrations when the crossbow is cocked. The absence of this feeling does not let you know when the bow is ready for firing. Although it is an unsafe practice to uncock the crossbow without firing, ensure you are in a safe location.

Wrist cocking device, safety extension cord, and bowstring stopper are some of the devices that help while unloading the crossbow without firing. All these devices make the whole process safe and easy.


A crossbow can be easily decocked. There are numerous gadgets to make the process easier, such as; decocking rope, decocking bolt, decocking defuser, and a decocking target. Select any tool according to your preference and budget.

It is not okay to leave a crossbow cocked overnight or longer. The tension in the bowstring and limbs can affect the crossbow’s performance. To maintain the quality of the crossbow unload it as soon as you are done with the hunting. Experts recommend uncocking the crossbow every 24 hours.

Crossbows like Wicked Ridge and TenPoint already have a decocker. So, a separate decocker is not needed for such crossbows.

Uncocking a ravin r10 crossbow is easier than you think. First, remove the draw handle. Turn the arrow string backwards and then pull the string. Now, check the strings. If there is any twist or breakage in the strings, then fix it. Now, keep the draw handle back in its position. Turn ON the safety of the crossbow, and you are done.

For safety reasons, it is important to uncock the Barnett crossbow properly. In this procedure, with your left hand, hold the cocking stirrup. Remove the bolt end cap using your right hand. Now, remove the bolt from the crossbow. With your right hand, push the safety button; hold the cocking handle in your left hand.

Release pressure on the safety button while holding the cocking handle. Also, move the handle toward the ground. When the handle is lowered completely, then you can release the cocking handle. Your Barnett crossbow is uncocked safely and ready to store away.


Uncocking a crossbow is an easy task and can be done within minutes. After reading this article, I know how to uncock a crossbow is no longer a query. While summarizing this guide, my advice is to follow the instructions properly. No matter what the situation is, never dryfire a crossbow. I repeat, never!

The discharge target, discharge bolt, and defuser are the safe and easiest ways to uncock the crossbow. Using a rope is effective too, but it demands more physical strength. The last suggestion of shooting in the ground is the least preferred one. Any method other than these is often dangerous, so proceed at your own risk. If you find this guide helpful, do share it with your friends. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment box.

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