As a crossbow hunter, safe use of your crossbow should be on your mind every time you head into the woods. If you hunt out of a treestand, you should also familiarize yourself with the basics of treestand safety. But, are there any special safety precautions you should take if a crossbow is your hunting weapon?
1. Have a safe and secure way of lifting your crossbow into and lowering it from your tree.
Always mount a hoist rope on your treestand that you can use to lift the crossbow after you have climbed into the stand and secured yourself to the tree. It is never a safe practice to attempt to carry your crossbow in any fashion while you are climbing. Be sure that you use a rope that will sufficiently support the weight of the crossbow and securely attach the rope to your stand. Always make sure that your crossbow is unloaded prior to lifting or lowering it.
2. Be sure that you have a way of securing the crossbow when you need to have your hands free.
Inevitably, there are times that you need to have your hands free while you are in your stand, and it is not a safe practice to try to hold your crossbow while simultaneously searching for something in your pack or hunting vest. Mounting a hook in the tree will allow you to securely hang the crossbow for short periods and will free up both of your hands to safely complete your task.
3. Determine the most stable and safe way of resting your crossbow to take a shot.
Many treestands come equipped with a shooting rail onto which you can rest the crossbow while taking a shot. Determine the best location on the underside of the stock to use to balance the crossbow on the rail. You do not want to be in the middle of the shot and have your crossbow shift unexpectedly. If you are using a monopod setup, be sure that the foot of the monopod rests securely onto the floor of the stand and that it cannot shift during the shot.
4. Be sure that your foregrip hand, fingers, and all other objects are clear of the path of the bowstring before shooting.
If your stand has a shooting rail, pay close attention to where you should rest your foregrip hand and position your fingers when using it to keep them out of the flight path of the bowstring. If you wear items on lanyards or have cords that hang from a hat or clothing, make sure that these items are clear of the bowstring prior to shouldering the crossbow to take a shot.
5. Remember to leave enough space on both sides of the bow assembly so that the limbs or cams do not strike an object after the shot.
Modern hunting crossbows have become extremely narrow when cocked. So narrow, in fact, that some folks forget how wide the bow assembly is when it is not cocked. Failure to leave enough space on either side of the bow assembly prior to the shot can cause a limb or cam to strike an object, which can cause damage to the crossbow and possibly injure you. Before shooting, always position the crossbow with enough space for the bow assembly to widen out to its non-cocked position, without obstruction, after the shot.
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