Added 5 January 1997, Revised 22 February 2003
I recently spent nearly two and a half weeks up in Canada with Robin Allen of The Crossbowman's Den. He has been making crossbows for over 50 years, and he helped me make a Medieval replica crossbow. It is not quite finished, and is still in Canada due to recent events, but I will soon have pictures of it up here, as well as a separate page detailing the construction of the crossbow. Return again to see the new bow!
In the mean-time, here is the crossbow I currently own.Well, here it is. My crossbow. It is unfortunately far from authentic as medieval crossbows go. With the help of Master Iolo (through a guy named Ailean), I learned the manufacturer of the crossbow, but had forgotten it. I have actually heard from a number of people who have the same crossbow, or a similar model. Some say it is a Wham-O Power Master, others say it isn't. Right now, I'm favoring the "it isn't" side.
The prod is aluminum, which greatly reduced the weight of the crossbow. Aluminum gets stress cracks after a lot of use, so it isn't the best material for a prod. Plus, it is attached to the tiller with a nut and washer, which puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the prod. Of course, I don't use it much, nor will I ever use it much (in all likelihood), so I guess it's not that big of a deal. The string is a piece of 800 pound (I think) cable.
The tiller is some sort of pine. It is made more like a rifle stock, so it is certainly not in the medieval style. The trigger is also like a rifle trigger and is equally unlike a medieval style trigger. Although I have not taken it apart to inspect the mechanism, I believe that the trigger mechanism is a simple lever system. It seems that the trigger and the nut is one piece hinged on an arm protruding to the rear of the crossbow. Thanks to Noam for this better diagram of the trigger/nut mechanism is designed on my crossbow!
I have only shot my crossbow on three occasions. On the first two occasions I was using a paper plate attached to a hay bale as a target. At 30 meters, the crossbow was moderately accurate. The bolts regularly sunk into the hay bale 30 cm (12 inches) or more at that distance. A few times, the entire length of the bolts sunk into the hay bale (45 cm or 18 inches). I took the crossbow to a sporting goods store with an draw weight scale, and it maxed out their 100 pound scale. My guess is that the draw weight is approximately 125 pounds (that was their guess too).
The third time I shot my crossbow was at an archery range. (I got a lot of looks from the other archers, I believe in amazement that I was actually shooting such a beast.) In a short time, I was able to shoot quite accurately at 40 meters. The difficulty came in being forced to aim through the tiller of the crossbow. My aiming point was actually the top of the butt (target) in order to hit the yellow. Shooting at 60 meters proved to be too much for the crossbow. There was no hope for accuracy. In this respect, the bolts being used likely have much to do with the problem. The fletching of my bolts is made of a rubberized material. The cock feather travels down a groove on the tiller. The cock fletching on my bolts have become warped due to the friction of traveling down the grove, yielding unstable flight.
Since the lathe of my crossbow seems to be a bit longer than a hand-spanned medieval crossbow, it should be more efficient, and is thus probably equal in strength to a 200 pound medieval crossbow. I do not no the difference in the elastic modulus of my aluminum prod and the composite or steel prods of medieval crossbows though, so perhaps my crossbow is less efficient after-all.
NOTE: For anyone who has a Wham-O Power Master crossbow, I would recommend that you check this page out, regarding a class action lawsuit against Wham-O regarding the Power Master. http://classaction.findlaw.com/recall/cpsc/files/1977mar/77028.html
I guess that's about it. I'll add more as I think of it.
Someone who found this page made a crossbow exactly like the one that I have. He was kind enough to give me some new information on it, which follows:
"I saw your crossbow page for the first time today. It brought back lots of memories for me. I have an identical crossbow with a walnut stock.
"I built it from a kit in high school shop class. That was about 1982. The kit was about $30. I spent about a month making and finishing the stock. I used to have a fishing kit for it. Shot a couple carp with it in the local resevoir.
"The catalog draw weight was 150lbs, but that could be changed by adjusting the size of the stock. 125 lbs for yours sounds very reasonable.
"The only drawback to the kit was the bolts that came with it. The nocks were plastic and were standard arrow nocks. The cable had a spring wrapped around it, to reduce friction when firing. This spring was to big to fit in the nocks and you would split them almost immediately.
"I really enjoyed your page. I just thought you might appreciate some background info from someone with a similiar crossbow
"Don . . ."
Thanks for the info Don! I really appreciate it.