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How to Load & Cock A Crossbow – The Ultimate Guide

how to load a crossbow
Written by Robert Stevens

Compound bows and crossbows share a bit of similarity. but when compared, both bows are quite different from one another. One edge-cutting difference that sets the compound bow apart is the process of cocking it and getting it ready for a shot.

In this article, we will look at some of the essential steps to take when cocking a crossbow.  The entire process is pretty simple and easy, but a little mistake can blow it up.

The Process of Loading a Crossbow Properly

Cocking a Crossbow Manually

If you want to cock your bow manually, adhere to the following steps.

  • You have to open the crossbow in the way that allows the foot to get in touch with the ground.
  • Ensure the safety switch is still located within its position. Most times, this may be counterintuitive because the bow is not fired directly at the position, but once locked, it becomes easy to pull back the string. Above all, safety is key! So, be cautious.
  • Place your foot on the claw.
  • Use both hands to hold the string. At this phase, it is essential to ensure your grip is steady, and even; this will help ensure you’re not pulling one side a bit faster or harder.
  • Firmly drag the string backward. Try as much as you can not to yank it since it’s one of the sure ways to hurt yourself or damage the bow.
  • Re-engage the switch meant for safety. Most contemporary designed bows are created to carry out this function automatically. However, if yours is not designed with such ability, you will have to ensure the bow’s safety is on, when you’re done loading it. I believe the last thing anyone will want is to fire a bow accidentally.

Once you take out time to observe all the above steps of cocking a bow rightly, the outcome will be shown from your shots because it will make a hell of difference compared to someone who misses out some steps.

Cocking with a Rope-Cocking Device

​If cocking your bow seems a bit daunting to you, we recommend buying a cocking device since that can help too. The cocking tool is there to add to your stirrup and help you connect to your string, offering you a room to leverage on whenever you intend to cock the crossbow again.

If you intend to cock the crossbow with the rope tool meant for cocking, adhere to the following steps.

  1. The first step here is pretty similar to what you will do when you are cocking your bow manually. You have to ensure the bow is placed on the grown while one of your foot is placed on its claw.
  2. Place the clamps directly on the rope tool and make sure it is evenly placed on either side.
  3. Extend the string backward until it generates a “click” sound.
  4. Make sure your safety switch is left on, then you can progress to crossbow loading.

So, that’s all you need to do, pretty simple, right? It is very similar to the procedures involved in cocking the bow manually. This time the only difference here is that the rope is there to make all the steps very easy. If you think the manual process is time-consuming, you can try using the rope tool.

Loading an Arrow on Your Crossbow

This step, when compared to cocking, is very simple and requires a little amount of finesse. Nevertheless, it is essential to perform it properly if you intend to get a better shot.  First and foremost, you will need to place the crossbow bolt meant for the bow within your barrel. It’s Important to be sure that the arrow used is appropriately aligned with your barrel channel.

Most times, vane are pointed downward, although this can sometimes vary depending on the type of bolts used. If you are not particularly sure of which is the right position where the arrow should be cocked, refer to the manual or do a quick Google search.

Crossbow Loading Tips & Techniques

Crossbow Loading Tips & Techniques

Above is an overview of the steps involved when cocking a crossbow; however, here are some tips you can use to make the process fast and easy. If you consider these steps, positioning yourself for a perfect shot won’t be a dragon-slaying task.

Although some of the mentioned tips are for those folks that are used to cocking using a cocking rope. However, if you feel comfortable cocking manually, then I guess you don’t need these tips.

  • Reduce the Cocking Rope

Usually, cocking ropes used on a crossbow are very long. Making the rope a bit shorter can make a big difference and help to ease the entire cocking process, helping you to stay safe too! If you always struggle to pull a rope, then there are possibilities of getting your shoulders hurt with time. Making the rope a bit shorter is a step you can adopt to make the loading process a bit easier. Avoid trial and error, make the necessary adjustment on the cocking rope, and ensure it fits the cocking stroke.

  • Spot Your String

Mark out a spot on the string close to the trigger mechanism using a marker; this will make crossbow loading very easy and will help boost your level of precision always.  Cocking the bow a bit away to the left or right of the center will most times lead to what I call “a close missed shot” on your target.

  • Spot Your Rope

You can make a big difference by marking out the rope on your string. The mark will be there to help line things rightly whenever you want to pull the string backward. You can draw out a line or a dot directly in the middle of the cocking rope, afterward, fixing it up at the middle of the stock will ensure you are dragging the rope backward with even pressure at any given time the bow is cocked.


We have indeed covered a lot, and now it’s time to give all you’ve learned a shot. The next time you take part in this amazing sport hunting with your bow, set up an excellent target, and take out some time to practice. It’s also important to put safety first before stepping out to aim a prey.

If you have read through this article, then I believe you’re one of those who love to take out time to do things the right way and get themselves ready for success. With a couple of shots, I believe you’ll be fit to go for another expedition, whether crossbow deer hunting or hunting other animals, with an increased level of confidence on how to cock the bow and take the required shot.

About the author

Robert Stevens

A Seasoned Hunter

It’s been several years that Robert, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

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