Learning how to shoot a crossbow can seem like a daunting task, but it is easy with a little practice.

A crossbow is an ancient advanced mechanical device that is shown to have been first invented by the Chinese during ancient times. While it bears similarities to the arch bow, the crossbow shoots bolts with more power, speed, and accuracy.

The crossbow has not changed much in basic function since ancient times and is commonly used in hunting today.

How to shoot a Crossbow

Step 1: Cock the Bow

The basic process for loading the crossbow begins with cocking the string back into the groove called the nut. This can be done in one of two ways:

Method 1: Pull the string back manually

You can do this by placing your foot in the stirrup at the front end of your crossbow to leverage yourself. You then pull it back evenly into the nut.

The string must be pulled evenly to ensure that the shot is fired accurately.

Method 2: Use a crank

This is the preferred method for hunting with a crossbow as it is less physically demanding. It tends to take longer than manually placing the string, but you tend to only have one chance to shoot when you are hunting anyway.

You simply place the crank into the slot and turn it until the bow is cocked.

Step 2: Load the Bolt

Place the bolt in its slot. The slot should be securely placed and evenly aligned with the center of the string.

Placement is key to shooting a crossbow as an improperly nocked arrow can go anywhere except the target.

Important note: Do not nock the bolt while your foot is in the stirrup!

Step 3: Aim

This is an art in itself and can be difficult to master. When beginning to learn how to shoot a crossbow you will not be focused on advanced methods such as measuring for wind and angling.

In order to aim the crossbow you must position the crossbow in the crook of your shoulder when your arms are extended, much like you would with a rifle. Despite lacking any chemical reactions, a crossbow has a heavy kickback and must be properly held.

It is a good idea to kneel or sit to improve accuracy.

As soon as you have the crossbow positioned you have to look through the sights. You can either have a scope or regular sights on your crossbow, which use two different methods of aiming.

#1. Aiming with sights

The key is not to focus on your target, but rather the sights. In addition, if your crossbow has front sights and back sights, you have to focus on the back sights.

Keep your target out of focus because as you look at your target you are not paying attention to the alignment of your bolt.

#2. Aiming with scope

Scoping is a bit more complicated due to considerations that come with the distance that a scope affords. Hunting with a crossbow that has a scope can be challenging, but gives you extra range and less chance to spook your target.

In a basic sense, you focus on the crosshairs and not the target while looking through the scope.

Note: In advanced shooting you can calculate the distance of your target with the scope.

Once you are done learning how to shoot a crossbow you should invest in a scope for your crossbow if it doesn’t already have one. Adding a scope will really grant you better accuracy and range in the long run.

Step 4: Fire

This is misleadingly the simplest step that comes into firing your bolt, but it is not as simple as pulling the trigger. There is a whole mechanical process that your body must perform when firing in order to make sure your bolt makes contact with your target.

If your target is moving, you should carefully train on the target while being as quietly as possible. Make sure you do not lose focus of your sights to make sure you are actually aiming the crossbow at your target.

When you think you have a good shot, brace yourself first. Prepare yourself for the kickback. Take a deep breath and then breath out slowly as you calmly pull the trigger.

Finally, be careful that your fingers are not in the path of the string as it can cause real damage.


Hunting with a crossbow is a great way to make things more interesting. This ancient device can be used to fire accurately and quietly once it is properly handled.

Learning how to shoot a crossbow will take time, but in the end you will probably prefer using your crossbow to firearms.