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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Apr, 2010 8:00 am    Post subject: Early American Crossbows         Reply with quote

I raised this subject in a another thread and didn't want to hijack, so I'll post these here for general research/educational purposes. These are "mountain crossbows"--used in South Appalachia possibly as far back as the 18th c. Details vary, but they tend to have a traditional rifle-like stock and a broad wooden prod. The photos are from the book "Guns and Gunmaking Tools of Southern Appalachia (a must-have if you want to see everything from finished flintlocks to homemade rifling machines, swage blocks to powder horns). http://www.myArmoury.com/books/search.php?Key...ndex=Books

The first below shows a man in his 80s using the all-wood bow he made for a regional museum. This informant clearly remembered his grandfather using a similar bow, and reported that the crossbow was essential for survival in some mountain communities where supplies of shot and powder were scarce. He reported that poplar was commonly used for the tiller, "black haw" for the prod (or red cedar "if you get the right mixture of red and white" and hickory for the "arrie".

The second image shows the oldest bow in the author's collection, possibly dating to the 18th c., found in the 1930s in "the old Dutch (German) settlement" of Greene Co., Tennessee.

The last image is a more recent bow with applied metal ornaments.



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 5:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean

Thanks for posting those pics. I'm going to order that book from Amazon in the next month or so purely for the chapter on crossbows.

How many pages is the chapter on crossbows in the book?
Are there more pics of crossbows in the book?
Does the author provide any dimensions / weights for the crossbows?

Do you know of any other books that deal with the crossbow in the 18th to the 20th centuries?


Thanks

Danny
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Philip Montgomery




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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 6:08 am    Post subject: Re: Early American Crossbows         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
These are "mountain crossbows"--used in South Appalachia possibly as far back as the 18th c. Details vary, but they tend to have a traditional rifle-like stock and a broad wooden prod.


This is a fascinating subject. I had never heard of these Appalachian crossbows. I am very interested in crossbows, because they seem like an effective projectile weapon without the long training required to use a bow. I look forward to reading this book. Thanks

Philip Montgomery
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 7:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There isn't much on the crossbows (five or six pages--only one or two other photos and one page of text) but it's an inexpensive book and it's a smith's delight--full of specialized tools for making and using Appalachian guns--anvils, hardies, swage blocks, molds, horns, spring lathes, wooden rifling machines. If you're familiar with the Foxfire books, this is like an extended Foxfire chapter on Appalachian gunmaking, with emphasis on "how" as well as "what." I wouldn't buy it ONLY for the crossbows, but if you have any interest in the other stuff you'll love it. I don't know of any other publication on the subject of historic Anglo-American bows.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a friend living in Hickman County, Tennessee (SE of Nashville) who made a crossbow in the late 1960's and used it for hunting rabbits and squirrels on his river-bottom farm. It wasn't very powerful but Buzz explained that was part of the fun, stalking to get close enough for it to be effective. Traditionally, poplar was used in many projects around rural farms for two main reasons: (1) it was straight grained, fairly soft and easily worked and (2) it is termite-proof. Many log homes were built using Poplar in particular because they wouldn't rot or become bug infested. Sitting on limestone outcroppings as much of our land around here does, cedar is very common, almost a weed plant. It will grow anywhere it can get a foothold. On a roof, in a gutter, out of solid limestone, etc. Its main use around here is fencepost since it also doesn't rot very easily and bugs will not eat cedar. Hickory speaks for itself as being tough and reusable like for an arrow.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if it's possible to cut/plane a prod from a cedar fencepost....
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean

Have you seen this article before, from 1953?

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2006/08/01/bui...-crossbow/

Not exactly in the same time period, but the design does look historical. It almost looks like a "Belgian Target Crossbow" as in "The Book of the Crossbow" by Ralph Payne-Gallwey.

There's also this article on making a pistol crossbow from 1963:

http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/archives/200...-crossbow/
http://gallery.elsewhere.org/v/ephemera/Crossbow/

Danny
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean... there is cedar then there is genuwine Southern foothills red cedar! The cedar that grows in this area is the poor man's Christmas tree and grows everywhere. It is dense due to a slow growth rate in bad soil and it tends to be knotty, but it's as tough as an anvil. Personally, I think it would be hard to derive a prod from it...but what do I know. Now I have another friend who "claims" to have build a ballista out of an old Model A Ford leaf spring chucked up in a vice nailed to a stump with a homemade release. The arrows were 6 foot sections of rebar and it took a come-a-long to winch it back to the trigger. Wish I had thought of that when I was a kid. Had to satisfy myself making gunpowder and building cannons that shot old shag golf balls...also from a pipe chucked up in a vice. Wonder how I survived childhood sometimes!
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Michael Ekelmann




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PostPosted: Sat 01 May, 2010 12:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few years ago my family and I visited The Museum of Appalachia, just north of Knoxville. It's an open air museum with displays of Appalachian craftworks in several large barns. In the carving part of the museum there were several all wood crossbows. I can't recall the exact dates, but I think they were all grouped around the pre-TVA era, when some folks didn't even have enough money for cartridges.
“Men prefer to fight with swords, so they can see each other's eyes!" Sean Connery as Mulay Hamid El Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion
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