How to Decock a Crossbow -

How to Decock a Crossbow: A Beginner’s Guide

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If it happens, at some point, that you did not shoot the last bolt of your crossbow, therefore, it is still loaded. And that may cause a problem for you when you need to transport or store it in a safe position.

To get it in safely, you need to find a way to unload and decock the crossbow to make it safe enough. To dry fire the crossbow is not safe and may damage your crossbow, and this simply means that you fire it without a bolt.

In this short description, we will have a closer look at ways to safely decock a crossbow for transport or storage.

What Will Happen If You Dry Fire a Crossbow?

Out of simple curiosity, let us find out what may happen when you dry fire a crossbow to decock it.

Dry firing will happen when you deliberately pull the trigger to release the string without it being loaded. If the string breaks on one or both the end loops of the crossbow, it may cause a dry fire effect.

When dry firing happens, it may cause damage to your crossbow most of the time, and sometimes severe damage may occur. It may also cause injury to you or a bystander when you dry fire a crossbow or a string breaks.

It is also true that all strings may eventually break because of wear and tear, and the fibers start fraying over time. That is why it is essential to regularly check the strings for weaknesses and to replace them immediately when they show any wear.


Safety is priority number one when it comes to this type of thing as it may cause harm to you and other people. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you want to make your crossbow safe for transport after use.

One can never be too safe, and many accidents could have been prevented if instructions were properly followed.

How to Decock a Crossbow

So let's take a look at how you actually decock a crossbow.

1.) Shoot the Last Bolt into a Target

It will be much easier if you have a discharge target handy that you can lay down on the ground. Now load a bolt with a field point into the crossbow and fire it into the discharge target on the ground.

This may be the easiest way to decock a crossbow to make it safe for transport or safe storage. But if you do not have an available target and you do not want to waste a bolt, you may have a problem.

You can also use an unloading bolt that is specifically designed to be shot into the ground repeatedly without damaging it. These bolts are made very strong so that they can be fired into the soft ground repeatedly, but it may a bit unsafe as well.

2.) Use a Crossbow Defuser

A crossbow defuser is a device that you can easily fit into the crossbow while holding the crossbow limbs so you can dry fire. When you dry fire the crossbow with this in position, you can slowly lower the string to the unload position.

Crossbow defusers are not very easy to use and need some practice and getting used to before you can successfully use one. It is also quite necessary to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter for a very safe decocking of the crossbow.

These devices are very small and can easily be stored in your crossbow kit without using too much storage space. It is much safer to use this type of method to decock the crossbow to make it safe enough for storage.

3.) Manual Decock

First, position the crossbow, so the foot stirrup is firmly on the ground and then put your foot into the stirrup.

Make sure your foot is firmly planted in the stirrup and make sure the crossbow is on safe and not on fire.

Use the cocking aid as if you are going to cock the crossbow and hold both handles of the cocking in one hand.

With the other hand, put the crossbow on fire and put your finger on the trigger of the crossbow.

While you hold the cocking aid handles in your dominant hand, pull the trigger and hold on very firmly on the cocking aid.

After you have pulled the trigger, slowly lower the string of your crossbow to the resting or uncocked position

This method should only be done by those people who are experienced crossbow users and who know how to load a crossbow by hand. It is also essential that you only use this method as a very last resort.

It should also only be done with a crossbow that is not too strong for you to handle when you load it. That means the draw power of the crossbow must be less than your personal draw power.

For a full review of how to perform this method on decocking a crossbow safely, see the following YouTube video. This is one of those times that you should not try this at home or without proper supervision and instruction.

Can all Crossbows be Decocked?

Some crossbows may simply not be decocked, and this is especially the case with many composite crossbows where you are not permitted to. The only way you can make these crossbows safe is to use an unload bolt or discharge target placed on the ground.

It is always best to use standard methods to unload the crossbow, and many manufacturers expect you to do so. And it will be safer for you and those around you to follow the rules when it comes to safety.


With these instructions, you can clearly see that the best option to use is always the safest one. There are many YouTube videos out there where you can learn how to decock a crossbow safely.

Be very careful when you learn how to decock your crossbow without firing it and never dry fire your crossbow!

It is sincerely hoped that you will be safe in the use of your crossbow and enjoy the use of it in a proper manner.

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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