Iolos-book-rev - 1/10/97
Reviews of "Iolo's First Book of Crossbows".
NOTE: See also the files: crossbows-msg, crossbow-FAQ, arrows-msg,
p-archery-msg, quivers-msg, arch-supplies-msg, arch-shoots-msg.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that
I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some
messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
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seperate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes
extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were
removed to save space and remove clutter.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: Lord Stefan li Rous
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Blohm)
Subject: Book Review: Iolo's First Book of Crossbows
Date: 29 Oct 1996 22:18:46 GMT
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Co.
Iolo's First Book of Crossbows
By David R. Watson
This is a privately put out book, published by Gwasg Caseg Wen Press, Austin,
Texas. The author, David Watson, is also the owner of New World Arbalest. The
book is spiral bound, 8 1/2" by 11" and is 50 pages long. New World Arbalest
has a Web presence and can be found at http://www.moontower.com/crossbow/
If I had come across this booklet in a book store, I wouldn't have bought it
if I were in a hurry or looking for a specific book on crossbows or some part
of a crossbow. My first impression of "Iolo's First Book of Crossbows" was
that this was just another little historical treatise on crossbows. The
pictures in the first half were ones that I'd seem elsewhere, or so it seemed.
Then I noticed that some of them were hard to figure out where the prod was.
The second half of the book seemed to be "advertisement" talking about the
types of crossbows David Watson offers as proprietor of New World Arbalest.
While to some extent that is true, a closer reading indicates that this may
not be a bad book for the budding crossbow-man to have in his collection. It's
not a book for someone who wants to make his own, which is understandable
given Watson's profession. It does, however, have interesting little hints of
crossbow construction in it that would help in construction if you were to sit
down and really pay attention. It would allow the beginning crossbow builder
to get started, but provides few real specifics about construction or sizes.
It does provide average lengths of stocks and draws, but not much else.
Because of his interests, Watson deals primarily with the Renaissance era, and
indeed mentions this in his preface. And it makes a good introduction to
the history of crossbows. If you want to have a small book to help your
crossbow be "period" if you're in the Society of Creative Anachronism, or
simply have some historical perception of crossbows and their use then this
booklet would serve that purpose. It seemed to me that much of the historical
information in this book is also available in other books if you want to take
the time to search it out.
I would define this book as being aimed more at someone wanting some background
on crossbows or just starting out in crossbows. I wouldn't recommend rushing
out to buy this book if you're basically familiar with crossbows and their
generic history. Like the title says, it's meant to be a first book on
Overall, I found the occasional bits of humor welcome reading. There aren't
very many of them, but they seem to be in the right places. There were a few
typos, but not such that they distract from the flow of reading. Also, there
are some "errors" that seem primarily due do different locales. The book seems
to be written, understandably, for his situation rather than attempting to be
more generic. This is by no reason detrimental, just something that needs to
be kept in mind while reading it. For example, he mentions stag horn as being
expensive, while where I live, antlers aren't that rare or difficult to come by.
There are some things that I find distract from my readability of the book.
There are times when he mentions something and then leaves you hanging. For
example, he mentions "two reliable ways of doing this" and then fails to
mention what these two ways of creating loop thickness are. Or he will mention
that something will make a crossbow "more likely to misfire" or that "x is
slower than y as lock material" but provides no data or references to back such
statements up. Later on, when listing stock types, several references are made
to patterns not shown. Perhaps space limitation is responsible for this, but
it's irritating all the same. These missing patterns could have easily been
placed on other pages of the book where there is room, and references made to
The most persistent irritant for me was Watson's failure to define just what he
meant by a misfire. A misfire can be anything from an entire failure to fire
the bolt to enough of a bad release that causes failing to hit within a foot
of where the crossbow was aimed. Was he referring to the entire range of
possibilities, or to the more dramatic misfires where the crossbow fails to
shoot the bolt at all, or worse yet sends it off in an entirely unexpected,
uncontrolled direction? If someone says that such and such a thing will cause
a misfire, the type of misfire should be clearly defined, if only for safety
I did learn a couple of things, and did gain some ideas and questions to pursue.
Additionally, I like the spiral binding which makes it easy to use the book and
keep your place. The section on getting the most out of a crossbow has a lot of
good tips for the beginner.
For those who might wonder, I have no financial, professional, or personal ties
to the book, the author, or his company. This review is as honest as I could
make it and based on my current level of experience with crossbows.
Copyright © Mark S. Harris (Lord Stefan li Rous)
All Rights Reserved
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Generated: Fri Nov 24 2000