and management of this weapon and also gives minute directions to the
crossbowman concerning how he is to seek and stalk his game, whether boars,
stags or wolves, under varying conditions of covert and weather.
I will now give some curious and interesting extracts translated from
del Espinar, relating to crossbow-shooting as formerly practised by hunters
and foresters in Spain..
Extracts Translated from a Work on Field Sports in Spain, Written by
Alonzo Martinez Del Espinar, 1644
' The origin of the name Ballestero or crossbowman.
' The crossbow was much used before the introduction of the arquebus.
Those who followed the chase of the larger or smaller game killed with
this weapon, and except for rapid firing or when a bird was on the wing
it was highly esteemed, and the use of it produced very skilful crossbowmen.
' Now the use of the crossbow has almost ceased, and with it the race
of expert crossbowmen, for wings are no longer useful to birds or cunning
and speed to animals, for the arquebus makes all easy for the sportsman,
and thus everywhere birds and beasts are overtaken by death.
' When one or two of the many attained to the dignity of a finished
sportsman, he was called a " Ballestero," that is " a Crossbowman," thus
taking the name of the weapon with which he slew his quarry.
' When speaking of those who understand this art, even when they are
princes, it is common to say, " the King is a great Crossbowman," hence
much honour follows those who practise with the crossbow.
' He who earns the name of Crossbowman must be a general sportsman,
as has been already said, for it is not well that he who knows but one
of the arts of hunting, whether of one kind or the other, should be so
called. Therefore different names are given to other sportsmen who follow
the chase, and their names accord with the kind of chase they follow.
' Some are called " Bird-catchers " because they hunt birds with snares
and decoys, nets and various kinds of instruments. Others, who are called
"hunters," kill large birds, rabbits and hares, with the arquebus and with
' Others hunt partridges with a tame decoy bird, and lay snares of cords
which they call " perchas." They also hunt by night with a dark lantern,
which is used to drive the birds into a net. Some hunt with ferrets and
nets and with pointer dogs. All these persons are known as " Hunters."