Let’s face it. Crossbow critics have a good reason to hate on crossbows. Compared to rifles and long bow arrows, it takes a lot of time and effort to reload a crossbow. Most crossbowmen don’t mind, really. What’s there to hate if it has the power, range and accuracy needed to take down the target with just one shot? Reloading then becomes overrated. But thanks to the Chinese, you can shut up these critics with the help of a repeater crossbow.
They refer to it as Chu-ko-nu and it is popularly attributed to Zhuge Liang. This is the reason why it’s sometimes referred to as the Zhuge crossbow. There are evidences that they’ve been used as early as 4th century BC. However, it was Zhuge Liang who improved the design to make it simpler and more effective. There are designs that have magazines that house as many as 10 bolts that can be fired in 15 seconds. Zhuge Liang even came up with a design that shoots 2 to 3 bolts at once. Huge formations of soldiers used them in wars so you can just imagine the damage that they caused. The 1 year China and Japan war of 1894 proved to be the last war for these crossbows when Manchurian troops utilized them.
Chinese Repeating Crossbow
But today, there is a newer and popular design. However, the mechanical aspects and overall design remained the same making it one of the few ancient weapons that stood the test of time. A lot of people are also now finding out about it. Crossbow enthusiasts are excited about the fact that there is an option to improve the reload time and process.
At first, it looks like just an ordinary crossbow patterned after a shotgun. But wait, is that a fore end at the bottom half of the stock at the 0:06 mark of the video? The designer sure took the shotgun’s design seriously. In the repeater crossbow, it’s called a pump slide. Play the video further and you’ll see how they play a role in improving the reload process. You may also notice that there seems to be a hinged door at the top.
The hinged door actually gives access to the magazine where you’re going to load your bolts. This design can hold 5 bolts in its magazine. So you can think of a rifle with its cartridge because it basically works the same way. The only difference is a cartridge pushes the bullets upwards while the magazine uses gravity and design to let the bolts fall to the slot one by one. You can see how the magazine is used at the 0:36 mark.
As mentioned, the pump slide plays a big part. You can see what it does at the 1:06 mark when the man pulls the pump slide while taking the bowstring with it. He pulls it all the way back and the pump slide attaches itself to the trigger and the string attaches to a groove on the bolt. You probably noticed that he pulled the front of the pump slide downwards. This readies the path for the bolt so that the pump slide is not in the way. Once the trigger is pressed, the other end pushes the back end of the pump slide downwards and that releases the bolt. The next bolt falls automatically in place and all he has to do is pull the string back again using the pump slide. He can then fire again and repeat the process until the magazine is empty. Just reload with 5 more bolts and you’re good to go shoot 5 bolts in 5 seconds again.