Re: Crossbow Questions
Egon Harmuth's "Die Armbrust" has very clear line drawings of 2 large pistol
crossbows, and a period Chinese drawing of a man firing one. They were
sized to need 2 hands, and apparently used bundled bamboo prods. If my
extremely rusty German serves, the bows were 3rd century.
The bows both have modern-style triggers and trigger guards, although lock
details are lacking.
The drawing shows an archer holding the bow well away from himself, in a
slight crouch. He supports the bow with his left hand under the forestock,
holds the pistol grip in his right, and is sighting along the bolt. The
prod is clearly several bamboo sections tied together, and appears to be
longer, tip to tip, than the bow is nose to grip.
I saw two repros of this bow at Pennsic years ago, done as notchlocks and
using Iolo's prods. They were not very well made, and shot horribly.
>From: Alberic <alberic@...>
>Subject: Re: [SCA-Archery] Crossbow Questions
>Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 03:02:52 -0700
>From: Alberic <alberic@...>
>I can say with some confidence that black Barnett pistol crossbows are
>not period. In fact, other than one specific purpose built crossbow
>that I know of, I know of no pistol type crossbows available for sale
>that even *might* be period.
>That being said, I saw once a pistol-ish crossbow that was built based
>on medieval chinese plans or artifacts, and the maker mentioned also
>having documentation for a pistol type crossbow found in a greco-roman
>period Egypitan tomb burial. (Which would be *way* pre period for us,
>but it does give you precidence.) Unfortunately, I don't remember who
>the maker was, or any of the rest of the information that would enable
>me to track the citation down.
>(All I really remember are the specifics of the bow, and the maker's
>comments, combined with the impression that my bullsh*t alarms were not
>As an interesting postscript to the handicapped archer thread, the
>pistol crossbow in question was built for a wheelchair archer who
>couldn't fit a standard bow tiller in around the chair bits.
>Alberic. (Who thinks he *may* just remember who built the
>>This list sponsored by House Wyvern Hall
>of Barony Beyond the Mountain, East Kingdom
>[SCA-Archery-unsubscribe@... to leave this list]
- Yes, the crossbow pistol is period, but not at all common. Of the six assasins
bows studies by the Society of Archer Antiquaries, 5 were traditionally prodded
with a very early 'one hand grip' and the sixth was a skein driven machine like
a ballista which used the handle/crank as a pistol grip.
There are other examples of smaller bows, but none that have a modern style
full grip, though these bows had to be fired one-handed (not big enough to be
held with two hands). These were mostly excercises in the skill of the
armbruster - showing off by building fully workable mineatures - and not really
Some of the fox-bows, meant to be shot when a fox tripped the trigger-wire,
were stub gripped, could have been fired pistol style, but the stub grip was
meant to fit into a holder which was fastened to a tree or rock or structure,
so the bow could be braced, readied, then set in place in high-traffic areas
The Chinese had some bows which were about the size of a standard pistol-grip
riot shotgun, without any butt. These had an integrated frigger guard and were
probably officer issue.
The Romans brought the crossbow from Asia in the 1st century, the remains and
pillar carvings all depict a short, carbine style bow.
There is also a possibility that a bow loosely resembling those seen in "First
Knight" might just be 16th century - I am awaiting some word from an
independant collector in Switzerland now for confirmation. I have already built
a copy, though, and it has a neat reset mechanism.
But if you are looking for the standard pistol grip on a bow that would have
been powerful and accurate enough for our use, you probably won't find it. At
least I haven't. Not until the end of the 1600's.
What is referred to as the classic 'pistolenschnepper' (auf Deutsch, bitte) was
created in the late 1800's in England for limited sporting use, then adopted by
Whammo and Barnett this century.
Hope this helps
> From: Chad and Erin Wilson <chaderin@...>, on 9/27/99 10:46 PM:
> From: Chad and Erin Wilson <chaderin@...>
> Please bare with me, I'm new at this archery thing.
> Is the Crossbow Pistol period?
> Is the pistol grip period?
> Please give me an answer other than yes or no. I would like something a
> tad more informative.
> -Caeman of Unicorn
> > This list sponsored by House Wyvern Hall
> of Barony Beyond the Mountain, East Kingdom
> [SCA-Archery-unsubscribe@... to leave this list]
Thank you for the clearification and information. It is extrememly important
for us to be specific to what we term period or not .
ie- guns are period. AK-47s are not! ...This is obvious but what type of
"gun" and what defines it in a specfic period is what we must look at and
Again, thanks for the information and clearification.
I have a question for you- a full sized crossbow with a rifle shoulder stock
and a pistol grip and trigger release (as opposed to a "tickler and roller")
would not be period in Europe 1000-1500?
your information and attention to period detail is always a help and I learn
Thanks. I hope someday we can meet face to face. I will be honoured.
> I have a question for you- a full sized crossbow with a rifle shoulder stockTo the best of my knowlege (and I am a Laurel for (mainly) Crossbow building)
> and a pistol grip and trigger release (as opposed to a "tickler and roller")
> would not be period in Europe 1000-1500?
the answer is no. There are instances of bows with set and match triggers and
rudimentary rifle shoulder stocks in the 1700s, but none that I can document
have a pistol grip as well. There are Pistol grip bows in the 1800s but none
with carbine type rifle stocks.
There is a Belgian bow with a rifle stock, a trigger with a guard, and what
looks vaguely like a pistol grip, but it is not. It is a grip for your other
hand, and it is several inches in front of the trigger guard assembly. This
bow can be dated to the mid- to late- 1600s.
But there is no documentation that I can find for a modern assault carbine /
sten style bow in period.
Hope this helps