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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Bullet Shooting Crossbows and modern catapults:

English Stonebow from Around 1760.

The historic bullet-shooting (stones, baked clay pellets, or cast lead slugs) crossbow featured many similarities to the slingshot - a similarly effective but much simpler weapon - ask 'Big G' (the biblical warrior Goliath - a 'pagan' Philistine).

Both feature a pouch that holds a small projectile. In comparison tests, the bullet-shooting crossbow only shoots slightly faster - but much more accurately than the slingshot - but the slingers were better at sea as bow strings got damp and stretched on board ship.

Oddly enough, but that boys favourite - the catapult - can be faster again - but you need to train with it and have decent elastic in good condition - a modern invention eh.
Mid 18th Century BulletBow.

The bullet-shooting crossbow had the potential to fracture skulls and break bone, but as this only one way to take down the enemy - the bullet-shooting crossbow didn't match up with the standard crossbow firing sharp pointed bolts or arrows that let the blood out quicker in wartime.

Some modern arrow-shooting (arrows may weigh 300 to 400 grains) compound crossbows claim to be faster than 400 ft. per sec. - Medieval longbows and crossbows would be achieving only 130 - 140 ft. per sec. when loosed  (not 'fired' fire involved eh) but with a heavy arrow or bolt - plenty of effective power.

Most bullet-shooting crossbows used small bullets primarily for hunting. The small calibre rounds were perfect for killing animals like birds and rats. Crossbows don't give off much sound. Even though more powerful weapons were later invented - like the air gun*, the bullet-shooting crossbow has been used extensively throughout history for putting meat on the table because it wasn't loud enough to scare-off the rabbits, pheasants or wood-pigeons. - Naturally in their day these bows were the poachers weapon of choice.

* Earliest example of a 'spring-piston' compressed air gun is dated 1580 in a Stockholm museum. - The Girandoni air rifle was a Napoleonic pre-charged 51 calibre Austrian military weapon capable of 20 rounds per minute back in 1780.

- I think that the Brits are still permitted low power air guns?

Modern 'Shanghais', 'Catapults' or Slingshots are also very quiet while hard hitting and fun to use. Have a look in your local friendly gun shop - selling here for around NZ$30 :

Note: One theory is that a "shangeye" comes from an English dialect word for a cleft stick 'shangy' ? 

- The way gun law is under pressure worldwide currently - you might need an elastic powered version soon - Current English "Gun Shops" seem to specialise in racks of green rubber Wellies (rubber boots) and waterproof canvass jackets for grey-squirrel watching.. Southern England is infested with "cute" grey squirrels  ("tree rats") - and vermin foxes.
Issue every Brit teenage male with a catapult!
Have a look at The Pocket Shot Slingshot video for a neat idea that claims to shoot at 350 feet per second:

This stuff is NOT suitable as toys for young kids - as glass and steel balls will cause serious injury.

Marty K.
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