Normally, when a character wields an item, the inventory screen is shown - and stays open in case the character wants to do something else. Most of the time, this can be very convenient. It is not convenient when the character has to only load another arrow in an empty bow or crossbow.
I suggest that a new command, "load weapon" be added in future versions. This would use the lower case "L" key, which is currently not used by any command (IIRC, Shift-L brings up the character log, Alt-L uses the woodcarving skill).
The "load weapon" command would check if the character has a bow or crossbow assigned as a weapon. If this is true, it would check to see if the other hand is available (no other weapon is already assigned). If both of these are true, an arrow would be wielded in the free hand; the inventory screen never opens. Wielding the weapon this way would take the normal amount of time.
Also, loading a crossbow should be done so that once you load it, it stays loaded until you shoot it even if you do some melee fighting in between. Unlike a bow, you don't need both hands to keep a crossbow loaded!
Hee, that would be a good addition to the game... I sheldom use my crossbow because of this item menu mess.
I would definitely like a shortcut key for loading arrows.
And in the Real World, crossbows can be worn loaded with no problem. That would be a nice addition too. <_<