With the increased interest in crossbows, some would think that they are new on the scene. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, crossbows have been used for military purposed for several millennia. One might also assume that with the advent of more modern and more lethal weapons that the crossbow would have been replaced by more modern weaponry. While this is largely true, there are still many active applications for crossbows in modern warfare and in guerrilla actions worldwide more.
In Europe, the British manufacturer of Barnet crossbows supplied many to the Serbian military that used them “in ambushes and as a counter-sniper weapon” against the Kosovo Liberation Army in the Kosovo War. Special Forces in Greece and Turkey are still using crossbows for military purposes due to their psychological effect as silent killers. The Green Berets of Spain continue to use crossbows as well.
The Chinese and other Asian countries use the crossbow at all levels of their military and Special Forces. Chinese traffic police have also been seen carrying crossbows – perhaps for the psychological effect they have. In 2009, during the Xinjiang riots, crossbows were used along with conventional arms to control protesters. The Indian Navy’s Marine Commando Force used crossbows in place of suppression handguns until the late 1980’s.
In North and South America the crossbow has served in several different capacities. The Peruvian army has provided crossbows and special rope for the purpose of establishing zip-lines where the terrain is difficult. The United States uses a crossbow launched type of grapnel hook as a mine neutralizer and to detonate mines triggered by trip wires. It was designed specifically for use in conflicts in the middle-east. Such devices can be used multiple times without revealing the user. The Brazilian Jungle Warfare Center also trains soldiers in the use of crossbows. They have proven to be of great value where noise discipline is essential. On this note, one can draw their own conclusions as to the many other military and clandestine applications this ancient weapon has and can be used for – and you will probably be right!