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The Nemesis Ballista

I have a friend who lives in the U.K. (Paul H.) He went to an event at the Binchester Roman Fort and they had a ballista there! Yup, a pretty nice one. It is called "Nemesis". Here are some pictures of it.

If you are thinking about making a ballista you will get some nice tips and techniques from looking at this one.

I also have a video showing the firing of this ballista.

Special thanks to Paul for sharing the pics with us.


A ballista might look a lot like a crossbow but it works in a very different way. A crossbow uses the spring action of wood just like a bow does. You can see those two red arms on the ballista and that makes it look like a bow or a crossbow. But they don't flex. There are skeins of tightly wound rope on a ballista. And these skeins are what flex and give the ballista it's power. You can see the skeins of black rope very clearly in one of the pictures below.

A Roman Ballista

These next two pictures show some of the parts of the ballista. The winch lever is what you turn to pull back the drawstring.

The parts of a ballista

The rope skeins are what stores up the energy to be released when the ballista fires.

Front parts of the ballista


Side view of the ballista

The claw is hooked onto the drawstring to pull it back with the ratcheting winch. Once the drawstring is pulled back the arrow or bolt is placed on the slider.

parts of the ballista

The two black skeins of rope you can see clearly here are the power of the ballista. When the draw string is pulled back those red arms are pulled back. The twisting of the skeins is what builds up the energy that is quickly released.

Front view of the ballista


The label Nemesis



Miniature Ballista Kit

  • This 28 piece kit can fire payload over 30 feet!
  • Desk-topped sized measuring 8? l x 6? w x 6? h

Build the Ultimate Artillery Weapon of the Roman EmpireExplore the world of ancient artillery with this exciting ballista kit. Powered by a twisted high strength cord, this laser cut wood ballista fires over 30 feet! This 28 piece DIY kit contains wooden ammo and all the required hardware plus full color instructions. Desk-topped sized measuring 8" l x 6" w x 6" h. Required wood glue not included. For ages 9+.Part of a DIY medieval series. Also check out:3155190 Catapult Wood Kit3155191 Trebuchet Wood Kit


Make a Ballista out of foam board

It's an ancient Roman and Greek siege engine and you can make one out of foamboard. I have the template for you. Cut out the pieces, trace onto foamboard and put it together. Make a Ballista





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