Last-modified: 4 May 2007
- This FAQ was untouched between 1997 and 2001. It is
being maintained by Ausbow
Industries on behalf of the World
Crossbow Shooting Association (WCSA).
Some of the terminology preferences used in this list are
the author's and not common modern useage. Crossbow
terminology is not altogether standardized and one should
not be too pedantic about it.
- Latin language term for crossbow, derived from arcuballista
(also spelled ARBALEST).
- German language term for crossbow which is often preferred in
- Synonym for bolt which is preferred by some modern crossbow
- Side of bow or lath facing target.
- Roman seige engine similar to oversized crossbow.
- Section of the stock between the latch and lath; sometimes
used as synonym for track.
- BARRELED CROSSBOW
- Crossbow having a tubular barrel rather than a track; used to
shoot balls, usually of lead; synonym for slurbow.
- BASTARD STRING
- String to brace a crossbow for installation of bowstring;
synonym for bracing string.
- Side of bow or lath facing shooter.
- BELT HOOK
- Metal hook(s) attached to belt to aid cocking.
- BENDING LEVER
- Hindged 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.
- See BRIDLE.
- Short projectile for crossbow resembling arrow.
- BOLT CHANNEL
- See TRACK.
- See LATH.
- BOW IRONS
- Metal fittings used to secure lath to stock; usually tightened
with metal wedges.
- Steel lath.
- String used on all archery weapons to transfer force from bow
- Position of bowstring when mounted on bow or lath, but not
- BRACED HEIGHT
- Distance between braced bowstring and belly side of riser,
measured from the bowstring's center.
- BRACING STRING
- See BASTARD STRING.
- Binding, usually of twisted sinew cord, used to tie lath to
stock on medieval crossbows.
- BULLET CROSSBOW
- Crossbow designed to shoot bullets; generally used in
reference to double-string types.
- Rearmost portion of crossbow stock; also refers to earthen
mound used in long range target shooting, and as a general term
- See LATCH and SAFETY.
- CENTER SHOT
- Bow or crossbow lath designed so that the arrow/bolt passes
through its center; center-shot crossbows often have two separate
- CLEAN DRAW
- See POWER STROKE.
- Spring used to retain bolt to cocked crossbow prior to
shooting; usually made of horn or metal.
- Long range archery shooting. Modern practice uses a horizontal
target 15 meters in diameter outlined with flags; scoring is
determined by measuring distance from center.
- To draw bowstring from braced position to latched
- COCKING LUGS
- Metal protruberances on crossbow for anchoring bending lever,
cranequin or goat's foot.
- COCKING PEG
- Peg required to set some crossbow trigger mechanisms prior to
- COCKING RING
- Metal ring bound to the front of the lath to anchor bending
- Method of serving sometimes used on loops of crossbow
- Combination of materials used to construct lath including
horn, wood, sinew and baleen.
- Modern lath construction using cables and eccentric
- CORD AND PULLEY
- Cocking aid consisting of cord with ends attached to crossbow
butt and user's belt running through a pulley attached to
bowstring; provides mechanical advantage of 2:1.
- Cocking device using rack and pinion; can provide mechanical
advantage of about 145:1, varying with size and number of
- Archery weapon consisting of a lath mounted to a rigid stock,
having a mechanical means to hold and release the drawn bowstring.
See also ARBALEST, ARMBRUST, BARRELED CROSSBOW, BULLET
- DOG'S FOOT
- See GOAT'S FOOT.
- DOUBLE STRING
- Complex form of bowstring designed to launch round projectiles
from crossbow; has leather pouch at center to hold ball.
- DRY FIRE
- To release cocked bowstring without projectile; term borrowed
- Shooting phase of an archery competition; a set number of
arrows or bolts shot consecutively before determining score.
- END LOOP
- Loops at either end of bowstring.
- Protective cap to protect rear of bolt; similar to arrow nock,
but not forked.
- To light incendiary crossbow projectile; often used
incorrectly as synonym for shoot or loose.
- FLIGHT GROOVE
- See TRACK
- See STIRRUP.
- See GOAT'S FOOT.
- Greek weapon described by Heron of Alexandria similar to
crossbow; literally "stomach weapon".
- GOAT'S FOOT
- Two-piece hindged cocking lever designed to pull bowstring
from behind latch (curved shape of lever vaguely resembles goats
leg); provides mechanical advantage of about 5:1, varying with
- See TRACK.
- Term used to distinguish hand-held bow from crossbow.
- Mechanism for holding crossbow bowstring in cocked position,
and for releasing bowstring when trigger is pulled. Synonym for
- Bow portion of a crossbow storing motive energy for propelling
projectile; term preferred by some archery historians; not common
parlance among modern crossbowmen. See PROD.
- Portion of lath to right or left of center.
- To launch an archery missle.
- Smaller form of ballista; from the Latin "manus" meaning
- Forked protective cap on rear of bolt; usually necessary with
trackless crossbows to keep bolt in contact with string. Notches
at each end of bow or lath to accept string are also called
- Forward end of crossbow; sometimes used to refer to assembly
attaching lath to stock.
- Cylindrical latch usually made of ivory or antler.
- Large shield used to protect military crossbowmen in the field
while loading and shooting.
- PELLET CROSSBOW
- See BULLET CROSSBOW; usually low powered weapon.
- POWER STROKE
- Distance between braced and cocked string positions as
measured along track.
- Bow portion of crossbow; term also used as name for light
bullet crossbow (also spelled PRODD).
- RELEASE MECHANISM
- See LATCH.
- Bolt with four-sided head; often used as synonym for
- Container for carrying arrows or bolts.
- Thick, non-bending center section of bow or lath.
- Mechanical device, usually in the form of a button or lever,
used to prevent crossbow from shooting unintentionally. Often
referred to as "safety-catch," "-button," or "-pin."
- See MANUBALLISTA.
- Wrapping of thread used to protect the center and loops of
- SET TRIGGER
- Trigger which may be set to release under very light pressure;
- See LOOSE.
- Guide attached to the center of crossbow bowstring to lessen
string wear and insure exact centering of the string when
- See BARRELED CROSSBOW.
- General term for any device used to cock crossbows;
[German, winding tool, from spannen, to stretch, from Middle
High German, from Old High German spannan.]
- Physical act of cocking a crossbow.
- STRING LOOP
- Loop bound to center of some crossbow bowstrings to engage
- Device for holding the crossbow with feet while cocking;
usually 'D' or 'T' shaped, sometimes made from webbing or
- Portion of the crossbow to which all other components are
attached and by which it is held.
- See BULLET CROSSBOW.
- Traditional archery accessory worn on belt to clean bolts or
- See STOCK.
- Type of bow iron tightened using threaded rods instead of
- Grooved portion of the crossbow between the lath and latch
where the bolt rides.
- Crossbow with an bolt rest in front instead of a full-length
groove; forked nocks usually necessary to maintain contact between
bolt and string.
- General term for windlass or cranequin.
- Crossbow cocking device using a system of pulleys and cords;
provides mechanical of about 45:1 depending on construction.
Written by: Dave DeLaurant (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yogi (Y.) Shan (email@example.com) (Book), Lyn Clark
(Lyn@ausbow.com.au), Roy Nielsen (firstname.lastname@example.org), Howard
Thelemann (email@example.com), Matthew J. Rapaport (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Carl & Kathy White (email@example.com), Chris Smith
(firstname.lastname@example.org), David R. Watson (email@example.com),
Barbara Stephen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also check out the more general archery glossary provided by the
Society of Archer Antiquaries - A Glossary of Archery complied by
Stephen F. Wyley. You can find it at:
Please direct all comments, suggestions, updates, news to John or
Lyn Clark at email@example.com