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My position as a manufacturer of crossbows has made me extremely sensitive to crossbow safety.This is, for several reasons, largely because with the considerable contact I have with crossbow shooters at the shows I hear lots of horror stories about what went wrong, who got hurt and how it happened.Also, it’s because in today’s litigious society it’s vital that we cross our T’s and dot all the I’s at Excalibur to be absolutely certain that our product is safe and that our customers are fully instructed in the safe use of our crossbows.

Let’s face it, regardless of how much fun they are to shoot, crossbows can be dangerous or deadly if misused.Just like handguns and chainsaws (which are also a blast to play with) crossbows have inherently dangerous features and no mechanical guard can ever be developed to completely protect you.The only way to neutralize these features is with the application of a liberal amount of common sense and a little product specific knowledge.Now I can’t do a lot for the common sense side of the discussion, I barely have enough for myself.That said, I can hopefully add a tidbit or two of helpful information to help with the other half of the equation.

Most of the things you have to know to be safe while shooting or hunting with your crossbow were taught to you long ago by your dad, or maybe a hunter safety instructor.The first and most important rule is simply to NEVER point your crossbow at anything you don’t want to shoot.Cocked or uncocked, loaded or unloaded, keep it pointed in a safe direction.The other safety rule that you need to put a red star beside is that you should ALWAYS set the crossbow’s safety when it is cocked and if you put it into the off position then do not fire the shot, remember to re-set the safety immediately.If your crossbow has an automatic safety that goes to the set position when you cock the bow, ALWAYS check that it is in the “on” position.If you leave your wellbeing to an automatic safety and it malfunctions, you will likely learn about the problem the hard way.

The most obvious safety issue that crossbows present is the possibility of getting your fingers or thumb into the cables or string’s travel zone when firing an arrow.The string will then speed down the deck and make a very unwelcome impact with the offending digit or digest.In my experience this is a painful and unpleasant situation that can make the most pious of men swear like a sailor.The real damage comes not from clipping a thumb in offhand shooting, but from bench resting.For some unknown reason some people tend to put their thumb in top of a rifle’s barrel when bench resting.If you do this be warned that you may make the same very dangerous mistake when bench resting a crossbow, and if you do the string will most certainly do major damage to that thumb.ALWAYS keep your hands away from the string’s travel zone.

When the string speeds forward, it’s in response to the limbs forward motion.If you fire your crossbow with the limbs too close to a tree, wall, or God forbid your buddy’s head, results predictably will be most unpleasant for you, your crossbow, and possibly your buddy.This takes on a whole new level of excitement when you are shooting out of a tree stand.If the limb on the same side of the crossbow as you shoulder the bow impacts a tree trunk, the stock will be accelerated sideways into your face and it could knock you out of the stand.Bottom line:NEVER fire your crossbow without making sure that the area of the limbs travel is completely clear of obstructions.

Another big safety concern happens when someone doesn’t put their foot all the way into the crossbow’s stirrup before cocking or uncocking it.When this happens it’s possible for the crossbow to slip off of your foot and rocket skyward, nailing the unlucky shooter in the process. ALWAYS put your foot completely into the stirrup before cocking or uncocking your crossbow.

In the remote situation that you don’t shoot a deer while hunting, you will invariably need to uncock the crossbow at the end of the hunt.Whether you use the old “shoot an arrow into the ground” system or uncock manually, there is danger here.At the end of the day when you are in a hurry to get out of the field it’s easy to put that thumb onto the deck when firing to uncock your bow, and if you uncock manually be sure to remove the arrow from the crossbow’s deck before letting the string down!.More than one pair of shoes has been ruined this way, and a few toes have been seriously cut too.ALWAYS exercise extreme caution when uncocking your crossbow.

It shouldn’t be necessary but I’ll also point out that broadheads are razor sharp and very dangerous if handled without utmost care, but I’m always hearing about someone who cut themselves badly by sitting or stepping on a broadhead or else by being careless when assembling them.Always keep broadheads in a protective quiver and be careful whenever handling them or their blades.

Crossbow and bow hunters are generally in the bush in low light conditions and wearing camouflage clothing.It is very easy to mistake them for game in the last few minutes of hunting light and every year hunters are shot at, wounded, or worse.Don’t become part of the statistics, ALWAYS clearly identify your target without question, and if conditions are too dark to do this, go home!.If you are walking out from your stand and think there is any possibility of other hunters being in the area ALWAYS use a flashlight.

I used to manufacture and sell tree climbing steps.It was amazing how many times someone rolled up in a wheelchair or on crutches while I was doing a show with a story about how he fell out of a stand.It gave me a close up view of just how dangerous gravity can be and highlighted the fact that most hunting accidents are related to falling from a tree.If you hunt from a tree stand, ALWAYS use an approved fall arresting device.If you fall, which given enough time you invariably will, you’ll be very glad you did.

Crossbows are great tools and a lot of fun to hunt with and shoot.With a little care and common sense they can bring you a lot of joy, but if you act foolishly or simply don’t pay attention the fun can end very abruptly.Remember to keep your head up and your thumbs down and you’ll always be safe while shooting them!

Posted in: Crossbow Hunting


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