Warfare is an endeavor that has frequently paved the way for human innovations. Some of these innovations were useful not only during wartime but during peacetime as well but some were purely made for war and for hunting. Take for example the crossbow, a weapon used to throw wooden projectiles into the air to pierce thru flesh, wood, steel and even stone. This article will go over the history of crossbow hunting in Europe, which is fundamentally a history of warfare.
5th Century BC
The gastraphetes is widely regarded as the earliest form of the crossbow in Europe, which is considered to be the forerunner of the catapult. Its invention and use in Europe dates back some time before 420 BC. The gastraphetes was used as an artillery weapon and was constructed of three parts:
1. Lower section: comprises of the case and affixed to the bow much like a horizontally placed crossbow.
2. Upper section: made-up of the slider and its mechanism which was made to be the same size and dimension as the case
The effectiveness and the productivity of the gastraphetes were advanced further thru the introduction of the ballista, which allowed the crossbow to fire larger projectiles at a faster rate. Due to the success of the crossbow ballista combination the crossbow became a lot more varied both in size and in use. Incidentally the smaller type of crossbow hunting weaponry was known as Scorpio.
The crossbow came about around 1525 AD in the battle of Hastings. Back then the longbow was the projectile weapon of choice mainly because it was much simpler to produce, not to mention the fact that it needed only one operator and was more exact than a crossbow. Some even said the longbow was more sophisticated than the crossbow, which looked like a block of wood with a lopsided bow. The popularity of the crossbow was mainly due to three factors:
1. Easier operation
2. Longer range
3. Greater piercing capability
These three factors paved the way for the enhancement of a crossbow unit that were either used in conjunction with the longbow or where used for special operations to guard, to attack in open warfare or in siege operations as well.
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