The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Sporting and
Target Crossbow, with a Light Steel Bow which was
Bent by a Wooden Lever
This handsome little crossbow (fig. 105, p. 165), was used in the latter
half of the seventeenth and in the first half of the eighteenth century.
After the powerful crossbow for killing deer had been supplanted by
the arquebus, the makers of crossbows turned their attention to the production
of weapons that served for target-practice and for use on game and other
birds, as well as on small animals such as hares and rabbits.
These light crossbows were of excellent design and construction and
often beautifully decorated; they discharged their bolts with great accuracy
up to fifty yards and with considerable force.
Though their steel bows were small in comparison with those of the bolt-shooting
crossbows previously described, they were stout for their length, and capable
of sending their miniature quarrels to a distance of 200 yards.
This weapon was very popular on the Continent for killing game birds
and small animals till about 1720, and for target-shooting till a much
In mediaeval target-shooting, the bolts of crossbows were commonly aimed
at a disk of white paper or other conspicuous object,1 placed,
at 50 yards distance, against the centre of a tightly rammed butt of grass
sods, about 5 ft. square on its face.
The bolt of a crossbow, being so short in comparison with the arrow
of a longbow, was very liable to be lost if discharged so as to fall on
level ground, by reason of its penetrating beneath the surface of the soil.
1The half of an oyster shell, its white side,
of course, outwards, was a favourite mark to set up against a butt for
crossbow-shooters to aim at.