I am working on an academic/practical project to reproduce a 1540's Spanish New World military crossbow. Once completed it will be used to test various theories concerning ballistics, field use and repair, influence on battle tactics, etc. Currently this is a self funded project.
To begin with I would like to develop a priorized list of the design elements of such a crossbow. If an historically correct project might need a composite materials prod can this be replaced by a prod with similar working characteristics and so on?
As I am just beginning my project specific research I do not yet know of any existing examples. If anyone can suggest a museum or collection where such an example(s) might be found I would appreciate it and try to follow up.
Now, for a few working research parameters.
1. This weapon would have been a design suitable for extended field use away from major support centers. 2. It must be readily maintained, fed and repaired in the field by a mobile force operating in unfriendly territory with limited technological resources and little or no chance of resupply.
3. Is it reasonable to assume that for a mobile field force this crossbow design must also have been one which was capable of being more quickly cocked and fired than possible with windlass or crannequin types? My thought is that they were most likely cocked by hand without much tool use and either non-stirrup or stirrup designs.
4. Given the above, are we looking at a draw weight of approximately 75 lbs, more or less, etc.?
5. The historic bolt heads recovered from field excavations so far indicate that they were made from copper. As far as I am aware no complete bolts have been recovered but there is also no reason to believe at the moment that the bolt design would have had to be different than the standards of the day.
Project Issues to be Solved
A. Materials used in the construction: wood, horn, antler, sinew, cotton/linen, possibly parchment, copper, hide glue but also perhaps casein/lime as well, brass and small amounts of iron and/or steel.
B. Cocking style
C. Draw weight and pull
C. Overall crossbow design, weight and handling characteristics
As you can see I am in the research and basic design stage. Any and all help will be appreciated. I continue to read through this forum. It is all fascinating and much pertains to my project.
Alcalde, New Mexico