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Crossbows - Everything about Building, Modding, and Using your Crossbow Gear

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    Post by backgardenbowyer Sat May 11, 2013 10:49 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/95646669@N07/

    I want to say a bit THANK YOU to everyone on the forum who has given me advice with this project - my first proper medieval crossbow. It's hardly an original work more an act of plagiarism as I've borrowed ideas from everyone I could find! The main inspiration was Todd's Working Man's Medieval (thanks Todd).

    The only option I have for shooting is with the NFAS and true medieval bows don't really fit their rules: the bow must have a bolt clip, a working safety and a full trigger guard. You can see how I've dealt with that in the pics.

    Prod is a standard fiberglass 150lbs, with 3.25" brace and 9" power stroke. I think that's a bit shorter than these bows are built for but the weight goes off my 100lbs limit bow scale about 3" short of the nut so it can't be far short of the full weight.

    Tiller is a piece of american oak finished with Danish oil and wax (needs a bit more work), with a but plate of ipe, a thin layer of lemon wood and some black fibreboard spacers left over from a knife making project. The tickler, trigger guard and stirrup are mild steel given a bit of blue by heating them on the gas stove in the kitchen. I had a real tussle bending and shaping them cold without a proper bench or vice. I quite like the tickler guard - it means you can't bump the tiller by accident when spanning. The nut is delrin with an M8 bolt sear inserted.

    The safety is a wedge of ipe which goes between the tiller and tickler. Copied this from from a video on youtube of a German guy who runs a medieval crossbow gallery at historic fayres and uses one of these as an idiot proof safety for the public. The wedge isn't a very pretty solution but it is effective and can easily be removed when not required.

    Its taken me about 4 months to do this (a lot of looking round for materials, learning to use new tools and thinking time was needed.

    Only had a limited test in the garage so far but looking good.

    Advice and feedback welcome Very Happy

    Stan
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    Post by kenh Sat May 11, 2013 11:17 am

    Nicely done, Stan! You've captured the feel of a medieval crossbow while still meeting the NFAS safety standards. When you 'get rich and famous' you might want to experiment with making a bolt clip from a strip of boiled and shaped cowhorn for a more primative look.

    On the build shown in my avatar, I use a wedge-safety too, since I use a long tickler on a pin-lock action and the design just didn't look right with a trigger guard.
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    Post by ferdinand Sat May 11, 2013 3:54 pm

    Really nice! Like the trigger guard! gives it a bit of a ''van helsing'' meets ''jonah hex'' feel to it!
    havent seen one on any medieval bow but it could have!
    Keep up the good work!
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    Post by Todd the archer Sat May 11, 2013 4:36 pm

    I think you did a fine job. Not sure if I like the trigger gaurd but I guess it was a necessary concession.

    BTW the bolt clips on mine are made from PVC strips cut from pipe are molded with a heatgun, looks kinda like horn.

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    Post by chaz Sat May 11, 2013 6:59 pm

    Very Nice ! The trigger gaurd styling looks appropriate ! Nice look on the butt of the tiller too.

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    Post by ferdinand Sun May 12, 2013 1:03 am

    Todd the archer wrote:I think you did a fine job. Not sure if I like the trigger gaurd but I guess it was a necessary concession.

    BTW the bolt clips on mine are made from PVC strips cut from pipe are molded with a heatgun, looks kinda like horn.

    Todd
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    P.s i sent u a pm, need some help!
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    Post by robert.collard.5 Sun May 12, 2013 10:23 am

    Some fine work there. I used a cane tip for a wedge safety for awhile, but, needed something more permanent so I went to a screw and nut arrangement. The SCA does not require either safety or trigger guard, but I found the Marshals are more comfortable with my safety when I am on the line. So am I.
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    Post by backgardenbowyer Sun May 12, 2013 2:54 pm

    Well, thanks for the comments guys. I do have some black buffalo horn in big enough pieces to make a bolt clip, but have never tried heat working horn - I imagine there is a bit of a stink. Some of my parts had to be made from whatever was lying around in my toolbox - originally the bolt clip was made out of an old fork but it didn't look right. The "trigger guard" comes off easily with a couple of screws, though I have attached the tiller spring to it - a coil compression spring cannibalised from an old stapler.
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    Post by chaz Sun May 12, 2013 4:19 pm

    Stan

    It has been my experience that you might try boiling a strip of horn so that it becomes flexible and then maybe put it in a jig of the shape you want it to be and let it dry...... it should retaine the shape and be plyable enough to work, however as far as the stink of boiling horn ...... oh well. If this advise doesn't work it was worth what you paid for it . Buffalo horn should look great !

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    Post by ZigiMan Sat May 18, 2013 2:24 pm

    Really nice and neat work, Stan! Same as you, building while learning...
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    Post by backgardenbowyer Sun May 19, 2013 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

    This weekend. I was finally able to make matching set of bolts (well two sets 4 with 100g points and 4 with 125g points, 16" x 11/32" shafts) and have a thorough range test. I am pleased with the results both sets of bolts work well - as do 5/16" shafts, though I think the thicker shafts are a bit safer. The bow is more accurate than I can shoot it without sights.

    Being used to rifle shooting I am finding the short straight stock a challenge and with my head a low as I can get it using the point of the bolt as a foresight, the bow is point on at about 60 yds and at typical field archery ranges (15-30yds) I'm aiming 2 or 3 feet below the target. Not ideal for accuracy. I may thin the tiller and lower the comb a tad, but I'm seriously thinking about a foresight which would give me a much better head position.
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    Post by backgardenbowyer Thu May 30, 2013 1:07 pm

    I was able to shoot the bow over a chronograph at the weekend - 203fps with a 315gr bolt which is more than I was expecting. I feel that everything is very strained (including the arbalist!) with this 150lbs prod so I've got a 105lbs one for regular use. This feels far more controlled and has considerably reduced the "trigger pressure" on the tickler. I'll fit it properly and hopefully test next weekend.
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    Post by Geezer Fri May 31, 2013 1:17 pm

    Backgarden: Geezer here. Your bow looks very nice, and anything in excess of 200 fps from a steel bow is quite acceptable... that's about what Medieval bows got. The 100 lb. bow will shoot a bit slower unless you go to lighter bolts, but it will be easier on your hands and shoulders for recreational shooting, and should a bolt go awry and end up in the neighbor's back garden instead of your own, you'll be much less likely to seriously injure someone. Enjoy!
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    Post by Geezer Fri May 31, 2013 1:20 pm

    PS: from Geezer. In fact, most medieval crossbows were shot freehand-with the butt of the stock alongside the cheek, just like a longbow arrow. Thus there was no problem lining up a shot. For modern rifle/shotgun shooters, that can create a problem. In that case, try putting the butt atop your shoulder, like a rocket-launcher. That will get the top much closer to lining up with your eye.
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    Post by Todd the archer Fri May 31, 2013 3:40 pm

    Geezer just want to mention he has a fiberglass prod not steel. You are right though steel tends to shoot slower. As far as getting your line of sight closer to the bolt you can try rounding the top side of the tiller. I did that with a couple of mine and made quite a difference as well as more comfortable to shoot.

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    Post by backgardenbowyer Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:17 pm

    As usual thanks for the advice guys. I find shooting with the butt held forward against my cheek is far less stable than with the but on or over the shoulder - crossbows are more front heavy than rifles. I shall experiment further. Have now shot the 105lbs prod and it is of course definitely slower maybe 170-180fps but I shall try lighter bolts. In the mean time I expect to be shooting the bow at an field archery event in two weeks so I am going to make some simple detachable sights this weekend, a bridge foresight and non-adjustable peep sight just to make sure I am getting a consistent head position.Its the short range shots which seems difficult - got to aim the point of the bold so far below the target. My next xbow will have a slight down curve in the tiller!

    Is there a recommended minimum weight for bolts in terms of grains per pound? 2grs/lbs too low or acceptable?

    Thanks again for the advice.
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    Post by robert.collard.5 Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:00 pm

    Sights are what you make of them. When I first got my Working Man's Medieval Crossbow from Todd I was using the tip of the arrow holder and the point of the arrow. It averaged five inches low on a ringed target and shot rather well with that kind of hold. Now I have adjustable front and rear sights and you almost have to bench it to get a group. It's not the sight that is moving, it is me. LOL The point is the finer the sight the more you expect of it. There is more to it than sights, the weight of the arrow, the string lined up exactly the same, wind outdoors, breathing, heart rate. I could go on. Have fun!

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