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Hitting the target

Target Crossbow and Windlass (XI.100 and XI.8)

This image shows part of the spanning mechanism of a target crossbow, called a windlass. This type of crossbow is used in sport, such as target shooting, or ceremonial events. Large target crossbows like this one have an incredibly heavy draw weight, and so a variety of spanning devices were necessary to mechanically pull back the bowstring in preparation for shooting. By the 17th and 18th centuries sporting crossbows were often highly decorative, beautiful items as much a display of personal tastes and wealth as they were practical sporting objects. This example is relatively plain, but still illustrates how these impressive objects were carefully, and cleverly designed.

View the Crossbow in our collection