The Terracotta Army crossbow that could shoot twice as far as a modern-day rifle: Archaeologists unearth 2,200-year-old weapon at historic Chinese siteFWIW the Terracotta Army is a large collection of statues made out of clay. As far as I can see in the article the crossbow looks to be made out of clay as well. Maybe it wasn't and the coloration is a result of being buried. I guess we don't know, but that might have been a detail to investigate.
The crossbow, which was found intact this week, could have shot an arrow up to 2,600 feet - about the length of nine football pitches, the People's Daily Online reported.
Historical texts indicate that its firing range could have been up to 2,600 feet, according to Huashang Newspaper, which is double the range of an assault rifle, which is about 1,300 feet.I'm a bit of a firearms hobbyist. I don't normally think of shooting distances expressed in feet. I think in terms of yards. So 3 feet to a yard, lets to the math:
2,600 feet for the crossbow is 867 yards. Pretty darn respectable.
1,300 feet for a modern assault rifle? That works out to 433 yards.
This is going to come down to a question of which rifle we are talking about. An open sighted AK style rifle or a open sight AR platform chambered in a 22 cal round do have an effective range of about 400 yards. That isn't the whole story of course. I've shot AR's past 600 yards and of course 30 call, 338 cal and 50 cal rifles shoot to 1,000 yards and beyond. Heck modern rifles are capable of hits on man sized targets out to 1 mile and beyond.
You can't expect Brits writing for other Brits to know too much about firearms. Guns are after all scary and its amazing that they were able to keep a stiff upper lip long enough to type the story in the first place. So we'll give them a pass on this because, its about as close as you'd expect them to get anyway. If you look at it from a narrow point of view the author isn't too far off.
We still don't know what the crossbow was made out of. If it was clay, like the rest of the Terracotta Army statues, it wasn't actually a weapon, it was pottery. Pottery doesn't shoot anything at all. It just sets there.