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    Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

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    Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:17 am

    Been looking at ball shooting crossbows to see if they have the potential for accuracy compared to using a bolt/arrow. Also the life of the limbs/ prod firing a light ball, lighter than a bolt/arrow that it was designed for. Seen some reasonably priced cheap end ball/arrow shooting crossbows just to give it a go and to see if i could make one, but not worth the effort if these are just a fad or gimmick. what do you guys think and has anyone used or own one, can't seem to see any reviews on the web. https://www.surplusstore.co.uk/armex-hawk-of-the-forest-ii-recurve-crossbow.html
    See here as an example. Thought shooting a ball would benefit in not loosing arrows or bolts. Also would lead be better than steel ball especially bearing in mind the ricochet factor.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by kenh on Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:47 am

    Screw the "ricochet factor" -- you should be shooting responsibly against a solid backdrop, not just flinging balls any old way!  Lead balls, as a "throw it into the environment" kind of ammunition, has been banned in shotguns in most countries for many years.  Not an environmentally friendly kind of ammo.  

    Bullet- or pellet-firing crossbows have been around since the 1400s(?) -  a loooong time.  Check out Payne-Gallwey's The Crossbow for examples.  Not a "fad" but not as popular as bolt-firing bows.  

    Why?  Probably because you're throwing away virtually every bullet as opposed to occasionally losing a bolt.

    Those ball and bolt bows are a compromise; probably not particularly accurate with either.  Of course accuracy is relative --  some people want to put six bolts/pellets in a teacup at a hundred meters; others think hitting a dinner plate at 10 yards is good enough.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by Geezer on Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:49 am

    Geezer here, with my traditional semi-annual comments on ball-shooting bows.  Yes, stonebows have been around since at least the 14th century, and probably much longer. 
    In nineteenth century Britain, they were quite popular for small game, but seem to have been driven out of the market by .22 rimfire cartridge guns, which were cheap to shoot and more accurate.
    In medieval times stonebows were used for shooting small game: rabbits, squirrels, birids. Those guys mostly shot baked clay balls at fairly short ranges.  Now here's the disclaimer:  Beware, double-string pouched stonebows can hang up at release, and actually shoot the ball backward into your eye.  I know because I have done it.  Didn't quite lose the eye, but came very close.  If you want to build a ball shooting bow, look at Payne Gallwey's 'bullet bow' that shoots the ball down a tube.  Those won't shoot backward, no matter what you do wrong.  For accurate shooting with best power, I recommend steel balls, but old fashioned glass 'catseye' marbles make very consistent lighter shot.

    And yes, it is possiblel to make a bow that will shoot both balls and arrows. There are two approaches: either build a double-string Italian style stonebow with a removable bolt-groove, or make a ball-carrier that fits the string on a regular crossbow, and carries a ball in a cup.  Both systems have drawbacks and will be a little less efficient than either/or.  You'll end up with an inferior ball shooter that shoots bolts pretty well, or a crummy bolt shooter that maybe shoots balls fairly well. 
    If you absolutely must make a classic Italian stonebow, be sure to use a large, peephole or slotted rear sight.  That should give you some protection when/if a ball comes back at you.  Enjoy.  Geezer

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:50 pm

    kenh wrote:Screw the "ricochet factor" -- you should be shooting responsibly against a solid backdrop, not just flinging balls any old way!  Lead balls, as a "throw it into the environment" kind of ammunition, has been banned in shotguns in most countries for many years.  Not an environmentally friendly kind of ammo.  

    Bullet- or pellet-firing crossbows have been around since the 1400s(?) -  a loooong time.  Check out Payne-Gallwey's The Crossbow for examples.  Not a "fad" but not as popular as bolt-firing bows.  

    Why?  Probably because you're throwing away virtually every bullet as opposed to occasionally losing a bolt.

    Those ball and bolt bows are a compromise; probably not particularly accurate with either.  Of course accuracy is relative --  some people want to put six bolts/pellets in a teacup at a hundred meters; others think hitting a dinner plate at 10 yards is good enough.
    First of all i know the dangers of all type of projectiles light and heavy ordnance as well as bolts and arrows, been shooting most of my life with all the firearms and other forms of weapons you can name and many more military and civilian. You certainly don't fire ball bearings at a solid back stop especially board or wood. When did i imply that i went around recklessly firing ball bearing lead and steel. Both projectile are not a friendly option anyway not just lead, not every country has these environmental laws. If i use a slingshot i use reformed 9mm pistol heads and always recover them for reuse for target practice, as for going out killing things i don't. Thanks no thanks for the safety and environmental lecture.
    As for the technical question which i was originally asking, not having used a modern ball shooting crossbow I am well aware about the stone bows of long ago and have the Gallwey book which i have made a few things from. Especially my windlass crossbow.
    Who said i was throwing away every ball if i were to use such a bow, you seem to be quite aggressive in your response as if someone p***ed on a spark plug.
    Your last paragraph was at least helpful.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by kenh on Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:00 pm

    Lighten up!   

    You certainly didn't come across as someone who knows everything in the universe about

     " the dangers of all type of projectiles light and heavy ordnance as well as bolts and arrows, been shooting most of my life with all the firearms and other forms of weapons you can name and many more military and civilian."


    You came across as one of the teenage Airsoft shooters who knows nothing much about anything.  And now you're coming across as an arrogant know-it-all.  
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by Geezer on Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:16 pm

    Geezer here again: years ago, I made my first stonebow (Italian style, with the deep U front) and fired a heck of a lot of marbles with it.  In face, one can make a shot-trap to catch projectiles, which will certainly reduce your losses.  You won't get all back, but probably most.  One disadvantage I found in shooting balls vs. arrows/bolts.  With bolts, you can clearly see where you're hitting, As You Shoot, even without a spotting scope.  Shooting marbles at tin cans is quite satisfying of course, but cans make an uneven surface, so there's more chance for projectile loss and ricochet.  After blasting thru 500 hundred or so marbles, I decided shooting bolts was more satisfying and went back to one of my medieval crossbows.  It's a matter of choice of course, and its obvious lots of medieval shooters got plenty of enjoyment from stonebows.  Just remember, the double-string type can 'trip' the string at the end of its stroke, and retain the ball, to fling back in your face at recoil.  If you insist in making a ball-bow of that sort, you must take some precautions or rue the day.  And lighten up, have fun! Geezer.

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:38 pm

    Geezer wrote:Geezer here, with my traditional semi-annual comments on ball-shooting bows.  Yes, stonebows have been around since at least the 14th century, and probably much longer. 
    In nineteenth century Britain, they were quite popular for small game, but seem to have been driven out of the market by .22 rimfire cartridge guns, which were cheap to shoot and more accurate.
    In medieval times stonebows were used for shooting small game: rabbits, squirrels, birids. Those guys mostly shot baked clay balls at fairly short ranges.  Now here's the disclaimer:  Beware, double-string pouched stonebows can hang up at release, and actually shoot the ball backward into your eye.  I know because I have done it.  Didn't quite lose the eye, but came very close.  If you want to build a ball shooting bow, look at Payne Gallwey's 'bullet bow' that shoots the ball down a tube.  Those won't shoot backward, no matter what you do wrong.  For accurate shooting with best power, I recommend steel balls, but old fashioned glass 'catseye' marbles make very consistent lighter shot.

    And yes, it is possiblel to make a bow that will shoot both balls and arrows. There are two approaches: either build a double-string Italian style stonebow with a removable bolt-groove, or make a ball-carrier that fits the string on a regular crossbow, and carries a ball in a cup.  Both systems have drawbacks and will be a little less efficient than either/or.  You'll end up with an inferior ball shooter that shoots bolts pretty well, or a crummy bolt shooter that maybe shoots balls fairly well. 
    If you absolutely must make a classic Italian stonebow, be sure to use a large, peephole or slotted rear sight.  That should give you some protection when/if a ball comes back at you.  Enjoy.  Geezer
    Hi Geezer, thanks for your response, i see that the modern ball shooting crossbows throw from a tube. Wouldn't like to build something that would cause an injury to myself, it does make you think especially when people in the past have been killed or seriously injured with the prod snapping let along a projectile flying back at you.
     It would be interesting to see if anyone used any of these modern ball shooting crossbows to see if they were consistent especially when you see the skill and marksmanship and accuracy of hits with some slingshot users who can hole the bottom end of a coke can at a 100 yards using just eye and hand coordination, thought that a ball shooting crossbow would have the advantage. Having never examined these ball shooters i wonder if the size of tube to ball would make the difference to accuracy and if there was a compromise to ball and tube size to arrow/bolt size keeping in mind that these modern ball shooters have slots in the tube to accept the fletchets of arrow which would cause friction if forced down a simple tube. Interesting design concept that could be improved upon depending upon the accuracy that could already be there. The other query was the affect on the limbs or prod, as crossbows don't like being fired without some form of projectile from them. I thought that a 8mm light steel ball which would be lighter than a bolt cause damage hence the lead ball of the same diameter being heavier.

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:01 pm

    Don't worry i am lightened up. i can see your concern assuming i may have been a teenage airsofter who may go out and give crossbow shooting a bad name,it can easily happen in this day and age with yobs shooting a cats and dogs and abusing the very things we enjoy building making and using, only two clicks away from the authorities to ban such activities because of a few idiots, doesn't take much for that to happen. But wow I thought i was being told off and lectured by mum for assuming i was a naughty boy.  Kiss and make up now all is forgotten, back to the topic in question. 
    Shooting the stone bow with marbles was the accuracy consistent and was the accuracy the same as the  using bolts. May look into the stone bow as a build.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by Geezer on Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:54 pm

    The stonebows I made were pretty low power and I never spent a great deal of time looking for pinpoint accuracy, but I would say they should be capable of accuracy similar to that of crossbows of comparable power.  I think the form should admit a lot of research and development for maximum performance.  Geezer.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by dutchbow on Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:42 am

    The ball shooting crossbow is still being used in Belgium for competition shooting at a popinjay. These crossbows are pretty accurate.
    I have some links for more information. unfortunately they are in dutch.

    http://erfgoedceldenderland.be/img_1831/
    http://www.sintservatius.com/index.htm
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=56&v=s6H_6NntQRY
    https://www.vlas.be/vlaspdf/infofolders/balboog.pdf
    [url=http://users.skynet.be/fc753581/Geschiedenis/Geschiedenis Willem Tell.htm]http://users.skynet.be/fc753581/Geschiedenis/Geschiedenis%20Willem%20Tell.htm[/url]

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:46 am

    I like the name ball archers, it would be interesting to find some of these designs, Thanks for enlightening me. Its only across the channel.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by dutchbow on Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:39 am

    I also would like to find some designs of it.
    However the design does not look to difficult, in principle it is similar to the 
    Belgian target crossbow but with a barrel added for the ball.
    In my opinion the lock can be of the same type.

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:17 am

    Where would i find more information about these popinjay ball shooters are they called something else.

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:04 am

    Slurbow.
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by septua on Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:07 am

    dutchbow
    The links were great. I have bookmarked most of it. The quality of barrels on these Belgian competition bows is most likely beyond most amateur builders. The 16mm lead alloy balls are also made to precise standards, however they must be somewhat loose. It has done the job a long time anyway because at 18m vertical one directional variable is minimized.
    I have commented several times here regarding my ball shooting experiments. The most important development was the track profile shown in avatar, ball never contacts track. The ball holder “shuttle” is in firm contact with the track and allows 1/2” ball bearings to group better than I can aim at 62ft 19m. The drop is about 15” 38cm.  Of course a target trap is there to catch ammo and deposit it into a plastic jar screwed into bottom back. Any balls that acquire surface defects are discarded.           

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Sat Jul 21, 2018 2:26 pm

    They look so cool, never even heard of them before now, thanks for the links.  Just wondering, do any crossbows push a piston in the way an air-rifle spring does as air-rifles take advantage of a tiny diesel-explosion to increase power?

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by phuphuphnik on Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:42 am

    The little bows my class made were fairly accurate, we could all hit soup cans at 25 paces. After a while we could bring the range out a little bit more, we could always hit 8" pie pans at a descent distance.Here is a link on this site to my post. We didn't use cups, we swaged a cap that fit over a groove, supported between the string max and min points. I think there are pics of us building them too... We used 50# fiberglass prods.

    http://thearbalistguild.forumotion.com/t1190-7th-grade-stonebows-are-finished#


    Found the build post:
    http://thearbalistguild.forumotion.com/t1179-7th-grade-stonebow-progress


    Last edited by phuphuphnik on Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:47 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : added (even) more info)
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by JacobL on Sun Jul 22, 2018 7:11 pm

    I have alot of experience with these bows. This is gonna be a long post, but I don't wanna see somebody recreate the wheel haha.

    The Shoottech AR480 is the best of the best. Integrated winch cocking (silent one on new model), capable of 500 FPS with steel balls, and accuracy seems great. Nice overall build that looks great. Can also shoot arrows at 300 FPS, which is healthy. Very pricey though, but I'd say it's a sound investment.

    Don't even waste your time on the cheaper ones. From what I've seen, they're slower than slingshots, poorly accurate, and can barely penetrate anything. They're also cheaply made, with plastic all over. Not worth it.

    If you want to make your own, start with either a shot sled or a barrel. The barrelled bow will be the fastest due to it having the lightest string, and the sled-bow is the simplest of all. 

    I've constructed a sled bow for shooting airsoft bbs:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEiujnQec_w
    It uses a polycarbonate sled with a steel bow. Draw of 20 pounds at 6''. It's just barely as powerful as a slingshot shooting the same ammo. With heavier weight bbs I can hit a can up to 30 M. Make sure there is just enough downforce on the shuttle so as to keep it from flying away but also not so much as to slow the string down when it rubs against the track. Make sure your track is smooth and well made as well as the shuttle or else you will get bad accuracy. Make sure the shuttle is as strong and as light as possible, HDPE is great for it, which Septua used. To keep the ammo from sliding out you want to have a flip-up peg or clip, which is loaded with a light spring if yu-re using heavier ammo.

    I've made barrelled launchers but not crossbows. It's hard to make the slot in the barrel smooth enough to not tear the string apart, which happens often. You could make the slot wider but then the string will jump the projectile, even if it seems unlikely. These will be the fastest design due to the light string and not much friction. Here's a classic video on this type, which was my inspiration in the first place:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW31D-uTZkg. He mentions on his site that the string is pretty much bound to snap after being frayed, which I can attest to. He also mentions poor accuracy yet high speeds: a more accurate barrel would produce a tighter yet slower shot, and vice versa. Friction and so on.

    Pouched, double stringed bows are my personal favorites. I like to hunt pest on my property and I like having a nice quiet weapon, and these types are the quietest, due to the string not touching anything except the stock. The other types are quite loud IMO. These types use a canted bow with a double string that has a pouch in the middle. I find these to be the most accurate, quiet, and durable, though they will be a bit slower thanks to a heavy string. They can shoot back at you or shoot erratically in general but I find that you can fix this:

    -Don't use a recurved bow

    -Make sure the separating pillars are longer than the thickness of the projectile plus doubel the thickness of the pouch

    -Make sure that the projectile used is the correct weight for the bow's poundage, or close to it.

    -Don't make the d-loop on the string too heavy or long.

    Those pretty much solved the flipping issues. Wearing eye protection is a must, even if it's annoying haha. Make sure you reinforce the downwards curve in the stock and use a trigger that allows a clean, straight release. Also be sure to camp the bow tight in the stock, don't allow any movement.

    Whatever type your going to make, make sure you use a bow made from stacked layers of thin material, which is optimum for shooting light projectiles. Think of the leaf springs from a car, and recreat that. I use steel from an old Suede Saw, which I cut to uniform thicknesses with a zip cut disc. I stack them and secure them to eachother with some strong electrical tape, or surgical tubing. I use the same tubing to pad the nocks, or else they cut though the string. I aim for a draw of 60 pounds at 14'', then usually end up with 55 pounds at 10'', which is fine. I have fiberglass and wood but I find steel is easiest to work, and is damn near indestructible, though heavy.

    You can also be more advanced, and make a fiberglass compound prod, with a centreshot riser. This negates alot of the issues that cause erratic shots and is safer, though harder to make IMO. This will be faster and more accurate if done right.

    Also, spring piston crossbows don't seem to exist, but there is a setup for compound and recurve bows called an Airow Gun. It comes in a .177 or .68 paintball setup. Doesn't damage the bow in any way, since the string powers a plunger just like it would an arrow. I'm sure this could be setup to shoot with a crossbow.

    Overall, unless you're going to be shooting on par with slingshots, in fact you can be outdone by them, unless you really take the time to do something high-tech, like a compound or a spring powered crossbow. I'm currently working on a simple double string bow for marbles, and if it works I'll move on to something more intense, using some large yet light torsion springs I found to make an inswinger.

    If you have any questions about these bows I'll try my best to help, so be sure to ask away.


    Last edited by JacobL on Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:46 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Gave incorrect information about double string)

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:16 am

    Thanks for your replies, very interesting that these ball shooters can shoot fairly accurately. After building a windlass crossbow a few years ago made from left over oak wood from Windsor castle after the great fire with the help from master crossbow builders here in the UK who made the steel prod, i thought i would have a go at something modern and light weight handy and compact. which still needs finishing touches but has been tested out with great success. I was going to show the build but i have to host the picture rather than up load so i won't bother, shame. 
    Any ideas of how can i reinforce the middle of the string to make it more wear resistant, i thought about making a leather sleeve in the middle but its too thick even for the thinnest of leather. Any thoughts on what i could do.


    Last edited by topfmine on Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:46 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : mistake)
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by Geezer on Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:13 am

    JacobL:  Thanks for your extensive post concerning stonebows/bullet bows.  Henceforth when people ask me about them, I'm gonna send them on to you.  Geezer
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by JacobL on Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:24 pm

    Thanks Geezer, I have a strange obsession with these kinds of bows and I'll gladly handle them, if I'm online at the time.

    Topfmine, do you mean on a normal bow string? For a normal string you can take some solid bowstring thread and loop it around the center of the string over and over until you reach your desired length. Should each loop be tight, you'll be okay. Otherwise not sure what you mean.

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:53 am

    When firing my ball shooter  i noticed that one side started to wear on the string, in the end i had to mill the slot a bit straighter and a little wider as the string was rubbing on the bottom slot. Need to see my mate at the machine shop who can cut a better slot than me plus i want a centre bored 8mm to take 8mm ball lead or steel, at the moment i am using a 44 cal lead ball which shoots nice and straight with a punch but a lighter ball would perform much better, I am using a normal string and heated a piece of heat shrink around the middle lasted much longer before i cut the slot.  With a wider slot may stitch or glue a bit of leather to the middle of the string. I would post pictures but don't do picture hosting.

    JoergS
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by JoergS on Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:54 pm

    I made a ton of ball shooting crossbows, many with rubber as an energy storage medium, and also I have a great many ball shooters in my personal collection.

    These things can be very accurate and also powerful. The AR 480 is certainly the very best one on the market, but it IS expensive. 

    Shooting steel or lead balls IS cheap. With a proper catch box, you will be able to retrieve most if not all of the ammo time and time again. Especially ball bearings made from hardened stainless steel are virtually indestructible. 

    There are disadvantages too. First, the steel balls lack the very graphic sticks-in-the-target feeling that I love very much when I shoot crossbows. Second, the penetration power of round balls is MUCH lower. For the hunters, that means that ball shooters are OK for vermin but NOT for any kind of bigger game including deer. Even a dove is often too tough for a clean kill. Then there is the danger of "RTS" shots (return to sender), which never happened to me personally but it is possible for sure. That scenario is scary, scary, scary. 

    The cheap models made in China are pretty much useless. Weak and not very accurate due to play in the slotted tubes and overall miserable quality in design and manufacturing. Don't buy them. 

    Overall I would say that ball shooters do have a place and I enjoy them quite a bit.

    topfmine
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by topfmine on Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:00 am

    What would you say would be a good ball calibre for a 50lb prod, After using .44 cal lead balls which worked fine a light ball would be more efficient say 9mm or 8mm in steel or lead. The other difficulty of the build is making the bore and slot as you need to bore the diameter first and then cut the slot as there can be play slotting straight plus make the bore slightly oversized from the balls you are using.

    JoergS
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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

    Post by JoergS on Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:49 pm

    A 50 lb prod is mighty weak. 

    If you use very small BBs (so your weak prod gives you OK bullet speed), then you will run into the problem that the string jumps the ball. Maybe you should consider marbles, the 15/16 mm type. Use a fat string so it won't jump the ball.

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    Re: Ball shooting Crossbows worth the bother

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