Crossbow Safety & Security

Please make sure to read and follow all of our crossbow safety tips below. The best thing you could do is to print this article out and read it whenever you get a chance so that the contents are internalized. Most of all, actively remind yourself about all these security precautions each time you handle or even take a look at your crossbow.

Cocking & Arrow Seating Safety

  • Make sure your foot is firmly placed inside the stirrup when cocking your crossbow; failing to do this could cause the crossbow to slip from underneath your foot as you are cocking it, and it could end up hitting you in the face with tremendous force.
  • When cocking your crossbow, be it manually or with a rope aid, hold the string at equal distances on both the left and right side of the stock. Failing to do so will result in your crossbow being cocked unevenly, which isn’t safe and will reduce your shooting accuracy.
  • Never hang the rope cocking aid around your neck, as one end could accidentally get stuck to the string, and if you don’t notice that and fire your crossbow, the other end of rope aid could cause you serious damage. Always place the rope on the ground or any other place where it can’t possibly get in contact with the crossbow.
  • Before seating an arrow, inspect the nock carefully for any wear or breakage. If the nock isn’t in perfect shape, throw it away immediately.
  • If your crossbow does not come with an automated anti-dry fire mechanism, make sure to always set the safety to the ON position as soon as your weapon is cocked, and before you remove your foot from the stirrup.
  • Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s safety recommendations for your crossbow, particularly those concerning proper cocking, de-cocking, loading, and grip safety.

Target Shooting Crossbow Safety

  • Do not ever point the crossbow at a person or anything you do not intend to fire at, even if no arrow is seated.
  • Never hold your crossbow around the trigger, as you could easily fire the arrow by accident.
  • If your crossbow is cocked, and especially if an arrow is seated, do not ever place the weapon on the ground, as the trigger could engage by accident. If you need to rest your crossbow somewhere, remove the arrow and manually de-cock your weapon.
  • Never dry fire (shooting when there is no seated arrow), as this will generate a lot of vibration in the limbs and damage them, simultaneously voiding your manufacturer warranty. It will also shorten the life of your string and the mounting between the prod and stock.
  • Always keep your fingers beneath the stock when shooting, and make sure no part of your arm gets in the way of the string.
  • Inspect your equipment before every shooting session. Look for: arrow splintering or bending, separation of the bowstring serving, cracks or twists in the crossbow limbs, any loose bolts. Please read our guide on crossbow maintenance for more.
  • Keep the trigger safety in the ON position and only disengage it once you are ready to fire.
  • Never shoot your crossbow if anyone is standing behind it, in front of it, or even to the side of it. When shooting, you want to have absolutely no one in your direct line of sight.
  • When shooting at a target, make sure there is an adequate stop positioned behind it in case your arrow misses or passes right through the target.
  • After removing your arrows from the target, check to make sure that none of the arrows were damaged by another one. While it is fun to shoot very tight 1″ arrow groups from 20, 30 or 40 yards away, doing so consistently will significantly increase your chances of one arrow damaging the other. This is why it’s better to choose a few different “bulls-eyes” located far enough from each other.

Hunting Crossbow Safety

  • All the tips from the previous section (“Target Practice Crossbow Safety”) apply when you are hunting as well.
  • If on a tree-stand, do not ever take off your safety harness.
  • Always use a haul line to move your crossbow up and down the tree-stand. Make sure the line is not attached anywhere near the trigger, and that your crossbow is unloaded (no arrow is seated). Take extra care to ensure neither the string, cables or string touch the ground, and that there are no branches obstructing its movement. Never climb onto a tree-stand or platform with the crossbow hanging by its shoulder sling.
  • While in a tree-stand and right before you pull the trigger, make sure there are no branches obstructing free movement of the limbs. As you pull the trigger, those limbs will travel forward with great force; if they were to hit a branch on the way, it would generate enough “kickback” to knock you off your tree-stand, not to mention this will damage the crossbow.
  • Make sure your arrow broad-heads are always inside the quiver to avoid cutting yourself by accident.
  • Always use a broad-head wrench when attaching or detaching your broad-heads from the shaft insert.


Add a Comment
  1. Cannot emphasize too much the importance of keeping fingers (and thumb) below the rail. I knew that and am a careful guy, but about 3 weeks ago I decided to get in a few shots before dinner. On the 3rd shot I got careless and my thumb got above the rail. String took off 1/3 of the nail and laid open the meat on the end. 4 plus hours in the ER, 5 stitches, 2 weeks unable to hunt, bruises on my butt from kicking myself and severely damaged pride. Oh, and over $1000 for my share of medical bills after insurance. Doctor said I was lucky to not lose the tip of my thumb. Please learn from my mistake!

  2. i am a new owner of a horton realtree ultralight. i have fired one other once and fell in love. i am a heart patient and guns are rough on me. i praise the good Lord for your site. it has taught me tons. i just have a few questions. 1) how do you know when to replace your string? 2) i will be hunting mostly deer and there are so many types of brod heads….which one is considered the best and worst. any opinion will be welcomed. thanks.

  3. Thanks for pointing out that there must be something that could stop the arrow behind the target to stop it when it misses the target. I will share this tip with my cousin because I heard that he will buy a crossbow this weekend. It appears that they will also e building a target in their huge backyard to practice his skills. I think his interest in it started after watching a movie where a girl was so good at shooting arrows.

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