Re: Question on cocking aids..
There are basically 4 different ways to cock a bow. I will leave the sleds out of it since they are basically on reverse draw limbs, but they are similar to a rope cocker.
1. Hand Crank- By far the easiest to cock a crossbow. Takes about 5 pounds of force. It is also the slowest plus you have the added weight of the crank. Some stay on like Tenpoints and others can be removed. These also usually add around $150 to $250 for the cost of the bow. If you can do one of the options below then I would not recommend going this route. Tenpoint makes the nicest hand crank from what I have seen although the Missions crank looks pretty nice.
2. Acudraw 50. Basically this is the same as a rope cocker below, but it keeps it on the bow. Only Tenpoint has it. Adds some extra cost, but does keep the rope cocker handy and you don't forget it. I think it is around $100 extra for it if you buy it with the bow. A litte more if you purchase later.
3. Rope Cocker. This is the traditional rope cocker. Provides the same function as those above. Takes 1/2 the draw weight to cock the bow. Ensures that the bow is evenly cocked as do the options above. A rope cocker is only $20 or so and is usually included with most bow packages.
4. Cocking by hand. This can be done, but really shouldn't be done for a couple of reasons. One is that you tend to not cock it evenly and it can affect accuracy. The methods above ensure even cocking every time by their design. With the newer bows that are getting narrower and higher poundages this can be very difficult on the fingers. I have done it before and can do it in an emergency (forget rope cocker), but I would prefer not to do it. This is the hardest method of cocking a crossbow.
Wash Co. I am about the same age as you and I prefer to use the cocking rope. I would consider the Acudraw 50 though as well. These methods allow a quick cocking of the bow, but still maintain an even cock to allow for the best accuracy.
Traditions only last if you pass them down to your kids!