Crossbow early use of evidence suggests that the first crossbows were made towards the end of the fourth century bc in china and surrounding areas. appear to have been first used as toys or for untended traps. crossbows are mentioned archery outpost tulsa in the famous document by sun tzu, the art of war, written between 500 and 300 bc and a fourth century bc document, also from china, has references to a giant catapult. the tomb of emperor qin shi huang, famous for the terracotta army, contains crossbow remains. in greece the crossbow appeared around the fifth century and is known as a gastraphetes.
The greek besiegers to the city of tire in 332 bc used crossbows and they were also used in the year 397 bc at the siege of motya. the gastraphetes is believed to have been invented around the year 400 bc and consisted of a composite bow which was cocked by pressing the stock which was rested on the stomach. heron of alexandria described the gastraphetes famous work belopoeica. composite bows comprised of a trigger and stock, operated on a stand and known as oxybeles, is built from gastraphetes, and further development led to larger ballista. europe crossbows were used by roman armies and figured in the battle of hastings in great britain in 1066.
Archery outpost tulsa – MILITARY HISTORY : Crossbow and Bow and Arrow
They are increasingly used in preference to long bows until they effectively replaced them by the twelfth century. they had distinct advantages over longbows, most notably in a shorter period of training. a crossbow can be mastered in as little as a week while a longbow takes years of training to use effectively. battle formations often consisted of archers, javelin throwers and crossbowmen as a central component protecting the infantry, and crossbows were often used in the pre-battle skirmishes and sneak attacks. knights in armor had little defenses against an attack by crossbowmen and pikemen and with the invention of better drawing mechanisms, crossbows could also be used while on horseback.
With the invention of gunpowder weapons crossbow use started to decline, even in the early years gunpowder weapons were less effective than crossbows as they were slow to reload and less accurate. elsewhere in asia crossbows were used as siege weapons and the saracens used composite crossbows in their was against the crusaders. muslim armies in spain used crossbows and throughout africa they were used for hunting and by scouts. the technology crossed the atlantic to north america with the slaves and light crossbows were used by the inuit for hunting.
Now crossbows today are mainly used for target practice although it is still used in some countries for hunting.