Nowadays the Noble Company, under the commander of the actual alcaide, the Marquis of La Floresta, ancient lieutenant commander of the Spanish Royal Navy, keeps the military tradition, and everyone is obliged to acquire skill enough to manage his weapon each time they meet, especially every time -quite frequently- they meet to pray. After the religious rite, all of them shoot against a blank consisting in the steward's shoe; that who fails may offer his own as a new target.
Economic life of the Noble Company depended of its member’s fees and quotes; of penalties subscribed by Ordinance and field rents; a part of a yearly donation of each member, consisting in a bottle of good wine in Christmas.
Among several forms historically adopted by the Spanish nobiliary colleges - such as corporations, confraternities, companies, and chivalric orders - are groups barely mentioned by their rarity, the military brotherhoods, such as the Noble Company of Knights Crossbowmen of Saint Philip and Saint James. The Noble Company was raised circa 1350 in the town of Alfaro (Castile, La Rioja, and Spain). Membership in the Noble Company has always been considered a "positive act of nobility," creating or confirming the Knights Crossbowmen as hidalgos with "nobility of blood and arms."
The crossbow as a military and hunting weapon was already known by the Romans. After a relative dark period it came to have a preeminent place in the 11th century in European armoires (consider its importance in the Hundred Years War) and for hunting wild game.
The Confraternity in the 21st century
The Noble Company was modernized with its official registration with the Gobierno de Rioja in 1999 and revised statutes in April 2004.
Under the command of the President-Alcaide, Don Alfonso Ceballos-Escalera y Gila, Marqués de La Floresta, the Noble Company keeps the military tradition. Knights are obliged to acquire skill enough to manage his weapon each time they meet, especially every time they meet to pray. Each member is also expected to pledge fealty to the President-Alcaide by sending him a good bottle of wine at Christmas.
There are two classes of membership: Ballestero de Plaza and Ballestero de Hermandad. The former is reserved for residents of Rioja and its environs while the latter is for all others.
As noted in the 14th century statutes and indicated on the contemporary petition for admission, members must be Catholic men who: (a) are armigerous (with their arms duly registered in Spain), (b) if married, are validly married according to Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church to women of good breeding; and (c) possess nobility in the male line. By virtue of their admission, members of the Noble Company receive the honorific Don for themselves and their male descendants (who will inherit and transmit the member's armorial bearings). The members' wives and female descendants are referred to as Doña. Economic life of the Noble Company depends on the members’ passage fees and field rents.