It’s easy to be fascinated with the crossbow especially if you know its history. It’s been around for so long that it’s hard to pinpoint the exact date when it was first used. But there is irrefutable evidence that it was widely used by military organizations in as early as the second half of the 4th century BC.
The wooden crossbow went through a lot of changed designs and names. During the 5th century BC, it was known as gastraphetes. The name can be translated to “belly-bow” because of the fact that shooters use their bellies in the loading process. Even back then, the design is unmistakably a crossbow. This medieval weapon was utilized greatly in several great conflicts like the Siege of Motya in 397 BC. Greek besiegers also depended on this powerful weapon during Alexander’s Siege of Tyre back in 332 BC.
There were then a lot of developments as they started to recognize the power of the crossbows. They started making bigger and more powerful versions called ballistae that can easily break down formations with their raw power. History was a witness as Demetrius armed movable towers with several ballistae. Smaller and more accurate versions called Scorpios are also developed for accurate kills. Developments were also made so that it can easily be used on top of a horse. With these developments, they struck fears in their opponents especially since bolts can easily pierce armors.
The rest of the world quickly followed suit. East Asia followed as early as the middle of the 5th century BC. By the time 200 BC came, China was mass-producing this weapon for warfare. They are even credited for the repeating crossbow which has a magazine so you can shoot in succession. Islamic countries also used them for warfare while Africans used them for hunting and they introduced the crossbow to Americans during the time of slavery. This explains the still ongoing trend of Americans using crossbows for hunting.
In this present time, it’s a surprise to some people that it’s possible to build wooden crossbow from scratch. This is understandable with its rich history that fascinates a lot of people. This is the reason why even after the development of rifles for hunting purposes, a lot of people still prefers to use crossbows.
Now the question is, should you make your own crossbow? It would be easier to make a decision if you’re going to look at the pros and cons of crossbows.
- Easier to master
- More challenging to use
- Less noise
- Literally wait and shoot
- Cleaner wound
- They’re easy to make
Now these advantages don’t seem a lot. But for target practice and hunting, these are amazing benefits. First of all, it’s very easy to master. All you need to know are the safety procedures, how to load and cock, how to aim and how to shoot. You can easily learn everything except how to aim in a single go. Aiming takes a little bit of practice but a whole day of aiming and shooting at targets can basically make you an advanced shooter. Compare that with rifles and vertical bows.
They’re easier to master but they’re more challenging to use on the field. Comparing a master crossbowman and rifle marksman, it’s more challenging to hunt using a crossbow. The added thrill is enough to make it a great day of hunting.
Obviously, they produce less noise than a rifle and that can help protect your ears in the long run. On a related note, using a crossbow is literally waiting and shooting. Load your crossbow with a bolt after cocking the string and wait until you’re ready to shoot a target. Compare that with a vertical bow when the shooter only draws the string when he’s ready to shoot. The noise that this action produces is enough to startle your target and that can mean a missed shot.
A crossbow is also designed for shorter ranges to take advantage of its power. As mentioned, it can easily pierce armors and even the toughest animal skin doesn’t stand a chance. It also produces cleaner wounds and this is helpful if you’re hunting for food.
Best of all, you can easily build wooden crossbow at home. They’re very easy to make using materials that you can easily find inside your home or any hardware store. Here are some materials that you can use to make your own crossbow:
- Dowel rods
- Wooden blocks
Of course, crossbows have their own share of critics. Here are some of the things that they feel are the disadvantages of crossbows:
- Less accurate at longer distances
- Slower reload time
- It’s harder to draw a crossbow string compared to a vertical arrow’s string
These are valid concerns especially since they can affect the effectiveness and efficiency of crossbows. However, what the critics don’t know is you can easily take care of these issues. Sure, a vertical bow has a longer range. But are you really going to shoot at 300 yards? Half the thrill of hunting is with the stalking. You have to get to at least 100-200 yards of your target for an efficient shot. This makes them equals as far as range is concerned. But with power, you have to give it to the crossbow.
Since you’re going to make your own crossbow at home, you can easily design it to be less bulky. The most important thing is you’re comfortable holding and carrying it. It’s also true that it’s slower to reload. But in hunting, you usually get just one shot before your target scampers away. Besides, you can always make a repeating crossbow that features a magazine so you can shoot 5 shots in 5 seconds. You can also add mechanisms for easier cocking of the bowstring like pump slides.
It’s now up to you to decide if you should build wooden crossbow at home. But if you’re like most people, you can easily see that the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages especially since you can easily work around them.