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Crossbows - Bolts

The missiles that crossbows shoot are called bolts or quarrels and are usually around 14-15" long for regular military bows and a little shorter for hunting bows.

All my bows will come with 3 suitable bolts.

The heads are of iron or steel and are different for war and hunting. In war the flattened form of short bodkin was used for armour piercing and general use and less commonly barbed heads or leaf shaped heads. Incendiary bolts were also used.

img - wood fletched bolts

For hunting, barbed heads of various forms were very common and perhaps surprisingly the rather enigmatic crescent moon shaped type 14 seems to have been popular for large game as is often depicted in manuscripts.

The shafts were usually of ash, though other woods were used such as beech or even pine. They were always fitted with two flights, not 3 and these were always of wood for (later) military bows. It is harder to say how common wood or feathers were for hunting bows.
We do not know why wood was used instead of feathers, but castles and garrisons had large magazines of bolts and even now these bolts are often shootable whilst feathered bolts would have degraded within a few years. It is therefore my belief that as a munition, wood fletched bolts were more suitable.

Feathers make the bolt spin and help stabilise flight, and wood fletchings are fitted into a curved, helically cut groove around the bolt shaft that causes the bolt to similarly spin and stabilise.

img - wood fletched bolts showing curve

Heavy wood fletched war bolts weigh around 85g and are around 15" long and these work well for bows at 600lb or more.

For lighter war bows of 300-600lb, wood fletched bolts weighing around 55g and feathered bolts of around 45g and 13" work well.

img - intermediate power feathered bolts

For bows of less than 300lb, 30g, 12" feathered bolts work well.

img - low power feathered bolts

 

Bolt Prices
We supply all our bows with 3 suitable bolts, but can supply extra bolts for your bow or just bolts on their own.

Wood fletched Bolts:
Maple fletchings glued into, tapered ash shaft with hand forged bodkin head - £49
Maple fletchings glued into, tapered ash shaft with hand forged hunting head - £54

Feather Fletched Bolts:
Feather fletchings, tapered ash or beech shaft, hand forged head - £30
Feather fletchings, tapered ash or beech shaft, cast Tudor bodkin - £16
Feather fletching, cedar or pine shaft, brass or steel bullet head - £6