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

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    Post by Onager Lovac Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:07 pm

    So i saw a documentary today called ´Weapons that made britain´ ¨The Longbow¨, and at one point they do a competition to see how many arrows and bolts they can shoot in 30 seconds, so the Bow shot 9 and the Crossbow 4, now, the guy with the Crossbow was using a Belt and Claw to spawn the Crossbow and the lock the bow had was a Rolling nut, so, the thing is, i think he could have shot 1 or 2 more bolts had he been using a Crossbow with a hole and peg style lock becouse you dont have to spin the lock into place after each shot, and if he had been using his hands rather than the belt and claw to span the crossbow, just becouse it saves a second or two to just grab the string rather than put a claw under it, so all you have to do to spawn the Crossbow is to put your feet on the stirrup and pull the string till it catches on the notch, also it would save a second if the crossbow didnt have one of those springy things that hold the bolt in place, so you would just need to put the bolt on the Groove and your set, what do you guys think?
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    Post by kenh Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:30 pm

    Didn't actually SEE the program, so can't really say.  But.  Not all roller nut locks need to have the roller spun back into place.  There are ways to avoid this.  Also, a Skane pin lock still has to be reset one you've fired, which would take about the same time as it takes to stop and reset a roller nut. 

    Belt and claw lets you cock a heavier draw prod than foot stirrup and hands, IIRC.  Both techniques take the same amount of time to set up I'd guess, claw or not.

    Without the bolt retainer, you may not have a bolt in the track to shoot by the time you raise the bow. Raising the bow to firing position would be much slower, without the retainer, just to keep the bolt from falling off.

    No matter what you do, the rate of fire of a crossbow is never going to equal the rate of fire of a hand drawn bow - long or short.
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    Post by twedzel Mon Jul 13, 2015 12:16 am

    Only 10 arrows in 30 seconds? He must have been a slow shooter! Although it is true that a decent powered crossbow will never do this or this. What will it do? Mess things up real bad with one nasty shot. So the competition itself is really meaningless. It's like saying whats faster a Ferrari or a Mac truck? Denigrating the Mac Truck being slower is really just misunderstanding its purpose.
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    Post by JoaoLS Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:09 am

    Not having any bias towards crossbows over bows, the fact is that bows were used primarily as a volley type of weapon, whereas crossbows were mainly a "pick a target" type. Thus in their roles, both were very effective, one being able to let loose around 20 shots per minute at a designated area in the field, the other being able to stay drawn for a minute picking the right target ( that one plated knight who survived the volley and is now riding into the crossbow effective range for a well placed armor joint shot ). My point is, for their respective roles, as Twedzel said, both were very effective. 

    I have seen that documentary, and it's a great piece, same as the other 5 or 6 from that series. Nowadays the crossbow might be portrayed as a stolen piece of alien technology that the atlanteans gave to european explorers. Because why not?... ???
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    Post by c sitas Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:24 pm

    Joaol;  Another point here. I would think during a battle that the bows would have kept  space for the crossbowmen. It takes time to recock and be ready to fire . During which  time an army could be advancing . The bows could have made that not so easy.
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    Post by JoaoLS Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:33 am

    Exactly sitas. In my opinion, the increasingly greater recocking time that came with ever more powerful steel prods might have had a lot to do with the spread of the crossbow as a positional weapon, be it behind a pavise or a merlon, as that cocking time would leave the crossbowyer vulnerable. That and the ease of use and low skill level required (compared to bows), which i think helped with arming peasants in an effective and quick way. If you train a peasant to shoot and load a crossbow, they aren't probably well armed and armored to withstand enemy fire or direct combat, thus the need for some protection. Also, a crossbow, quiver, goatsfoot and all the standard gear would weight more and be more cumbersome than a longbow and a quiver, which makes the case (i think) for a more mobile archer vs a more stationary crossbowman.  What are your thoughts on that?
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    Post by c sitas Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:17 am

    I agree totally. A long bowman could practice almost at any given moment. He didn't stand to loose so much with a miss. The crossbowman  had to have a much heavier target and it probablly couldn't be moved around so easily .I would venture to say that the modern crossbow that everyone shoots, would almost outshoot the medevial  one say, about  5 or 6 to one. Maybe a lot more ,it depend a lot on whose doing what.The light bolts they fling now days ,with the mechcanical broadheads would be inflicting awesome wounds.On a game animal for instance ,on a broadside hit to the lung area ,you can in most cases ,put your fist in the hole . Awesome.Even so, I shutter to think of having to face the old boys in battle. I also think that it is possible that the old crossbows would out shoot the modern ones for distance .
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    Post by twedzel Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:32 pm

    Your post got me thinking. Immediately I thought a modern crossbow with its longer draw length and lighter more efficient limb material should be at an advantage shooting lighter arrows than the heavier medieval crossbow. This means a higher dry fire speed with lighter arrows, pretty much the recipe for a good flight shooting bow. But without any concrete proof I did a bit of digging and came up with this fascinating read on flight crossbow shooting. Long story short even with his more moderate gear he was hitting close to 1000 yards... mind you this is using small light 100 grain arrows. By the end of the article he is shooting his updated gear and hitting distances of... yowzers!!!! You'll have to read the article I won't let the spoilers out.
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    Post by c sitas Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:40 pm

    Twedzel; right you are. What an article.My self , as an older archer know kinda of this. I say so because I'm not really into fight or speed.But at the time you surely heard of this.I surely admire what has been accomplished  with the wooden bows though. I set hear and wonder if a compound,  modern day bow , could compete. I seriously doubt it because of the  arrows. You only dry fire a compound ONCE, and it'll take a lot more than a string to get it going again. Great find you had there.
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    Post by hullutiedemies Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:24 am

    Getting back to the topic.

    Onager Lovac wrote: and bolts they can shoot in 30 seconds, so the Bow shot 9 and the Crossbow 4, now, the guy with the Crossbow was using a Belt and Claw to spawn the Crossbow and the lock the bow had was a Rolling nut, so, the thing is, i think he could have shot 1 or 2 more bolts had he been using a Crossbow with a hole and peg style lock becouse you dont have to spin the lock into place after each shot, and if he had been using his hands rather than the belt and claw to span the crossbow,

    In the late NetSword forum there was some Hungarian re-enactor who claimed something like 17 bolts in a minute . Using normal 14th century replica with goat foot. He was shooting from knee without aiming, bombardment style.

    (With my self spanning bows I have so far managed one shot every 4 seconds)

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    also it would save a second if the crossbow didnt have one of those springy things that hold the bolt in place,
    Bolt clips were not used back in the times when crossbows were still serious business. You simply kept your left hand thumb over the bolt. This also allowed quick re-setting of the lock.
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    Post by Geezer Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:11 am

    I think there's a lot of difference between possible maximum rates of fire and service-rates.  I have a friend who could get off 13 reasonably accurate shots (all in the blue at 30 yards on a standard target) in 30 seconds, with a 60 lb. longbow.  He might have done close to that with a much heavier bow, but he would have worn himself out pretty quickly.  His service rate for combat would have been much slower.  Maybe a dozen shots a minute, or even half that.  I've known shooters who could load and loose a crossbow with a belt hook about as fast as if they had spanned by hand, but once again, the draw-weight matters a lot.  Setting the roller lock doesn't matter much if you've practiced enough. Gafas (Goatsfoot) also can be operated very quickly, but I suspect 'service' rate for all these bows would be no more than 4 shots a minute, IF you're picking your targets.  Why?  Because it takes X amount of time for the bolt to arrive and then the shooter has to adjust.  Of course cranequins and windlasses would be much slower... maybe a couple of shots a minute, but the bolts hit a lot harder.  Suffice it to say, handbows have the potential to shoot at least twice as fast, maybe 3 times, whether for maximum rate or service rate. If you're picking targets and observing the fall of your shot, rates go down even more.  Geezer.
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    Post by Geezer Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:15 am

    Oh yes: bolt-clips... the earliest I can date bolt-clips is perhaps 15th century. Before that, illustrations usually show the shooter with his left hand right under the lock, perhaps with a finger wrapped over the skinny stock to hold the bolt in place. Bows equipped with a bolt-clip normally have that mounted with a single pin, so they can swivel out of the way for spanning. Many of my SCA customers prefer to have their bolt-clip fastened permanently in plce, but I've never seen that on a period clip.  And yes many extant clips have a groove cut in the top to serve as a sight.  Geezer.
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    Post by hullutiedemies Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:37 am

    Geezer wrote: but I suspect 'service' rate for all these bows would be no more than 4 shots a minute, IF you're picking your targets.  Why?  Because it takes X amount of time for the bolt to arrive and then the shooter has to adjust. 

    You do not shoot much crossbows, do you.
    Bolt will reach 100 meters in couple seconds or even less. Besides putting foot into stirrup and hooking belt claw while observing the bolt flight is hardly impossible feat.

    With stirrup and hand spanning I can make aimed shot every 7 seconds. 5 seconds if just spraying from hip.
    And I am not particularily dexterous nor athletic. Somebody who practises seriuosly should be able to make it at least twice as fast.
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    Post by Geezer Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:45 am

    You're right, I don't shoot much these days.  Back 20 yrs. ago when I went to competitions, I shot about an hour a day, 5 days a week.  Now mostly I shoot to test bows.  But in fact, I was doing 6-7 shots in 30 seconds with my lighter c-bow (65 lb) and 5 in 30 seconds with my heavier, 165 lb bow (both medieval types) With SCA combat bolts, wearing gloves and a helmet, I could shoot 9 shots with my 65 lb. bow in a minute... IF I didn't bother to watch the bolts' flight. If I had watched to seem them land (50 yards) I'd have lost one or two shots in a minute.  But in fact, that's not 'service' rate of fire.  Real archers in combat, or hunting, had to load on the move, select a target, shoot, adjust range, etc.
    In fact, period crossbows were shooting @ 200 fps, so indeed bolts arrived at target in about 2 seconds, but there are many other factors in play.
    So in fact, your claim of 7 seconds per shot is perfectly reasonable for static quick-shooting at a target. You should try some combat shooting with one of the medieval clubs and see what that does to your rate of fire and accuracy.  Besides it's fun. If my back hadn't given out, I'd still be doing it.  Geezer.
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    Post by Hermit Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:04 am

    Geezer ia absolutely right.Anyone who has been in the military will tell you,an action is planned,but executing it is another matter.take your old timey crossbowman,the enemy is within 50 yds,and advancing rapidly,does he keep firing,or retreat?,volleys of yard long arrows are falling like rain,does he keep firing,or take cover? what would a battlefield analysis show his firing rate to be,4 shots every minute?,I don't think so.Does'nt matter how many shots you personally can get off in a minute under ideal conditions,in battle,it just aint gonna happen!
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