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Crossbow draw weights have become heavier in recent years as consumers have demanded more speed. As draw weights have increased, cocking has become more challenging and the need for cocking aids has become more important.

Although it is possible to cock the crossbow manually, using a cocking device to cock a crossbow is recommended for safety. Cocking devices also help keep the string centered and protect fingers from getting pinched. Most modern crossbow manufacturers offer a device to assist in cocking. It is included with the crossbow when purchased, or it may be sold separately. Some devices come assembled on the crossbow itself.

Two of the most common types of cocking devices are the cocking harness and the hand crank. Most individuals can cock even the heaviest draw-weight crossbow using either system.