If you are watching American movies in which the settings are from the medieval times and that there is warfare between two tribes, having the swords and armor, and bows and arrows as their primary weapons, then you must imagine how a crossbow looks like.
From the word itself, a crossbow, is in a shape of a cross, wherein a short bow is attached and is mounted crosswise near the end of a stick, most commonly called as a tiller or stock. It has a lever connected to its stock, in which its purpose is to aid in loading the crossbow.
The arrow that is fired with the use of a crossbow is called a bolt. These projectiles are much shorter compared to other types of arrows used for different kinds of bows. These bolts are also much heavier compared to others. The sizes of these bolts are approximately 16-20 inches long, and instead of having a nock, what it has is a flat rear insert.
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In order to achieve much energy, there is an optimum weight requirement for a bolt. In fact, bolts nowadays are commonly stamped with markings to show that they are of consistent weight.
There are different variants of crossbow available in the market; although it has two main divisions, namely the production and the freestyle crossbows. The first one is the most common type, which is made available in every archery shops; while freestyle are the customized types of crossbows.
Each crossbow differs from its size, the energy it can produced, its acceleration system, and its projectiles. There are also crossbow variants that contain the characteristics of a crossbow and other types of bows. One example is a recurve crossbow, a crossbow having recurve limbs (recurves are separately discussed under the Recurve Bows). The other type is a compound crossbow, which has the characteristics of both a crossbow and a compound bow (Compound Bow is discussed in a separate page). Other variants of a crossbow are the pistol grip crossbows (which are known as the smallest kind of crossbow), the repeating crossbow, and the bullet crossbow.
Crossbows are known to be more accurate compared to traditional longbows. It is also a perfect weapon for hunting and other target practice and activities, since crossbows are easy to operate and thus makes it much better for you to focus to a target, compare to other bows. Although, its only disadvantage is that it takes more time to load the bolts in a crossbow, rather that setting the arrows in other classic bows.