How Long Can You Leave A Crossbow Cocked?

how long can you leave a crossbow cocked

Have you ever come from a long day’s hunt with no success, and are left empty handed and with your crossbow still cocked? This is something that bowhunters experience all the time. But now, what should you do with your cocked crossbow?

You may be wondering if just leaving it cocked until your next hunting session is a good idea, and if so, how long can you even leave a crossbow cocked? Luckily, we are here to help you solve all these, and many other questions.

Why Leave Your Crossbow Cocked?

Game does not pass by as often as a hunter would wish, so having your crossbow cocked for hours is very common. It would not be advisable to repeatedly cock and uncock your crossbow throughout the day because this may cause inconsistencies with how your shot is aligned. Also, if you are face to face with your target, you wouldn’t want to be spending precious time fumbling about while trying to cock your crossbow.

There are those who also choose to just keep their crossbows cocked because they do not want to have to fire an arrow to disarm it, or because they firmly believe that nothing bad will come out of leaving their crossbow cocked.

However, especially for those who are novices at bowhunting, you may be unsure if it really is alright leaving your crossbow cocked for quite some time, and if there is a chance that your crossbow can be damaged because of this.

Risks Of Leaving Your Crossbow Cocked

Sometimes, you hear stories of hunters who leave their crossbows cocked for weeks, and even months, without it sustaining any damage. However, what they may not know is that their bows may be experiencing stresses and strains that can not be detected at first glance, but are still happening nonetheless.

Leaving a crossbow cocked puts it under a lot of stress and tension. Although it can undergo this pressure for some time, extending past its limit can be harmful to the crossbow. This can easily wear out your crossbow and shorten its lifespan.

It can also cause overstretched strings, extended limbs, bent axles, damaged cams, and damages to other components. There have also been reports of crossbows getting stuck in the cocked position if they are held like that for a prolonged amount of time.

This can also be an issue of safety. There have been multiple cases of bowhunters leaving their crossbows cocked and unsupervised, and once they check back on it, they have found that their crossbows have already dry fired. And dry firing can cause great damages to your crossbow. Cocked crossbows may also cause accidents and injuries if they are left lying around, especially to children and non-hunters.

How Long Can You Leave A Crossbow Cocked?

Crossbows are built to be strong, durable, and able to withstand harsh conditions. And typically, they are also made to stay cocked for a long amount of time. In theory, crossbows can actually be left cocked for as long as you wish. However, this does not come without consequences, and is not recommended to be done.


Different types and brands may vary with how long they can be left cocked. The smartest thing that you can do it to look at the manual that comes with your crossbow, or ask the manufacturers themselves about how long you can leave their product cocked. Most brands would say it is safe to leave them cocked for 4-8 hours. Sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on who you ask.

If you ask experienced hunters, they usually leave their crossbows cocked all throughout the day without it having any effect on their bows.It would not be recommended, however, to leave it cocked for days, months, or an extended period of time, as what a few bowhunters do.

Although there are instances wherein hunters choose to leave their crossbows cocked for days in order to stretch out new strings. This, however, may be the only exception to the rule.

On the other hand, even if your crossbow can handle being cocked for a long time, there are certain places wherein that is actually prohibited under certain circumstances. In some areas, you cannot leave a crossbow cocked while inside a vehicle. In others, you can only have them cocked for a particular time of the day. You really have to be familiar with the bowhunting laws in your area so you do not unknowingly commit something illegal.

What To Do If You Leave It Cocked For A Long Amount Of Time?

Although there may be differences of opinions, it is safest to just follow however long the manufacturers say your crossbow can remain cocked. You can also uncock your crossbow whenever you are off taking a break, or when it is already the end of your hunting session.

To do this, you can opt to use a rope cocker, or Crossbow Defuser. It only takes a couple of minutes of your time, so do not skip out on this. Never attempt to dry fire your crossbow as it might incur damages if you do so.

However, if you have left your crossbow cocked for a long time, whether accidentally or not, it is best to just play it safe. Uncock it at once using a rope cocker or other similar tool. If you are weary of firing it, just take your crossbow to a professional to have it inspected.


No matter what anyone says to you, leaving your crossbow cocked for longer than a couple of hours is a bad idea. Ask the company where you bought your crossbow from so you can be advised of how long that time frame is – which is usually around 4-8 hours. Keeping your crossbow cocked longer than its supposed to can cause great damages. And if something bad happens to your crossbow, if would be such a waste to have to miss out on the hunting season.

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