how to shoot a crossbow accurately

How to Shoot a Crossbow Accurately

Spread the love

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Disclosure in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CF

Shooting a crossbow is not the most difficult thing to do, but trying to do so accurately will definitely need a lot of practice and a clear understanding of how to do it.

There are many steps you will have to follow, especially if you are a beginner, to know how to shoot a crossbow accurately.

These steps are essential and can even range from cocking the bow to loading and aiming with it and then shooting it.

Mastering these steps is the only way you will be able to shoot a crossbow accurately. For that, you will need practice and a lot of patience.

If you are keen on doing so, we’ve listed down the things you need to know below.

Crossbow: Understanding How It Works

Before we even get into talking about the steps to shoot your crossbow accurately, it is essential to understand the basics of how it works.

A crossbow’s basic function is pretty similar to a traditional bow since it makes use of a string to propel an arrow.

That said, the main difference between the traditional bow and the crossbow is the way it fires.

With a traditional one, the archer will have to pull the bowstring back and then maintain it before they release the arrow.

A crossbow, on the other hand, comes with moving parts, and so it isn't necessary to draw the bowstring manually.

All you need to do is maintain it and aim the arrow to do so accurately. Then, release the string so that you project the arrow.

To sum it up, the way in which a crossbow works seems fairly easy and basic, as in:

  • An archer will pull or draw the string of the bow and place it onto the latch.
  • The arrow, which is also referred to as the bolt, is placed over the barrel and then aligned on the grove.
  • A crossbow will come with a latch that will hold the drawstring, and the arrow is held down in the barrel where the arrow retention spring is.
  • When the bowstring is locked in, the arrow gets released simply by pulling the trigger.

The crossbow’s mechanism will allow the archer of absolutely any strength and size to be able to use the bow perfectly.

This versatility does not apply to an archer who makes use of a traditional bow and arrow that isn’t exactly suited to their strength and height. It is almost guaranteed that their shot will be inaccurate.  

With that said, there is a disadvantage to using the crossbow—it takes quite a bit of time to fully set up.

With a traditional arrow and bow, you can simply pick it up and then align the arrow, aim, and shoot swiftly in just a matter of a few seconds.

Fully setting up a crossbow will take you at least a minute or so before you can operate it in that way.

We are sure that all this has helped you understand the basic concept of how a crossbow works. Now, it is time that we talk at length about the right steps to follow in order to shoot the crossbow accurately.

How to Shoot a Crossbow Accurately  

A quick google search on this subject and you will find many hits that will typically include four basic steps to shoot a crossbow.

However, we have included two additional steps that you must do beforehand while you are setting up the crossbow.

These two extra steps increase the possibility of an accurate shot for up to two times.

Step 1: Find the Right Crossbow

To start the process of making sure you shoot the crossbow accurately, you will first have to pick one that works the best for you.

Making use of the right crossbow will ensure that you will be able to comfortably hold it and be able to cock the bow with ease to get an accurate shot.

Step 2: Check If the Rail Is Lubricated

After picking the right crossbow for yourself, you will have to ensure that the flight rail has been lubricated, and the string is waxed properly, as well.

Take as much time as you can to wax the string and lubricate the rail. Doing that will ensure the life of your crossbow increases and also makes it much more accurate.

Step 3: Calibrate the Scope

If you are making use of a scope on the crossbow, this step will involve you calibrating it.  

To do so, ensure that you are adjusting the scope to the range you will be firing the crossbow from.

Make sure that you are testing it to guarantee that it has been properly adjusted before you set up the target. 

If you know the method of cocking the crossbow, you could try to fire a couple of test shots at your target and make any adjustments if necessary.

Step 4: Load the Arrow

After doing all the steps mentioned above, you will have to now begin the cocking or loading procedures.

In order to load the crossbow properly every single time and to get the most accurate shot, you will need to do the following:

  • Take the stirrup part of your bow and place it on the ground. Use your foot to securely hold it down.
  • With both your hands, start pulling both strings evenly on both sides.
  • Place the string on the cocking mechanism to ensure that it has latched in.

Once the string has been placed properly, you will most likely hear a click sound. At no point should you let go of the string until you hear this sound.

  • On the top of the crossbow, you can now place the arrow in the groove.
how to shoot a crossbow accurately

An easy way to know whether you have loaded the arrow properly or not is by checking whether one of the fletchings is in the groove, too.

Fletchings refer to the plastic vanes or feathers that are present at the arrow’s end.

At this point, you must ensure that you have cocked the bolt properly. This bolt has to be perfectly aligned and straight.

If the bolt is even slightly off-center, it will most likely mess up the entire accuracy that you are looking for.

Another important thing that we must mention is that the crossbow comes with a safety mechanism that prevents it from releasing a bolt unintentionally.

Once you have cocked the crossbow, this mechanism will get activated and will prevent it from shooting out accidentally.

Step 5: Eliminate Crossbow Canting

Another way to ensure that you fire your crossbow with perfect accuracy is by eliminating the crossbow canting.

The crossbow canting is when you lean it way too much towards the right or the left. This also will affect how accurate the overall shot will be.

To eliminate the crossbow canting, simply attach a small level to the crossbow. This helps in making your shot more accurate.

Step 6: Aim and Shoot!

This is the last step, and it involves you aiming at the target and shooting it.

If you are a beginner, it will most likely be that your shot will not be accurate, but don’t be disheartened.

It just means that you will have to practice all these six steps over and over again until you have properly mastered them. Keep in mind that practicing doesn’t mean you can fire without a bolt.

Practice following all these steps religiously, and you can be sure that you get an accurate and best possible shot in no time.

Participating in sports like hunting or other recreational activities that need you to use the crossbow will further sharpen your skills.

Things That Could Affect the Crossbow’s Accuracy  

Sometimes, no matter how hard you practice, you will find that you are still unable to get an accurate shot with your crossbow.

At times like these, there may be an external factor that is affecting your accuracy. It is best to figure out as quickly as possible what it may be.

Below, we have listed some of the top reasons for what could possibly affect your crossbow’s accuracy.

1. An Ill-Fitting Bow

As versatile as crossbows are, they all don’t share the same width, length, and weight. Crossbows are not one-size-fits-all weapons.

In fact, there is even a direct correlation between the right fit of the crossbow for you and its accuracy.

If a bow feels too long, wide, or even heavy, or if it is cumbersome to lift it and hold on to a target, it is most likely that it does not fit you properly and is not the right bow for you.

The way a crossbow is built is like a rifle on rifle-stocks. This means that it should not be difficult to handle, burdensome, uncomfortable, or awkward to use.

Additionally, the trigger should be crisp and smooth, too.

2. Wrong Arrows

Every crossbow manufacturer recommends using arrows of a certain length and grain weight for different models of crossbows.

There are some that even recommend using specific materials, such as aluminum or carbon.

While most crossbows are able to shoot arrows with any kind of nock, every manufacturer again will recommend a specific kind.

This will typically be based upon that particular crossbow’s draw weight, power stroke, optimizing front of the center, and also what works the best to stabilize the arrow.

Now, it gets fairly obvious with this that using the wrong arrow for your crossbow will affect the way it works and its accuracy.

You can check our reviews of arrows to ensure you are getting the right arrow for your crossbow.

3. Ill-Fitted Components  

The crossbow has very delicate components, and even a small error in them can completely throw the arrow off course.

While crossbows are built fairly well, they vibrate a lot when in use.

Over time, the bolts and screws holding the components together become loose and, if left like that, is surely going to affect the accuracy.

Make it a habit now and then to tighten all the nuts, screws, and bolts.

4. Not Knowing the Range  

While manufacturers are constantly pushing the limits of the crossbow’s range and speed, 40 yards still remains the maximum recommended range.

Of course, it can fly farther, but don’t bet on it that it will be accurate every single time.

Knowing the right range of your target is extremely important, especially when you want to put a game down as quickly and humanely as possible.


We hope that, with this article, you now have a better understanding of how to shoot a crossbow accurately.

All the six steps we have listed above are most definitely going to ensure that your shots are as accurate as possible.

All you need to do is practice doing it as often as you can so that you can master it.

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!

Leave a Comment: