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Crossbows - Types

I tend to specialise in Western and Central European bows from the 14thC and 15thC, and the principle styles and specification I usually make are shown below. The alternative methods of spanning are also shown. All my steel bows are hand forged with rolled tubular nocks.

Pricing and options are shown on the pricing page.


5thC BC Gastraphetes

This bow was developed by the Ancient Greeks some time before 400BC and is spanned by leaning down on the bow to push the slider and trigger back which then catches on the toothed racks. It is shot with the stock lodged in your belly.img - gastraphetes

These bows have a relatively long draw and use a linen covered modern composite bow to create a formidable weapon.

Specification

  • Oak stock and slider
  • Bronze trigger and rack mechanism
  • Modern linen covered composite bow
  • Linen string
  • Range – around 200m/215yds

See a Gastraphetes in action here

 


10th/11thC crossbow img - 10-11thc crossbow

Simple crossbow styled after the Colletiere a Charavines bow. Typical of 12thC military crossbows, with a blocky stock, no stirrup and a wooden bow. Because of the wooden bow, the lath is lashed in place with a hemp binding.

  • Fruit wood or ash stock
  • Box wood trigger
  • Hemp lashing
  • Waxed linen string
  • Yew bow
  • Range 110-180Yds/ 100-170m

12th/13thC crossbow

img - yew bow

A simple crossbow form, based on manuscript artwork. The bow is yew and the rest of the crossbow is fairly traditional in form except that it has no stirrup.. The bow is lashed in place with a hemp binding as is the antler nut.

  • Ash stock
  • Hemp bow and nut binding
  • Yew bow
  • Waxed linen string
  • Range 110-200yds/ 100m - 190m

 


14thC Steel Crossbow

This simple bow is typical of 14thC military crossbows, with a blocky stock, stirrup and a steel bow. Bow irons came in around 1400 and so this bow is only available with a lashed bow.

As standard I make similar bows at 300lb, though it can be from 150lb to 400 and can be supplied with a spanning belt and hook, spanning belt with hook and pulleys or with a goats foot lever.

img - 14thc stell war bow

Specification

  • Ash stock with socket reinforcing pin and steel side plates and stirrup
  • Steel nut and trigger with spring return
  • Hemp lashing
  • Waxed linen string
  • Range around 200m/215yds (300lb bow)

See a similar crossbow in action here.


14thC 'Composite' War Crossbow

This simple bow is typical of 14thC military crossbows, with a blocky stock, stirrup and a faux 'composite' bow. Bow irons came in around 1400 and also cannot be used for composite bows and so this bow is only available with a lashed bow.img - 14thc composite warbow

As standard I make similar bows at 300lb, though it can be from 150lb to 400 and can be supplied with a spanning belt and hook, spanning belt with hook and pulleys or with a goats foot lever.

Specification

  • Ash stock with socket reinforcing pin and steel side plates and stirrup
  • Steel nut and trigger with spring return
  • Steel bow clad to look like a composite bow
  • Hemp lashing
  • Waxed linen string
  • Range around 170m/180yds (300lb bow)

15thC 'Battlefield' Crossbow

This is a simple bow similar to munition quality bows from the 15thC, but is designed to be hand spanned and light enough to use on the re-enactment battlefield when shooting against others, but still maintains the look of period bows.

This bow is made only as a hand spanned, lashed 150lb bow.

img - 15thc battlefield crossbow

Specification

  • Ash stock with socket reinforcing pin and steel side plates and stirrup
  • Steel nut and trigger with spring return
  • Hemp lashing
  • Waxed linen string
  • Range around 110m/120yds

See a 'composite' war crossbow in action here.


15thC 'Munition' Crossbow

This bow is typical of many 15thC munition quality war crossbows so it is plain and rather blocky, with a little detail to start to taper the foregrip. Bow irons came in around 1400 though lashing was also still used, so the bow can be supplied either with irons or lashing.

At this time there were a variety of spanning methods used, so it can be supplied with a spanning belt and hook at 250-300lb or if you would like a higher poundage we would not recommend this, but a belt and doubler pulley or goats foot will be fine to 400lb.img - 15thC munition grade crossbow

Supplied as 300lb standard, but other poundages are possible.

Specification

  • Ash stock with socket reinforcing pin and steel side plates and stirrup
  • Steel nut and trigger with spring return
  • Hemp lashing or steel irons
  • Waxed linen string
  • Range around 180m/195yds (300lb)

See a munition crossbow with belt and doubler pulley in action here.


15thC Hunting Bow

This bow is typical of Central and Western European hunting bows, with its distinctive shape and use of high levels of decoration, they make striking weapons. This style was used throughout the whole of the 15thC and usually used composite bows, but were also found with steel bows. If the bows were steel they were often painted or had safety cords as shown here.

These bows usually used a cranequin to span them but they work equally well with the more economic goats foot lever.

Similar bows are generally supplied at 350lb.

img - 15thC hunting bow

Specification

  • Cherry stock with reinforcing pin and horn cheeks
  • Lashed nut with hemp cord
  • Lashed bow with hemp cord
  • Waxed linen string
  • Steel trigger with spring return
  • Range around 200m/220yds

See a hunting crossbow in action here.


15thC Central European War Bow

This bow is similar in form to hunting bows, but usually had a lower level of decoration and was often found as military bows; they also retain the distinctive shape and method of construction of hunting bows. This style was used throughout the whole of the 15thC and usually used composite bows, but were also found with steel bows. If the bows were steel they were often painted or had safety cords.

These bows usually used a cranequin to span them but they work equally well with the more economic goats foot lever.

img - 15thc european war crossbow

Similar bows are generally supplied at 350lb.

Specification

  • Cherry stock with reinforcing pin and horn cheeks
  • Lashed nut with hemp cord
  • Lashed bow with hemp cord
  • Waxed linen string
  • Steel trigger with spring return
  • Range around 170m/185yds

15thC Windlass Crossbow

This type of windlass is called the English windlass, so don't think that the English only used the longbow. This bow is characterised by a very heavy draw weight and a slightly wider bow with a longer draw. This power requires the use of a windlass to span it. The windlass is then removed before shooting. They were employed in defending fortifications and in battlefield deployment.

img - 15thc windlass crossbow

Similar bows are generally supplied at 800lb.

Specification

  • Ash stock with reinforcing pin and steel side plates
  • Pinned steel nut
  • Waxed linen string
  • Steel trigger with spring return
  • Steel windlass with spoked pulleys and hempex cords
  • Range around 230m/250yds

See a windlass crossbow in action here.


16thC Stonebow

img - 15th-16thc stonebow

These were very popular at the end of the 15thC and 16thC in England, but date back to the 14thC in Italy. They shoot small rolled clay balls or more powerfully lead shot.

The cheapness of clay balls means that it was very useful for small game and birds where bolts would easily get lost.

Similar bows are generally supplied at 120lb and are hand spanned.

Specification

  • Ash or cherry stock
  • Waxed linen string
  • Steel foldable sights
  • Sprung trigger
  • Accuracy – will hit a pigeon at 20m

16thC Latchet Crossbow

These are small moderately powerful crossbows with a top trigger and an inbuilt cocking lever. Because of these features they were very handy on horseback and as civil defence weapons as they were fast to reload and can be shot one handed.

The short draw length means they cannot be very powerful and the top trigger means they are pointed rather than aimed. Great fun

img - 16thc latchet bow

Similar bows are supplied around 220lb and are lever spanned.

Specification

  • Cherry stock
  • Waxed linen string
  • Inbuilt cocking lever and trigger assembly
  • Sprung trigger
  • Range 140m/150yds

17thC Balestrino

These are a bit of a mystery. There are very few in existence, but all were loaded with a screw jack in the grip and usually had a top trigger and were often highly decorated. They are also known as assassins bows, though the low impact energy really counts this out, so we suspect they were rich men's playthings.

img - 17thc balestrino

The bow is powerful at 220lb, but the short draw length means this is not really a weapon.

Specification

  • All steel, body trigger and bow
  • Waxed faux silk string
  • Inbuilt screw jack
  • Range (not really applicable) around 80m/90yds

See the balestrino in action here.