The Anatomy of a Crossbow

The Anatomy of a Crossbow

Sep 7th 2022

Crossbows have been around as early as the 7th century in ancient China. There have been quite a few modifications and upgrades to the technology and efficiency since then. Crossbows are a great option for hunters who are pretty young and can’t pull back a compound bow. They are also a good choice for anyone who has a shoulder injury or is otherwise physically limited. In this article, we will go over the parts of a crossbow and how these crossbow components function.

The Stock

The stock is kind of the main body of a crossbow. The bow portion of a crossbow is attached to the end of the stock. It looks similar to some gun stocks out there and functions similarly. The stock sometimes has a picatinny rail system for a scope to add on to increase accuracy. The stock is where the trigger is and also the crank depending on what type of bow you have. The stock has the rail on it that guides the bolt to the target. There is a trigger used to fire the bolt and usually a safety to keep the bow from firing until you’re ready.

The Rail

The rail is the guide for the bolt to follow to the target. It’s usually made of metal and has a split up the middle for the fletching to guide along as well.

The Bow

The bow portion is often a compound bow that has been beefed up and made more compact. The main string has more strands than a compound string and also has a bigger diameter serving for the nock. The draw weight on these bows can vary from about 40 pounds up to 225 pounds of draw weight. For most of these bows, there is a draw cord or a hand crank to cock the crossbow back. Using one of these tools makes the task of drawing back the heavier bows. There are also recurve style crossbows that only have one string and not three, like compound bows.

The Stirrup

There is a stirrup that’s usually included in the parts of newer crossbows. The stirrup is there to secure the crossbow with your foot while cocking the bow. It also can help protectthe front side of your crossbow.

The Bolts

Crossbow bolts are a little bit different than normal arrows used with other types of bows. They are a bit shorter averaging about 20 inches. They are fletched with three vanes similar to other arrows. The nocks are a much wider “groove” that’s more like a valley for your string to press against when shot. The nock has to be a valley like this because the serving on the string is quite big and the speed of the string is pretty fast.


Each pull/crank part of a crossbow is different depending on the method used to draw the bow string back. There are crossbows that use a pulley system that you use to almost manually pull the string back. The other common system is a crank that is near the butt of the stock that can be a lot easier to use for someone who may have physical limitations.

Pro Tips

Make sure to always fire your crossbow after being out in the field or when you’re finished shooting. If you keep your crossbow cocked it can cause a lot of wear over time. The string can wear down, but a big concern is the axels, cams, and limbs. Make sure to shoot your bow pretty regularly especially if you are using your bow for hunting. Being comfortable with your bow and knowing that you have your scope dialed in is paramount to make sure you’re ready for your hunt. There are many crossbow components you can use to optimize your shooting experience. A tripod with a grip to have in a blind can help with consistency as well as help younger or older hunters who can’t hold the crossbow steady. There are a few different range-finding scopes or red-dot scopes that make sighting in easier. Another part of a crossbow that can be added is a sling to help your walk into the woods. Some of the most reliable and common brands of crossbows are Mission, Ravin, and Ten Point. Our best-selling strings are from Barnett, Wicked Ridge, Ten Point, Killer Instinct, Centerpoint, and Parker. Whatever brand you choose, make sure to keep up with maintenance and of course changing out strings regularly.

Author Bio

Mackenzie is a two-time Olympian who is still active in the archery world. She is an avid outdoors woman who loves to hunt and be active outside. She has been active in the archery world for over 16 years and loves the sport as a whole. Mackenzie is a 60 X Custom Strings employee who writes articles as well as other work in the office.