How to Shoot a Crossbow

If you ever wanted to learn more about improving your skills with a crossbow, then you have come to the right place. Crossbow is basically a modern version of the traditional bow, which uses bolts instead of arrows. They do have some advantages over the mechanical bow as they are more accurate and work better against armor.

However, the biggest difference between a crossbow and a traditional bow is the learning curve. Using a heavy crossbow is an art and requires training that often lasts for years. Moreover, you need to keep practicing regularly to hone your skills. Crossbows on the other hand are much less demanding on learners and easier to use. In this article, we will be learning the basics of how to shoot with a crossbow.

Parts of a Crossbow

Before learning about the mechanics of a crossbow, it would be much helpful to learn about the various parts.

Cocking Stirrup

Helpful in cocking the crossbow, the archer steps on it to ensure that the bow does not slip while being engaged. 


The top portion of the bow, made of either aluminum or polymer.

Flight groove

Grooved track on the top that aligns the arrow with the string for improved accuracy.

Arrow retention brush

It is responsible for keeping the arrow in place and releases the arrow after the trigger is pulled.


This mechanism prevents the accidental release of an arrow.

Sight bridge

It contains the sight. The sight accessory allows the user to aim at the target.

Working of a Crossbow

A crossbow just like a normal bow makes use of the string to deliver the arrows. The significant difference is in the way that the arrow is fired. With a crossbow, you don’t need to manually pull back the bowstring to release the arrow. There are a lot of moving mechanical parts that help with this function.

  • The user pulls the string and keeps it on the latch.
  • The arrow is then aligned on the flight groove
  • The string is locked in the latch and the arrow is held in the arrow retention spring
  • The user only has to pull the trigger to release the arrow

Another advantage of the crossbow is that you don’t need to be extremely strong to use it. Everyone can use a crossbow. However, it does take a lot of time to set up. The mechanical bow fires within seconds while the crossbow takes about a minute to fire.

How to Shoot a crossbow

Inspect the crossbow

Check whether the limbs show any sign of damage. Inspect the bolts and see whether they are loose. Also, check on the bowstring as well for any sort of visual damage.

Calibrate the scope

You need to adjust the scope with respect to the range you are shooting from. If you do have experience with cocking, you can also make some test shots as well.

Cocking the crossbow

  • Put the stirrup part on the ground and place your foot on it.
  • Nextly, pull back the strings evenly.
  • Put the string onto the cocking mechanism. When done correctly, you will hear a click.
  • Insert the bolt in the groove on the top such that its end comes in contact with the string.

Ensure that the bolt is in the center, else the accuracy will be messed up. 

Eliminate Crossbow Canting

Crossbow canting refers to the situation when the crossbow leans to one side. This invariably impacts the accuracy. However, you can fix this by placing a small level on the crossbow


Just practice improving your accuracy. Keep shooting until you get more comfortable.

Tips while using a crossbow

  • Don’t make contact with the trigger button while holding the crossbow.
  • Avoid using damaged arrows.
  • Avoid cocking the crossbow by hand
  • Keep the foot on the stirrup until the safety mechanism is engaged.
  • Place the fingers clear of the spring while shooting.
  • Read the instruction manual

Wrap Up

We hope you enjoyed this read about using a crossbow. Always keep practicing but also follow all the safety measures as well. Certain countries and states would require you to have a special license while using a crossbow.  So research property before getting one. 

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