Crossbow > Chapter 5
> Range of the Medieval Crossbow
If they are correct, they can only be accounted for by the use of a
light short arrow, a very powerful bow, great strength and skill, and,
above all else, by the horn appendage which the Turkish archer attached
to his left arm, and without which he could not shoot so short an arrow
from his bow.1
If a very light flight arrow of reed or bamboo could in some way be
arranged to receive the impulse of the thick string
of a crossbow with a powerful steel bow, I have little doubt it could
be propelled half a mile.
I have fitted (as a separate piece) a large hollow horn nock over the
butt of the ordinary flight arrow of the longbow, so that the loose nock
rested against the string of the crossbow.
In this way I have obtained several flights of from 500 yards to 515 yards.
In the case of a short and very light flighting arrow, however, the recoil
of the steel bow shivers it to pieces as it leaves the stock
of the crossbow.
1 Even if we accept only the shortest range
recorded on the columns as correct - i.e. 625 yards - it is an extraordinary
distance for any arrow to be propelled, and much exceeds, as far as we
know, what has ever been done by an English bowman with a longbow. It is,
however, beyond question that the secretary to the Turkish Ambassador did
shoot an arrow 482 yards (the arrow and bow being even now preserved in
the Toxophilite Society's rooms), though he declared at the time of the
occurrence that he was not proficient in the art of sending a flight arrow
to what he considered a great distance. We may from this safely assume
that a range of 143 yards further than the Turkish secretary attained with
his bow, or a total flight of 625 yards, was quite possible in the case
of a more powerful and skilled Turkish archer than he was.
See Chapter L. for a description
of long distance arrow throwing by hand.
> Chapter 5 > Range
of the Medieval Crossbow > p.30
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