A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance. Historically, crossbows played a significant role in the warfare of East Asia since the 4th century BC, as well as Europe and the Mediterranean. Today, they are used primarily for shooting sports, hunting, and when shooting in silence is an important consideration. A crossbow is a weapon bow mounted on a stick (called a tiller or stock) with a mechanism in it which holds the drawn bow string. The earliest designs featured a slot in the stock, down into which the string was placed. To shoot this design, a vertical rod is thrust up through a hole in the bottom of the notch, forcing the string out. This rod is usually attached perpendicular to a rear-facing lever called a trigger or "tickler".
Contributions by Wandalstouring, RedSpruce, and Tom harrison.
Around 350 feet per second -- about 8 times slower than a rifle bullet.