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Anyone ever make a crossbow?

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I'm more than mildly interested in making a crossbow. Deer bow season is a few months away and taking one with a weapon I made would be very cool.

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Never done a crossbow. The guy who taught my archery instructor class makes his own recurves and long bows. A lot of the traditional crossbows are simply recurves with a stock and trigger mechanism though. The stock and trigger assembly shouldn't be all that hard, but getting the bow right is going to be the hard part.

 

Personally I use a Horton 175 crossbow for deer. I just don't have enough time to practice with any of my normal bows to be comfortable with a clean kill on a deer, even if I do help teach archery to kids. I'm looking forward to September and the opening of bow season. I'm trying to make a point to make time to get my crossbow all sighted in and ready. The deer have been wreaking havoc on the garden this summer. I figure if I can't eat the veggies, I can at least eat the deer that have been. Of course if it's like most years, all the ones in the back pasture will disappear 2 weeks before the season starts...

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"The Crossbow" by Sir Ralph Walter Payne-Gallwey once curator of the ancient weapons section of the British Museum has detailed plans for a medieval/renaissance hunting bow with a steel prod. It is of course not hunting legal everywhere I have lived due to the lack of a safety.

Note be VERY CAREFUL about making your own prod! Failure mode is it breaking/shattering and being thrown back into your face.

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Why yes, yes I have. :D

 

 
This is the book referred to above, very helpful. http://www.crossbowbook.com . He's not kidding about the prods, I've made one successfully by cutting down leaf spring.......and come to realize how lucky I was. Springs not bad, and saves the heat treatment, but I wouldn't risk it with anything but new again. Too dangerous. 
 
Leather or rawhide wrapping around the prod would also serve to protect you from some of it, but would also hide stress fractures. Use a natural fiber for the string and cord wrapping, and even then expect stretching. There's a LOT of pressure, draw strength can be in the hundreds of pounds. (although over a very short distance).

 

The nut is also a major pain to get right. Enclosed works far better, especially if you have lockplates on the sides with pins that it turns on. I've played with em, so far, best results were hickory and a metal wedge, but the wedge has a tendency to work loose. Metal "pins" in the nut worked pretty well too. Best advice is keep the first one simple. And remember, spend a fair amount of time figuring out the quarrels/bolts too. They do NOT behave like arrows, and can be tricky/dangerous to get right.

(spiralling, splintering, going where you don't want em too.)

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n.b. Check what is deer legal where you are BEFORE you start!!!!!! Many places it's legal to confiscate your vehicle if you are caught "poaching" per local laws.

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Are crossbows legal to poses or use where you live? Some places you can't even hang one from the wall without a permit.

 

There is a lot of things go into making a SAFE crossbow, just reading about them can be an eye opener. "The Practical Guide to Man-Powered Bullets," sub titled, 'Catapults, Crossbows, Blowguns, Bullet-Bows And Airguns,' By Richard Middleton. Is pretty thorough about designing and making such things. He goes into the math, materials, construction, etc. etc. in serious detail and describes experiments and failures.

 

It's a very good book if you're going to build these things, I've been reading through it for a while now, on my 3rd. re-read and I'm not into making bows anymore. A nice trebouchet on the other hand . . . <grin>

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Arkansas was the headquarters for the American Crossbow Association for many years and they were one of the first states to have a legal crossbow season. For many years in some other states carrying a crossbow in the woods was considered *proof* of an intent to poach. Hopefully this has now been changed! Check First.

I have one of the older 80# Whammo crossbows from when that was legal poundage and then an 120# Barnett when that was legal and I've built my own based on Payne-Gallwey and owned a massive swiss military crossbow at one time; sold it to a friend to put 5 extra feet on my smithy; sigh.

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Finally, ya'll bring up books I've had my hands on! :P Trebuchets are a lot of fun.....if you get the sling right. (okay, they're a lot of fun period, but a little scary when they fire backwards!)

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My brother and I are actually about to start a couple crossbows.  He's a woodworker and I'll do the metalwork (he's also a liscenced archery instructor).  A couple mid-sized ones for us, a smaller one for my wife maybe, and if things are going well then a heavy one with a crannequin and he wants a 1200# monster with a windlass.  One step at a time, though.

 

I'm planning on forging the prods from new 5160, instead of from spring tooth harrow tines like I had originally planned, and put a safety strap on them.  Having a lot of fun researching, but I want to get on and do it!

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I don't want to reproduce an antique. I want to build 1 with a.modern trigger. I figure that should be safer. Great links especially for the prods.

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I have a nice small spring off the steering axle of a Peterbilt.  Keep dreaming of a compound ballista  myself.  One day if the wife lets me collect enough bits.   :)

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Just because, really.  Energy loss in the prod and short drawlength makes the power work out the same as a heavy longbow.  A draw weight of over half a ton sounds better, though.

 

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 The bow Tod is using would be one I made ( the prod / bow part anyway, the rest is all Tod).

 They are interesting but very dangerous things to make. unless you are interested in making a crossbow for purely historical reasons then a steel prod is not particularly efficient. However they will put out quite a heavy war bolt quite efficiently and they are much much easier on the user than a 140lb war bow...

 I have built a compound balilsta  (catapulta) as well.....for a british TV show called beat the ancestors.....it was great fun...

14945052342_c28436fea3_c.jpg

 

big arrows too Me with arrows Tod with a string for the same machine in non compound mode...

14922413296_063cdb5ce1_c.jpg

 

14945052532_fe2c322fa6_c.jpg

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I recon that you would need to shoot it from a hide.....less useful from a tree stand.

 

I just saw the post mentioning compound balista...........couldn't help myself, doesn't normally come up in conversation.

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Great stuff, Owen!  We've got our hearts set on steel prods, but I'll be taking care to forge them and heat treat them correctly, then we'll test them and put a safety strap along the back before binding them to the tillers.  I'm less nervous about this than making gun barrels, which is something I'm still working up to, but the prods will be 'proofed' as well.  The bows Tod built with your prods are inspiring.

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man oh man that is inspiring Basher.   What kind of range were you getting with it?   REALLY makes me want to hop on a plane and poke though all the corners of your shop and see what wonderous devices are there.

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