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

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    Interested in designing something fun?

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    Post by ToLo on Wed May 12, 2010 3:40 pm

    I'm an author and illustrator in the fantasy genre, and I am working on a book series currently that requires some designs for repeating crossbows with a simple and effective lever or crank action that could be mounted on the back of a very large animal, say the size of a rhino, that could be operated by a single rider.

    That was a mouthful...

    I've done rudimentary first sketches which led me to understand that I didn't know enough about crossbows to fake it reliably, started doing research, and began to love crossbows.

    But I realized that I need to find some crossbow enthusiasts to help me out a bit with terminology and the dynamics of such a thing; I want it believable, since I will be illustrating it in the books. Then I stumbled across this site while doing research.

    It's a long-term project, so I promise I won't be a pest on the site. javascript:emoticonp('Very Happy')

    You can see some of my artwork here: http://www.toddlockwood.com/

    Anyone interested in corresponding with me on designs would have my gratitude, and might be challenged to help invent something fun.

    Many thanks in advance.
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    Post by Geezer on Wed May 12, 2010 9:36 pm

    Take a look at Ralph Payne-Gallwey's "The Crossbow, Medieval and Modern" also published as "The Book of the Crossbow" There's a pattern for a Chinese lever-action repeating crossbow. These date back several hundred years at the least. Most weren't terribly powerful, but they were generally fitted with 10 or 20 shot box magazines on top. I have made several. They're not terribly accurate, but will reliably deliver one shot a second. Geezer
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    Post by ToLo on Wed May 12, 2010 9:52 pm

    And I did find drawings of that machine just today. They're impressive in their simplicity.

    Here's the question, then: if you had an unlimited budget and could design that bow to be murderous, how would you change it? What if it needed to pierce the hide of a rhino, say, and still be easy to reload/loose? What would be your first considerations?
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    Post by Geezer on Wed May 12, 2010 10:27 pm

    The Chinese repeater has the advantages of being simple, robust and Really Fast Shooting. What would make it better? A more efficient lock/release would mean less string-wear and more accurate shooting... fitting the slider with roller-bearings to keep it tight, yet running smoothly on the lower stock would improve accuracy.
    If you want more power, you'll need a longer lever-arm, or some sort of more efficient coupling, say like the Spanish 'gafa' cocking lever, that should afford improved mechanical advantage without too much increase in weight and complexity. A more efficient bow-stave (prod) would be helpful... perhaps a horn-sinew composite... either Eastern or European, would give you more punch than either a wooden self-bow or even a steel bow. Steel bows can be made stronger, but the composite bows will give more power for the weight of draw. Of course if your alien culture has some sort of naturally occurring carbon-fiber (like the N'avi of Pandora) that could help a lot.
    A longer draw-length would increase power as well, though that will make your repeater wider, hence a bit unwieldy.
    The fact is, you only get as much energy OUT of a bow as you put into it. Any quick-loading repeater will require substantial energy to span. Perhaps if you had a lever-action lock that could be pumped back several times to bring it to full-draw.... rather like a car-jack, that would give you more power (at the cost of slower loading). At some point, the whole concept of repeating crossbow becomes moot, as your 'repeater' gets heavier and more complex. It might be easier to simply have a strong crossbow that your Bantha-rider could rest in a swivel of some sort, without the auto-loading. Or have a loader riding behind, to hand you ready bows as the situation demands.
    As far as shooting at Rhinos.... you would need a portable ballista to get the sort of energy you'd need to reliably take down a rhino. Renaissance armies went over to gunpowder for a reason. You can get ooodles more power from expanding gasses in a tight-bore than you can conveniently do with any sort of bow, or even bundles of sinew/hair twisted into a catapult skein.
    If you want a light artillery piece... admittedly not a quick-loader, for shooting from Bantha-back, I recommend you look at the Roman 'Cheiroballista' light field artillery piece.
    Heron's 'Bellopoeica' (Greek treatise on catapults) featured a crank-operated catapult with some sort of gravity-fed magazine for city walls. It wouldn't be very portable, but might load a bit faster than a standard machine. For more info on Greek/Roman artillery, look for "Greek and Roman Artillery" by Marsden. Either Oxford or Cambridge University press, I don't recall which, @ 1968. Payne-Gallwey has some stuff on Catapults as well, but Marsden is MUCH more authoritative.
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    Post by Ivo on Thu May 13, 2010 3:18 am

    Hello ToLo,

    Interesting site and your artwork ... well ... Fantastic! Interested in designing something fun? 603243

    I agree with Geezer, you might need a pretty powerful crossbow to take on animals of this size....though modern crossbows/bows already shoot "through" animals and they aren't really big(see Excalibur's Equinox, Exomax crossbows; Hunting elephants with crossbows, etc)

    Unless of course you want to use shovels instead of arrows then you are looking at a two man team cranking things to load it....hey if it's a tank you want, it's a tank you're gona to get. Interested in designing something fun? 738379

    ....fantasy wise > I'd make it a really overbuilt compound system...perhaps even reverse draw like Scorpyd

    Interested in designing something fun? 1a57dbf79b5107148e7b3c93bc18840a

    or even better - a REB(Reverse Energy Bow).



    Pop four of these around the rider's seat and have him perform a rowing boat motion - spanning and unloading the weapons in groups...top row ...bottom row...top... bottom.....or build the animals anatomy around this system and have it do the same by performing sort of a "yoga move" - shifting series of protruding bones/thorns to span/shoot etc... while the rider is just chilling in the lawn chair on it's back and pulling on the leash to correct the trajectory. Interested in designing something fun? 204712

    ***

    Of course if you wish for a fast "cheetah" or "bat" like creature with a shady rider like a ninja or a wraith(J. R. R. Tolkien could have made them so much sicker if he gave them crossbows Interested in designing something fun? Icon_twisted )...well if that is so then this topic is all yours >>>Link <<< I've missed one really nice lever-action crossbow and also found one new one, so I'll be adding them to the list a little later in the day.

    Post your sketches mate! Don't worry about functionality...it will come. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_biggrin



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    Post by ToLo on Thu May 13, 2010 11:14 am

    "build the animals anatomy around this system and have it do the same by performing sort of a "yoga move""

    Why I didn't think of that is beyond me. I already have the animals participating in the utilization of lances. Brilliant! A+ for you today!

    I'll post sketches when I can. For the moment I have to get back to the paying work ...

    The reverse draw and reverse energy bows are sick! And I mean that in the good way.
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    Post by kiwijim on Thu May 13, 2010 8:59 pm

    Awesome Awesome Art. I really like the dark feeling it has Interested in designing something fun? Icon_twisted .
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    Post by ToLo on Thu May 13, 2010 10:56 pm

    Yes: I found that link Googling "lever-action crossbow," and I devoured every word, picture and video of it. It's what led me to this site.

    Great stuff!

    I'm becoming a crossbow fan, big-time.

    And thanks, KiwiJim! I joke with a friend of mine about Thomas Kinkaide, who calls himself the "painter of light," doing these saccharine landscapes full of flowers and retarded houses and such. (Oops ... did I just cross a threshold regarding terms of use of the website?)

    Anyway, the joke is that i aspire to be the "painter of dark."
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    Post by kiwijim on Fri May 14, 2010 4:02 pm

    Carpe Noctum!
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    Post by Ivo on Sun May 16, 2010 2:16 am

    @ToLo wrote:

    (Oops ...)

    Interested in designing something fun? 763750

    @ToLo wrote: I'm becoming a crossbow fan, big-time.

    Interested in designing something fun? 851897

    Now if you're ready... Please step into my Office. Interested in designing something fun? 951629

    Interested in designing something fun? Rider_12



    3D Warehouse- Model Download(Sketchup)


    I used to doodle back in high school a bit too Interested in designing something fun? 642567 ...only now I have much less time. What you see above is a basic concept of what I mentioned earlier(rider spans a set of bows with a rowing motion)...It certainly "looks" like it works, now if we were to build a prototype, this could in fact be a real cool toy. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol

    @kiwijim wrote:Carpe Noctum!

    ars est celare artem Interested in designing something fun? Icon_wink


    fantasy wise > the levers were drawn very basic and only to show how they would function...now when I say "ars est celare artem" I really mean it Interested in designing something fun? Icon_cool ...these levers can be so much more, they can be used to house bladed weapons which in their turn can be combination weapons > gun blades, sword rifles, axe shotguns, compressed gas daggers, etc. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_smile



    Another example of "hidden art" that could be difficult to illustrate without making a comic book goes hand in hand with compressed gas daggers , picture the same thing only this time -------> with arrows. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_smile

    @ToLo wrote:

    ... I want it believable,...

    Crossbow don't really need to be HUGE, they can be quite compact and still deliver kinetic energy equal to KE of a bullet fired from a handgun...small powerful limbs(preferably parallel), efficient cams, and long draw length are some of the key features...then again it's up to you mate. Interested in designing something fun? 292120

    Guess that's it for today. Want more...let us know more about this project of yours. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_smile



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    Post by ToLo on Sun May 16, 2010 8:50 pm

    Okay: I have to spill a little bit here: space for rider and machinery is limited by the real estate left over after considering the native movements of the animal in flight. Yes, in flight, because it is a dragon, as you might have suspected. So the area available to the rider and machinery is limited to a space in front of the rider and above, a long, narrow space behind (along the spine of the mount) and little else. I can easily imagine a crossbow that is cocked quickly and easily by a "shrug" or trained forearm movement of the mount, freeing the rider to simply choose targets and loose. That does, however, render a "rowing" motion problematic.

    Sketches will come, I promise. But probably not suddenly. Right now I'm doing the work that pays the bills, while I shop the story around in search of a publisher ...
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    Post by kiwijim on Mon May 17, 2010 6:05 am

    Could the dragon load it ? I'm thinking with a simple pulley and stirrup system.
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    Post by ToLo on Mon May 17, 2010 11:33 am

    I'm thinking the rider is responsible for shooting and for swapping out multi-shot magazines, but the dragon cocking the bow solves a lot of problems (and makes the machinery that much cooler!). The only trouble with having the mount do the cocking is that he will engage in dragon-on-dragon combat occasionally, and then he's going to need his claws. But if the same system can be backed up by the rider's legs, it's not terribly more complicated. The rider is strapped in anyway, on general principals. With a tall back on the saddle he could brace and push with his legs.
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    Post by Ivo on Tue May 18, 2010 11:28 am

    Well wings change everything Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol ...I was still working on the ground unit...much much easier Interested in designing something fun? Icon_razz If we consider the few factors listed below and take advantage of the twin levers the ground unit is pretty much complete with the only change probably in the riders positioning putting him slightly lower and thus making the levers more comfortable to use...and well making better use of the levers, by adding a few more features.

    I currently don't own any dragons, so I pictured this weapon mounted on "my" back instead Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol (well I was born in the year of the dragon, so it's as good as it gets Interested in designing something fun? Icon_rendeer)

    One important thing that I've come to understand is that there "has" to be at least two weapons, one on each side. This is the top most priority because getting shot in the back of the head is the last thing on the list. Interested in designing something fun? 487129 Long neck is also a problem as accidentally placing a shot in the cheek is not a selling factor, especially when we want it to be compatible with as many models of "dragon" as possible. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_smile

    With the animal spanning the crossbows it would certainly look cooler, but it would still most likely be a simple "lever" or as kiwijim has suggested "pulley" system...just bigger and if fixed permanently - limiting animals motion > Imagine permanently being attached to an exoskeleton suit that was used to compress a powerful spring on your back and you would be required to perform series of complex motions in it...it's going to be a real work out. When I suggested it(animal spanning the bows) I was thinking of a practically stationary ground unit for artillery like applications that would either have protruding spikes for levers or a free(or extra) set of limbs to swing/pull these huge levers/ropes. A solution most likely lies in a system that would be permanently attached, but would have to be joined at a certain point to complete and ready the mechanism for spanning.

    Still I like the simplicity of crossbows mounted on shoulders/shoulder blades and rider spanning them with the pivoting twin levers at his sides which he would also use to control the animal(yeh...no magic in my head Interested in designing something fun? Icon_razz ) as well as aim and shoot the crossbows...we'll see what else we can come up with in the next few days...should have some more pics soon. Interested in designing something fun? 446167

    PS: Here is a little theory...

    Did you think about putting the rider some place else...say, the animals chest - hang gliding position? Guess it wouldn't go too well with the riders safety during the collision of animals in flight or ground fighting. Thought I'd mention it ... might just spring some more ideas.


    Last edited by Ivo on Tue May 18, 2010 11:44 am; edited 2 times in total



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    Post by Ivo on Tue May 18, 2010 11:39 am

    Also just came to my mind...

    An extra weapon mounted backwards right behind the rider to protect the rear. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_smile



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    Post by ToLo on Tue May 18, 2010 12:00 pm

    I had written a long reply ... but then went to delete a word and lost the whole thing. I'll try again later. >Sad
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    Post by Lightly on Wed May 19, 2010 9:40 pm

    So Geezer told me I better get on here, (still working on that fancy Danish bow, and forgetting to stick my head up for air) and check out the dragon thread. I did. And, he and I started talking... and we decided (in our own little worlds) that the female dragons would, of course, be the ones who carried the men who used crossbows. They could cock the bows in flight, being, of course, more flexible than male dragons, and so much quicker and agile in flight. And, to further that, that it was the male dragons, (with female riders) who did the dragon to dragon combat. Because, you see, female riders work better with the male dragons, there is less squabbling over dominance. More cooperation. So, the male riders, with the large, powerful bows, and the agile dragons, do all the shooting, and the female riders, with the large, powerful dragons, do all the aerial combat.
    This is what comes when a large powerful male and a small agile female, make crossbows together in the same shop!

    Ok, back to the Danish bow.. the stock is done, and has a beautiful finish! Photos soon.. we are waiting on a 175 prod, and, a made to order gafa, so I can complete it and send it off to the lucky owner...
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    Post by ToLo on Wed May 19, 2010 10:38 pm

    ... Though it doesn't allow for the vagaries of which animal will choose to bond with which human, and vice-versa. And as with any critter, some females will be large and robust, some males will be small and timid, and you have to slot them into the order of things where they fit best.

    Still trying to work up the resolve to rewrite the previous [nuked] post ...
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    Post by kiwijim on Wed May 19, 2010 10:44 pm

    Hi Guys,
    Thought I might add my $0.02 again. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_biggrin
    Firstly I think the crossbow should be mounted facing behind the dragon. This is for two reasons.
    1)To defend against attackes from the rear (from other dragons). I imagine the rider would use it like the rear mounted machine gun in a WW2 Spitfire.
    2)The crossbow does not need to face foward. There are few weapons more formidible than the front of a dragon. A crossbow will not add much. Also, if the crossbow was foward mounted there is a risk of hitting the dragon in the wings, neck or head.

    Im imagining a swivel mounted crossbow behind the riders saddle and just behind the wings. At the base of each wing would be a small harness. With each wing flap the harnesses would move backwards and fowards. This will provide the power for spanning and releasing the crossbow- in the same style as a chinese repeating crossbow.
    When needed the rider could spin around in his saddle (or he could have second passenger to shot the crossbow- someone light like a halfling), engage the harnesses to the crossbow and start firing - a shot for every wing flap.
    Dragon wings must be incredibly strong to lift their body weight, so Im thinking a draw weight of 1500# and a power stroke of 30"- (1,500 x 30= 45,000!!!!)thats some serious striking power!!!
    Bolts would be unfletched javelins with massive broadheads for stability and killing power; and they would be loaded into magazines- just like the chinese repeater.

    Does that make sense? Sometimes I start to ramble.......

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    Post by ToLo on Wed May 19, 2010 11:07 pm

    It does make sense, with a couple of thoughts:

    Forward-facing wins for many reasons:

    Rearward facing rider: bad artistically, bad for the rider as they're flying toward an objective, and you're taking the position that the best defense is a good defense, rather than the accepted opposite (the best defense is a good offense). Better to shoot them down before they get to you than expect to engage them mano-a-mano, and watch your ass while your mount and most-important-buddy is getting his ass kicked up front (and maybe shot by an opponent with a forward facing bow).

    I've considered using wings as the power behind the spanner/architecture, but most large flyers spend more time gliding that flapping, using updrafts and such. Whatever movement spans the bow can't be subordinated to involuntary or regulated movement. At the least, it has to be something that isn't subordinated to flying movements or "Scrapping" requirements, which is why I find myself leaning toward having the rider span the bow with his legs at need. His (or her) legs are the only set of muscles that aren't required to do something else absolutely essential.

    Which raises the question: how much power is needed to pierce a rhinoceros hide? Elephant? Then add a layer of hardened leather armor?

    Also, is there a way to harness and STORE kinetic energy, like the flapping of dragons' wings, in a way that can be transfered later to the spanning device, ala a coil spring or the like?

    Digging this conversation, regardless; it's like observing decades of combat experience played out and analyzed ...
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    Post by kiwijim on Fri May 21, 2010 7:44 am

    Tolo,
    If you want power, accuracey and rapid rate of fire you may be best with an archer with a middle eastern horse bow , say with 140# draw weight at #30" of draw. That would be a good way to pick off distant targets.
    If you want some kind of mechanism that looks cool, then use a foward facing crossbow, the leg power of the rider would provide no more(and probably less) than the power of a horse bow with a long draw and heavy draw weight .
    To get the power up, use the dragons strength. You could harness the neck . At least when you combined that power with a chinese repeater system, the dragon could fire the mechanism at the riders command, simply by dropping it's head. This would also take it's head and neck out of the line of fire.
    But if you want something that looks really cool, then just make something up. If you something that works, use dragon mounted archers with horsebows (dragon bows).
    But really, why do dragons need crossbows. When I played AD&D ( about 20 years ago) they could cast powerfull spells and fear.
    regards
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    Post by ToLo on Fri May 21, 2010 12:35 pm

    "If you want power, accuracey and rapid rate of fire you may be best with an archer with a middle eastern horse bow , say with 140# draw weight at #30" of draw. That would be a good way to pick off distant targets."

    Saving that for my heroine! Smile Though 140# is probably more than she could handle. Maybe

    The logic is that she's a great shot, so she goes that route. The less gifted use crossbows that deliver a high rate of fire.

    "When I played AD&D ( about 20 years ago) they could cast powerfull spells and fear."

    These are just animals, with claws and teeth, and no magic. There ARE other dragons with those attributes, but they're rare and mostly not ridden at all. The meat of the story will revolve around our riders who ride these animals, with kick-ass equipment.

    I like the idea of harnessing the dragon's neck. One thing I want is for it to look believable enough for a group like, say, this one to look at it and say, "Hunh! Well, that's cool!" And not "Hunh, well that's retarded." Without crossing a line into "That looks like it would work well, but it looks retarded..."

    I'm allowing myself all the benefits of modern bow architecture, on the assumption that they've been doing this for a looooong time, so they've become good at it (they don't have internal combustion engines, electric motors, or gunpowder, but they have modern production techniques apart from that, so that parts are made identically and can be swapped out and repaired). So compound-bow tech is kosher.
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    Interested in designing something fun? Empty Re: Interested in designing something fun?

    Post by Ivo on Sat May 22, 2010 12:58 am

    Interesting developments we have here...

    Lightly and Geezer, you have my applause, it would certainly simplify our situation and give a more
    romantic storyline Interested in designing something fun? Icon_king Interested in designing something fun? Icon_queen Interested in designing something fun? Icon_jokercolor . On the other hand I think it is best we stick with designing "saddle with built in spanning mech crossbows" while ToLo throws new challenges at us. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_biggrin

    I actually don't like the idea of animal spanning the crossbows with dragons being the animal choice. Such a design choice would easily look cool, but it would just as easily cross the line and and progress into "it looks cool and looks like it would work, but it's not going to" Interested in designing something fun? Icon_tongue because with the wide range of movement involved in flight, overdoing a spanning motion is very easy and that would mean exceeding the limits of the mechanism and breaking it...

    The rule goes >>> "The less complex the mechanism, the more reliable it is" Interested in designing something fun? Icon_wink
    So less D&D and More D&B!Interested in designing something fun? 162290



    The forces pilots undergo during each and every maneuver are enormous, probably nothing like the fighter pilots at their wicked 9 G's, but still the G's are going to be there.

    Levers are not looking good Interested in designing something fun? Icon_pale ...



    There is more info online explaining isometric exercises which these pilots perform to keep their head on their shoulders...similar exercises are performed by regular pilots to reduce chances of hypertension as well as just people fighting their blood pressure on the ground.

    Aaaaand we're back to using muscles to stay conscious. Interested in designing something fun? Icon_smile




    Now if we go back to the roller coaster portion of this ride being over 100mph I begin to remember how cool my high school physics teachers were. The class that day was based on the vivid impressions of students coming back with their impressions of the six-flags trip and how cool was Nitro.

    Watch the video and then read on further Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol





    So we're riding dragons that fly close to 130mph ei? Well what we see in that video isn't even 80mph!Interested in designing something fun? 576186 Interested in designing something fun? 576186 Interested in designing something fun? 576186 There are other roller coasters out there that are designed to safely accelerate it's passengers to 90-100mph, but these are mostly drop rides that don't even last 3 seconds...on the other hand there were a few rides built were actually considered "roller coasters" going at 90-100mph and this is where I was first told about the reason why pilots during WWII were tucked into small cocoon like cockpit with their knees tucked much closer to their chest than we usually see pilots do. Interestingly this was done to keep the whole blood pressure/G forces issue at bay without the use of special equipment that took time and money to build or simply didn't exist at the time.

    So the rider/pilot will not be leaning forward(as was illustrated by me in the beginning Interested in designing something fun? Icon_tongue ), but actually leaning a bit back preferably with his legs slightly bent at knees to get them closer to the chest. Armor - I'm rethinking it. The levers - I'm now thinking if they can now be used for anything else other than controls(though still drawing out the set I initially imagined). Interested in designing something fun? Icon_tongue

    Almost forgot...130mph Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol Interested in designing something fun? Icon_lol


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    The lances are a fun idea, but please think what a collision at 100+mph is going to feel like...shatter and splinter unpredictably in all directions...and that's in the chest/neck area if I'm not mistaken? Why not just employ an atlatl with the tail being used for leverage? I really like this video for the info in it, but the anarchistic humor is not my thing though.



    Imagine a dart cradle/quiver mounted on the dragons chest with the ability to feed darts to the tip of the tail and have the dragon suddenly redirect and fly up doing a very tight back flip with the tail hurling the dart at the enemy...or perhaps a top mounted system where a rider would feed a dart on the spine of the tail and the dragon would do a slightly twisted roll(shoulder first, tail last) and hurl the dart that way?

    About the spring spanning assist...well I'm not too found of the big heavy spring having to wind up...sorry, but that is just not "cool" Interested in designing something fun? Icon_razz ...perhaps a hydraulic system? I mean it looks bad ass to say the least ans yet it pretty simple(I'm guessing Interested in designing something fun? Icon_scratch )...The problem with the big spring is tha it HAS to be compressed...WORK has to be done to do that...a hydraulic or pneumatic system can be easily eased down to it's beginning position(not compressed like a spring Interested in designing something fun? Icon_wink ) these two are not really my profile and I did already use up my library time for today, so I'll need to do some reading on that a little later.

    Good Day - Hope all those videos loaded for ya. Interested in designing something fun? 576186




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