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Crossbow Won’t Pull Back: How to Cock It Properly

The crossbows of today are not the same as they were in the middle ages. Innovation has made crossbows much safer. But they are also now much more mechanical. This leads to more technicalities and more probable failures. 

Now is the problem your crossbow won’t pull back?

You won’t be able to pull back your crossbow if the safety switch is not in fire position. Apart from that, you might be struggling with the drawback weight. The string needs to be pulled back the whole way for it to lock. There are several ways to make it easier to pull back the string.

Now let’s see what’s the matter with your crossbow in this article. 

The Safety Switch Position Matters

The safety mechanism of the crossbow is a measure of protecting the user and everyone around. Most modern crossbows have an automatic safety feature. But some crossbows still have a manual safety switch. 

Having the safety switch “off” or in a “fire” position is absolutely necessary to pull back the string. If not, we will not be able to pull back the string. We have to remember to engage the safety after pulling back the string.

Now the issue is not with the safety switch and we are sure that the crossbow is okay. In that case, we might be struggling with pulling back the string the whole way.

Making the Crossbow Easier to Pull Back

The length, shape, construction and material, all affect the draw weight of the crossbow. So different crossbows require different amounts of effort to pull back. 

Now let’s see how we can make it easier to draw the crossbow.

Properly Drawing Using Hand

Cocking a crossbow requires the strength of your arms, legs, back and your core. Even if we have the strength, we need to do it properly. 

But we are here to focus on the proper way of drawing by hand. And they are:

1. We begin by resting the crossbow’s front end on the ground. Now we have to slide our feet into the stirrup. It will help the stirrup from falling on the ground. 

Next, we lean over the stock. This will allow us to reach the string.

2. Now we have to hold the string with both hands. Then heave the string up to our chests. We continue till the string reaches the string latch. 

We have to ensure that we are pulling the string back evenly with both hands across the barrel. If not, the string will lock into the mechanism unevenly. That may cause some serious problems. 

Crossbow drawback weights range from 70 or 80 lb to over 300 lb. So clearly drawing crossbows isn’t easy and struggling with it is normal. Though there are ways to reduce the drawback weight of crossbows.

Drawing The Crossbow by Crank

Now we will try using a cranking device. Some crossbows have a built-in crank system. 

However, we can buy after-market kits too. The aftermarket kits can be attached or detached whenever needed. That makes it preferable for some people. 

Some consider cranking devices to be the most accurate way of drawing crossbows. These devices let people with limited mobility cock crossbows with high drawback weights. 

Using a cranking device is pretty easy. Let’s see how we can use it.

1. We have to attach the cranking device to the crossbow. Following the instructions provided by the manufacturer is for the best.

2. After attaching the crank, we have to turn the handle until we hear the clicking sound. This means the string is in place and we have to engage the safety. 

Drawing The Crossbow by Rope

In this method we are going to use a rope cocking device. It is a simple yet effective method. This method reduces the effort you have to put in drastically. However, with this method, arrow wobbling issue in flight can’t be solved.

So let’s see how this works

1.We have to adopt the same posture as we had during drawing by hand. Resting the crossbow’s stirrup on the ground and using our feet to hold it.

2. Now we take the rope cocking device in our hand. We have to have the hooks facing opposite to us. And rest the center of the rope in the groove located at the rear part of the stock. 

We then place the hook onto the crossbow strings. Placing it on either side of the shooting rail is okay. But we have to place it as close as possible.

3. Next we have to grab the handles of the cocking harness firmly and pull it upwards. We have to do this very slowly as we stand up and return to an upright posture. 

We will hear or feel a click when the string is fully drawn back. The click means it is locked into the trigger. 

Where To Get The Cocking Devices

There are many cranking and rope cocking devices available in the market. Here are some of our choices:

Rope Cocking Device:

Cranking Device:


What is The Easiest Cocking Method?

Using a cranking device to draw your crossbow is the easiest way. Drawing by hand or even using a rope cocking device requires significantly more effort. It is claimed that using a cranking device to draw a crossbow reduces the effort of drawing by hand upto 90%.

What Is The Most Accurate Cocking Method?

Using a cranking device yields the most accurate and safe cocking. Turning the handle of the cranking device starts drawing the string. The string draws fully and clicks into the triggering system. Manually pulling or using rope cocking always does not ensure the safest cocking.

Do Arrows Affect Cocking A Crossbow?

Yes, arrows can affect the cocking process. There is significant enough difference between 4mm and 5 mm arrows to affect a crossbow. There is a certain length and grain weight for every model of crossbow. This is recommended by the manufacturer and that exact arrow will be best for the bow.


Now we know why our crossbow won’t pull back. We also know how to make it easier to draw our crossbows. 

If the crossbow is fine then the reason our crossbow won’t draw is the safety mechanism. Crossbows require a lot of strength to draw as well. So using the proper method of drawing is very important.

That’s it for today!

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