De-cocking has become one of the most sought-after features of a modern crossbow since solutions first started appearing back in 2016. As crossbows became more and more powerful, the need to safely de-cock to avoid wasting an arrow, reducing string life, and operational safety has become even more of a concern for the avid hunter.
Fortunately now, the technology is reaching a point where it is becoming more affordable and more widely available for every level of crossbow hunter.
Why Is De-cocking Important?
Have you ever gotten to the end of a hunt with your crossbow cocked and ready, but didn’t have a great plan on how or where to de-cock your crossbow?
For a long time, there weren’t many solutions to the problem.
It was pretty much a choice of carrying around a discharge target on every hunt or using a discharge arrow. Or else you just find a soft patch of earth, shoot your final arrow into it, and risk damaging your arrow.
All of these methods involve firing your crossbow, which means ticking off one more tally on your crossbow string life for no reason. Plus it can make unnecessary noise when out in the field.
De-cocking avoids the unnecessary expense of shooting to discharge so you can get the maximum lifespan out of your strings and cables. It is done with a de-docking device.
What Was the First Crossbow to Offer a De-cock System?
We first saw de-cocking systems way back in 2016 with the Katana 360 and using the cocking rope for Excalibur crossbows. While these systems worked fine for recurve crossbows, they weren’t a suitable option for the higher torque of a compound crossbow.
In 2017 Mission came out with the first de-cocking system for their compound crossbows using the cocking rope. The advantage was that you could press a de-cocking button on the firing mechanism and pull the string back to release it with both hands before controlling the release of tension. This method is still adopted by all of their current (2022) crossbows.
What Crossbows Have a De-cocking System?
Brands like Ravin and TenPoint are arguably leading the way with de-cocking systems being built into virtually their entire range of crossbows, and other brands now offer systems that can be retro-fitted to existing crossbows.
Ravin has two cocking and de-cocking systems that appear across all crossbows in their range. All Ravin crossbows, with one exception, use the Versa-Draw system that is fully integrated into the stock.
While the system is functionally very simple and easy to use with a thumb-activated spool release, when de-cocking the string, the force of the draw string is transferred to the cocking handle. This means that if your hand slips or you let go of the handle during the de-cocking process, it will free spool potentially causing injury.
Because users need to be fully engaged through the entire de-cocking process, it can’t be considered a particularly “safe” system to use.
The R500 models feature the updated VersaDrive cocking system that uses an internal clutch. This means that the cocking and de-cocking process can be done completely safely and the user can stop at any time during the process without free-spooling.
The only problem is that the VersaDrive system is currently available exclusively on the top-of-the-line Ravin R500, which costs over $3,000.
Like Ravin, all TenPoint crossbows (minus the Titan M1) feature a de-cocking system. The difference is that both the ACUslide and ACUdraw De-Cock systems allow for safe de-cocking making TenPoint crossbows arguably the safest crossbows on the market.
We have an article that looks in detail at the difference between ACUslide and ACUdraw De-Cock.
Both systems essentially provide the same silent operation allowing you to de-cock your crossbow with minimal force and the option to stop at any time without worry. ACUslide is the more desirable system because it is fully integrated into the stock.
ACUdraw De-Cock is also a feature on higher-end Wicked Ridge crossbows like the Raider 400 De-Cock and Fury 410 De-Cock. These two models are by far the most affordable safe de-cocking crossbows on the market today.
With most crossbow manufacturers, it is possible to de-cock the string using the cocking aid, but some go a step further and offer a crank-based solution that can be purchased separately.
Both systems will require the user to take up the force of the string when de-cocking, but they represent affordable solutions for hunters who want a crank de-cocking aid without changing their crossbows.
Another solution that is universal for any crossbow without a de-cocking system is the Crossbow Defuser. This is in our opinion the only viable alternative to a built-in de-cocking system because you can safely stop the de-cocking process at any time. It’s also a great way of checking your cam alignment as you slowly release tension in the string and limbs.
Should I Get a Crossbow that De-cocks?
Our goal, as always, is to provide you with the best information and equipment for a successful hunt. The stories we write out in the field are ones that we love to share with our family and friends.
Equipped with this new information about the value and importance of a de-cocking system, order a de-cocking crossbow today!