Video: Crossbow Safety
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So, what's the difference between this arrow and this arrow?
On screen: Comparison of Traditional Arrow and Crossbow Arrow
Well, this one is meant to be shot with a modern crossbow.
Crossbow hunting opportunities have continued to evolve across North America with more and more places allowing crossbows to be used during season.
And the tool itself has actually evolved a lot since the medieval days. The principle is still the same though—a short, horizontal bow mounted on a gun-type stock that is pre-drawn, cocked, loaded, and fired using a trigger mechanism. Toss in a few advancements, such as a compound bow, a scope site, a safety, and a synthetic stock, and you have a hunting tool that's very effective for crossbow hunting.
The safety, success, and ethics of hunting with a crossbow is similar to all other bows.
Of course, you still need to understand the animal or species you're hunting, establish and know your effective range, and all the other safety advice that applies to traditional bows.
But there is one big difference here, and that's in the mechanics.
On screen: MECHANICS
The mechanics of drawing or cocking, loading, holding, and shooting a crossbow are very different than drawing and shooting conventional bows. And using a crossbow comes with its own special safety concerns.
With a crossbow, you don't just draw the string back and release it. You cock it first, then load it.
And because the draw weight can be twice that of a conventional bow, you'll need to follow the manufacturer's instructions for safely cocking your style of crossbow. Once it's cocked, make sure the safety is engaged until you're ready to shoot. Now, most modern crossbows automatically engage the safety when cocked. But it is a mechanical device that can fail, so be sure to always check that the safety is engaged.
Shooting a crossbow may seem simple enough. But it's not so simple if your leading hand is in the wrong position. So pay attention, or you'll end up retrieving your fingers instead of your arrows.
When holding your crossbow, your leading hand should support the bow underneath the stock, safely below the string and well behind the cables, because wrapping your fingers or thumb around the sides of the stock in line with the cables or string may result in the last shot you ever try with that hand.
And when it comes time to unload or decock your crossbow—
On screen: DECOCKING
—check your owner's manual on how to uncock safely. Most manufacturers recommend uncocking a crossbow by simply shooting a practice arrow into a safe backstop. And don't just remove your arrow and dry fire because you will damage your crossbow. And never use your cocking device to decock because you'll wreck yourself and your equipment.
When it comes time for unloading, use these same steps anytime you're shooting. Keep the safety on until an arrow is mounted in the crossbow and you are ready to shoot. Be sure of your target and what's beyond it. Check the position of your leading hand. No, seriously. Yeah.
No, seriously. Make sure your hand and fingers are out of the way. Make sure the limbs are clear of obstructions. And if you're hunting from an elevated stand, remove the arrow, leave the safety on, then lower the crossbow with your haul line. When you're back on the ground, shoot a practice arrow into a safe backstop.
Now, we all get pretty excited when we're hunting. But if you're tempted to physically go after your quarry fully cocked and loaded, then don't. You can only imagine how dangerous that is.
And that's why we wait until we've arrived at and gotten settled at our hunting location before we load. And if hunting from a tree stand, cock your bow on the ground. And once you are up and secured in the stand, use your haul line to pull it up.
And now we know the difference between this kind of arrow and this kind of arrow. And remember, this is the only one you want to shoot out of a crossbow because conventional arrows just don't have the strength to be shot out of a crossbow. And these are great tools in bowhunting. You just want to make sure you use them safely. All right. We'll see you out there.