Is It Okay To Keep A Crossbow Cocked? (4 Simplest Methods)

The answer to the question, Is It Okay To Keep A Crossbow Cocked, is very simple. A crossbow should not be kept cocked for more than 24 hours. It affects the quality of the bow and also damages the bow.
By Rebecca Rios | Updated On February 12, 2023
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Is it okay to keep a crossbow cocked

Often hunters (especially novice hunters) return to their homes empty-handed. No meat; hence no shot is needed, so the crossbow is still cocked. Now, the concern of hunters is the crossbow. They start to wonder, is it okay to keep a crossbow cocked? How long can you leave a crossbow cocked?

The prime preference of hunters is to leave the crossbow cocked till the next hunting session, and if so, is it safe? Let’s find out the answers to all these questions in this guide.

How long can you keep a crossbow cocked?

Crossbows are a powerful weapon in archery. They are supposed to be strong, durable, and précised in the shooting. A great benefit of crossbows is that there is no need to hold the crossbow’s draw weight. Load it once; your crossbow is set to shoot for hours.

However, other hunting weapons lack this characteristic. Crossbows can stay cocked for an extended period. But that extended period also has a limit. You have to unload your crossbow on the same day of shooting.

Many crossbow manufacturers suggest it is safe to keep a crossbow cocked for an entire day, which sums up 24 hours. It means 24 hours are more than enough to keep a crossbow cocked. Hence, the crossbow should be decocked or uncocked after 24 hours.

Experts also recommend giving a rest of about half an hour to the crossbow after every four hours. It is okay to keep the crossbow cocked while hunting venture but make sure to keep the bow down after every four hours. In this way, the lifespan of the crossbow increases.

importance of decocking the crossbow:

All the crossbow manufacturers and experts agree that a crossbow should be decocked after 24 hours, no matter the situation. Otherwise, premature or unnecessary stretching of the cables and string can happen, and it can be dangerous for people and objects. It can affect the crossbow performance as well.

While talking to experienced archers and hunters, I came to know that they religiously decock their crossbows within a day. According to them, it is important to unload the crossbow on the same day of hunting; however, the ideal scenario is to decock it right after the hunting venture. They also elaborated that if you take a break from hunting; ensure your crossbow is unloaded and safe.

Negative Impacts Of Keeping The Crossbow Decocked:

Many hunters claim that they left their crossbow cocked overnight or for a longer period of time, and they have not noticed a slight change in crossbow quality or performance. It might be true, I do not deny it, but it is also true that even the manufacturers have restricted keeping a loaded crossbow, so how can it be safe?

People who leave their crossbow unloaded may not be able to see the wear and tear of the bow at the start. But with time, all the damages and negative impacts of the crossbow start to appear. Avoid cocking for longer unless you can afford to buy a new crossbow because:

  • The bow strings dry out hence, lose their elasticity.
  • The lifespan of the crossbow shortens.
  • When a crossbow is cocked, tension or stress exists in strings, limbs, cables, and the firing mechanism.
  • Leaving the crossbow cocked for so long or overnight puts the crossbow under stress, leading to damage such as; overstretched strings, impaired cams, extended limbs, overstrained cords, and bent axles; in short, it can damage other components as well. It summarizes that leaving a crossbow decocked for 24 hours or longer harms the crossbow.
  • The bow safety and quality of the crossbow also do not remain the same. A crossbow will no longer be able to return to its original condition once damaged.

The negative impacts are not only restricted to crossbows, but it is also a safety concern. There are multiple cases when the bow hunters leave their loaded crossbows unattended and witness dry firing when they return. Their crossbows have already dry-fired because of the pressure on the strings and limbs. Dry firing is dangerous for people and can also damage the crossbow.

the best ways to decock a crossbow:

There are numerous ways to decock a crossbow, and with time variation in previous ways is happening. Luckily, there are many products to make the process quick and safe. I have a detailed guide on how to uncock a crossbow. Check that article if you want a detailed explanation of uncocking methods. Here I am listing the best ways to decock/uncock the crossbow:

Decocking arrow:

A decocking arrow is very common and feasible. All you have to do is to replace these arrows with regular crossbow arrows and shoot in the ground. These arrows are released at the softer ground by keeping a distance of about six to ten feet.

Crossbow defuser:

A crossbow defuser or decocker is a cross-shaped gadget that adjusts the crossbow. It does not fire the bolt; it simply releases tension from the bow limbs. A crossbow defuser is a silent device. Also, it is an effective device if you plan to hunt again at the same place.

Is it okay to keep a crossbow cocked
Discharge Crossbow Target

Discharge target:

Discharge targets are small, portable, and purpose-built targets. These targets are filled with thick material or foam so the crossbow bolt does not penetrate through such targets. Discharge targets can be made at home, but proper knowledge about the procedure is compulsory.

Cocking rope:

A cocking rope is one of the oldest and the most effective method. Simply grab a cocking rope. Hold one end of the rope and hook the other to the crossbow’s handle. Apply some pressure on the end of the rope that you are holding. After pressing the trigger, your crossbow will be decocked.

Now, you must be thinking that all these procedures demand any product. Can I perform the activity of unloading without any product? Well! Yes, there is a method to manually decock the crossbow, but safety comes first.

I recommend opting for any of the methods mentioned above, but you can manually decock the crossbow in an emergency. You have to be extra careful and protective as it is generally not a good idea to decocking.

In the manual decocking procedure, first, you must check the surrounding. It would be best if you had a safe atmosphere and soft soil. Keep a distance of almost ten feet and release the bolt. Preserve the bolt for later use if it is not damaged and you are done.


Although it is not recommended to leave a cocked crossbow unattended but in case if it happens, then follow any of the following suggestions:

  • Carefully uncock your crossbow using any uncocking tool or device (do not dry fire!). A crossbow defuser, decocking rope, decocking arrow, and discharge target are the easy and safe ways to uncock the crossbow.
  • Inspect the crossbow keenly for any damage or stretching. Then, safely later use it for hunting.
  • If you want to avoid taking the risk of firing or uncocking, seek a professional’s help. They will examine the parts of the bow that needs replacing and fixing.

The deadline for a Ravin cocked crossbow is a maximum of eight hours. Do not keep a Ravin crossbow cocked for more than eight hours.

The deadline for a Barnett cocked crossbow is a maximum of four hours. Do not keep a Barnett crossbow cocked for more than four hours.

The deadline for a ten-point cocked crossbow is a maximum of twenty-four hours. Do not keep a ten-point crossbow cocked for more than twenty-four hours.

The deadline for a compound cocked crossbow is a maximum of twenty-four hours. Do not keep a compound crossbow cocked for more than twenty-four hours.

The deadline for an Excalibur cocked crossbow is a maximum of twelve hours. Do not keep an Excalibur crossbow cocked for more than twelve hours.

A crossbow can stay loaded for days and weeks, but it is unsafe. So, a typical crossbow should be unloaded after 24 hours. Experts also suggest providing the bow with a rest of about half an hour after using it for four hours.

When the bowstring is relaxed, there is no tension or stretching in it; hence, no chance of bow damage. So, when the bowstring of a crossbow is relaxed, the crossbow is safe.

It is very easy to maintain a crossbow. Please choose the best wax for your bow and apply it to the bow string and cables.

  • Oil your crossbow after a few months to keep the moving parts in good condition.
  • Clean the scope lens in case of any dirt.
  • Wipe off the dust from the groove, rail, and nook. It is preferable to remove dust from the cam and axles through compressed air.
  • Never wash your crossbow with water.
  • Tighten the bow bolts in between the hunting.
  • It would be best if you included a screwdriver in your hunting kit. Also, wear safety goggles or protective eyewear for your safety.

Final Words

Ask your crossbow’s brand/company how long can you leave a crossbow cocked? The answer is usually around 4-8 hours. Many damages can happen to the crossbow if kept cocked longer than this duration.

Leaving a crossbow cocked is always a bad idea, and if something bad happens to your crossbow before the next hunt, you will have some time to fix the issue. But if damage happens near the hunting day, you will have to miss the next hunting venture. So, secure your crossbow by frequently uncocking it and relish the hunting season.

With proper maintenance and essential care, a crossbow can last many years. Take care of your crossbow and maintain it properly. Hopefully, you found this guide helpful, and if you did, share it with your friends.

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