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Crossbow Terms


Confused as to what a tiller is? Wanna be sure we're talking about the same thing when discussing your roller nut? You've landed on the right page! I'm aware many terms are missing. Feel free to drop me a message and if its relavent, ill add it!

ARBALEST -  Latin term for crossbow,  2 Arbalest also doubles as a term for the person shooting a crossbow - a crossbowman.

Armbrust - German term for crossbow.

Arbalet - Russian term for crossbow. 

Back - Side of the prod facing the target.

Belly - Side of the prod facing the shooter.

Belt Hook - Metal hook(s) attached to a belt to aid in drawing back the string.

Bodkin - A medieval type of arrowhead designed to shoot through protective chainmail or armour.

Bolt - Short vaned projectile resembling an arrow shot from a crossbow.

Bow - Also know as "Prod" it is a component by means of which elastic energy is stored to be later used to propel a bolt.

Bow Irons - Metal fittings used to secure the prod to the tiller; usually tightened with metal wedges.

Bowsteel - Steel bow or prod.

Bowstring - A multi stranded string of either Natural fiber, Dacron, Kevlar or Fastflight looped and the knocks. Transfers energy from the prod to the bolt.

Braced - Position of bowstring when mounted on bow or prod, but not cocked.

Braced Height - Distance between braced bowstring and belly side of riser, measured from the bowstring's center.

Bastard String - Also known as "Bracing String", a string used to brace a crossbow for installation of bowstring.

Bridle - or "Binding". Twisted sinew cord or natural fiber, used to tie prod to stock on medieval crossbows.

Cast - The distance a bow can propel an arrow.

Center serving - The protective winding on the center of the string where the arrow is nocked.

Clip - A spring used to press the bolt/arrow against the crossbow track prior to release.

Cock - To draw the bow string into a latched position.

Cocking lugs - Metal pins protruding out of the stock; used to anchor spanning devices such as a goat's foot, crannequin or similar.

Cocking rope - A rope based spanning mechanism that uses pulleys to give a 2:1 mechanical advantage.

Crannequin - Device used to span a crossbow. It is anchored to the rear of the tiller , while the other end is hooked to the string. A lever is then cranked, drawing the hooked end to the roller nut, where it is secured before the crannequin is removed. The crossbow is then ready to receive the bolt which is then launched.

Crossbow - weapon consisting of a bow fixed transversely on a stock having a trigger mechanism to release the bowstring, and often incorporating or accompanied by a spanning mechanism.

Dacron - A synthetic material used to make bowstrings.
Breaking strain = 50 lbs./strand. Very durable and consistent.
Available in the following colours; black, white, green, yellow, brown, bronze,
red and blue.

Draw length The distance, measured in inches, from the pivot point of the bow to the point at which the string contacts the arrow when at full draw.Draw weightThe force, in pounds, recoded at full draw. Usually stated '#xx@", as in #xx@yy", where xx = lbs(#) yy = inches(") of draw.

FastFlight - A synthetic material used to make bowstrings.
Breaking strain = 95 lbs./strand. Minimal stretch ensures consistency.
Slippery material that requires specific serving to be used.
Available in the following colours; red, blue, white, purple, light green, dark
green, yellow and black.

FastFlight S4 - A composite of Polyester 'Spectra' (FastFlight) and 'Vectran' materials used
to make bowstrings.
Breaking strain = 160 lbs./strand.
Due to its strength, less strands are required to make a bowstring, so its
lighter and faster.

Fletch - To glue a feather or vane to an arrow shaft.

Fletcher - A person who makes arrows.

Fletching - The feathers, plastic vanes or other devices attached to the arrow shaft
which stabilize the flight of the arrow. Usually wood, metal, or leather in medieval bolts or quarrels.

Flight Arrow - An arrow used in Flight Shooting. Usually very light and very stiff and
fitted with very small fletching to reduce wind drag.

Flight Bow/Crossbow - A very strong bow/crossbow specifically made for flight shooting.
Usually with 'shoot through' riser and short limbs.

Flight shooting - A discipline of archery purely aimed at attaining the longest distance able
to be shot with a bow/crossbow.

Goat's foot - A spanning device which uses an arching geometry as advantage in spanning. 


Group - The pattern of arrows in the target.


Nock -  The butt end of the bolt that comes in direct contact with the bow string and remains on the string as the bolt is accelerated all the way until the end of the power stroke. 


Prod - A commonly used term for the crossbow limb, bow, or limb assembly(limb or several limbs mounted on a riser)


Quarrel - A term commonly referring to a medieval style crossbow bolt.

Roller Nut - Cylindrical piece with two hooks used to hold the string while drawn. When tickler is operated, the nut rolls forward, releasing the drawn string, sending the bolt to flight.

Spanning Belt - A belt fitted with a hook used as an advantage to draw the string back. Either with a pulley system or not.

Spanning Lever (Whippe) - Hinged lever to aid cocking; pushes string back using lugs or a ring mounted at front of crossbow; provides mechanical advantage of about 5:1, varying with lever length.


Tiller - Stock of a crossbow. Usually hardwood. Traditionally walnut, ash, or oak


Tickler - Long lever which releases or triggers the release of the bowstring, transferring energy from the drawn prod to the quarrel.


Trigger Mechanism - The mechanism in a crossbow that serves as means of retaining and releasing the bowstring when activated by the tickler.


Windlass - A crossbow spanning mechanism that employs a series of pulleys (blocks) to gain mechanical advantage over a a very heavy draw prod.


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