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Updated on January 23, 2020

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Archery Target Backstop with traditional target. | Source

Do you own any medieval weaponry?

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Ever Wanted To Know How To Make a Crossbow?

Crossbows are not toys, they are weapons, but that being said, they are quite a bit of fun. A while back I went to my local SCA groups archery practice and had the pleasure of trying out one of the members crossbow. It is a traditional style crossbow fashioned after the crossbows used since the medieval times.

The satisfaction of the *thunk* as the bolt flies from the crossbow and smacks into the target is unparalleled. I love my traditional bow, but the crossbow was just too much fun to pass up. After playing with the crossbow for as long as I could I thought to myself "". The owner of the crossbow, an expert on archery through the ages, confirmed this for me, while his model was quite advanced there are others that are much simpler to make. So began my quest to learn how to build a medieval crossbow and searched the internet for crossbow plans. Since I am a historical re-enactor, and my focus is the medieval ages, the crossbow plans I have mainly considered are as closely resembling medieval crossbows as possible.

I can''ve tried to include as many of them as possible here, but the list is just never ending. If you come across any I have missed feel free to drop me a line in the comments section and I''ve never done any woodworking projects building a crossbow is probably not the best bet for your first project.

This is an ever growing list of great online free plans for making your own crossbow, so check back often if you can''d love to hear how it went.

  • Repeating Crossbow
    A pump action repeating crossbow. What could be more fun?
  • The Arbalist Guild
    Not actually a specific plan for a crossbow, but rather a collection of people who love crossbows. NOTE: Arbalist is a specific type of crossbow developed in the middle ages.
  • An Instructable On Crossbow Making
    Instructables is a great do it yourself site with many great plans. This particular instructable is a nice design.
  • Crossbow Parts
    This is a site that sells crossbow parts, however part way down there are some links to detailed schematics for crossbows.
  • How to Make Crossbows: The Classic Crossbow
    You can make a crossbow using walnut, aluminum and a few miscellaneous parts. This article includes plans and step-by-step instructions that tell you how to make a crossbow.
  • CHU-KO-NU Manchurian Repeating Crossbow circa 2nd century AD
    Since comparatively little information had been published relating to the Chu-ko-nu, I have always had the desire to write a full description of it, accompanied by precisely dimensioned drawin
  • Free Pistol Crossbow DIY Plan and Instructions
    A small pistol sized crossbow.
  • Free Wooden Crossbow Plans
    Note: Membership required (supposedly free), have not verified the plans myself. Plans For A Crossbow, instant download, bill of materials, instructions, also see our other UNIQUE Plans!
  • Crossbow Building Wiki
    Crossbow Building Wiki is a community site that anyone can contribute to. Discover, share and add your knowledge!
  • Designing medieval nut and trigger crossbow locks - Crossbow Building Wiki
    This article describes design aspects of a simple nut and trigger lock commonly seen on medieval crossbows. Part of the above mentioned crossbow wiki, this particular article goes into the trigger mechanism common in medieval crossbows in considerab
  • DIY Medieval Crossbow | eHow.com
    DIY Medieval Crossbow. Crossbows are very accurate and powerful weapons used for hunting and for sport. While most people buy crossbows from hunting stores, people in medieval reenactment groups enjoy making their own medieval crossbows from basic pa
  • Build a Crossbow using Leaf Spring
    Plans from Popular Mechanics on how to build a crossbow using leaf springs.
  • Home made crossbow
    Not a particularly elegant design, nor would I recommend using it, however it''div-gpt-ad-ArticleMobileInContent2''{"":"","":""}''s a great way to have a more complex crossbow but still having the satisfaction of DIY.

Medieval Or Modern

What''t really evolved that much, we''t really catch on, however it did evolve into the Ballista, which is a huge crossbow that shoots massive bolts. The Ballista was a siege engine that is sometimes called a scorpio or scorpion.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Other than the scorpio the crossbow didn''div-gpt-ad-ArticleDesktopInContent1''{"":"","":""}''div-gpt-ad-ArticleMobileInContent4''{"":"","":""}''s Your Favorite Medieval Weapon

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My Plans

To Make A Crossbow

I am hoping to make a gastraphetes sometime soon. My idea is simply buy a simple recurve or longbow and outfit it to be a gastraphetes with mountable tripod. My hope is to make is legal to use in SCA combat archery.

I recently moved to Alberta and the local SCA group The Shire of Vinjar is heavy into archery, specifically combat archery, and they make their own period accurate(ish) crossbows. So I think I will be making a crossbow with them. It will be much more fancy than I was intending, but I love their design so much.

Update June 27 2013

I got a chance to use two different styles of SCA period crossbows in order to figure out which I would like to make. One had a longer butt that you could rest your chin on to stabilize it, the other was shorter. I found the short one to be quick loading and lighter, however the longer one made for better shooting, and I think with practice could be quicker loading. Both bows were fun to shoot and such, but I think I will go with the longer design.

Crossbows for Hunting

Hunters have a completely different set of needs when it comes to crossbows. While technically some of the crossbow plans I found on the internet could be used for hunting I do not recommend it. When considering a crossbow the 1 last update 2020/08/05 for hunting one shouldn''div-gpt-ad-ArticleDesktopBelowContent''{"":"","":""}''div-gpt-ad-ArticleMobileInContentLast''{"":"","":""}''div-gpt-ad-ArticleDesktopATFSidebar''{"":"","":"","":""}''s GuideHunters have a completely different set of needs when it comes to crossbows. While technically some of the crossbow plans I found on the internet could be used for hunting I do not recommend it. When considering a crossbow for hunting one shouldn''div-gpt-ad-ArticleDesktopBelowContent''{"":"","":""}''div-gpt-ad-ArticleMobileInContentLast''{"":"","":""}''div-gpt-ad-ArticleDesktopATFSidebar''{"":"","":"","":""}''s Guide

by Joseph Thomas0by Joseph Thomas0

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    Shoot me some comments - I can take it!

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      • Joseph Thomas 

        8 for 1 last update 2020/08/05 months ago 8 months ago

        Super interesting, well done for this article!

      • Ted Neeley 

        2 years ago

        I a man looking for someone to make a cross bow for me. I have an old compound bow and an old rifle stock. I live in Calif. and I am disabled. If you know of anyone that could help me I would be very appreciative. Thank you. Pastor Ted Neeley.

      • Medieval Crossbow 

        4 years ago

        I think you will find my website interesting as well. it''m not really into the medieval stuff, but actually my uncle build a crossbow himself, so it was interesting to read you lens. Very well-done! Greets, Joebeducci

      • Avast90 

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for 6 years ago

        Nice! :)

      • jura 

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for 6 years ago

        Crossbows are very powerful wepins .

      • the 1 last update 2020/08/05 MartialArtsEvolution MartialArtsEvolution 

        6 years the 1 last update 2020/08/05 ago 6 years ago

        Ive always loved crossbows. Now its time to try and make one. Thank for sharing

      • Birthday Wishes 

        6 years ago from Here

        Wonderful lens!!! You know what you are talking about! Thanks for sharing!

      • silvermander 

        6 years ago 6 years ago

        I think crossbows, specifically medieval crossbows are great, I just wish it was easier to find parts for them.

      • fcinternetmarketing 

        6 years ago

        Great ones.

      • garagerob 

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for 6 years ago

        Never tried this before but it looks very fun! Very nice presentation. Will share this with my brothers.:)

      • Gina Valley 

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for 6 years ago from Arizona

        I have a couple replica medieval swords - I''s shop instead! =) Thank you!

      • AUTHOR

        Jeff Johnston 

        6 years ago Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for from Alberta Canada

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for @MBurgess: :D glad I could help. I really have to get on making my own crossbow sometime soon as well LOL :D

      • chuckholmes301 

        7 the 1 last update 05 Aug 2020 years ago7 years ago

        I''t toys. Great lens I feel inspired to give this a try.

      • AstroGremlin 

        7 years ago

        I used to practice with a 50-pound bow all the time. But when I was invited to go bow hunting, I knew I wasn''t think I would enjoy chasing a wounded deer. I figure I owe an animal a quick exit.

      • AUTHOR

        Jeff Johnston 

        7 years ago from Alberta Canada

        @anonymous: Thank you. Yes most assume that crossbow became the favored weapon due to its superiority, but it really never did much more than match the longbow for power at best, in the end it is its simplicity that won out. Its a tidbit most miss out when they learn about weapons, they assume advancement means more powerful, but not always the case.

      • anonymous 

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for 7 years ago

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for I''t enough and once you have one you want other versions ....and a collection is born that becomes quite the center of conversation with many stories to tell. Now I just took for granted that the crossbow was the superior weapon and just learned that the longbow really is but mastery is the issue and the crossbow won out that way...interesting! Congratulations on your much celebrated purple star!

      • mic604 

        7 years ago 7 years ago

        Just had the opportunity to shoot my first crossbow a few weeks back, as they are now legal to hunt with in Jersey, and my friend purchased one. This thing had a scope, and once sighted was extremely accurate. Seems almost like cheating...lol Still like the longbow as it is more fun to shoot in my opinion.

      • Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for glenbrook 

        7 years ago

        I''t available in Kuwait until only very recently... but I absolutely LOVE it! Blessed!

      • Mary Norton 

        7 years ago from Ontario, Canada7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        I now know something about the crossbow. Well done.

      • Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for AUTHOR

        Jeff Johnston 

        7 years ago from Alberta Canada

        Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for @athrunzala: Thanks hope I can get around to making one myself ASAP :D

      • for 1 last update 2020/08/05 athrunzala athrunzala 

        7 years ago

        wow nice plans you have!

      • Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for AUTHOR

        Jeff Johnston 

        7 years ago from Alberta Canada

        @hntrssthmpsn: They are pretty neat plans :)... and actually there is some historical precedent, even if you are looking to make a historically accurate one. Many cultures had a repeating crossbow.

      • hntrssthmpsn 

        7 years ago the 1 last update 2020/08/05

        Those repeating crossbow plans are awesome!!! Five shots in five seconds... I've just got to have that. And yet another project joins the DIY queue...

      • Camden1 

        7 years ago

        I think my son would enjoy making a crossbow...that could be a good summer-time activity for him.

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