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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.