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In the middle ages they also had spanning hooks that attached to the belt, you had a foot stirrup on the front of the bow, to cock you would bend over, hook the string and straighten up, pulling with both your hands and legs, allows you to cock a much heavier bow. For the truely heavy crossbows they used windlasses to get them . Problem with crossbows heavy enough to need that kind of mechanical advantage to span is they are much slower to load. You could also look about getting a goats foot lever for a commercially made crossbow, or look for the old Popular Mechanics plans for a slide action crossbow with a 5 round magazine.