surface of the stock, wherefore it presses so hard upon the stock that
the string cannot play freely along the groove in which the arrow is laid.
The centre of the string does not then strike the arrow in the middle of
its butt, but rather below it, so the arrow goes away with a sinuous flight.
In such a case a crossbow is said to be "loaded" or " weighted."
' The second evil is, when the string of the bow is raised just clear
of the stock, because then the centre of the string strikes the arrow rather
higher than the middle of its butt and so, instead of shooting it off properly,
it drives it downward.
' The arrow from a crossbow will also fly ill if it press against the
stock as the string sends it off, for if the arrow is to fly well it must
only rest at its head and at its butt-end upon the groove of the stock.
' There are many different sights in crossbows, because men generally
take aim differently and so order the sights to be made in various ways
to suit their individual tastes. The most perfect crossbow is the one which
has the stock straight from the head to the end of the handle.
' In order to take aim with the crossbow, the shooter must grasp the
handle of the stock with his right hand and place his thumb over the upper
surface of the stock, then, as he holds the stock and the trigger in this
hand, he should raise his thumb close to his eye.1 When the
head of the arrow can be seen above the top of the thumb, he takes aim
as he chooses and in this way he will strike his game ; but the thickness
of a " real of eight " 2 will give a shot a finger length higher
or lower than it should be.
' It is needful to know that the direct flight of the arrow of the crossbow
is generally twenty-five paces,3 up to which distance it hits
very surely, but after five paces more it will strike lower according to
the strength of the bow. The weaker crossbows will strike two finger lengths
lower at thirty paces than they do at twenty-five paces, and the stronger
one finger length lower.
' The shooter must aim according to his knowledge of the strength of
his crossbow and the distance of the game at which he shoots, but this
is not a matter which can be settled here.
' The art of using the crossbow is so greatly lost here in Spain where
formerly such beautiful things were done with it, that I have desired to
name its parts, in order that these should be preserved in memory for the
benefit of lovers of curiosities, and because the crossbow is the best
instrument with which to teach princes from their childhood. Also the crossbow
teaches all the
1 The author does not mention the left hand,
which of course grasps the stock forward and near and below the bow.
2 A silver piece of about the thickness of
a dollar and an ounce in weight, comprising eight small coins in value.
3 Point-blank range the author means.