The Crossbow
E. B. '09

A crossbow is a bow mounted on a stock/tiller, with a windlass attached to its butt. The crossbow was loaded with a crank and pulley attached to the stock/tiller and windlass. Unlike bows crossbows shot quarrels, not arrows. A crossbow had a maximum range of about two hundred yards. Crossbowmen were protected by pavises, which were large shields made out of wood.

Crossbows had a major competitor for popularity, the longbow. The range of a longbow was about one hundred yards. Even though a crossbow had a larger range, it couldn't fire as rapidly and was more expensive to make than the longbow. Many armies got around this dilemma by having corps of both crossbowmwn and longbowmen. But the bolt crossbow wasn't the only crossbow made.

A crossbow was made that shot stones. This was called a bullet crossbow, and was used for target practice and for hunting small game. Bullet crossbows had a double sting, and a pouch for holding the stone. Crossbow bowstrings were usually made of flax or hemp. All of this is, of course, just scratching the surface of crossbows, and there is much more to find out.

My three best sources were "Arms and Armor", " Arms and Armor of a Medieval Knight", and "World Book 2002, volume #4".

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