Arrows Vs. Bolts: What's the Difference?
If you're an archer, you already know that compound bows shoot arrows. But what do crossbows shoot? Are those arrows too? What about Bolts? It depends on who you ask, but most crossbow manufacturers agree that today's modern crossbow shoots ARROWS and the terms are interchangeable. Technically speaking, Crossbow Bolts are generally shorter in length (16-22-inches) and have no stabilizing vanes near the back while arrows always do. And although the terms are interchangeable, the projectiles are NOT interchangeable with your compound bow and crossbow. But to really get an understanding of these projectiles, let's take a deeper dive into the history, characteristics, and and why the heck we started calling them bolts in the first place.
Medieval Crossbows & Bolts
Although its origins are heavily disputed, the crossbow was considered one of the most important weapons during medieval times. It was primarily used for military purposes and the weapon dramatically changed the way battles were fought. It was the first ranged weapon to be simple, cheap and physically undemanding enough to be operated by large numbers of untrained soldiers. The projectiles for these weapons were typically shorter and heavier than traditional bows, and they were incredibly strong. So strong that they could easily pass through chainmail. And that's where some think the bolt name comes fromthe projectiles would hit so hard and so unexpectedly that it was like A bolt out of the blue.