A crossbow is a one of many kinds of projectile weapons which propels an arrow at high speeds using mechanical means. Like a bow, it uses a fast-moving string to launch projectiles, but it also has a trigger and a stock, like a rifle.
Archeologists have found crossbows in a pair of 500-year-old Chinese graves, and a few historians believe that they existed in China as early as 2000 B.C. Crossbows additionally appeared within the Mediterranean region by the fourth century A.D. Roman military author Flavius Vegetius Renatus mentions them during a text written in 385 AD, and that they were prevalent in Europe throughout the middle Ages.
In early times, bows where used to hunt until they made the crossbow. In general, military crossbows could be very fast or very powerful, but not both. For example, in the 14th century, European crossbow makers began making weapons from steel and incorporating crannequins in their design. A crannequin was a toothed wheel attached to a crank. When a soldier turned the crank, the wheel moved a toothed rod, which pulled the bowstring and cocked the crossbow. With a crannequin, a soldier could cock crossbows that he would not have the strength to cock on his own. However, the soldier had to remove the crannequin before each shot, and re-cocking and reloading a crossbow with a crannequin could take several minutes.
At the other end of the spectrum, some Chinese crossbows were built for speed. Designers added cocking levers and magazines full of bolts to the basic crossbow. Bolts would automatically fall from the magazine when the string was cocked. Often, the crossbow then automatically released the bolt. With this type of crossbow, a soldier could fire several shots per second, although the bolts did not travel as fast or do as much damage as a bolt shot from a steel crossbow with a crannequin.
It consists of an arrow, a trigger, and a cord for launching. To fire, the cord it pulled back until it can be held by the trigger. Next, the arrow is braced back in the notching holder and the crossbow is pointed at the target. The trigger is released, firing the cord, and launching the arrow out at high speed. The crossbow may be a dangerous weapon, but it may take several minutes to load the weapon.
The crossbow's name came from the fact that it actually was a small bow fixed on a stock with a groove (on the stock). You can think of a crossbow as kind of a gun and a bow combined.
Present Usage Edit
Crossbows started to disappear from military use when reliable firearms became widely available. However, they remained popular for hunting in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Hunters and target shooters still use them today, although modern crossbows often appear far more sophisticated than their early counterparts. They're usually made from exceptionally strong, lightweight metals, and they can incorporate scopes, adjustable stocks and other gadgets. But no matter how sophisticated a crossbow is, at its heart it's basically a bow. Similarly, a bow is basically a spring.
Laws governing crossbow use vary widely, and they specify who can use a crossbow and when. As a weapon, it is illegal under government law. Some laws permit only hunters with disabilities to use crossbows, while others permit anyone to use a crossbow during any hunting season. Before using a crossbow, particularly for hunting purposes, research the laws in your area.