Goat's-Foot (in German "Geißfuß")
Today we would like to introduce in German a so-called "Geißfuß", which was used for the late-medieval and modern crossbow. It was used to stretch the crossbow. The Goat's-Foot was placed on the
crossbow stock. With a lifting movement, the attached hook stretched the crossbow string.
The crossbow's string was brought into the tense position. After that, the crossbow arrow had to be inserted and the crossbow was ready to fire.
The advantage of this tensioning system was its effortless practice. Late medieval crossbows could not stretched by hand because of their enormous elasticity. Beside the Goat's-Foot there was also the Windlass, which stretched the string by means of a crank.
"This apparatus for bending crossbows was known as a goat's-foot lever,
from its supposed resemblance in outline to a hind-foot of a goat. Though
not of sufficient strength to bend a thick steel bow, or one such as required
a windlass or a cranequin, the goat's-foot lever was of considerable power.
Its action was easy and rapid, and could be applied on horseback. For
these reasons, the goat's-foot was carried by the mounted crossbowman in
preference to any other kind of lever employed for stretching the bow-string
of a crossbow of moderate power."
Source: THE BOOK OF THE CROSSBOW, Ralph Payne-Gallwey, DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC. New York