A crossbow by definition has a definite construction, mostly dealing with how the device is powered, and if anything else than "flexion" powered, it would have a different name.
The same with an archery bow, the same with a slingshot (although sometimes referred to a catapult).
Then there is the speargun (rifle like slingshot thats shoots an arrow).
Then is there is my preferred weapon of choice, the manu-ballista (manuballistae)
Overall, they are all weapons with the ability to shoot sharp pointy things and some can use other projectiles.
When I first start building them, torsion assist inswinging slingshots, bows and crossbows the initial reaction to even the suggestion of their existance was met mostly with open hostility. It was like if you asked a group of fellows what time it was, they immediately became furious and as a mob attacked you so you had to run for your life.
It was only through persistant and constant posting, interacting with a few who were open to the idea, that I began to make a small bit of progress and noticed more and more folks were listening (not commenting or posting). I have to admit that at times I was as defensive as they were offensive LOL.
Now it seems the mindset has gradually changed, and so terms are more liberally used.
For instance my insistance that the inswinging design was inherently superiour for velocity testing was largely disregarded until the Scorpyd came out.
Horton seems to have released their version first here in N.America, but they seem to have missed the entire point, using the design only to create a more compact and quiet machine. Like wheres the performance? Horton was not and is not a good example as opposed to the Scorpyd.
Anyhow, to make this short, a scorpyd is limb powered and so a crossbow. However were you to replace the limbs with levers and make it torsion powered, it would be a manuballista.
But is what I build and design a true ballista? Not according to definition. Torsion based perhaps, but not true torsion. When I make the shift to true torsion, I expect a bump up in performance.
What happens to name if I change the steel spring to a set of heavy speargun tubing? Essentially the same as the Linier Bow or crossbow?
If you look at the Tecnarm design is it a crossbow or an N-levered catapult? In a few more years I dont think the terms will matter much to hunters. What matters most of all is the performance and features, and since there is only so much one can do with a set of limbs that flex to provide power, I suspect these distinctions will become less important
to safety, performance, and features, providing the innovation falls within the guidelines of local hunting regulations.
It is no small thing to set out to change the minds of an entire generation of hunters who have been programmed by the crossbow industry and the longstanding and rich history of the limb powered arrow projectors.
I have yet a lot of work to do in establishing a recognised "alternative powered sports weaponry" category, both in the industry, and in regualatory bodies and organizations. If you look up the North American Crossbow Federation it consists of a group of crossbow manufacturers who just happen to make up the worlds top selling bows (excluding China).
I hope to be taking on the powers that be for another round or two, as I apply for and obtain my Ontario Hunting Licence. I fully intend to harvest a whitetail deer with my homemade manuballista.
I plan on building a "bow" for a fellow who hunts the worlds largest legal game, and see what success he has in obtaining permits around the world to legally harvest game, with a hunting weapon that has never been proven to exist (handheld/loaded torsion ballista).
So, while the dictionary and scholarly types can argue all they want whether its a crossbow or not, it is only important to me that it falls within the current crossbow use guidelines of individual countries, states and provinces in respect to hunting regulations.
In the final analysis then, if it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and looks like one, then its probly not a goose!
Written from the perspective of both a past hunting addict, and alternative powered sports weaponry designer/innovator.