Using a crossbow for basic archery skills or even for hunting is very popular, but that doesn’t mean you can just pick up one of these tools and start using it. Indeed, before you place the first crossbow in your hands, you should know a little bit about it first. When operated correctly, crossbows are very safe, but as with all hunting tools, caution needs to be applied so that nothing unexpected or dangerous ever happens
Crossbows come in many basic designs, but they all have one thing in common: they shoot arrows with very sharp points into an animal or onto a target board. Because this is their main function in life, they can be dangerous tools indeed. But if you learn the do’s and don’ts of handling a crossbow, the chances of someone getting hurt are greatly reduced.
You should keep in mind that it isn’t just the arrows that are dangerous; the crossbow itself can be dangerous as well.
If you’re interested in learning as much as you can about crossbow safety, below are 12 tips to keep in mind when you’re using your crossbow:
1. Never Shoot an Arrow Straight up Into the Air
Everyone knows the saying, “what goes up, must come down.” This is especially true for an arrow that’s being shot in the air at a high speed. If you shoot it straight into the air, it’s going to eventually land, and it will likely land hard. Even worse, you never know where it’s going to land, and it could be on top of someone’s head or even in their facial area. When you shoot an arrow straight up into the air, nothing good is bound to happen.
2. Listen to the Manufacturer’s Recommendations
All manufacturers of crossbows list specific instructions on the packaging that tells you what to do and what not to do with your crossbow. After all, each crossbow is different, as is the user, so it’s always best to heed the manufacturer’s advice because they know best when it comes to safely handling their crossbows. This also applies when cocking or stringing your crossbow.
3. Pay Attention to the Location of Your Target
To use a crossbow properly, you should know exactly where your target is before you shoot. You also need to pay attention to what is in front of it, right behind it, and beyond it. Look all around the area where your target is located so that you don’t accidentally hit something you shouldn’t. Yes, this will take time, but it’s always worth it in the end.
4. Don’t Position Your Finger Too Soon
As with other types of hunting tools, you should never place your finger anywhere near the trigger until right before you shoot. If you’re simply getting ready for the trigger pull or you’re still determining where your target is, it’s good to keep your finger away from the trigger. Only place your finger anywhere near the trigger when you’re ready to pull the trigger.
5. Reduce the Number of Dry-Firings You Get
Shooting a crossbow without an arrow in it can be dangerous for both the shooter and the bow itself. Other things can cause a dry-firing – it doesn’t have to be done on purpose – but you should do your best to avoid them altogether. Research what causes dry-firings so that you know what to look for the next time you’re ready to hunt or get in some target practice.
6. Be Careful How You Store Your Crossbow
Crossbows should be stored properly to avoid any mishaps while they’re in their case or while you’re placing it in or out of the case. Make sure you purchase a hard case instead of a soft one, and always make sure the bow is uncocked before placing it in the case. Pay attention to what you’re doing so that everything is stored correctly and safely.
7. Store Crossbow Accessories Carefully
When storing everything away, first make sure all of your arrows are in quivers and all accessories for your crossbow are in a padded bag or a box that is sturdy and durable. This keeps everyone who handles the accessories and arrows much safer.
8. Be “Clean and Sober” When Shooting
You should prepare yourself both physically and mentally to shoot a crossbow. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes, never drink alcohol or take drugs before or during the shoot, and make sure you are not too stressed or tense about anything as you’re preparing to shoot. Safety when using a crossbow only happens when you have a clear mind and body.
9. Don’t Wait to Make Any Necessary Repairs
If your crossbow has any defects, make the repairs immediately. Check for dents, scratches, cracks, peeling glass, and so on, and make sure they are repaired as soon as possible. Check the string regularly and replace it as soon as it gets too old or starts to fray. If any of your arrows have any flaws, it’s best to go ahead and throw them away and replace them.
10. Only Load the Arrow When it’s Safe to Do So
This is a no-brainer, of course, but you should always look around first to make sure the area is a safe one to use your crossbow. This means waiting until you know it is safe to shoot before you load your arrow. You should have a safe range and a safe backdrop as well.
11. Be Extra Careful with a Cocked or Loaded Crossbow
Never stalk or walk when your crossbow is loaded or cocked. This is for obvious reasons because let’s face it, it is simply too easy for the bow to go off and release one of your arrows, which could have disastrous results.
12. Never Use a Nock That Is Inappropriate for the Task
Different nocks come with different advantages, so you should always use the type of nock recommended by the manufacturer of the crossbow. To work properly, the nock stays in contact with the string whenever you fire it. If you use the wrong nock, a dry fire could result when the string jumps over the back of the arrow. For this and other reasons, never use the incorrect nock for your crossbow.