Last updated on July 1st, 2021
Trying to pull back your crossbow can be a challenge depending on its draw weight. If you’ve spent a day hunting but had no luck, it can be tempting to leave your bow cocked for the next time you need it. But is it okay to leave a crossbow cocked overnight?
The answer is no, it isn’t okay to leave your crossbow cocked overnight. Doing so can actually damage your bow, which we’re sure you don’t want to do.
Today we’re going to take a look at why you should never leave your crossbow cocked overnight.
Why you should never leave your crossbow cocked overnight
One of the benefits of crossbows is that you can keep them cocked throughout the day while you’re hunting. This makes it easier for hunters to hunt game. It is generally okay to keep your crossbow cocked while you are hunting.
However, there is a time limit to how long you should keep your crossbow cocked for. Typically you should let your bow down after around 4 hours.
You should allow your crossbow to relax for at least half an hour in between being cocked for long periods of time. This is because crossbows often have very heavy draw weights. This puts a lot of pressure on your crossbow limbs, firing mechanism, and string.
Leaving your crossbow cocked for more than 4 hours at a time can damage the bow by putting unnecessary stress on all of these components. If your string wears and breaks the crossbow could go off, which can of course be a danger to you and everyone around you.
So you should never leave your crossbow cocked overnight, no matter how tempting it may be. It would be the equivalent of leaving your gun fully loaded in your home.
How to decock your crossbow
If you’ve gotten to the end of the day and haven’t shot anything, you will need to decock your crossbow. The good news is there are a few ways you can tackle this.
There are 3 main methods that you could use to decock your crossbow. This will help to prevent it from being cocked for too long and can lengthen the life of your bow.
Your first option is to shoot a practice or decocking arrow at a target in your camp. You can even keep a small discharge target in the back of your vehicle ready for when you need it.
Your next option is to use an arrow discharge spring device. These types of devices have been designed to mount onto your crossbow just like an arrow. These can then be safely fired from your crossbow and are a safe way to remove the tension from your crossbow limbs.
A third option is to use a specially designed discharge arrow which can be shot into the ground. This will help to remove the tension from your crossbow without the need to fire at a specific target.
You should always decock your crossbow after a day’s hunting, but it’s also important to remember NEVER to dry fire it.
Does it hurt to dry fire a crossbow?
Yes, it does hurt the crossbow to dry fire it. It works just the same as a traditional bow, only with a lot more tension in the string and a lot more power behind those limbs.
All that power has nowhere to go if you don’t have an arrow to loose. So it gets thrown into the mechanisms and limbs of your crossbow, and can even cause it to explode.
Dry firing any bow is incredibly dangerous. Even if the crossbow remains intact after dry firing, it won’t be safe to use again, as the next time it’s fired – even with an arrow in it – it could still explode.
Most crossbows should be fitted with a Dry Fire Inhibitor (DFI). If you were to accidentally forget to load an arrow into your crossbow and attempt to take a shot, this should catch the string before most damage can be done.
However, you shouldn’t rely on this to fully protect your crossbow from a dry fire. This is because the force of the bowstring hitting this DFI lever can still cause the string to break.
If you do accidentally dry fire your bow and the DFI manages to save it, you should check the state of your string immediately. If there are any broken strands or fraying, you will need to replace the string and cables before you use the bow again.
How long should a crossbow last?
There’s no hard and fast rule for how long your crossbow will last. If it’s been properly maintained and you haven’t left it cocked overnight, your crossbow string should last you for anywhere between 2 to 4 years.
This will differ from string to string, of course. Your crossbow string should be safe for 100 shots or more. The majority of hunters will change their string every 2 to 3 years just to be on the safe side.
It’s important to remember that many factors will contribute to the overall life of your string. How much you look after your bow will be the most important factor.
You should always take care to clean your crossbow and make sure there’s no build-up of dirt, gouges, debris, nicks, and other things which could affect the life of your crossbow.
Most hunters will change their string after 2 or 3 hunting seasons. You should always inspect the state of your string to make sure that it’s safe to use.
So there you have it! You should never leave your crossbow cocked overnight, no matter how tempting it might be. This is because it will damage your string, and mean your crossbow loses power.
It’s best to safely decock a crossbow using one of the methods we’ve mentioned above. This will help to prolong the life of your crossbow. It’s also important to remember never to dry fire your bow, as this will damage it.