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    Post by ElizLestrad on Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:35 pm

    To all who can provide helpful advice:

    I am a writer/artist who is interested in knowledge regarding late-medieval/early-renissance style crossbows. I am working on developing a character who is portrayed as an ace-sharpshooter with a custom/self-built crossbow and need advice recommendations on certain points for the characters crossbow design (I plan on drawing it eventually). In the end I'm looking for something that could actually be built and be a logical/functional design and not something that is pure fantasy.

    Now I've read a lot on modern crossbows but that doesnt really help in a medieval setting. The most important parts of the design to me (in order of importance)

    1) Farthest effective range possible
    2) Accuracy at long distances
    3) Power/Stopping Power (Penetration of Plate)
    4) Maintainable in the field (I've read bad things about early compound bows and servicing)
    5) Repeating (I've seen the 'Zhuge' repeaters, but I need a design that would allow for a scope as well. Could the bolts be fed into the bow on the diagonal?')

    I've also seen the double (and even triple bowed) arbalests used by the armies of Ghengis Khan in our local museum but have never seen medieval crossbows use this design.

    Any help or insight you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
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    Post by ferdinand on Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:29 am

    If u read the article about the history of the crosbow on Wikipedia u wil find out that there whas at one point in history a Pope who banned the use of crosbows between chrystians. The impact of a crossbow bolt(arrow) was pure carnage, these things pierce armour, imagine someone being shot in the face with one.
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    Post by Todd the archer on Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:48 am

    Here is my version, maybe a little too modern in styling.

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    Shoots roughly 6" groups at 50 yards.

    Has a claplock release mechanism with doubleset triggers which would be period correct.



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    Post by Geezer on Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:56 am

    Lestrad: I used to know a guy named Floyd Stevens, who live on the outskirts of Austin Texas. Floyd had a five-shooter repeater that loaded short bolts from a box-magazine, fed from below. It was mostly aluminum, looked very modern/spacy, and was spanned by a compound mechanism with a pull-handle like a recoil starter on an old-fashioned lawn mower. Floyd also had a very nifty futuristic pistol model that looked like it was going 'warp 7' just sitting on the table.
    As for range and power? His strongest prod was a 175 lb. Barnett, which had a fair amount of punch, but in fact the heavy prod made it a dickens to pull, essentially one-handed. Floyd's bows eventually saw some service in a couple of adventure movies... they replaced the big prod with a little 75 lb. model, so the actor could crank out some fast shots. But with a big buffed-out story-book hero, you could do the same with a stronger prod. Still, maximum shooting-badguys range will be limited to 100 yards or less, even for a skilled archer and perfect bolts. Maximum cast will be @ 300 yards. Why? Because velocities for medieval bows are @ 200 fps. For modern bows with pulleys, you'll get 350 to 400 fps
    Have fun writing your epic! Geezer
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    Post by stoneagebowyer on Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:57 am

    Lestrad, why not go the route of the Hollywood guns that never run out of bullets and other fun lies? I do hope that you keep your crossbow in the realm of reality, as the things have been used to kill many many enemies over the century and seem to work just fine. Tons of information here, so you found the right place. One thing I like to keep in mind with any weapon....firearm, bow, bola, whatever, is that they are far more capable of accuracy then the user generally is, so a hero that shoots at a high level of competency can do much damage with a crossbow that doesn't need to be tricked out or impossible. Dane
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    Post by ElizLestrad on Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:20 pm

    Well I''ve pretty much decided that from what I've read people seem to like the recurve over compound so I'll probably end up going with that and maybe even do a double recurve (I did coincidentally see one in a store but it was really modern).

    As far as reloading goes I've always been a fan of the 'boot/crank' but I've read that could result in a longer 'reload' time. As a fan of WW2 tech I was actually looking at the practicality of having a sort of drawing mechanism similar to those used on heavy MGs where they pull the bolt back in one swift motion and the guns ready to go. Since I'd probably have my sniper using a heavy crossbow for added power all she would have to do between shots is pull a lever back and shed be ready to fire again.

    Also since true scopes did not historically exist until probably the US Civil War (never seen evidence of anything earlier) I've relegated to designing a mechanism that would mount a small ship captain's spyglass to the top of the crossbow with the magnifying end on two tracks allowing the 'scope' to extend and retract.

    The box magazine would therefore have to be on an angle (no springs ruling out bottom or side loading)

    The base design would be loosely enspired by this crossbow rendering : http://www.silverblades-suitcase.com/rhino/2007/repeating_crossbow%20001.jpg

    Alos I'm wondering if anyone has a good recommendation for wood, something durable but not overly heavy?
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    Post by stoneagebowyer on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:31 pm

    Eliz, the bolt on a machine gun is not really comparable to a crossbow, as you probably know. An M2 .50 caliber machine gun, one I trained on, has a beastly difficult cocking handle with a huge spring in the reciever, but the weapon is gas operated, with gas blowing back the bolt after the first round if fired. You then pull back the cocking handle when you reload another belt of ammunition in it. The M60 works along similar principals. When you cock a crossbow, you are pulling on significantly more weight depending on how powerful a prod happens to be.

    Is that rendering based upon an actual weapon, or just a fanciful drawing? The string seems far too thin, as well.
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    Post by Geezer on Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:37 pm

    Eliz: What, no springs in a medieval-renaissance fantasy world? Why not? The bows themselves are springs. Many medieval and Renaissance crossbows had trigger-springs and bolt-keeper clips are essentially springs. Leonardo da Vinci's drawings feature a tinder-lighter activated by a powerful COIL spring, (one of my stories featured tinder-lighters with an oil-reservoir... essentially a cigarette lighter, based on Leonardo's drawings) and of course wheel-lock guns (after 1500) had internal and external leaf-springs.
    Of course if you choose to load your repeater with a springless gravity-fed box, either on top, like the Chinese repeater, or sloping down at an angle, that'll work too, but a bottom-loader makes a lot of sense.
    Unfortunately, any mechanism that will span a powerful crossbow will require either a very hard pull, or a fair amount of cranking at lower load. To get a lot of energy out of a bow, first you've gotta store that much energy in it. Geezer
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    Post by ElizLestrad on Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:17 pm

    True, but Leonardo was 'renn' not medieval, not dark ages/medieval times.

    Quote:

    the spring as first used in the late 1400's <--- and thats the problem. It may be 'fantasy' but I'm still working within historical/realistic constraints as far as technology goes.

    As for the post about the rendering. I honestly have no idea...I didnt make it.

    The idea for the 'bolt action was that upon releasing the arrow she'd be able to pull the string back without removing her eye from the target(s) and without having to set the bow down to pull the string back by hand or crank. The string would be threaded through the device so that the trigger mechanism would be locking/releasing the bolt in lieu of modern day air/mechanics. Thus she would not have to move the bolt back into position attach the string and draw back.

    Unless someone can offer a pre-ren method of reloading a crossbow faster than hand drawing or cranking I'm pretty much stuck with a medieval version of 'bolt-action'
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    Post by stoneagebowyer on Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:05 pm

    Eliz, why does your protagonist have to take her eye of the enemy while spanning (cocking) or loading the crossbow? Just as today's solider is trained to break down and reassemble his weapons very fast and blindfolded, your hero should know her crossbow so well, she would have no problem being able to set the crossbow down, slip her foot into the stirrup, set the nut, and pull back the string back, then place the bolt in place, and then aim and shoot, all without loosing sight of her enemy for even a second.

    And no matter what, a crossbow is going to have a longer reloading time than a hand bow. You can't get around that.

    You may want to consider the Greek gastrophetes, or belly bow. It looked a bit like a big crossbow, with a horizontal belly rest at the butt end. You had a long dovetailed slider with the trigger mech riveted to the end closest to the shooter. You slide this slider down and engaged the string, then rested the end of the slider on the ground or other solid surface, then pushed with your entire body weight, which spanned the weapon, with presumabley ratchets to hold the weapon at full cock. Slip in a gigantic bolt, aim, and shoot. Repeat again. These were not true crossbows, but actually the first catapults, which was an arrow firing weapon, not a stone throwing weapon. They date to the approx 5th century BCE, so have been around a long time. Maybe adapt a smaller crossbow to cock that way?
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    Post by ElizLestrad on Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:49 pm

    True but it would still take time between shots. I threw together a quick drawing of her crossbow (not well drawn but I'm sure you'll get the idea.) I'll put up a link as soon as I can get it scanned

    I did decide to adapt a double recurve (from the mongol weapons dating back to Ghengis Khan), diagonal clip-fed autocrossbow (From what I've read the Zhuge bows could fire 10 bolts in 15 seconds (wiki) but due to a more traditional mechanism I'm aiming/assuming she could get off 8-12 in 25. I did not go with a firearm-style trigger mechanism, instead I went traditional with the long 'squeeze lever'. I also mounted a slot underneath the front of the bow for a knife and a makeshift bipod mechanism for when a 'steady hand' still wasnt stable enough. Unfortunately due to the thinness of most crossbows I couldnt get the drawing mechanism and the adjustment track for the scope both in the design so the spyglass would be fixed at maximum magnification.

    For aesthetics I'd probably stick with ebony (due to its density, texture, ability to polish up extremely nice, and color) with gold filigri along the length of the shaft.







    UPDATE: Heres the concept art for the crossbow:
    http://elizlestrad.deviantart.com/#/d55l90v
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    Post by hullutiedemies on Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:41 am

    ElizLestrad wrote:Could the bolts be fed into the bow on the diagonal?'

    Sorry if this is a stupid question , but would it not be simpler to put the scope mount diagonal ?
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    Or rather use one side of the magazine as scope mount.

    There have been lots of machine guns with top mounted magazines and side-mounted sights. Such as the famous British and Japanese WW2 LMGs.



    ElizLestrad wrote: />Quote:

    the spring as first used in the late 1400's
    That was Coil spring. Zhuge magazine spring can be just a long slender backwards facing wooden bolt clip fixed to front end of magazine cover.

    ElizLestrad wrote:
    Unless someone can offer a pre-ren method of reloading a crossbow faster than hand drawing or cranking

    Foot bow obviously.
    Just large conventionally shaped crossbow with zhuge-style magazine on top and double stirrup. To shoot you lie on your back and pull the string with hands and push the bow with feet in rowing motion. Then just let the string go once it is pulled back. Repeat until magazine empty.
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    Post by 8fingers on Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:33 pm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/702478.stm This a link to discoveries that suggest Vikings could have had nice telescopes 500 years before they were known in the rest of Europe.
    Magazine springs could be made from horn, perhaps several springs, a short one for the first 5 bolts, helper spring bumped into place for last 5.
    Women have about 30% chance of being left eye dominant. Was she chosen to be trained as a sniper because she was cross dominant ( right hand / left eye) ? Bipod could be just 2 tapered sticks press fit into matching holes in stock. She could use shooting sticks, maybe walking stick that scissors open?
    Lures target into kill zone where a series of weapons are concealed, perhaps incriminating someone,with their distinct features?
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    Post by 8fingers on Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:29 am

    And here is her back up piece? http://armborst.forum24.se/armborst-about140.html
    Pretty assassins take down crossbow, about the size of a large flashlight, closed.
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    Post by Gnome on Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:15 am

    deleted for copyright


    Last edited by Gnome on Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : copyright)
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    Post by 8fingers on Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:21 pm

    Amusing, but a rework with what you know now would make it shine.
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    Post by chaz on Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:39 am

    Lestrad,

    Seems that medievil and scope don't seem to go together..............might as well throw in laser too, or how about a cranking device that would span the bow string and at the same time allow the bolt to be loaded as the turn continued would release the string .....some what the gatlingun affect. Please note I'm not a professional and only making comment. You seem to be knowledgeable enough to come up with what will fill your need.

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