1. Always Be Aware Of Muzzle Location
Crossbows have built-in safety mechanisms, but just like a firearm, you should never rely totally on them. Always keep the muzzle — in this case, the arrow — pointed in a safe direction.
2. Pre-Cock Your Crossbow
Before climbing up a tree to get into a tree stand or entering ground blind, be sure to cock your crossbow but don’t load an arrow yet, and then check the safety. Use a stout pull rope to raise the bow up into your stand, with the butt of the stock facing up. When entering a ground blind, handle the bow by the stock and take care not to trip. Load your arrow only when you are safely in your stand seat or blind chair.
3. Never Get Fingers Above The Rail
One of the most common injuries when shooting a crossbow has the shooter getting a finger or thumb into the string. Never let digit get above the flight deck! If the string goes off, serious injury — or even the amputation of the digit — can occur as the string streaks forward like a weed whacker.
4. Make Sure Limbs Are Not Going To Hit Anything
In the heat of the moment it’s easy to not make sure that when the crossbow is fired the limbs won’t hit ground blind fabric, tree branches and limbs, etc. Such contact will ruin accuracy and could damage the bow.
5. Frequently Lube The Rail
The friction between the string and rail will quickly eat the string up if the rail is not lubed with an approved lubricant. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and remember: it’s hard to lube the string too frequently.
6. Never Grip A Cocked Crossbow By The Barrel
Never hand it or pass it across a fence, into a ground blind or up a tree stand this way. If it goes off you could seriously injure, or lose, a finger or thumb.
7. Remember That Walking, Stalking Or Still-Hunting With A Cocked Crossbow Is Dangerous
There are documented cases of people who have been seriously injured, or killed, when they have stumbled, tripped or fallen while doing this. Like any loaded weapon, a cocked and loaded crossbow should be treated with the utmost respect.
8. Use Only Manufacture-Recommended Arrows
Crossbows are powerful tools that are designed to be shot only with arrows built to withstand the force of the shot. Never modify old arrows or use anything else as a projectile. Doing so can cause damage to the bow — can you say dry fire? — and void the manufacturer’s warranty.
9. Load Carefully
When loading an arrow into a cocked crossbow, make sure when doing so you never let the fingers enter the string’s flight path. Holding them by the broadhead end and sliding them along the rail will help keep fingers safe. Do I have to mention not pointing the business end of the arrow at your person?
10. Always Un-Cock A Crossbow Correctly
Never try and un-cock a crossbow by any other method than shooting a field-tip arrow into a target, soft ground or sand. It is extremely unsafe to try and un-cock it using the cocking rope or any other method.
Crossbow users: Have any other tips for safe crossbow shooting and hunting? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.