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How to Hold a Crossbow

Hunter holding a crossbow
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Are you looking forward to trying crossbow hunting, but you don’t know where to begin? You don’t have to worry anymore. Holding a crossbow might be something overwhelming for the first time, but once you master the art, you’ll find it easy to go about doing.

Well, one reason why crossbows are highly adopted is that they offer precise accuracy and a shorter learning curve. These are excellent features that come in handy for any bowhunter.

It is important to note that how you hold a crossbow is different from how one holds a compound bow. You may have fired other kinds of bows before, but there are several variations with the grips as far as crossbows are concerned.

Fewer intricacies are needed for a crossbow, which makes it easy to learn, practice, and hunt.

What Differentiates Crossbows from Other Bows?

Before we jump straight into holding and shooting a crossbow, it’s ideal to know that they are fired similarly to a gun by pulling a trigger and they shoulder the same way, as they have the same horizontal stock scheme.

To know how best to hold a crossbow, it is essential to first learn about various parts of the weapon and their functions.

Stirrup: This is a metal frame at the crossbow front where the archer places the foot during cocking to secure a crossbow.

Stock: This is the overall body of a crossbow to which the rest of the parts are attached. When holding a crossbow, the stock’s rear buttstock should be resting against the shoulders.

Limbs: This is known as the power source. The main function is to hold energy that propels the bolt.

Bowstring: This is what transfers the bow’s energy towards the bolt when shooting.

Rail: This is the part found on top of the foregrip. This is the place on which you rest the arrow as the bowstring keeps sliding across.

Trigger: This is the mechanism that releases the latch that holds the bowstring. It constitutes a safety that prevents misfires and accidents.

Holding a Crossbow as a Rifle

Now that you’re fully conversant with the anatomy of a crossbow, let’s jump directly into holding it. There are two major ways to control a crossbow.

Not many archers use this method, but those who do use it find it easier and more interesting. Here, you hold the crossbar so that the buttstock rests just against your right or left shoulder, depending on the hand you prefer best.

The next step is to support the crossbow barrel at the gravity center using your other hand. Then, hold the bow tightly using the same hand. Keep in mind that there are some things you need to consider when using this method.

Ensure you position the back of your crossbow to the inside and above your armpit. Then, have your non-dominant hand wrap around the crossbow’s barrel firmly. However, it is very important to note that you have to support it from its bottom to get the perfect angle.

Always ensure your fingers are far away from the bow’s trigger mechanism. Basically, your index finger is the only finger you cannot bend when firing your bow.

Holding the Crossbow Above Your Shoulder

This is another great alternative for holding a crossbow. It is similar to the first option. However, instead of supporting and holding the bow inside and above your armpit, you rest its buttstock on top of your right or left shoulder. Your other hand supports the bow’s barrel at the center of gravity while the dominant hand holds tight near the triggering mechanism.

Ensure you have a secure grasp of the barrel with your dominant hand resting outside the bow. Your thumb should be the one resting below the trigger so that whenever you’re shooting the crossbow, it will be easier to access the trigger mechanism. Ensure not to leave any fingers behind when the string snaps forward since it will leave you seriously injured.

There is no huge difference between the two methods. All you need to do is choose the one that you’re comfortable with and that helps you achieve the utmost accuracy in your shots.

Shooting With a Crossbow

The holding method you choose determines how best you’re going to take a shot. So, once you load the bolt, the next thing you will do is get ready to shoot. But first, you need to aim. If you place the crossbow below your armpit, you will need to bend a little to align your sight with your target.

In the second case, where you have placed the buttstock above your shoulder, you will need to twist your head and aim your dominant eye towards the target. The next step is to push the crossbow into a fire position and squeeze the trigger with your index finger until it fires.

You need to maintain your entire focus throughout your shot.

Crossbow Pro Tips

Before you cock your crossbow, make sure to bring it to your shoulder. This is commonly known as shouldering. Do it multiple times as you practice sighting on the target to ensure you get the best shot.

Before you practice bowhunting with your crossbow, ensure to read up on your local and state regulations regarding its approval. This is because the specification of these weapons varies from one state to the other.

Practice crossbow holding in front of your mirror. This gives you a better picture of your overall performance. In addition, it is the perfect time to notice gripping errors and correct them as early as possible.

For safety purposes, at all times, carry your bow in the uncorked state. Always hold it with both hands pointed down and away from other individuals. Only shoot when you’re ready to.


Learning how to hold a crossbow properly is very interesting. If you want to learn better crossbow handling for hunting or practice application, you can choose any holding methods above. However, remember safety is the top priority, and so, learn how to perfect the grip to avoid finger injuries. Additionally, practice how to hold your crossbow several times before you go ahead and start shooting.