How to Make a Primitive Crossbow

Crossbows were first used in China close to the year 1200 BC. During the 10th century, the weapon spread to Europe by way of England. Commonly used for hunting or in war time, a primitive crossbow was made from wood.

Making a basic crossbow can serve as a model for a school project or serve as an afternoon craft project. While a primitive crossbow isn’t as powerful as professionally built models, it can still be dangerous, so treat the finished product carefully and never aim at anyone.

  1. Cut a piece of 1-by-2 lumber to a length of 2 feet using a saw. Sand the cut edge down to ensure smoothness.

  2. Measure 2 inches in from the end of the lumber and make a pencil mark.

  3. Apply a layer of wood glue to the back of a wooden clothespin. Use the type of wood clothespin that you have to pinch.

  4. Press the clothespin into place with the end touching the pencil mark.

  5. Obtain a fresh-cut piece of bamboo that’s approximately ½ inch in diameter. The fresher the bamboo, the more flexible it is. Use a saw to cut a piece of bamboo to a length of 2 feet.

  6. Set the bamboo on top on the opposite end of the lumber to the clothespin. Position it so the shape resembles a T. Attach the bamboo to the lumber by hammering two nails into place.

  7. Cut a piece of elastic or a long rubber band to a length of 2.5 feet. Bind one end of elastic to the end of the bamboo. Tie it in a knot at the end and tightly wrap several inches of electrical tape to secure it. Stretch the elastic to the other end of the bamboo and repeat the securing process.

  8. Stretch the elastic bowstring back and secure it into place under the clothespin. Fire by loading an arrow onto the string and releasing the clothespin, causing the string to snap forward.