Crossbow Components Explained

Our ultimate goal in bringing you the crossbow safety and education video series is to provide you with a full understanding of the crossbow, how it works, how to properly shoot one, and to introduce you to some basic methods of bowhunting with a crossbow.  However, in order to learn everything you need to know about crossbows, we must first take a look at the components that make up a crossbow.  So let’s take a look at a common compound crossbow and go over the components that make it up.
Okay,  so a crossbow is primarily constructed from to key components,  the stock and the bow.  But we’re going to take a deeper look into the actual components that makeup the stock and the bow. Let’s start with the bow. The bow of a compound crossbow is made up of 4 key components.  We have a riser, which is the metal piece that bolts onto the end of the stock.  We have two limbs, that give the bow it’s power.  And the limbs bolt onto the riser.  At the end of the limbs you’ll find a wheel which are most times referred to as cams. And then connecting the cams together you’ll find a string and 2 cables. Now if you have a recurve crossbow or a reverse draw crossbow things might look a little different to you.  On a recurve crossbow you won’t have the cams and you’ll only have one string. If you purchased a reverse draw crossbow, you’ll have the same components we just went over, but they’ll be in a different location.  In the next segment will go into detail about the different bow technologies.  But for now, we’ll focus on the traditional compound crossbow because it is the most widely used platform.

OK, on to the stock components.  The stock is the part of a crossbow that you will be holding.  It has 3 main areas, the butt of the stock that you pull up against your shoulder and the fore stock which you hold with your hand, opposite of your trigger hand, and the grip which is where you’ll place your trigger hand.  The grip can be of a traditional design like you’d find on your favorite shotgun or rifle or you’ll find that many crossbows will have a thumb hole style grip. But the stock also has many more components. It’s job is to house the rail or the barrel of the crossbow.  The barrel of the crossbow is where the crossbow arrow will sit when loaded and it’s job is to guide the arrow when the bow is fired.  Some barrels are molded into the stock and are one piece.  Others are an manufactured from an aluminum extrusion and bolt to the stock.

At the end of the barrel you’ll find the trigger housing.  Most trigger housings are also comprised of multiple components  including the string latch, which holds the string back when the crossbow is cocked, the trigger, which will fire the crossbow when pulled, a safety mechanism of some sort, which prevents us from accidentally pulling the trigger until we are ready to fire the bow, an anti dry fire prohibitor or mechanism, which prevents us from firing the bow without having an arrow loaded, and the sight bridge, which will hold the sight of the crossbow.

Now this particular crossbow is equipped with a scope which is the most common sight you’ll find a crossbow, but you can also use a red dot scope or a halo type sight. Also on the front of many sight bridges you’ll normally find an arrow retainer of some sort that aids in keeping arrow in place when you moving in different shooting positions.

Now the last component we’ll look at is the foot stirrup.  The Stirrup is the area located at the front of the bow that you put your foot in while cocking the crossbow.  Sometimes they are mounted directly to the riser or sometimes they can be mounted the barrel of the crossbow.  And on some models of crossbows, the stirrup will be incorporated right into the riser itself.

Well, we covered lots of information in this segment of the crossbow safety and education series and you should now have a better understanding of the components that make up a crossbow and what they do.   In the next segment, we’ll take a look at the Types of Crossbow bow technologies.

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