Once you’ve shot a crossbow for any length of time, you come to realize how useful and important a good cocking device is. Cocking devices are a necessity for your crossbow because, without them, it is cumbersome, tiring, and an overall pain to shoot multiple times without one.
It doesn’t matter if you’re built like a linebacker or an accountant, it’s the truth that you really don’t want to try to cock your crossbow with only your brute strength every time you want to shoot.
Crossbow cocking devices come in two flavors: mechanical and rope. Both of these devices have worked well for crossbow hunters, but they have their positives and negatives like most things. Once you choose the right device, whether rope or mechanical, practice with it frequently and you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.
5 Best Crossbow Cocking Devices
There are many good crossbow cocking devices on the market nowadays, but we’ve pared it down to five models that stand above the rest.
*Last updated 2019-02-22 at 18:48 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Parker Deluxe Roller Rope Cocker
The Parker Deluxe Roller Rope Cocker has a patented roller system that allows a smooth cocking action without scratching or gouging the finish on your crossbow. It reduces the draw weight by half and aligns the crossbow string for more accurate shooting.
2. TenPoint ACUrope Cocking Aid
The TenPoint ACUrope Cocking Aid is a useful rope cocking device that also folds up and stores in its own case. Because its lightweight and retractable, there’s less chance of tangling the ropes and wasting time fumbling with the cocking device instead of getting your crossbow loaded.
3. Parker Sidewinder
The Parker Sidewinder is a popular crank cocking device that fits on the buttstock of the crossbow. The nylon line is designed to work with all Parker crossbows and spools out easily to attach to the crossbow string. You then use the hand crank to smoothly cock the crossbow. Once the crossbow is cocked, you put the safety on and release the tension on the bowstring and remove the Parker Sidewinder. It weighs about 18 ounces and is compact enough to carry in the field.
4. TenPoint Dedd Sled 50
The TenPoint Dedd Sled attaches to the rail of the crossbow, clipping to the string for secure and accurate cocking. The sled style does not scratch the rail and draws back smoothly. For narrow crossbows, you may need to maneuver your hands to clear the limbs, just something to keep in mind.
5. Barnett Crank Cocking Device
The Barnett Crank Cocking Device is another popular crank cocking device that works exclusively on Barnett crossbows.. It reduces the draw weight down to just 17lbs and aligns the crossbow string for more accurate shooting.
Choosing the Right Cocking Device
So, there are several cocking devices out there, including the ones mentioned here. Which one should you consider? As usual, there are a few factors to consider when deciding which is the right cocking device for you. Your decision to purchase and use a particular cocking device depends largely on what will work for you. These include such things as:
- Ease-of-Use – Not surprisingly, there are many different camps when it comes to cocking devices. Some people just prefer the overall simplicity of a rope cocker, whereas others prefer to have a crank cocking device, either because they like the convenience or they don’t want to (or can’t) handle half the crossbow’s draw weight due to injuries, age, physical limitations, or a medical condition.
- Cost – If cost is a factor, you may prefer a rope cocker over a mechanical cocking mechanism. Although cocking devices aren’t the most expensive accessories available for crossbows, you can spend well over a hundred dollars on a crank cocking device, especially if you choose to integrate it into your crossbow’s stock.
- Integrated vs Removable – Some people prefer to have the rope cocking or the crank cocking devices mounted on their crossbow for convenience. Some prefer to have them removable so as to save on extra weight. Your decision on what type of cocking device depends largely on your preference for an integrated or a removable cocking device.
- The Right Fit – Naturally you need a cocking device that works for you and your body type, as well as your crossbow. It can be the best cocking device in the world, but if it doesn’t fit your crossbow or you, you don’t want it.
- Efficiency – How accurate is the cocking device? How quickly does it cock the weapon? How much force (muscle) do you need to use the cocking device? All of these are important factors when deciding on the cocking device and whether it will work for you.
- Quality – Regardless of your other choices, you should always choose a high-quality cocking device so it won’t break on you in the middle of a hunt. You often can get a cocking device in a cheap crossbow package, but you get what you pay for. It’s better to purchase your cocking device as an accessory because it is usually of a higher quality than a package deal.
Rope vs Crank Style Cocking Devices
As mentioned above, there are two types of cocking devices available for crossbow hunters. One is the rope type of cocking device, which many hunters like to use. The other is a mechanical or crank style cocking device that requires very little strength to use. Both work well to cock or load a crossbow, but whether you choose one or the other is a matter of preference.
Rope Style Cockers
Rope cocking devices are perhaps the simpler form of cocking devices of the two. They work by attaching their clips to the crossbow string on either side of the stock. You will need to thread the rope behind the crossbow’s butt stock to keep the tension.
Step into the foot claw (you should do this before you attach the clips), grasp the handles and pull up until the crossbow is cocked. Put the safety on and remove the rope cocking device.
- Simple to use.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Removes only half the draw weight on the crossbow.
- Must use two hands and entire body to draw the weapon.
- Must carry and stow the ropes to be able to cock the crossbow.
Crank Style Cockers
Mechanical cockers or crank cockers work in the same way the rope cockers work, but instead of using your strength, there is a crank that allows you to pull the bowstring up mechanically. To use the mechanical cocking device, it will be either part of the stock or it can be mounted on the stock.
Put your foot through the foot claw and follow the manufacturer’s directions for loosening the clips and lines to attach to your bowstring. Attach the lines to your bowstring, usually in the center so the lines are on either side of the stock.
Then, use the crank to draw the crossbow string until it cocks the weapon. Put on your safety and remove the clips. You will then have to finish winding up the lines until the clips are in their resting position.
- You do not need strength to cock your crossbow.
- Relatively simple to operate.
- Some crank cocking devices are built into the stocks, so you do not have to carry them separately.
- Much more expensive than rope cockers.
- Crank cocking devices that are added to stocks add weight to the crossbow.
- If the cocking device is detachable, it is one more piece of equipment you have to haul.
Crossbow Cocking Devices: FAQs
Which Cocking Device Makes it Easiest to Load the Crossbow?
Of the two types of cocking devices, rope cocking devices and mechanical cocking devices, the device that requires the least amount of effort (strength) is a mechanical cocking device. If you’re looking for simplicity, the rope cocking device is probably the simplest to use, but it does require you to pull half the draw weight of the crossbow.
How Do I Safely Cock a Crossbow?
Cocking the crossbow safely requires these steps:
- Remove any bolts (arrows) in the flight groove and bowstring.
- Point your crossbow toward the ground and step into the foot claw. (Unless the manufacturer of the cocking device tells you explicitly not to do that.)
- Take your crossbow off the safety to fire.
- Attach the clips/ claw/ hooks to the bowstring. Do this by putting one hook on one side and hold it pressed up against the crossbow’s side of the rail while you put the other hook in place on the opposite side of the stock. Make sure both hooks are flush to the stock. You should have to pull up on the bowstring about a quarter to half an inch to get the hooks on. If they go on too easily, you need to shorten the cocking ropes. If you must pull on the bowstring any more than a half inch, you’ll need to lengthen the cocking ropes.
- Use the manufacturer’s recommended method to draw the bowstring until it cocks.
- Move the safety from fire to safe.
- Release tension on the bowstring and remove clips/ claw/ hooks.
- Return equipment back to their original configuration (if mounted) or stow away removable cockers.
How Long Can (or Should) I Leave the Crossbow Cocked?
You can leave a crossbow cocked while you are out in the field, however, at some point, it’s a good idea to decock it. Some manufacturers recommend uncocking your crossbow for a half hour every four hours to allow the components to relax.
If you’re hunting all day, you should decock your bow at least once every 24 hours. Just uncock your crossbow at the end of the day and let it rest overnight to take the stress off of it.
How Do I Safely Uncock a Crossbow?
The most common method and the best way to decock the crossbow is to fire it. You can do this with a discharge target or you can use an unloading bolt, that is a type of arrow made for uncocking. The last safe way to uncock a crossbow is to use a crossbow defuser. Crossbow defusers fit inside your crossbow’s limbs and allow you to slowly release the tension in a safe and controlled manner.
What is a ‘Dry-Fire’?
Dry firing a crossbow is when you release the bowstring without a bolt in it. It is a very dangerous practice and can cause serious, catastrophic damage to your crossbow and can seriously injure you. This is because the kinetic energy that has been stored up which would normally be imparted to the crossbow bolt is instead transferred to the bow, itself.
Once you have purchased a crossbow, you will need a cocking device to safely cock your weapon. Cocking devices for crossbows come in the form of rope cocking devices and mechanical (crank) cocking devices. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
When choosing a cocking device, be sure to choose one that fits you and your crossbow. There are many excellent cocking devices available on the market today which will help you cock your crossbow safely on your next hunting trip.
*Last updated 2019-02-22 at 18:48 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API