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The bowyer skill is used to make wooden and bone crossbows at a bowyer's workshop. A dwarf whose highest skill is crossbow-making has the profession of bowyer. (To make metal crossbows, the weaponsmith skill is used at a forge.) A higher level of skill produces higher average quality crossbows.
This skill is not used to make bolts, which requires either wood crafting for wooden bolts, bone carving for bone bolts, or Weaponsmithing for metal bolts. It is also not used to make metal crossbows at a metalsmith's forge, which again requires Weaponsmithing.