10 basic crossbow safety tips
As the use of crossbows during hunting seasons is expanded across the U.S., more and more people are picking them up. Currently, crossbows can be used for hunting big game in some fashion in every state except Oregon.
Compared to compound and traditional bows, crossbows are relatively simple to learn to use and they’re deadly accurate.
But they come with their own set of safety rules. If you’re going to pick one up and take it hunting, then you’ve got to know these 10 important safety tips for shooting a crossbow.
- Treat a cocked crossbow like a loaded firearm, whether it’s got a bolt in it or not. Always keep it pointed in a safe direction. Even if there’s no bolt on the rail, a dry-fired crossbow can hurl broken pieces down range.
- The North American Crossbow Federation recommends tree stand hunters cock their crossbows on the ground, and haul them up to their stands unloaded. Don’t ever lean over in a stand to cock a crossbow. (The only exception would be if you’ve got a crossbow fitted with a hand crank. You can draw that bow without leaning over.)
- To get your crossbow up to your stand, use a haul line that’s tied to the butt end – stay away from the trigger - so the crossbow faces the ground when you’re lifting it.
- Keep your fingers below the rail of a cocked crossbow at all times.
- Never dry fire a crossbow.
- Always check to make sure your bolt is seated firmly against the string before shooting, and keep the safety engaged until you’re about to shoot.
- With nearly any crossbow suitable for hunting, don’t try to de-cock it by hand.
- The best way to de-cock your crossbow is to shoot it. You can do so by shooting a bolt into a target; carrying a special de-cocking bag to shoot into after a hunt; or by shooting a de-cocking bolt into the ground.
- Be sure the foot stirrup is secure before drawing your bow. If it slips out of the bow, the butt end of the stock will hit you as you draw.
- Never shoot a bolt that’s shorter than what’s recommended by the manufacturer.