Crossbows - some questions

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Crossbows - some questions

Postby John Waller » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:14 pm

So I succumbed to buying a cheapish xbow at Blore. Needs a bit of work - stripping off the poor varnish on the tiller, sanding down and waxing and filing some sharp edges on the nut but it should do nicely (until I can afford one from Tod :) )

Anyway a few questions for experienced xbowmen.

The draw weight is around 100lb, or so I was told. I can span it by hand but it is a bit hard going so I would like to use an aid as my back is a bit dodgy. Until I can source a cranequin I think I'll try a belt and claw.

Question is what are the pros & cons of the single hook v double claw type?

What are your preferred fletchings? Feather, parchment, card or leather?
I have some spare 4" feather fletchings so I'll make up a few bolts using those for starters.

What diameter shaft is common for battle blunts? Is there a standard?
Preferred blunt heads - redheads or blacks?

Any tips on using crossbows and on crossbow kit in general gratefully received.

Cheers


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:46 pm

Not going to help much on the blunts but if you are having problems hand spanning a 100lb crossbow you are either a big gurls blouse :) or it isn't a 100lb crossbow. Mine is 240lb and that is hard work to hand draw.

Even a 100lb crossbow might hurt with blunts so get someone to check it is a safeish power to use. If you have to get a lighter combat prod then Alchem Inc. in the states sell them cheap but can take a while to deliver.



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Postby Trading-Dragon » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:55 pm

You're not seriously even considering to use it with blunts, pretty please? Because if you do I might have to swap hobbies and take up ....say...trainspotting. :shock:


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Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:05 am

Hobbitstomper wrote:
Even a 100lb crossbow might hurt with blunts


MIGHT HURT? :shock:


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Postby John Waller » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:05 am

Hobbitstomper wrote:Not going to help much on the blunts but if you are having problems hand spanning a 100lb crossbow you are either a big gurls blouse :) or it isn't a 100lb crossbow. Mine is 240lb and that is hard work to hand draw.

Even a 100lb crossbow might hurt with blunts so get someone to check it is a safeish power to use. If you have to get a lighter combat prod then Alchem Inc. in the states sell them cheap but can take a while to deliver.


As I said I don't want to put my back at risk and a belt and hook are under represented. It may be more than 100lb. If I can find a suitable balance I'll get it measured. 240lb - you butch boy! A slacker string would be an option to bring the power down would it not? In any case does not a 100lb x-bow shoot with a lower velocity than, say, a 50lb longbow? Also flat shooting is not usually allowed so providing I can get the range down by lofting I don't see the problem.


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Postby John Waller » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:08 am

Trading-Dragon wrote:You're not seriously even considering to use it with blunts, pretty please? Because if you do I might have to swap hobbies and take up ....say...trainspotting. :shock:


I promise I won't use it unless it meets the rules of whatever group I'm with at the time.


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Postby Black Pear » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:38 pm

I thought crossbows were more target weapons, given their greater "punching" power and flatter trajectory? Lofting a crossbow would look wrong, I think, and is it dubious in period too?

I don't know about the equivalence of crossbow to longbow draw weights, but if it is equivalent to a 50# longbow, it can still kill someone if the bolt/arrow goes in their eye.

Devil's engines anyway. Scrap it and get some sticks and a string. :)



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Postby Hobbitstomper » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:35 pm

You might find your lofted crossbow quarrel disappears somewhere beyond the crowd line.



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Postby John Waller » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:31 pm

Black Pear wrote:I thought crossbows were more target weapons, given their greater "punching" power and flatter trajectory? Lofting a crossbow would look wrong, I think, and is it dubious in period too?


True, they had a flatter trajectory, but try flat shooting 350 yards. It can't be done we have this thing called gravity :wink: . Of course they would shoot 'clout stylee', same as longbowmen, to acheive a desired range.

Black Pear wrote: I don't know about the equivalence of crossbow to longbow draw weights, but if it is equivalent to a 50# longbow, it can still kill someone if the bolt/arrow goes in their eye.


Agreed. So what's the difference? FYI perceived internet wisdom seems to suggest that a xbow needs to be 2-4 x the draw weight of a longbow to acheive a similar power output.

Black Pear wrote:Devil's engines anyway. Scrap it and get some sticks and a string. :)


Got one, and it will probably remain my principle weapon but x-bows are under represented and I like them :twisted:


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Postby Black Pear » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:34 pm

What I was trying to say with the equivalence thing (along with a couple of others if I understand right) is that a crossbow of that weight is going to be powerful enough to do serious damage. If you can't span it by hand I would seriously suggest it is too much to shoot at someone. You can't underdraw it, after all, so you will always be at full power.

(I don't like underdrawing anyway, it's too variable and it looks very wrong. Most importantly for accuracy you need to draw a bow to the same anchor point each time to get the SAME power to aid your aim.)

Agreed. So what's the difference? FYI perceived internet wisdom seems to suggest that a xbow needs to be 2-4 x the draw weight of a longbow to acheive a similar power output.


Quarrels are heavier than arrows aren't they? So it does make sense that to shoot them you need a comparitively heavier crossbow. They will also be hitting with a greater relative momentum. Another reason to be careful shooting it at people, I would suggest!

And I still don't like crossbows for "clout" shooting!



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Postby John Waller » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:30 pm

Black Pear wrote:What I was trying to say with the equivalence thing (along with a couple of others if I understand right) is that a crossbow of that weight is going to be powerful enough to do serious damage. If you can't span it by hand I would seriously suggest it is too much to shoot at someone. You can't underdraw it, after all, so you will always be at full power.

(I don't like underdrawing anyway, it's too variable and it looks very wrong. Most importantly for accuracy you need to draw a bow to the same anchor point each time to get the SAME power to aid your aim.)

Agreed. So what's the difference? FYI perceived internet wisdom seems to suggest that a xbow needs to be 2-4 x the draw weight of a longbow to acheive a similar power output.


Quarrels are heavier than arrows aren't they? So it does make sense that to shoot them you need a comparitively heavier crossbow. They will also be hitting with a greater relative momentum. Another reason to be careful shooting it at people, I would suggest!

And I still don't like crossbows for "clout" shooting!


So you are saying that both long & x bows should be used at full power? And a hand spanned bow is OK?

We have a poster on here who can hand span a 240lb bow.

My idea for using a belt hook is two-fold, to protect my back and for visual effect.

I don't think there is much difference in weight of a quarrel v arrow. Thicker shaft but only 12" v thinner shaft at 30". I'll weigh a couple.

Any how if won't be used in anger until I'm happy with it's performance and am confident it can be used at least as safely as a longbow.

We'll agree to disagree on the clout thing.


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Postby Malvoisin » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:25 pm

John, if your so adamant that you are going to shoot blunts with it, get your gamby on and get someone to shoot you with it. And see how much it hurts.
IMO 100lb Xbow shooting blunts at what ever distance or angle is frankly asking for injury. What does your archery captain say, presuming you have one.


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Postby John Waller » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:43 pm

Malvoisin wrote:John, if your so adamant that you are going to shoot blunts with it, get your gamby on and get someone to shoot you with it. And see how much it hurts.
IMO 100lb Xbow shooting blunts at what ever distance or angle is frankly asking for injury. What does your archery captain say, presuming you have one.


I'm not adamant that I'm going to use it on the field. I thought I'd made that clear. Only if I, and the appropriate society people are happy.

I might just act as a target if I can borrow a gorget and visored helmet.

My group does not have an archey captain. Captain is a bill wielding luddite. :)

My point, again, is that a 100lb xbow is equivalent to a much lower poundage longbow, which people don't seem to have a problem with.

I'll experiment over winter. Take my 50lb longbow and the xbow out and compare performance.


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Postby Fox » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:04 pm

I think you're being very sensible, John.

You have a practical plan to learn actually how it compares to longbows.

I'd happily help you with your experiments (in other words, happy to be shot at), if we're ever at an event together.



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Postby John Waller » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:10 pm

Fox wrote:I think you're being very sensible, John.

You have a practical plan to learn actually how it compares to longbows.

I'd happily help you with your experiments (in other words, happy to be shot at), if we're ever at an event together.


I'm not often accused of being sensible :)

I see the MSS have a clout shoot at Bodiam soon. Might be the place to start.

Happy to shoot at you anytime Fox.


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Postby Fox » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:12 pm

John Waller wrote:Happy to shoot at you anytime Fox.

Clearly I think there should be some preliminaries to shooting at people, but once those are done and we're happy with them, shoot away.



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Postby Trading-Dragon » Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:59 pm

Just out of interest: where could one lay hands on a crossbow with a much lower draw weight, say 30 to 45 lbs or so for shooting blunts at people with?

I know there used to be a guy who made them out of fiberglass, all wrapped in leather for a more eye-pleasing look. Been looking for something like that for AGES...


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Postby Nigel » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:01 am

Theres a bloke in savilles makes really nice wood ones


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Postby behanner » Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:01 pm

This may be one of the few instances where the SCA's obsession with safety might have some use.

The SCA's max weight for a standard bow is 30lbs which from what I hear is about what re-enactors in the UK use.
For crossbows the maximum for a "crossbow is one which does not exceed 600 inch pounds. The number of inch pounds is determined by multiplying the length of the power stroke in inches by the pounds of pull at the locked position on the string. (The pull weight is to be measured at the nut--i.e., string position when the crossbow is cocked.)"

So if the crossbow in question has a draw of 6" from shot to locked then with 100lb draw its inch pound would be 600. Now I should note that it is commonly held that crossbows tend to hit with a little bit more umph at this ratio then a bow. Part of that is simply the nature of the two.



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Postby Ranger Smith » Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:11 pm

Belt claws a double claw is easier on the bow and yourself (claws sit either side of the stock with a captive pully either side (so the string doesnt drop off) the string runs from your belt through the pully to a ring then back through the other pully and then is attached to your belt). You then need to fit a hook to the underside of your bow with the hook pointed to the rear of your bow. You stand with the bow nearest the floor and the nut facing you the ring goes on the hook and the claws on the string then stand up to span the bow. The benifits of the double claw is the string is loaded evenly onto the nut. Also as thecord is doubled over you get a mechanical advantage which makes loading easier than with a single fixed hook. Take a look at Joseph Alms book on the European Crossbow as there are some good descriptions.


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Postby John Waller » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:24 pm

behanner wrote:This may be one of the few instances where the SCA's obsession with safety might have some use.

The SCA's max weight for a standard bow is 30lbs which from what I hear is about what re-enactors in the UK use.
For crossbows the maximum for a "crossbow is one which does not exceed 600 inch pounds. The number of inch pounds is determined by multiplying the length of the power stroke in inches by the pounds of pull at the locked position on the string. (The pull weight is to be measured at the nut--i.e., string position when the crossbow is cocked.)"

So if the crossbow in question has a draw of 6" from shot to locked then with 100lb draw its inch pound would be 600. Now I should note that it is commonly held that crossbows tend to hit with a little bit more umph at this ratio then a bow. Part of that is simply the nature of the two.


Point to bear in mind about the SCA though is that they use very different bolts to the UK rubber blunt type.


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Postby behanner » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:49 pm

John Waller wrote:
Point to bear in mind about the SCA though is that they use very different bolts to the UK rubber blunt type.


Not that it is of particular importance but SCA down in Australia does and they used to back in the old days on the west coast in the US. With those same weights. The point was as a begining point for comparison since draw weights are not directly comparable. A 100lb longbow is massively stronger then a 100lb crossbow.



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Postby Black Pear » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:18 pm

So you are saying that both long & x bows should be used at full power? And a hand spanned bow is OK?

"Should" is a strong word, but I would say that there isn't a problem with that, no, as long as the bows and crossbows are of comparitively safe weights. There will be then no concern that an overexcited archer with a 56# bow looses off at an effective draw weight that is dangerous - if the maximum bow weight allowed is safe, ALL bows on the field will be as safe as they can be. The SCA guidelines are indeed a good start to this discussion.

As to the clout question, I only say it doesn't feel right because that type of shooting is optimised when shooting masses of arrows in volleys. Doing that with a crossbow seems slow due to the reloading process, and a waste of its potential: "why use a sniper rifle like a shotgun?". We can disagree if you like! :wink:



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Postby Jim » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:29 pm

Trading-Dragon wrote:Just out of interest: where could one lay hands on a crossbow with a much lower draw weight, say 30 to 45 lbs or so for shooting blunts at people with?

I know there used to be a guy who made them out of fiberglass, all wrapped in leather for a more eye-pleasing look. Been looking for something like that for AGES...


I have a 37 lb crossbow with a wooden stave. It's sufficiently feeble that you have to arch your shots in order to hit targets at distances such as those used in archery competitions at shows. But it would be eminently suitable for flat-shooting at someone at short distance as part of a skirmish of some kind. The person on the other end would hardly feel a thing at 20 feet.


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Postby John Waller » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:49 pm

Black Pear wrote:As to the clout question, I only say it doesn't feel right because that type of shooting is optimised when shooting masses of arrows in volleys.


I would be interested in any historical evidence for archery volley fire. Perhaps the first shot but after that? What evidence is there? Is it just a reenactorism for H&S?


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Postby behanner » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:40 pm

John Waller wrote:
Black Pear wrote:As to the clout question, I only say it doesn't feel right because that type of shooting is optimised when shooting masses of arrows in volleys.


I would be interested in any historical evidence for archery volley fire. Perhaps the first shot but after that? What evidence is there? Is it just a reenactorism for H&S?


Do you mean for Crossbows or in general?



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Postby John Waller » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:42 pm

behanner wrote:
John Waller wrote:
Black Pear wrote:As to the clout question, I only say it doesn't feel right because that type of shooting is optimised when shooting masses of arrows in volleys.


I would be interested in any historical evidence for archery volley fire. Perhaps the first shot but after that? What evidence is there? Is it just a reenactorism for H&S?


Do you mean for Crossbows or in general?


Either.


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Postby behanner » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:52 pm

Mass volley firing is the real effectiveness of the longbow. It would start about 300-400 yards out and continue until you end up close enough for the archers to consider alternate actions.
So basically you would have to cross 3-4 soccerfields under archery fire.
For crossbows I'd guess you are more correct. Crossbows in NW Europe in the 15th century are more of a siege weapon then open field weapon.



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Postby John Waller » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:01 pm

behanner wrote:Mass volley firing is the real effectiveness of the longbow. It would start about 300-400 yards out and continue until you end up close enough for the archers to consider alternate actions.
So basically you would have to cross 3-4 soccerfields under archery fire.
For crossbows I'd guess you are more correct. Crossbows in NW Europe in the 15th century are more of a siege weapon then open field weapon.


But what is your evidence for longbows? Might it not be a case of start shooting then 'as fast as you can lads' rather that controlled volleys?


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:01 pm

Any fool can block a single arrow with a shield if he sees it coming. It isn't possible against volley fire.




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