Crossbow (fr. Arbalète from lat. Arcaballista, arcus - "arc" and ballisto - "to throw", other names - crossbow or balestra) - a kind of throwing cold weapon. At the end of the bed, elastic elements (shoulders) made of horn, wood or steel are fixed, a cross is installed.
The first crossbows, called "gastro-bows" ("abdominal bows") due to the fact that in order to influence the lever mechanism of the erection, the shooter had to lean on his stomach, were invented in Syracuse in the 5th century BC, and were widely used in the Hellenistic period. During the reign of the Romans, the gastrochet was forgotten (only carbalists were used (giant crossbows mounted on carts), which, by the way, the Romans initially preferred to seize from enemies, rather than create on their own).
Only in the III-V centuries. AD Crossbows, called the Manubalists, were again used by the Romans in battle. This weapon was used in Europe until the 6th century, then it was again forgotten for several centuries - until the beginning of the Crusades (although in some engravings of the 10th-13th centuries you can see images of crossbowmen).
In parallel, in China in the II century BC. e. (according to some written sources - in the IV century BC) a similar weapon was also invented, somewhat different in design from the above-mentioned horror. Chinese crossbows were successfully used to fight the Huns (during the Han dynasty), after which they were undeservedly forgotten, and re-invented in the XI century.
The passion for crossbow shooting in Europe began to increase after World War II. The International Crossbow Shooting Union (IAU), which initially united only shooters of the match direction, was created in 1956 in Belgium, and 2 years later the first European Championship in this sport took place.
It was during these competitions that the rules for shooting a crossbow were developed. Since 1977, field shooting competitions have been held under the jurisdiction of the IAU. The world championship in this sport was first held in 1979 in Linz (Austria).
Crossbow shooting myths
The rules for shooting a crossbow were developed in 1958. Yes, however, only after almost 20 years (in 1977), based on the experience of many competitions, the International Crossbow Union finally approved the rules of competition for this sport.
In Russia, crossbow sport was recognized only in 1993. This is not entirely true. Crossbow shooting was officially recognized as a sport back in 1991, but competitions in this sport were really allowed only since 1993. Despite this, already in July 1994, Russian athletes performed quite successfully at the World Championships in the German city of Wiesbaden, and today they are among the five strongest teams in the world.
Competitions in archery and crossbow are similar in many ways. Yes, especially when it comes to field crossbows (first appeared in the United States; shooting from this type of weapon was recognized as an official discipline in 1979). Competitions in these types of shooting sports are held outdoors and indoors, and the difference in distances is not so great: 35, 50 and 65 m outdoors, 10 and 18 m indoors (archers, respectively, compete at distances of 30, 50, 60, 70, 90 m, as well as 18 and 25 m indoors). And the five-color target is similar to the one used during archery competitions. Its diameter can be 25 cm (for indoor shooting) and 60 cm (for outdoor accuracy competitions). Even arrows for field crossbows are feathered, as are arrows of archers. Competitions on 3-D targets (three-dimensional images of animals placed along the track, along which the arrows must follow, looking for targets and "by eye" determining the distance) are also held according to the same rules as competitions of this kind among archers. But competitions in the match class (this division has existed since 1956) are conducted with unforated arrows of a special shape (their thickness smoothly changes from 12 mm in the head and tail parts to 5 mm in the middle, and the tips are threaded, which prevents the possibility of such an arrow bouncing off the target ). Shooting takes place either indoors or at specially equipped shooting ranges at distances of 10 and 30 meters at targets with a diameter of 13.97 cm, "tens" areas - 13.7 mm, I "apples" (usually black) - 9, 7 mm. And the number of arrows fired by shooters in one series of shots is different - archers must release from 3 to 6 arrows, crossbowmen - 30 arrows each.
Only shooters armed with field or match crossbows can take part in the competition. Although today there is a division of crossbows into sports (field and match), hunting and low-power crossbows used for entertainment, the first two classes are quite interchangeable. Since the characteristics of hunting and field crossbows are in many ways similar, athletes using hunting crossbows may take part in some competitions. The main condition is that the weapon must meet certain requirements: the mass of the crossbow should not exceed 10 kg, the bowstring is not metal and is not equipped with devices to give the arrow additional acceleration, the tension force is not more than 47 kg, the length of the aiming line should be no more than 720 mm, the length of the arrow - from 304 to 457 mm. And shooting at 3-D targets is carried out exclusively from hunting crossbows. At the same time, even on the hunt, you can sometimes meet a shooter armed with a field crossbow.
Crossbow shooting takes place at 3 different distances. Only when it comes to shooting from field crossbows in the open air. In this case, the shooters compete in accuracy at a distance of 35, 50 and 65 m. For indoor shooting, there are two distances - 10 and 18 meters. If shooting is carried out from match crossbows, although the competition consists of 3 stages, there are only 2 distances - the first part of the competition is conducted at targets, the distance to which is 10 m, the second and third - at a target 30 m away (first from the position "standing", then - "from the knee").
Athletes must not use any device to pull the bowstring during crossbow shooting competition. This rule applies only to field shooting competitions. Multiple cocking of a crossbow, which requires considerable effort, not only leads to physical fatigue, but also generates psychological stress. It is for this reason that during the training of an athlete who is going to perform in the above division, a lot of time is devoted to the development of strength and endurance, reaction speed, the ability to relax those muscle groups that are not directly involved in preparing the weapon for a shot and pulling the trigger. But during the competition in shooting from match crossbows it is allowed to use a special device called "goat's leg" for cocking the weapon, which is a small iron lever. This resolution is due to the fact that at high voltage, the accuracy of the crossbowman drops sharply, which negatively affects the results of high-precision shooting conducted at small targets.
Sports crossbows are simplified models of combat weapons. Although the first modern field crossbows were developed by the Marines, they were based on conventional bows. And after the crossbow sport began to develop in the middle of the last century, there was a need to improve the design of the crossbow. It was sports crossbows of a more advanced design that became the prototypes of modern combat crossbows.
The best results in crossbowmen competitions are shown by those athletes who have previously practiced archery. No, according to experts, the best results are shown by athletes with experience in rifle shooting, since the position of the shooter in both sports is identical, while the position of the archer is not very similar to the crossbowman's stance.
The equipment of crossbowmen in all types of competitions is identical. Some differences do exist. For example, the arrows of the match direction are required to perform in boots with stiff ankle boots, which firmly fix the ankle, while not interfering with its mobility. In field shooting, shoes of this kind are prohibited.
For shooting from a crossbow, special arrows are used. It really is. In ancient times, projectiles of the appropriate size were fired from giant crossbows: ballistae threw stone projectiles (their weight was most often about 26 kg), catapults were charged with darts weighing about 2 kg. Also, from some types of hand crossbows, called schneppers, they fired lead bullets or small stones.
Nowadays, crossbow arrows (bolts) are thicker and shorter than bow arrows, they fit completely in the chute. The exception is crossbows that shoot archery arrows (in this case, the design of the crossbow is somewhat different: the arrow is not in the groove, but only rests in the area of the tip on special springy petals, remaining free along its entire length). In hunting crossbows, arrows are also most often longer than the stock - this is done so that the tip does not touch the guides (such a touch can change the trajectory of the arrow).
The best arrows are carbon. No, they are not suitable for shooting with a crossbow - they are too thin. Iron pipes will not work either, as they are too heavy. Wooden arrows are fine, but they break quickly. The best material for making crossbow arrows is duralumin alloys, which have sufficient elasticity so as not to deform when hitting a target, and at the same time, rather strong so as not to break when straightening.
Arrow catchers are absolutely necessary, but very expensive. This shield, whose dimensions are either equal to the target's diameter, or slightly exceed it, is really an absolutely necessary accessory when firing from a crossbow - after all, it is in the arrow catcher that the arrow gets stuck. The most economical option is a do-it-yourself arrow catcher from plates of perforated cardboard (width - 23-30 cm), on the sides of which boards are superimposed, fastened with metal ties. Since the plates in such a shield are interchangeable, it can be used for a rather long time, simply by swapping the worn out central parts with the peripheral ones. A more expensive option is the shields most often used in shooting sports made of pressed straw bundle, twisted and intertwined in a special way. There are also arrow catchers, which are a jute bag with cotton padding on which a target is drawn. And, finally, one of the latest inventions is etafoum catchers made of a material similar to rubber, but much lighter. Such a shield reliably holds a hit arrow, and after removing it, the etafome closes quite tightly - only a barely noticeable hit mark remains.
The best choice is a crossbow with eccentric blocks fixed on the shoulders. It depends on what purpose the crossbow will be used for. Athletes most often prefer to use complex-profile bows (with the ends of the shoulders curved in a special way), which, although more difficult to manufacture and more expensive than conventional bows (with arched shoulders), are not limited by the pulling force, and give the arrow high speed, significantly increasing the shooting accuracy. A crossbow equipped with eccentric blocks is a more complex design, which is very difficult to achieve perfect interaction of the moving parts. Such a weapon can provide good accuracy of a single shot, but the accuracy of a series of shots is much more difficult to achieve. Therefore, the mentioned type of crossbows is popular mainly with hunters.
The crossbow is not a cheap pleasure. This is true - the price of a good hunting or sports crossbow can be several thousand dollars. It is for this reason, for example, that the Russian team had an acute shortage of field crossbows for a long time, and there were no match crossbows at all - they had to be rented right before the competition. But it is quite possible to make low-power crossbows for entertainment on your own, using unnecessary arcs from any sports bow and a stock carved from wood (birch, ash, walnut) and a trigger mechanism. Kevlar is suitable as a bowstring (enough for 3,000-4,000 shots), as well as lavsan, fast-life, daynem (withstands from 8,000 to 10,000 shots). It is better not to make a bowstring from a metal cable, since it has a rather large mass, and reduces the speed of the arrow.
Since the crossbow is a weapon, a special permit is required to acquire and carry it. If the tension force of the arcs of the crossbow is less than 43 kg (these are the models that go on free sale in the CIS countries) - it is intended for sports and recreation, and is not a weapon. A permit to carry it is not required, but an accompanying certificate is required - if such a document is available, the owner of the crossbow will not have problems with the authorities if it does not occur to him to carry the crossbow in assembled condition along the city streets. In this case, any law enforcement officer has all legal grounds to take the product for examination (during which there may well be a breakdown of the arms of the crossbow as a result of a blank shot). Therefore, bows and crossbows should be carried (transported) only in a special soft case (if transportation is carried out in public transport or in your own car) and in a special hard case (if a crossbow or bow is transported on a train or plane).
By firing a bow or crossbow, you can hit a target located at a distance of more than 300 meters. Arrows from throwing weapons can indeed fly quite long distances. For example, back in 1200, Mongolian warriors, using composite horn bows, sent arrows more than 500 m, a hundred years later, English archers from yew bows threw arrows at 700 meters. In 1798, an arrow fired from a classic bow by Selim the Magnificent (Sultan of Turkey) flew 890 m. Arrows fired from leg bows fly even further (up to one and a half kilometers). However, the crossbow is not such a powerful weapon, and there is no need to talk about aimed shooting at long distances due to the fact that the arrow does not fly in a straight line, but in an arc, quickly losing speed. Therefore, the effective aiming distance (both from a crossbow and a bow) is 15 to 60 (maximum 100) meters, but no more.
Learning to shoot a crossbow can be much faster than mastering the skill of archery. Within a few weeks, a person can master the art of shooting a crossbow at a target located at a distance of about 20 meters. It will take at least six months to achieve the same results when shooting from a compound bow, and mastering a sports and traditional bow will take at least 2 years of hard training. However, it should be borne in mind that shooting from this type of weapon seems simple only to a beginner, more experienced shooters know that there are many factors that prevent accurate hitting the target. For example, a bowstring that is unevenly stretched or shifted to the side by a few millimeters will cause the arrow to deviate from the set point by at least a few centimeters.The accuracy of the shot is also influenced by such factors as the position of the shooter (it should be as stable as possible), the speed and depth of breathing (it is best to shoot half-exhale), the way of pulling the trigger (you should press gently, without jerking), as well as the ability to correctly estimate the distance to the goal. Therefore, before going to a competition or hunting with a crossbow, you should pay attention to regular training on targets located at different distances (from 5 to 35 m) and at different heights.
During training, the crossbowman must clearly see the target. You should also avoid emptying shots, as this worsens the condition of the crossbow, and can lead to its breakage. Much depends on the goals of the training. When the shooter passes the period of semi-conditioned reflexes, i.e. learns to control their muscles, while not concentrating on the movement being performed, training takes place in a special way: they practice shooting with their eyes closed and shooting without emptying in a dark room.
Crossbow and bow have nothing in common. There are indeed many differences between these types of weapons. For example, aiming with a crossbow is similar to aiming with a rifle rather than a bow. During the shot, the crossbow is positioned horizontally, and not vertically, like almost all bows (except leg bows). And to hold the bowstring of a loaded crossbow, which is fixed by the trigger until the moment of the shot, the shooter does not have to make any effort. However, there is a lot in common between a bow and a crossbow, in particular, arrows fired from both types of weapons move along similar trajectories with almost the same speed and strength, and fly the same distance. During the hunt, arrows with special tips are used for shooting a crossbow and a bow, allowing them to quickly and effectively hit the prey.
Crossbows are more difficult to draw than bows - more physical strength is required. No, crossbows are easier to cock. Firstly, for this operation, archers and crossbowmen use different muscles, and those that are needed for cocking a crossbow (biceps, muscles of the press and legs) in humans are usually more developed than those needed to draw a bow (extensor muscles arms and muscles of the upper back). Secondly, in order to correctly draw the bow, a combination of strength, accuracy and speed of movement is required, which in itself is quite difficult and causes tension even in the muscles directly involved in the process of drawing the bowstring. And to cocking a crossbow you only need strength. In fact, the bow tension depends more on the strength of the shooter, and the crossbow tension depends on the strength of the trigger.
Crossbows are inferior to bows in accuracy and rate of fire. Crossbows are really inferior to bows in rate of fire, but they are superior in accuracy. It should be borne in mind that the archer demonstrates a high level of accuracy only as long as he uses his own arrows, carefully fitted and familiar. When he has to use state-owned ammunition, the accuracy of the shots decreases sharply. At the same time, a shooter armed with a crossbow is insured against the problems described above, since shorter and thicker crossbow bolts are more standardized, and also differ in a smaller offset of the center of aerodynamic drag. That is why crossbows were most often used for aimed fire (for this reason, the arrows were forced to get close to the enemy as close as possible), and bows were used for hinged shooting from a greater distance.
There is nothing in common between crossbows and rifles. For example, one of the first wick muzzle-loading smooth-bore shotguns, which appeared in the 30s of the 15th century and was called an arquebus (fr. crossbow with a closed box. Gunpowder and a wick for firing this type of weapon began to be used somewhat later. Yes, and a modern crossbow in many ways resembles a firearm - and the method of aiming, and the appearance, and the materials from which they are created, are very similar.
Crossbows are much smaller than bows. Yes, when it comes to hand crossbows. However, it should be borne in mind that in ancient times, during hostilities, devices were used that were similar in design to crossbows, and were rather large in size. These combat vehicles were called catapults and ballistae. Ballista (Latin balistarum, from the Greek βαλλιστης, from βαλλειν - "to throw") is the Roman name for a two-arm torsion-action machine designed for throwing stones weighing from 0.6 kg to 78 kg (later - arrow thrower) at a distance from 150 to 360 m. The Greeks called such a weapon "palintonon" ("shooting along a hinged trajectory), as well as" catapeltai petrobolos "(" stone against the shield "). Catapult (Greek καταπέλτης, κατα -" against "πέλτη -" shield ", lat name tormentum - "to twist") - a throwing machine with a torsion principle of action, the invention of which is attributed to the tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse (399 BC) .The kinetic energy in it is provided not by the elasticity of bent shoulders, as in a bow, but in twisted In Roman times, all arrows were called catapults, later those that fired projectiles (stones) along a hinged trajectory were renamed ballista, and two-arm torsion arrows that fired projectiles on the floor new trajectory, retained the name "catapult" (column Eviton).
Ballista and catapult are different names for the same weapon. The design of the aforementioned throwing machines is indeed very similar, but the shooting methods are different: the ballista threw stones at a high elevation angle, and was intended mainly to destroy enemy fortifications, while arrows or darts fired from the catapult flew almost horizontally and were directed to destroy enemy soldiers.
Veins of animals were used for the manufacture of torsion bars, catapults and ballistas. In addition, some manuscripts indicate that hair from the manes and tails of horses is well suited for this purpose. It is also mentioned that during the siege of the Capitol, the torsion bars of the throwing machines deteriorated due to repeated use, the supply was exhausted, and the Romans, to help the fighting husbands, cut their hair, which turned out to be quite suitable material for repairing throwing machines.
Throwing machines built using modern technologies will surpass their ancient counterparts in power and range. No, the successes of modern enthusiastic researchers are much more modest than the achievements of military engineers of past centuries. If, according to written sources, ancient catapults could throw stones weighing from 26 to 76 kg at a distance of about 150-170 meters, then a projectile fired from a ballista built in 2000 using computer modeling and weighing 8.5 tons flew only 85 meters. Stone throwers designed for throwing lighter projectiles are also inferior to their ancient counterparts. For example, a ballista made at the beginning of the last century by an artillery officer E. Schramm (Germany) was capable of throwing a half-kilogram cannonball at a distance of 300 meters, while ancient Roman machines of this type sent cannonballs weighing 0.6 kg at 350 meters.
Crossbows are more effective and convenient in battle than bows. The use of ballistae and catapults really gave the army (especially those who fought against large fortified cities and had a strong infantry) a considerable advantage, but the Byzantines and Arabs, whose army was based on cavalry, preferred to use bows. In addition, the participation of shooters armed with crossbows in a battle requires a certain organization of troops - after all, crossbowmen will not be able to participate in hand-to-hand combat (heavy weapons will be a considerable obstacle to them), therefore, they need cover. Yes, and the cost of such a weapon exceeded the price of a bow, therefore not all soldiers could afford to purchase a crossbow.
Hunting with a crossbow or bow is an exciting experience. Yes it is. But it should be borne in mind that on the territory of many countries (in particular, in Russia), the use of bow and crossbow in hunting is prohibited. Therefore, a person who dreams of hunting wild boars, deer or small game with these types of weapons will have to go either to Canada or to Europe. In the near abroad, hunting with a crossbow is possible only in Belarus.
Hunting with a crossbow is much easier than hunting with a bow. The fact that the crossbow in the cocked state does not require efforts to constantly hold the string in a certain position, like a vertical bow, to some extent facilitates the task of the hunter. However, if the shooter does not possess hunting skills, he will not be successful with any type of weapon.
The crossbow has a very strong recoil, almost the same as a firearm. Misconception. In terms of power, crossbows are inferior to firearms, and in terms of ballistic characteristics they are very similar to block bows. Accordingly, the recoil force of a crossbow is almost the same as that of a bow, but much less than that of a firearm.
The crossbow and the gun have almost the same power. This is not true. An arrow fired from a crossbow loses speed, having flown only 30 m (even earlier than an arrow fired from a bow, but not because the bow is a more powerful weapon, but only because crossbow arrows are shorter and lighter than arrows used by archers ). A bullet fired from a gun begins to lose energy only after it has flown 100 m.
Crossbow hunters are less experienced than archer hunters. The skill level of the shooter does not depend on the type of weapon. In addition, there are often cases when experienced archers switch to the use of a crossbow only because it becomes more difficult for them to hunt with a bow purely physically. However, all the experience remains with them.
The crossbow is the favorite weapon of poachers. No, according to statistics, there are no less poachers using bows than those using crossbows. It should also be mentioned that poachers do not often use these types of weapons for their own purposes, since both bows and crossbows, from their point of view, do not have a sufficiently high efficiency. Indeed, due to the peculiarities of the design of the crossbow, it will not work for firing shots from the window of a driving car, and you cannot make several shots in a row from this weapon at the game, firstly, due to the fact that it takes some time to reload, second, because the sound (albeit very quiet) of a firing crossbow can scare a deer away. And finally, the crossbow is not a cheap pleasure. The price of a good model of this weapon with ammunition and appropriate equipment may exceed the cost of the intended production - a condition that is not acceptable for poachers.
The use of a crossbow while hunting often leads to accidents. Accidents during hunting with a crossbow do not occur more often than during hunting with a bow. And manufacturers, taking care of the safety of the shooter, make changes to the design of the weapon, minimizing the possibility of an idle descent or the likelihood of injury to the shooter.
When hunting with a crossbow, you should get as close to the game as possible. As a result of the tests carried out, it was found that the optimal distance, guaranteeing that the arrow hits the killer place, is from 27 to 70 meters (depending on the model of the crossbow, the conditions for performing the shot and the skill of the hunter). From a greater distance, it is much more difficult to get to the right place on the body of the animal, but if the shooter approaches the target at a distance of less than 20 meters - he can be attacked by a wounded animal (the exception is the position of the hunter, equipped on a tree - in this case, you can let the animal much closer) ...
Hunting with crossbows helps to reduce the population of various wild animals, in particular deer. According to statistics, over the past 30 years (hunting with a crossbow was allowed in some countries at the end of the 70s of the last century), the deer population not only did not decrease, but even increased.
The wounds inflicted on animals by crossbow arrows are much more painful than wounds with firearms. Experts believe that an animal wounded by an arrow from a crossbow (which cuts through tissue and causes severe internal and external bleeding) does not experience much suffering. Firstly, adrenaline in the blood reduces the sensitivity of the animal, and secondly, since the bleeding is quite strong, the animal quickly weakens and falls asleep. A bullet entering the body of the animal and tearing the internal organs causes a hydrodynamic shock, and it is extremely painful - most often in this case, the animal dies from a painful shock.
These days, crossbows are only used for hunting, recreation or sports. Crossbows are sometimes used as weapons, although not as widely as several centuries ago. For example, during the First World War, German soldiers were armed with an easel crossbow made of steel and used as a grenade launcher (and its design allowed the shooter to adjust the firing range by increasing or decreasing the bow pulling force). In the national liberation wars, crossbows were used as an integral part of a crossbow trap. In addition, this is a silent, compact and, thanks to modern materials, rather powerful weapon equipped with a sight (collimator, optical or laser) is nowadays successfully used in special forces.
The trainer must necessarily know the structure of the crossbow and be able to select the right equipment for the team of shooters. A good trainer must know what requirements crossbows must meet. The main criterion in choosing a weapon is the adaptation period, i.e. the athlete's addiction to the characteristics of the crossbow. This period can be significantly reduced if the trainer picks up a crossbow that matches the physical data of the shooter and has the skills of static and dynamic balancing of the weapon (if the crossbow comes disassembled or it is possible to pick up certain components of the weapon separately).
In this case, one should not rely on the results demonstrated by the crossbowman in the first days after receiving the weapon. Indeed, sometimes this can be simply a consequence of the "novelty effect", and the first (very impressive) successes are sometimes followed by a sharp drop in shooting accuracy and, as a result, loss of confidence in the weapon and a psychological breakdown. For this reason, the second most important criterion is reliability - an indispensable component of an athlete's success. And a good coach must remember that the more complex the system and the more functions it has, the greater the likelihood of weapon failure during a competition.
The reliability of the design can be assessed by its appearance, and the large threads on the mounting screws, excess metal and rough surface treatment of the weapon indicate more imperfect design than its strength. Precision fitting of all parts is also not the best choice, especially if the shooting will be carried out in the field. Indeed, in this case, even drops of water, grass stalks or sand particles caught in the crossbow can cause a complete failure of the mechanism.
The selected equipment should also be checked for maintainability without fail, and the trainer should not only be able to fix some problems himself, but also train the shooter to cope with equipment failure in the field on his own, bringing his skills to automatism. Only in this case, the probability of crossbow breakage will not become an additional stress factor for the athlete, negatively affecting the effectiveness of his performance.
If a coach works with a team, during the acquisition of inventory, he must necessarily take into account the possibility of interchangeability of elastic parts, sighting devices, fasteners and crossbow tools, as well as further modernization of his chosen weapon. And, finally, pay attention to the versatility of crossbows - it is this quality that will allow shooters to compete in any conditions, while demonstrating good results.