How Should A Hunter Safely Unload A Crossbow? Do These Steps!

So, how should a hunter safely unload a crossbow?

Perhaps you are a bit inexperienced in using a crossbow. Plus, there is something intimidating about it, which is why you want to make sure you do it the right way. After all, the last thing you want is to get in any trouble when you unload incorrectly.

From loading to unloading and handling a crossbow the right way, we’ll tackle all of these topics in this post, so keep reading.

Safety First!

A cocked crossbow is scary – and risky – to use when you are not sure about what you are doing. This is why we are here to give you some tips on how you can apply safety when loading and unloading to avoid any unexpected situations.

Loading Your Crossbow

There are two phases involved in this part – cocking and loading your crossbow. First, you need to make sure your crossbow is pointed in a safe position. Avoid placing your finger on the trigger since that is very risky to do when you accidentally activate it.

Then, make sure you have an uncocked crossbow and be sure to unload it until you are ready to use it once more. As long as you keep these key reminders in mind, you should be able to avoid any mishap or injuries.

Considering the different types and designs of crossbows, cocking can be done in various ways. However, the important concept is to pull the strings back and wait for it to engage in the fire control system, which holds your strings back until you have pulled the trigger.

There are also higher-end and more modern crossbows that come with a crank device, so it is important to check your manual for the right cocking technique. But no matter what the method may be, you should be sure to keep these points in mind to prevent any untoward incidents when cocking:

  • Avoid pinching your fingers and hands in the firing mechanism by keeping your fingers and hands on either direction of the barrel when drawing the strings back
  • Make sure your foot remains firmly positioned on the stirrup to prevent the bow from recoiling backward and striking you in the chest or the face
  • Avoid injuries to your spine by pulling with your shoulders and arms 

When you pull the string back, you should pull it backward as vigorously as possible – up to the farthest it can go. Short stroking, on the other hand, is tricky since your bow is not entirely cocked while having an engaged automatic safety. Hence, your bow is unable to fire without manual manipulation.

Next up, when loading your crossbow, you should grasp your arrow quickly behind the broadhead or tip when loading it on your barrel using your hand. But do not go past the powerstroke of the string or the flight path of the arrow. You need to place your hand right behind the broadhead, yet at the front of the cams of your crossbow. This way, you will not end up hurting your hand in the event that your bow goes off accidentally.

Once you have your arrow loaded, you should be ready to shoot. But be sure that you never stick your fingers and thumbs over the flight deck. Make sure that nothing falls right inside the danger triangle of your cocked crossbow when shooting.

Unloading Your Crossbow

Some people opt to keep their crossbow loaded during a hunting trip because they anticipate firing. However, if they end up not taking any shot opportunity – or there was none at all – they eventually drive home with a loaded crossbow. Unfortunately, this can be risky and dangerous. This is why you should unload your crossbow to prevent some accidents.

To unload your crossbow, you can do so by shooting it. However, never do dry-firing since this can cause damage to your crossbow and can be dangerous for you. Fire your actual arrow – and it is best if it is your practice arrow so as not to risk losing or damaging your expensive ones.

Remove the hunting arrow carefully and use a practice arrow with the field point. You can also manually de-cock your crossbow using brute strength and a cocking rope, yet it is not very easy – and can even be scary. This is why we do not recommend this unless you have an expert assisting you. 

Additional Tips To Remember

Thanks to recent technologies, newer crossbows have safety features, which is helpful when loading and unloading them. You are also better off checking your manual or contacting the manufacturer for your inquiries specific to the crossbow you have. But when unloading, you can also try pulling your string back firmly, which engages your trigger mechanism. In this case, it is worth giving this a shot first.

However, if this technique does not work in getting you to fire your bow normally, and you are unable to decock the bow with a troubleshooting method stated in your manual, then you can try another way. For instance, manual uncocking is ideally done by two individuals. One will have to exert the cocking force that will relieve the pressure from your trigger sear while the other person will need to depress your anti-dry fire mechanism with an untipped arrow while the trigger is being pulled.

Make sure, though, that you strictly follow safety rules – and check that no body part is coming into contact with the danger triangle, as well as the flight path.

In case you are confused on how to go about this process, you can always take your bow to a professional at the bowshop and obtain assistance. Yet, the best way to do it is to check with your manual first and make it a point to load your crossbow correctly.

Read More: How Much Does It Cost To Restring A Crossbow? What You Should Know


The process of unloading your crossbow may seem like a great ordeal, especially if it is your first time to do this. So, we highly recommend that you seek professional assistance, check your manual, and consider the safety tips we have shared with you in this post.

Leave a Comment

Read more