No self-respecting hunter/sportsman would even dare touch a crossbow without bothering to learn about its anatomy. Though the designs of modern versions vary widely according to their intended users’ preferences, they all share certain basic characteristics.
Stock – The stock serves as the weapon’s main support. Without it, you might as well use it like an ordinary bow. A well-designed stock is one that allows the user to have an easy grip, similar to that of a gun.
Flight Rail- Think of the deck as an extension of the stock; that is, where the majority of the components rest. The stock and Flight Rail work together to help the hunter distribute the weapon’s weight in his hands.
Limbs – Limbs store the energy which makes it possible to shoot projectiles. These can be recurve (i.e. one limb per side) or compound (i.e. two limbs per side). Recurves are wider and lighter than compounds, so the former is ideal for beginners.
String – The strings provide the energy that the limbs store. They are made with multiple fibers like whipcord, hemp, linen, sinew, and even mulberry root for extra strength and firepower.
Retention Spring – The retention spring keeps the bolt in place prior to firing. In other variants such as the arbalest, the roller r
elease or nut takes the place of the retention spring. This feature puts just enough pressure for the string to support the bolt, but not so much as to break the string.
Sight – This device guides the user when aiming at a target. The most common sight is the scope, which, as its name implies, is like a tiny telescope. Sights can also be open, of the aperture (open hole) type, or of the red dot type.
Stirrup – The stirrup is only one of many ways by which a crossbow can be cocked for reloading. In this case, the user tilts it downward, presses his foot down on the stirrup, and secures the bolt. As you may expect, it’s shaped like the device you use to support your legs when you’re riding a horse.
Trigger – Obviously, this is the mechanism that fires the bolt with the aid of all the other components stated above.
Dissipater Pads – The limbs can only absorb so much energy every time the crossbow is used. Thus, they’re covered with dissipater pads that slightly weaken the energy releasing the projectile.
Safety – Earlier crossbows posed a dilemma for hunters: Should I load it even when I’m not using it and risk accidentally firing the bolt, or should I reload on-the-fly and waste precious minutes that could’ve been used to steady my aim? The safety device solves this problem by preventing the projectile from releasing too early. It’s a great feature to have, but this doesn’t mean a hunter can rely on this all the time for safety purposes.
The crossbow is a great weapon to have in your arsenal, whether you’re a novice or professional hunter. Just choose the right one for you, and see the beauty of this weapon that dates back to the time of the ancient Chinese for yourself.