Advances in engineering and innovative design over the last few decades have meant that crossbows are quite different today to what they once were.
Any crossbow owner will tell you that while these incredible weapons are able to wield immense power, it can be very difficult to cock them.
You can buy crossbows with lighter draw weight, but what do you do if you already own one that’s getting a little too tough for you?
Today, we’re going to look at how to make a crossbow easier to pull back.
Why Is a Crossbow So Difficult to Cock?
There are a couple of different ways in which you can make a crossbow easier to pull back.
However, before we run through the options, let’s take a brief look at why pulling a crossbow back is so difficult to better understand our marvelous machines.
Crossbows with higher drawback weights are obviously harder to cock than those with lower drawback weights.
What factors contribute to the drawback weight?
Firstly, the length of your crossbow will determine how easy it is to pull back. Longer crossbows are usually more powerful than their shorter counterparts.
The shape of the bow contributes to its spring force, and the configuration or type of crossbow you have will affect how easy or difficult it is to pull back.
The bow's construction affects pull back difficulty because of the density and tensile strength of the materials used.
The material used will also influence the amount of energy it can create and its ability to return to its original shape.
How to Make a Crossbow Easier to Pull Back
Below, you’ll learn how to make a crossbow easy to pull back by hand, by rope, and by crank, comparing all of the options by looking at their pros and cons.
That way, you can make a well-informed decision on whether it’s worth investing in a tool to help.
How to Draw a Crossbow By Hand
Pulling back a crossbow by hand will require using the full force of your arms, legs, back, and core. So, you really need all-over body strength to make this work.
First, you would want to rest the bow's front end (stirrup) on the ground.
Slide your foot into the stirrup to prevent it from falling over or sliding around.
Next, lean right over the stock so that you can reach the string.
After that, you have to take hold of the string with both hands and heave it up towards your chest until it reaches the string latch.
Make sure your hands are pulling the string back evenly across the barrel; otherwise, the string will lock into the mechanism unevenly.
At best, this will send your arrows off in the wrong direction. At worst, you could badly injure yourself or someone around you.
Once you’re sure the string is lined up evenly, check that it clicks into place and then engage the safety.
If you have a longer crossbow, you may find it difficult to lean directly over the stock, which means you’ll have to come at the string from one side.
As you can imagine, this just makes even string placement even more difficult.
Unless you can bench press 500 pounds, we wouldn’t recommend even trying this method on a draw weight of 175 pounds or more.
- Very quick to do
- Ideal for follow up shots
- No tools needed
- Requires a lot of brute strength
- Difficult to get the string even, leading to inconsistent shots
How to Draw a Crossbow By Rope
As mentioned, there are two more ways in which you can make pulling a crossbow back much easier for yourself.
The first one we’re going to look at is by using a rope cocking device, which makes use of a pulley system.
You have to adjust it to suit the length of your bow.
Although it’s very simple to do, it’s surprisingly effective.
In fact, using a rope cocking device, also known as a cocking harness, reduces the effort you need to put in by a massive 50 percent.
Adopt the same starting position as the by-hand method, with your crossbow resting on the ground, prod down.
Place your foot into the stirrup to hold the crossbow steady.
Take the rope cocking device in your hands and rest the middle of the rope in the groove located at the back of the stock, hooks facing away from you.
Place the hooks onto the crossbow string on either side of the shooting rail and as close to it as possible.
Then, take a firm hold of the handles of the cocking harness and pull upwards. Do this as you slowly stand up, returning to an upright position.
When the string is fully drawn back, you’ll hear or feel a click that will tell you it’s locked into the trigger mechanism. Engage your safety.
Make sure you adjust the length of your rope cocking harness to suit the length of your bow before you go out hunting.
Never hang the cocking harness around your neck, where it could dangle dangerously into the bow when shooting.
You can also purchase a rope cocker in a case and a rope cocking sled, both of which utilize retractable hooks to make the process easier and quicker.
- Reduces effort needed to draw by half
- Easier to cock the string evenly
- Slower and more fiddly
- Difficult to use in a tree stand
How to Draw a Crossbow By Crank
The next method you can follow to make a crossbow pull back easier is to use a cranking device.
Some crossbow models come with a fully integrated crank system that is actually built into the bow’s engineering.
However, you can also buy after-market kits you can attach to the stock of your bow and detach it when it’s not needed.
Many high-end crossbows come with a cranking device as standard, often with a removable handle to reduce obstructions when shooting.
Cranking devices are the most accurate method of cocking a crossbow. They reduce the effort needed by upwards of 90% in some cases.
This enables everyone, even those with limited mobility, to pull back even the highest drawback weights.
Attach the cranking device to your crossbow according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Turn the handle until you hear the string click into place and engage your safety.
If you’re thinking of investing in a cranking device, it’s essential to check the noise it makes and consider the extra weight it will add.
Some cranks are just too noisy for hunting purposes, while others can be cumbersome and tricky to attach and detach.
It is also possible to find cranks that you can turn the sound off when you need to be extra-quiet.
- The most accurate method of cranking
- Enables anyone to pull back any draw weight
- Easier to use in a tree stand
- Can reverse crank to safely disengage your crossbow
- Some cranks are noisy
- Slower method of cocking
- Attaching and detaching the crank can be time-consuming
- Prone to mechanical error
- Built-in cranks will add extra weight
Important Safety Advice
When cocking your crossbow using any of the methods discussed here, always ensure that the string is locked into position properly.
You’ll usually hear a click when the string meets the trigger mechanism. At that point, you should immediately engage the safety.
If the string isn’t drawn back properly, then you run the risk of dry firing your bow, which is when you fire your crossbow without an arrow in it.
You should never (ever) dry fire your crossbow; it is not only dangerous but can cause serious damage to your bow.
In some cases, the vibrations created in your crossbow can cause such extensive damage that you’ll render it unusable.
If you need to uncock or disengage your crossbow, the simplest way to do this is to shoot an arrow into the ground.
It is extremely dangerous to attempt to disengage while you’re in a tree stand unless you have a crank.
If you’re in a tree stand without a crank, climb down the tree with the safety on before firing your arrow into the ground.
Many crossbow owners will carry a discharge bolt or practice arrow with them, in some cases even a target to shoot at, for the sole purpose of disengaging.
The last thing you want to do is accidentally hit a rock in the ground and potentially damage an expensive broadhead bolt.
How to Make a Crossbow Easy to Pull Back
Now that you know how to make a crossbow easier to pull back, which method will you choose?
Both the rope cocking device and crank allow smaller, younger, and less able-bodied people to shoot very powerful, heavy-duty crossbows.
Yet, it’s not just these groups of people who use ropes and cranks. In fact, the vast majority of crossbow users use something to help them draw the weight back.
Who would have thought that something as simple as a cocking harness would reduce a 200-pound drawback weight to just 100 pounds of effort?