type of ranged weapon based on the bow

The crossbow, or arbalest, is a bow which consists of a bow-like arc called prod and cross-wise body called stock and trigger mechanism.[1] The crossbow is an invention in which the stock, a piece of wood is mounted on two other crossing pieces. Crossbows shoot short arrows called bolts which are similar to arrows. The crossbow was introduced to China during the Warring States period. This period lasted over three centuries where several Chinese states fought mercilessly for dominance and territory. Throughout this time the crossbow evolved to make it easier to carry and more accurate. This highly sought after weapon led to the success of the Han and Song empires.[2]

A drawing of an archer firing a crossbow

The Ancient Greeks invented the crossbow separately in 4th century B.C. The Romans called the weapon arcuballista. Crossbow were much used in the Middle Ages as they were strong and accurate and could be used as a sharpshooter weapon. The Arabs call crossbow qaws Ferengi, "Frankish bow", as the Crusaders used crossbow a lot. A good crossbow can shoot the bolt with such immense power that it may pierce armour. Against unarmoured light opponents, even a single bolt may be lethal.

Compared to the ordinary bow, the crossbows have good and bad sides to them. They fire much stronger and much more accurately than ordinary bows, and shooting accurately with a crossbow is easier to learn than shooting with an ordinary bow. On the other hand, because the prod is short and therefore very stiff, a crossbow will take much longer time to load, and a crossbow does not have as good accurate range than a longbow. Many crossbows have crank or windlass mechanisms to pull the string in drawn position. Also many crossbows do have safety mechanisms to prevent an accidental shot.

Crossbow shooting is today a popular sport.


  1. "crossbow | Definition, History, & Facts | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-07-04.
  2. Russo, Jared (2022-02-03). "When was the Crossbow Invented - GearDisciple". Retrieved 2022-07-04.