To become handy with a crossbow, you only need a good crossbow target and a proper model that you can use depending on your stature and physical strength. Due to their ease of use, crossbows are very popular and considered better than traditional longbows, for reasons you can find out more about by reading our article.
You don’t need the same physical strength to use a crossbow
One of the first advantages that we must talk about is that a crossbow doesn’t need its shooter to have the same physical power as when using a traditional longbow. In the past, archers using longbows were quite strong individuals. They needed this strength to draw the bow, aiming and keeping it that way.
Needless to say, their arms had to be very strong to resist the fatigue that came with such an endeavor. A simple look at a crossbow will tell you that it’s not the same with this version of a bow. When you cock a crossbow, the system locks it in place, and you can hold it like that without any extra effort on your part.
Also, when using a traditional longbow, an archer needs to work on his or her accuracy a lot, because just the simple action of reloading the weapon can be tiring. Crossbows even come with unique mechanisms for drawing them without putting in extra work.
When someone must shoot fast, repeating tiring operations such as the ones mentioned above will have an impact on accuracy. Crossbow wielders will not encounter the same issue, as they will be able to cock their weapons and shoot without having their skill dampened by fatigue.
Longbows were never for short people
The name ‘longbow’ should tell you something you need to know about such a weapon if you’ve never seen one. Longbows are quite big, and they can’t be used just by anyone. Someone of shorter stature will have a serious problem trying to draw the bow and shooting it will be a pain, as well. That means that a person’s height and strength matter a great deal.
Back in medieval times, not many people could be longbow archers. But the use of crossbows was going to change that. Crossbows are much easier to manipulate, even by people who are shorter in height, and also don’t have a lot of upper body strength. You will use more your lower body strength when shooting a crossbow than when using a longbow.
Such an advantage can’t be overlooked. As a general rule, all people have better lower body strength than upper body strength. It can be said that crossbows take advantage better of what the human body can do than longbows.
The use of levers and cranks
If you’re not strong enough to draw a longbow, there’s not much you can do. Without the required height and upper body strength, one would be totally useless on a battlefield if handed a traditional longbow.
However, things are entirely different when you’re using a crossbow. To cock it, you can use levers and cranks explicitly designed for this purpose. This saves a crossbow archer a lot of time and doesn’t put extra strain on his or her muscles. All in all, the crossbow proves to be superior, once again.
Crossbows have advanced over the years to overcome their shortcomings
To tell the entire story, when the first crossbows were introduced at a larger scale for armies, they weren’t that great a choice. An archer wielding a longbow needed around six seconds to draw, aim, and launch an arrow. Someone with a crossbow required about one minute to do the same.
In the conditions of a battlefield, it’s easy to see how that couldn’t be that much of a great thing. Crossbow archers needed better weapons to become a type of military force that entire armies could count on.
Another disadvantage that crossbows had to overcome was the speed vs. strength test. In other words, in the beginning, crossbows could only be either strong or fast, and not both. Chinese crossbows could shoot very fast as they allowed the archer to shoot bolts from a magazine at high speeds. However, their bolts couldn’t travel very far.
Bolts weigh less than arrows
Here is another advantage that crossbows have over traditional longbows that not many people might think about. Bolts weigh less than arrows, which means that more of them can be carried around. While, at first, the smaller weight made them travel less than arrows, further developments have increased the range of crossbows.
When knights dressed in heavy armor made an appearance on the battlefield in the Medieval times, archers found themselves almost helpless against them, as their arrows could not go through their heavy plates. At most, they could aim for the weak spots, such as the armpits or the lower neck, in the hope of scoring a kill.
That was when heavy crossbows appeared. While they were more challenging to use, and they took time to reload, they were the only ones that could make their bolts travel fast enough to ensure that some armors could still be penetrated. Also, according to historians, it was the use of heavy crossbows that imposed the development of heavy plated armors later on.
Crossbows require less training
Back in the Medieval Ages, and now, there is an advantage crossbows have that can’t be denied. You will need less training to start shooting a crossbow than what you should invest in becoming proficient at using a traditional longbow.
For armies, the fact that recruits could be instructed quickly on how to use a weapon was a definite advantage. Nowadays, when people learn how to use a bow for hunting or fun, crossbows enjoy a lot of popularity. There are plenty of models on the market that anyone can try, and there are very few restrictions regarding who can and cannot use a crossbow.