This instructable will show you how to make a repeating crossbow, also called a "Zhuge nu" or "chu ko nu." This is a type of crossbow invented in China thousands of years ago that is like an ancient submachine gun. Just push the lever forward and back and it will fire a steady stream of arrows until the magazine is empty. It doesn't have that much power or accuracy compaired to a normal crossbow but it has a fast firing rate and is easy to use.

I have included an instructional video and a step-by-step photo instructable. If you have any questions or any of these instructions are unclear to you please let me know and I will try to clearify.

I think this instructable meets the requirements of the Epilog challenge and the Launch it! contest so I am entering it in those.

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Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
You will need:

-A 2x4 in any type of wood, prefer few defects of course (at least 27" long)
-1/2" Sch 40 PVC pipe (at least 22" long)
-Red oak 1x2 (53" or more, other hardwoods are OK)
-A 1/2" x 5.5" x 48" poplar board
-3/8" poplar dowels (recommend three 48" dowels)
-5/16" dowel (at least 10")
-Larger dowel, 3/4" to 1" diameter (at least 6" long)
    -white glue
    -hot glue stick
-String (I used 9/16" venetian blind chord, it is mixed polymers)
-Two 1/4-20 bolts, 3" long, with nuts.
-Wood screws (at least 6, ones that are 2"-3" long would be great)

-Wood stain
-Spray on clear coat
-Brown spray paint
-1.5" wide hinge
-1.5" wide by 1/4" thick oak or poplar board (10")

All of that is available at a hardware store, mine was from Lowes mostly.
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I made this and it works great, and is really fun to shoot. would it still work ok with fletching? just wondering. awesome build btw :)

NoviceRick4 months ago

super cool. i played romance of the three kindoms, a historical chinese war game, and always wondered if repeating/auto crossbows were real. i didnt expect this.
I just had a thought, it wouldnt be too hard to put a trigger mechanism that can be disabled with a switch, then you can have auto shot mode or a trigger mode for when you want to shoot with acuracy.

There is a really cool commercially available one that re cocks itself with a CO2 paintball tank. It is expensive as hell but seems pretty wicked.

Jaycub (author)  NoviceRick2 months ago

That would be cool and is definitely possible, I'm sure you can figure out a way to do it if you make one.

jwgottabass2 months ago

1st of all, this is of course awesome so thanks for proving normal people can make one. But it looks heavy as all get out. Have you considered using other materials? Like I was just watching an Instructable on how to make your own kydex holsters and that stuff is super light, and seems fairly easy to work with, the bolt hopper on top made out of kydex seems like it would drop a couple pounds.

Thanks again for making this.

iFirefly3 months ago

What a beauty! Your video mentioned that we would find a link to the plans - in PDF I hope - but I don't see a file attached - except for the pro members.


Jaycub (author)  iFirefly2 months ago

The plans are the images in step 2.

iFirefly Jaycub2 months ago
Thanks; my computer wasn't displaying all of the pictures.
jsmit31 year ago
I would suggest making the bow out of wood it may be harder but its more powerful

it's more powerful if you use metal bar so it will be "repeating arbalest" instead of "repeating crossbow"

Jaycub (author)  jsmit31 year ago
I used to use wood bows when i sold these as kits but it is easier to make it out of PVC and the statement that "its more powerful" is incorrect. This PVC bow is more powerful and smaller that the wood bows that were on the kits.

Hard to make.but it's worth of it

Jaycub (author)  Jason the marksman9 months ago

Did you make it?

ubicity1 year ago
great stuff
jhowie1031 year ago
Very impressed
Ridach1 year ago
there is no measurements for the handle, or did I just miss it
Jaycub (author)  Ridach1 year ago
It is there, in one of the lower pictures. You have to click on the images of the plans to enlarge them and you will find it in the image that shows "oak 1x2s."
jsmit31 year ago
Also in the instruction it doesnt tell how to release the string
Jaycub (author)  jsmit31 year ago
If you are talking about the thing that puches the string out of the notch, then you are saying things where you don't know what you are talking about again.

If you read the last step I describe how sanding the front edge of the notch will make the string slip off at the right time. I have made several of these things and the string-pushing block is realy not needed.
jsmit31 year ago
The bow part rather than pvc
OMG!!! I saw a repeating crossbow in jack the giant slayer but it had two barrels and left me very confused
Kid Ninja1 year ago
Just a note, the magazine walls are 18 inches long, not 15. Just a typo. :)
Also, for the top half of the magazine walls, mine's not coming out to 14.5 inches. Is there an error?
Okay, as far as I can tell, the 9.5 inch measurement should actually be 12.5 inches, and the 14.5 inch measurement should be 17.5 inches. That allows the bottom and top edges to be the same size, and allows for the same angle on the spacer and the magazine walls.
Jaycub (author)  Kid Ninja1 year ago
I don't know how you are coming up with that. The angle is the same on the back spacer and on the back of the walls if you follow the plans. On the spacer and on the walss, the slant at the back goes down 3.5" and over to the right 5."

I did just find one error which might be the one throwing you off, the 12" for the part cut into the bottom of the magazine should be 9." Hope that helps. I will upload the corrected image.
Yep, that was it. The 12 inch measurement threw me off, and changed the angle of the wall. Thanks! Sorry to bother you.
Jaycub (author)  Kid Ninja1 year ago
OK cool sorry about that!
Jaycub (author)  Kid Ninja1 year ago
What do you mean? The will come out however you draw them. I don't think there is any error on the plans.
Jaycub (author)  Kid Ninja1 year ago
No, they realy are 15."
very very cool. i saw one of these in museum once and tried to build one myself years ago. this is excellent work, i would however advise creating a quick diagram showing how it works so others can copy the mechanism with slightly differently sized or shaped parts. i am voting for it.
Thanks! That is a good idea to show the mechanism. Right now I'm thinking that it simple enough that they will understand just by looking at the pictures of the completed thing. But maybe I'll draw a diagram.
really this type of design could be applied to modren crossbows im sure or even just modified with a different lever design to allow you to pull a stronger bow back im sure its all been done before but we have sense lost or forgotten the technology for more "advanced" technology. but whats more advanced than being able to make your ammo in the field with a sharp knife or rock even lol
onemoroni11 year ago
Outstanding! I voted too. It gets my brain working on a more powerful design with a spring loaded clip that feeds from under the crossbow.
Jaycub (author)  onemoroni11 year ago
Cool I would love to see pictures of that if you do it! Of course, if you are looking for a more powerful weapon my brain goes toward entirely different technologies...
Very Cool, you have my votes.
Jaycub (author)  troopersmachine1 year ago
Yay! thanks!
ewijaya51 year ago
AWESOME!!!!!! that was very good
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