The Storied History of Repeating Crossbows

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Types of Crossbows To Chose FromRepeating crossbows were one of the most deadly weapons on the battlefield at one point in time.  The Chinese used these deadly weapons for close combat very effectively.  They could be fired, reloaded, cocked, and shot all in one swift motion with a single lever.

They idea was very simple and easy to create, making for a very rugged weapon on the battlefield.  It was a crossbow design with an added lever to perform the action, and a magazine on top to hold arrows.  This allowed the soldier shoot approximately 10 arrows before they had to pause and reload the weapon.

The mechanics of the weapon were so simple that any soldier could be trained to use them.  They did not need to understand the different parts of the crossbow, nor did they need to know the match.  All they had to do was push the lever down and pull it back up, then repeat.  This simple action would do the following:

  • Drop a single bolt into place
  • Provide Tension on the string
  • Release the bolt

Then Repeat

The Advantages of A Repeating Crossbow

One of the biggest complaints of a crossbow is how slow it can be to load.  In combat, taking 10 seconds to reload gives the enemy plenty of time to close the distance and get to you.  A repeating crossbow could shoot 19 bolts.  This was a huge upgrade because it meant that you only needed 10% of the people, or produced 1000% of the firepower.

This led to entire units full of repeating crossbows that could create a wall of arrows for defense.  It was widely used to defend castles and buildings, where they could sit behind a shield and just keep launching arrows at the enemies.  It made it very hard to attack any sort of fortification during its time.

The Disadvantages of A Repeating Crossbow

A repeating crossbow did have less power than a traditional crossbow of this era.  This is because they needed to make it easier to cock the crossbow in one motion and because the string would wear very quickly.  They overcame this by creating a whole wall of soldiers that would unleash massive numbers of arrows.  It was also very common to dip the arrows in poison so that a small wound could be fatal in the long run.

Another disadvantage was that they were much heavier than a traditional crossbow.  This led to them being commonly mounted on castle walls and other buildings.  The higher vantage point allowed them to fire on the enemy without the need to move.

If they were on the move, they would fire the repeating crossbow from the hip.  This was extremely inaccurate because there was no way to aim.  Fortunately, they could adjust their aim as they watched where the arrows were landing.  They had a chance to adjust every 2 seconds or so if they were a good shot.


Repeating crossbows were a huge part of the history of crossbows.  They progressed the technology used in crossbows significantly over a short period of time.  Repeating crossbows were one of, if not the, best ranged weapons until the invention of gunpowder.

By | 2017-06-08T16:40:13+00:00 March 25th, 2016|Crossbow History|0 Comments

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