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The Crossbow   >  Chapter 37   >   The Bullet Shooting Crossbow   >   English   > p.177

Table of Contents List of Illustrations Index Appendix

Chapter XXXVII

The Bullet Shooting Crossbow - English

This bullet crossbow may be termed modern in comparison with the crossbows hitherto described, though the period of its popularity dates so far back as the years 1800-1840. As before stated, the bullet crossbow is a reproduction of the stonebow of the sixteenth century (fig. 100, p. 157), which it closely resembles, save that it has a considerably more powerful bow, a lock of better design, and a lever attached to its stock for bending its stronger bow.

The bullet crossbow, a handsome and effective weapon of 6 lb. to 7 Lb. in weight, was intended for killing rooks and rabbits, especially the former, and was sold by the gunmakers of its day for 12 to 15 gs.

It was contemporary with the improved air-gun with a hollow stock which superseded the air-gun that held the condensed air in a metal ball attached below its barrel.1

It is true the bullet crossbow did not shoot with the force of an air-gun, but it answered its purpose and was easier and safer to manipulate than any air-gun.

After the introduction of small rifles for shooting rooks - about 1840 - bullet crossbows and air-guns were laid aside, though many of the former passed into the hands of poachers, who, owing to their silent discharge, found them useful for killing pheasants at roost.

Considerable amusement may, however, be derived from a good bullet crossbow, whether in knocking young rooks off the branches of not too tall trees - which it will do well - or in practising at a mark.

These weapons may be discovered - nearly always without their bow-strings  - in the shops of provincial gunmakers and in those of dealers in curiosities, and often in the gun-rooms of old country houses which stand near rookeries. Few people are aware how well and truly they were made, how accurately they shot or how much they were valued by sportsmen in former days.

1 The air-gun was invented in 1560 by Guter of Nuremberg. It was sometimes used in warfare in the first half of the eighteenth century, one German regiment of infantry even carrying these weapons instead of fire-locks.


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