Knowing which safety guideline is unique to the crossbow is important, especially when you plan on using one for hunting, target practice, or even competition.
Before everything else, what you need to understand is that there are safety rules that apply to all types of archery.
Still, there’s also no denying that a crossbow is different from regular bows.
Naturally, using a crossbow calls for a different set of guidelines than when using traditional ones.
After learning how to shoot a crossbow, here are safety measures you should practice so that you can use one without any issue.
If you are considering the idea of purchasing a crossbow or already own one, keep reading.
Which Safety Guideline is Unique to the Crossbow?
With the exception of Oregon, it is legal to use a crossbow in every state for hunting or recreational activities.
Also, most states consider a crossbow a firearm. Therefore, you may want to review your state’s laws to ensure if there are any regulations or restrictions in regards to using a crossbow.
Regardless, it’s important to follow the safety guidelines above. Not only are they encouraged, but some of them may be required by law.
Despite most crossbow safety rules being the same as using a traditional bow, there are some that stand out solely for crossbow use.
1. Keep your hands off the rail.
The intent of these crossbow safety guidelines is to prevent serious injury and death.
One of the most common, if not serious, injuries involves the operator’s hand coming in contact with the rail.
Specifically, your hand could get caught between the string and rail when the bow is fully cocked.
To prevent this from happening, most crossbows implemented a safety guard. This will allow the crossbow trigger to lock in place if and when your hand is in a dangerous place.
Your off-hand is usually at risk when you are using a crossbow since it has no other use.
To further prevent injury, use a rest for your crossbow. You should also tuck your off-hand in your jacket or into your lap.
2. Check the bolts.
The bolts of a crossbow must be in good condition.
You should check regularly for any cracks because even the slightest crack can cause a carbon bolt to explode.
The last thing you want is pieces of bolt flying into your face or eyes, causing serious cuts and other injuries.
Also, the bolts must be heavy and should befit your bow.
3. Do not dry-fire.
Dry fire is defined as firing your crossbow sans the arrow. Make sure that you don’t do this, not even once.
Dry firing can cause severe damage to the crossbow itself. However, these can happen inadvertently.
In the event your crossbow does dry fire by accident, you’ll need to get it inspected to see if there is any damage present.
Never fire a crossbow even if there is a slight bit of damage.
Thankfully, the most recent crossbow models have implemented a feature that will make it impossible to dry fire.
4. Check your backdrop.
It’s important to have a good backdrop to fire your crossbow safely.
If it’s in good condition and can stop an arrow traveling at full force from your crossbow, you’re good to go.
Also, if the arrow shoots very hard, then it might be impossible to recover the bolts.
5. Treat every crossbow as if it were loaded.
Remember the rule of “treat every gun as if it were loaded?” The same applies when you’re using a crossbow.
It doesn’t matter if a bolt is in place or not; you need to treat it as if it’s fully cocked and ready to go. This means you should point it in a safe direction.
As mentioned, some crossbows can dry fire by accident. When that happens, there may be pieces of the bow that could break off and fly in someone’s face, resulting in serious injury.
Also, you’ll need to keep the crossbow out of the reach of children. Keep it locked in a cabinet or a space where you can secure it properly.
6. Do not keep your crossbow cocked for lengthy periods.
A crossbow was designed to be cocked for shorter periods. This is because they store a huge amount of energy that will be enough to drive the arrow forward.
The last thing you want to do is keep it cocked for an extended time, especially overnight.
Keeping it cocked for a long time will put a lot of pressure on the limbs. Eventually, it will come to a point where stress fractures will develop.
This will also weaken the quality of your crossbow and render it useless, even with the slightest bit of damage present.
If you are taking a break or finishing up for the day, make sure that the crossbow is discharged.
7. De-cock it correctly.
Aside from knowing how to shoot a crossbow, you should also learn how to de-cock it.
If there is one way to de-cock your crossbow correctly, it’s to pull the trigger and shoot it out. Others can be de-cocked using a special device that uses a rope.
The rope-cocking device is easy to use, but there have been reports of accidental dry firing.
Therefore, it is important to adopt the following rule: “If in doubt, shoot it out”. However, you must do so safely.
Shoot it towards a tree close to you rather than out in the open where you may have no clue what could be in front.
8. Keep empty when climbing a tree stand.
If you are hunting with a tree stand, your crossbow should be clear at all times. The only time you should ever load and cock it is when you have already settled in.
The bow must be pointing in a downward direction as you pull the bow up with a rope.
9. Have the right kind of nocks.
If there is one part of the arrow that you need to pay attention to, it’s the nocks.
Depending on the manufacturer, you have to use the right kind of nock that the bow calls for.
The right nock is the one that keeps in contact with the string when you fire it. The wrong nock will lose contact with the string, and as a result, dry fire will occur.
10. Always maintain it.
Your crossbow should be checked and maintained often. It’s no joke that even the slightest bit of damage can cause a lot of problems.
Be sure to check for any issues before and after use. Also, you’ll want to wax the strings regularly as well as lubricate any moving parts.
If you notice any signs of wear on any part of the crossbow, replace them as soon as possible. Do not use the crossbow until you’ve replaced the part in question.
Your crossbow is a weapon that can do some serious damage. For this reason, you'd want to know which safety guideline is unique to the crossbow.
Using it carelessly can cause serious injury if you don’t follow the 10 safety guidelines listed above.
You want to keep your crossbow in the best condition possible while you are using it. Don’t dry fire it on purpose or be careless. And, remember to de-cock it when you are finished using it.
While crossbows are tough in terms of construction, the slightest bit of damage is dangerous and worsen the condition of the bow itself.
Always be sure to maintain your crossbow even if you don’t use it for lengthy periods. That way, it can be good to go the next time you use it.