Historically considered one of the deadliest weapons in existence, the crossbow has evolved
from a tool of human warfare to an option for hunting and shooting sports. With its ease of use
and high draw force, the crossbow is noted as a highly-accurate weapon even for a novice
It’s thought that the first crossbows were used in China as early as the 5th century B.C. for
both defense and hunting. In the following years, the Greeks, Romans, and Medieval Europeans
added crossbows to their military arsenals. During the 11th century, the Roman Catholic Church
banned the use of the weapon in Christian-to-Christian warfare, warning that offenders would
risk excommunication for violating the rule. By the 16th century, crossbows were nearly
eliminated in human warfare, replaced on the battlefields by black powder weapons. More
recently, crossbows have gained popularity in game hunting and sport shooting.
Antique crossbows were often made of wood and steel, and sometimes included intricate
carvings and parts made of ivory, stag horn, or ebony. Locating one with all original elements
intact is a valuable collector’s find. Modern crossbows are often made of fiberglass or carbon
fiber, but some are still made of wood or metal. Determining factors in purchasing one are
typically the intended use and cost along with weight and design.
Crossbows were referenced in Gaston Phoebus’ 1387 "Book of the Hunt"
Some world military organizations still use crossbows today, from ambush missions to anti-
sniper operations and bomb detection. The silence of the weapon is a reported advantage
Crossbowmen were an esteemed group in medieval times. They often received higher pay
than foot soldiers