Uncocking a crossbow should only be done in one of the proper processes mentioned bellow. Let us please stress this point out - while possible it is never a good thing to decock a crossbow by hand!
Additionally, uncocking a crossbow is important because it does not only help relax your crossbow’s limbs. You are also preventing any accidents from happening (to you and other people). Besides, it may be illegal to have a crossbow cocked during certain hours of the day!
We hope you’ll learn a lot in this article! Keep it safe (and fun!) when using your crossbow!
Should You Use Your Hands When Uncocking a Crossbow (WARNING: NO! YOU SHOULDN’T!)Although it is possible to use your raw strength to uncock (also called decock) a crossbow, it is highly recommended for you NOT to do so. Even if you can pull back on the string, would you risk putting yourself at risk for this? Considering that modern crossbows are definitely built tough, you're just inviting not only your hands, but your stomach, chest, and back to be injured. Still, decocking by hand is theoretically possible.
Note: as a test, before trying to uncock a crossbow by hand, try to cock it using only one hand - just as if you used a rope cocking device. If you can’t manage to safely pull the bowstring into position, there’s no way you’ll be able to uncock your crossbow.
This is all really dangerous and you should not be doing this. It’s your responsibility if anything goes wrong.
Also crossbows tend to exert a varying force during firing, you’ll have to counter this varying force which makes the whole process so much more dangerous. If you are not strong enough your crossbow will pull you down resulting in injury.
Test Your Strength by Cocking First
- Your crossbow should be uncocked at this point.
- Place your foot in the foot claw for cocking.
- With one hand grab the string near the stock of your crossbow.
- With the other hand grab the stock near the trigger for stabilization.
- Try to pull on the string with one hand only. Do not force it if you feel it’s too much for you. Rather stop earlier than later. Try to use your leg muscles for the lifting, starting from a slight squat and going up.
- Pull the string up until you hear the cocking mechanism click. If you got to this step without needing too much force you can proceed to uncocking.
How to Uncock a Crossbow by Hand
- Your cockbow should be cocked at this point, with no bolt in it.
- Place your foot in the foot claw. Note failure to uncock properly could hurt your foot.
- With one hand grab the crossbow’s grip, ready to fire. Do not pull on the trigger yet.
- With the other hand grab the string and raise it upwards a bit. With this you’ll also test if you are strong enough for uncocking. Instead of bending try to lower your body using your leg muscles into a slight squat.
- With the string still raised with one hand fire your crossbow with the other.
- Gently let the string down. Note you’ll need to keep your muscles tensed up until you lower the string to the bottommost position. Do not underestimate your crossbow! The force you need for keeping control can vary as you let the string down.
So this was what you should not do. And this is why we'd like to focus more on the proper ways to get this archery step done right!
How to Uncock a Crossbow
There are several ways on how to properly and safely uncock your crossbow. Aside from keeping your crossbow in tip-top shape, you're also keeping yourself away from harm's way (we'll discuss other benefits below as well). Let's check them out below:
Perhaps the simplest way to decock a crossbow is to simply shoot it. Simply breaking down the process, it would be something like this:
- Consider the place you plan to shoot your crossbow. Make sure that there's no one in your line of sight. Also check for possible debris that may cause injury (from shrapnel and whatnot).
- If there is no target, consider shooting at safe patches of soil. Not only will soil safely absorb your bolt – you may also get to retrieve the bolt back for repeat use (if it is of a durable type).
- You may also want to consider using specialized targets for this process. Called discharge targets, these small and portable targets have the right amount of material to withstand crossbow bolt impacts at a short distance.
- Shoot your crossbow. A safe distance when decocking a crossbow this way is approximately within six to ten feet away from the soft patch of soil or discharge target.
This process is safe and easy. Always remember that location is important! And if you do plan to use a discharge target to decock a crossbow, make sure to check it as well. You never would want a faulty object to shoot at!
Use Discharge Bolts
Another way to safely decock a crossbow is to use discharge bolts. Also called unloading bolts, these crossbow arrows are heavier and tougher than typical bolts. This is because they're meant to be shot into the ground/soft patches of soil repeatedly. Let's quickly break down this process:
- Start off by removing the bolt currently placed in your crossbow.
- Replace the bolt with a discharge bolt.
- Shoot your crossbow towards the soft ground or patches of soil. Remember to observe the safe distance of six to ten feet away from your desired target when shooting.
Although a really easy process, you may also want to consider that using discharge bolts also mean that you're losing a bolt slot in your quiver for this. Also a minor issue to think about is that there may be a slight chance for a discharge bolt to end up stuck in the ground.
Take note: there are disposable unloading bolts in the market. Also called as biodegradable bolts, these crossbow arrows are just for one-time use. Another variant of an unloading bolt comes with rubber tips to prevent the bolt in penetration the ground or the target. You may also want to use these certain type of bolts when uncocking your crossbow.
Use a Crank
Using a crank is the most common and easiest way to cock a crossbow. And this piece of equipment works wonders as well when it comes to uncocking your crossbow. Here are the steps:
- Point your crossbow towards the ground.
- Position and place your foot into the stirrup of the crossbow. Make sure to have a firm hold.
- Check and see if your crossbow is in the firing position.
- Attach the crank.
- Carefully release the spool from the crank.
- Holding on to the hooks, latch them around the crossbow's string.
- Make sure that each of the hooks have an equal distance away from the flight deck.
- Engage the crank handle.
- Tense up the crank so it holds onto the string firmly.
- “Fire” your crossbow with one hand while holding the crank with the other.
- Start cranking backwards – this will lower the string into the relaxed position.
You may notice that these steps are exactly the same for cocking a crossbow. Of course, the only difference is that you are cranking in reverse. It's as simple as that!
Use a Cocking Rope
Do you find shooting into the ground or a discharge target a hassle? Or are you in a budget and have no means to use a crossbow crank? Don't fret - a cocking rope can be used to uncock a crossbow!
We've mentioned before that we're big fans of this archery gear. Mainly because of its versatility (you will be able to manage heavy crossbow draw weights, you will be able to maintain your crossbow properly, etc.), a cocking rope will also save you time in safely decocking a crossbow. Let's break down this process:
- Turn the safety switch of the crossbow in the firing position. This will assure you that the crossbow string can be pulled back completely.
- Angle the crossbow in such a way that the foot stirrup touches the floor.
- Once positioned properly, insert your foot in the foot claw.
- With the cocking rope in your hands, place one of the clamps of the cocking rope on the crossbow's handle.
- Hook the other end (the other clamp) of the cocking rope to the other side of the crossbow's handle. Make sure that the rope is loose enough for your hand to firmly grab onto it with one hand only.
- Put some tension on the end of the cocking rope you're holding with one hand.
- With the other hand pull the trigger (really slowly).
- As the crossbow lets down, the hold that you have on your cocking rope should loosen or relax as well.
And that's it! A simple process for cocking a crossbow, a really easy uncocking process as well when using a cocking rope!
Use a Defuser
Another nice way to smoothly and safely decock your crossbow is to use a crossbow defuser. Here are the quick and easy steps for this process:
- Install the defuser onto your crossbow (check your crossbow manual for more details – it does differ per model).
- Once that the defuser is installed, simply turn the defuser's knob.
- You will notice that the crossbow's limbs will return back to its default prone position.
Really simple! One thing that you may want to think about when selecting this process is that there is no universal crossbow defuser. It isn't a "plug and play" thing for this! As always, please refer to the manual or the manufacturer to check for recommended defusers for your crossbow!
Why Uncock a Crossbow?
Now that we've listed the safe and proper ways to uncock a crossbow, let us now find out why decocking is important.
Because You Are Required To Do So
Depending on the state you're in, the law require hunters to have their crossbows uncocked during a certain time (there are legal shooting hours designated in certain areas). Additionally, some states will not allow anyone to carry and transport cocked crossbows in a vehicle. Please check with your local government for more details!
Because You Care for Your Gear
Having your crossbow on an engaged mode when not in use will only damage it. You need to let go of that tension! Ease out that stress, to let your crossbow be maintained in a proper manner. Besides, dry firing a crossbow will never be a good idea - it will only break your crossbow apart!
Because Safety is Paramount in Archery
The best reason on why you should decock a crossbow properly is because it is the right and safe practice. Not only will you keep yourself away from harm's way with an uncocked crossbow - you are also preventing pesky (and lethal - we do hope that this won't be the case) accidents from happening.
You really need to uncock your crossbow - there's no other way around it!
After Uncocking: Maintenance Checklist
Keep your crossbow in the best shape possible with these spot maintenance checks right after decocking:
Cables and Strings Check
Check and see if there are any defects on your crossbow's strings and cables. If there are any damage, then this would also be a great time to have a crossbow string replaced. Also, take the opportunity to wax the cables and bow strings as well. Rub in the wax all throughout the string with your fingers. But make sure to leave out the central spot (where the flight deck is) to avoid any damage.
Checking the Rail
Check and see if your crossbow's rail is still properly lubricated. Again, using your fingers, apply some rail lubricant all throughout the crossbow's flight deck.
Crossbow Trigger Spot Check
Your crossbow's trigger and metal parts should also be inspected and lubricated. Doing so will prevent any corrosion or rust from setting in.
Store those Bolts
Aside from inspecting your crossbow arrows, please also make use of this time to properly store them. Instead of having any sharp object exposed, you’d want these bolts and field tips kept and stored away - this will help in preventing any accidents from happening.
Give Your Crossbow Lens Some Attention
This time, look at your crossbow's lens (and not through it). Carefully wipe it with a clean cloth (or specific cleaning wipes for crossbow lenses).
Check the Bolts
If there are any loose bolts on your crossbow, then this would be a great time to tighten them.
One of the main reasons why decocking is important is that because we want to prevent anything bad to happen on the crossbow’s limbs. Take the time to always inspect and check for any damage on the limbs!
Last Inspection Wipe!
You never want your gear to be dirty. So wipe those dirty stuff away!
Following these tips will give your crossbow the care and attention it deserves!
Bonus: Safety Reminders to Have in Mind When Uncocking a Crossbow
We would also want to take the opportunity to share some efficient safety tips when decocking a crossbow:
Just because the actual shooting part is done, doesn't mean you need to take off your safety gear as well. If you're wearing safety glasses of goggles, then please have them on as well when decocking a crossbow.
Check Your Surroundings
Have a clean and safe place to decock. Even if you are using a crank or a cocking rope, you would want to keep everything tidy and safe - a simple rock or object on the ground may result in an accident if you're not careful!
Full Limb Clearance - Even When Uncocking
Space is needed in archery. When shooting, you would want to follow the full limb clearance practice to prevent both damage to your gear and injury towards yourself from happening. It would also be nice to practice this during decocking a crossbow.
Keeping safe equates to happier archery moments!
Here are some other engaging links to help you learn more about uncocking a crossbow
Crossbow Nation talks on why decocking is important (and why having to uncock by hand should never be practiced)!
This Outdoors Experience video shows both cocking and uncocking crossbow methods.
This forum discusses several ways to decock a crossbow.