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Re: [SCA-Archery] Crossbow vs. Handbow

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  • Bruce R. Gordon
    Greetings Had an amusing experience the other day that, it occurs to me, has some relevance to this discussion. Friend of mine and I were talking X-bows, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 18, 2005
      Had an amusing experience the other day that, it occurs to me, has some relevance to this discussion.

      Friend of mine and I were talking X-bows, and he mentioned he'd got this mundane bow for real cheap - didn't use it much, but it was fun... would I like to check it out? I said sure, so the next meeting in he comes with this X-bow that breaks every SCA reg in the book - open frame stock (camo, of course), cams, telescope sight, aluminum bolts, the whole bit (Nigel, you thought traditional X-bows were the Dark Side of the Force? You ain't seen nuthin' yet, Grasshopper...).

      So I go out to a range, private like so no Scadians will spot me. Now, mind you, I've never, ever, shot a modern crossbow before. Ever. Held one or two once or twice - put 'em back down again. So, I take a stance (standing up the first time), and send three downrange at 30 yards. Got a group I could curl my finger-and-thumb completely around. Sat down for the next round, and braced my arm on my knee. My "group" consisted of three aluminum bolts in close contact with one another, just barely not Robin-Hooded.

      Breathtaking, no? Thing is, though, the groups weren't much at all where what I was aiming for was. Which put me in exactly the same position that the novices I teach are: I tell 'em, first thing, let me see you get a group. I don't care if the group is somewhere out on the lawn instead of the bale, just get a group. Got your group? Fine, now, lets start working on moving the group around.

      Y'see, a X-bow gives you an immediate leg up. In the case of a trad X-bow over a trad handbow, it'll give you a very consistent release and a flattish enough trajectory that you can immediately add 10 or 15 points to whatever you normally shoot. In the case of a modern X-bow over a trad, it gave me amazing grouping without visible effort. But afterwards, you need to refine technique and that takes just as long for a crossbowman as anyone else. You need to learn how to use the flat trajectory effectively. You need to learn how to move a group around just so... And folks, I'm here ta tell ya that a scope is actually kind of a detriment in some ways, because if you thought your arm wavered a bit before, wait'll you see what it does as seen through a magnified tube with hatchline markings.

      A crossbow is a device. It gives a certain mechanical advantage and thus gives an archer an immediate leg up. But then you need to work at it just like everyone else. And they are slow, to boot. So, I feel all the advantages and disadvantages of each style tend to cancel each other out.

      The Winter Challenge scores over the past 7 or 8 years bear me out (and, incidentally, Shameless Plug mode ON - the Challenge will be gearing up again quite shortly... SP mode OFF). X-bow scores do tend to cluster higher up than handbow scores. But the two highest scores ever achieved in the history of the shoot belong to two (different) 35 pound recurves.

      Three things never heard from the mouth of a Celt:
      "Do these colors match?"
      "Is this too much jewelry?"
      "Is that my drink?"


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