Posted by Gary Keen on 14th Oct 2016

Introduction to Crossbows

Ever thought about branching out into other hunting disciplines? Archery is certainly a unique pursuit to practice, and working with targets can also improve overall shot accuracy. In the interest of trying something new and just for the fact that it will improve your technique means that purchasing a crossbow is well worthwhile.


Image from Wikipedia

If you haven’t had any experience in bows or crossbows, it can be difficult to get to grips with straight away, but all it takes is a bit of patience to get it right. Below we have detailed some crucial techniques, the type of crossbows and equipment available to purchase, along with some accessories you might need.

Reloading Techniques

The biggest difference in operating a crossbow compared to any other piece of hunting equipment, is that reloading or cocking, can vary depending on the type of crossbow you have.

  • Manual cocking requires the user to literally pull the bow back, which can be around 150lbs of weight. As much as this can be difficult, it is also the easiest way to perform the action without any additional equipment
  • Rope cocking uses a pully system that makes lifting the weight easier, but the bow has to be pulled twice as far to complete the action. As much as this requires an extra piece of equipment to complete, it also keeps the action fairly simple and makes it easier for those that may struggle lifting 150lbs
  • Crank cocking is by far the easiest way of reloading a crossbow, but does require an expensive mounted winch. A small crank handle on the end of the crossbow is much easier to turn and is therefore popular among shooting enthusiasts


As much as manual cocking requires less specialist equipment and is simpler, if the user does not pull back the exact centre of the bowstring it can lead to a shot that is fired too far to the left or right. Therefore, if you have a crossbow that you have to use this technique with, then try and practice the motion of pulling the bowstring as much as possible so it doesn’t affect your accuracy.

On the other hand, the crank cocking technique automatically pulls back the centre of the bowstring every time, which lessens the likelihood of a stray shot happening. Users that may not be able to cope with the physical strain of manual cocking should undoubtedly seek out a crossbow that has a crank, as it will maintain accuracy as well.

Equipment Available

Pistol Crossbows

A smaller counterpart to the full size crossbow but just as much fun, the pistol crossbow still packs a punch. Keen’s stock both a 50lb pistol crossbow and an 80lb version, both of which have smaller price tags and come with 2 bolts each to practice with.

Full Size Crossbows

A full size crossbow has a lot more power behind it, so should be handled, as always, with care. Keen’s product of choice is the Barnett Buck Commander Recurve, which has a draw weight of 150lbs and features a lightweight construction, red dot sight and an additional quiver to house your bolts.


Crossbows can only be used for shooting targets in the UK, so purchasing a quality one is very much recommended. Keen’s have a Layered Foam Target that is perfect for the job, and is rugged enough to take a lot of punishment, but can also be easily moved around to different locations.

For any further advice or information regarding purchasing your first crossbow, then get in touch with Keen’s Tackle and Guns today.