Crossbow shooting has its origins in both military and in archery.
The crossbow is reputedly 2500 years old having been thought to be invented by the Chinese. The crossbow was a military weapon up until perhaps the 18th century when gunpowder started to make it obsolete. The crossbow continued to be used for hunting right up into the 19th century and also for target shooting – particularly in some European countries.
Primitive crossbows are still used today for hunting in some parts of the world. The modern crossbow emerged in the 19th century and saw a resurgence after World War 2 – particularly in the USA, where it was used for rehabilitation of returning wounded soldiers. The ”Bailey” crossbow was developed at about this time and shooting followed the archery disciplines. The Bailey crossbow was effectively an archery bow on a rifle-like stock, being hand drawn. Meanwhile, older style and Medieval style crossbows continued to be used for target shooting in countries such as Switzerland and Belgium. The International Crossbow Shooting Union (IAU) was founded circa 1956 to regulate what was then called “Swiss Match” crossbow shooting. This saw the birth of the so-called “Match” crossbow. Match crossbows are used on10 and 30 m pistol ranges. Match crossbow shooting has its origins in a more rifle-oriented environment. In Europe, Match crossbow shooters use the crossbow to train for air rifle competition. The IAU recognised Field (Target) crossbow shooting in 1982. This push came from the archery world.
The World Crossbow Shooting Association Incorporated (WCSA) was founded in January 2002 as a break-away organisation from the IAU. The IAU controlled Match and then Field (Target) crossbow shooting but was reluctant to embrace Sport crossbows and to modernise. The WCSA quickly moved to become a much broader-focused and flexible organisation and has developed the Sport crossbow, introduced the Forest round, embraced 3D and established bench-rest shooting.
There are essentially four different styles of contemporary crossbow:
The WCSA controls Target, Sport and Medieval crossbow shooting, whereas Match and Field are controlled by the IAU.
Crossbow shooting is a very new sport for India and is controlled by the Indian Crossbow Shooting Association (ICSA). The ICSA is a member of the WCSA with President Rajat Vij working hard to establish the sport. Mr. Rajat Vij has also been appointed as the WCSA’s Asian Development Officer, with interest being shown in countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka.