Da Killah Crossbow…

One of my friends and automatic knife fanatic Sinza, has an interesting thread going on in his forum “Exotic Automatic”. It’s centered on the unique question of how one might create a retractable, wrist mounted, automatically operated bow.

Now there’s quite a lot of back and forth going on about the topic, (you can visit the forums here to check it out, or throw in any ideas you might have) but I thought it interesting because I happened to also run into this little puppy in my archives:

Conver Guard Crossbow

Conver Guards Crossbow

[view full size]

While not anywhere as cool or exotic as an automatic wrist mounted bow, I thought this would be a a cool weapon to post about. Crossbows are fairly simple weapons. In essence what you have is a short bow, attached to a long stock that had a trigger attached to a pin that was used to either directly hold the string, or push the string out of a slot in the rear of the stock into which the it would be pulled in order to “cock” it.

Then a crossbow arrow or (which is actually called a “bolt”) would be placed in a specially designed groove in the long rifle like stock just ahead of the string. The crossbow was aimed, the trigger was pulled, and the bolt was fired. Simple as 1, 2, 3. However as an advancement in weapon technology, it was a huge step forward.

What is interesting about this weapon was that, in comparison to it’s predecessor, the longbow, it could be made to fire much heavier projectiles, it was easier to aim, and thus easier to learn, and you did not have to “hold” the entire time you were aiming, making it possible to fire much more lethal projectiles, using prods that could develop quite prodigious quantities of force.

Medieval long bow were generally designed to develop anywhere from 50 to 200 pounds of force at their desired maximum draw. Heavy siege Cross bows could have prods generating in excess of 1500 lbs! Now seriously, what would one fire at with a 1500lb crossbow? Elephants?? … Oh… Nevermind… Anyway, siege crossbows with draw weights like this would not exactly be a breeze to use…

Now To be fair, I should also point out that crossbows required a more compact prod design, since the bow  sat sideways, and soldiers poking the soldier next to them in the eye during loading was frowned upon by the military brass. As a result, they had shorter bows, and obviously had a much shorter draw length, and therefore needed to have a greater draw weight in order to fire any given projectile at the same speed as a comparable Longbow.

However the fact that one did not had to actually hold it, and could draw it using equipment that gave the user a mechanical advantage, spawned crossbows of massive draws such as the 800lb monster draw, that could fire equally massive bolts. And with the lighter crossbows, all this could be done by a hastily trained infantryman who might never have picked up a longbow in their lives. Talk about a strategic advantage!

Anyway, I suppose I’m blathering on about stuff already know, so before some General Weisenheimer tells me I’m telling you all something you already know, I’ll just point you to the pic above, and say ogle away…

Conver Guard Crossbow – [Realm Collections]

Retractable Crossbow discussion – [Exotic Automatic]


6 Responses to “Da Killah Crossbow…”

  1. 1 Niccolo
    May 25, 2008 at 5:22 am

    The ranged weapon is one I shall always have respect for; the bow was one of the biggest steps in humanity’s insatiable desire to fling things around.

    Now, I don’t know how accurate my knowledge on these ubiqitous bastards, but crossbows and longbows… comparably, one could achieve greater accuracy with a longbow in comparison to a hand-held crossbow, right?

    Now that I think about it, that’s probably because people trained incessantly to use the longbow… which could also probably fire faster, since it was more a case of ‘draw-and-line’ rather than stock, pull, hook, etc… I know the crossbow took a fair while to reload unless you were really, really fast with your hands.

    Still, any little bit o’ wood that could fire bolts through knight’s armour should honestly be respected.

  2. May 26, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Indeed, as with anything, there are pros and cons to both, but you are correct, historically, longbowmen were usually much better trained than crossbowmen. However even when both were well trained, neither was inherently better than the other. Each had advantages depending on the scenario at hand.

    It really is a very complex topic. You have to take into account things like the draw length, weight, shape, draw, power delivery characteristics, and even portability of the bow/crossbow, against the mass, shape, length, fletching (or lack thereof) and point of the bolt/arrow. And then there’s the relative skill of the longbow/crossbowman, as well as environmental aspects such as the distance, what you are aiming for, the material you need to penetrate and even the weather.

    For instance, you couldn’t use crossbows as effectively as longbows if you just wanted to rain arrows down on an enemy phalanx, because obviously crossbows took much longer to load. Even if you were very fast with your hands. Conversely, as you pointed out, the average crossbowman really did benefit, in no uncertain terms, from being able to launch a heavier, sturdier bolt into enemy armor with finality at medium to close range. Not at all a simple apples to apples comparison. More like a Tangelo to grapefruit comparison…

  3. 3 ladyofspiders
    May 27, 2008 at 10:05 am

    That is a sweet crossbow

  4. May 27, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Yes, it is. It is actually a little on the “simple and crude” side of crossbow design, I’m going to be posting a picture of some of the more elegant designs here in the near future…

  5. June 18, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Psychomotor.

  6. June 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    LOL The point? When we are talking about the point of a cross bow bolt, it’s usually a good thing to miss… Or be missed by… Ok that was a bad pun. just shoot me. Just not with a crossbow. 😀

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