The Humble Bow: The Ultimate SHTF Weapon?

by Erich

If you were in a SHTF situation, which one would you rather have – a bow or a firearm?

Before you gun nuts (me included) start saying there is no contest, I thought I’d use this article to maybe not so much change your mind but to expand your understanding of the capabilities and advantages of a bow that you may not have been aware.

So let’s take a look at some scenarios that you might face in a SHTF situation just to see how the bow stacks up:

 Hunting

The bow has been used as an effective hunting tool for thousands of years and continues to prove itself in this arena even in modern times. In fact, with improved technology, bow hunting has only gotten better.

For example, with the advent of compound bows, the improved performance along with their unique sighting systems makes accurate and effective shooting far easier to learn when compared to instinctive shooting methods required of recurve and long bows…

Crossbows further push the limits of performance by blending many of the advantages of rifle shooting (the use of a scope and shoulder stock) allowing a hunter to really spend time getting an accurate shot without needing to hold the bow in full draw:

The downside to the improved technology that comes with compound bows and crossbows is that with more mechanical features you have also a far greater chance of malfunction. This is where the old stick bow and recurve bow have the advantage.

Bugging Out

In a bug out situation where you might be traveling longer than anticipated and ran out of supplies, a bow would be a handy tool to have for harvesting on route to your bug out location (yes, even cities have edible critters running around).

When it comes to being discreet, one of the greatest benefits a bow has over a firearm is that it is silent. Yes, I do understand that you can have silencers for your firearms, but have you ever really heard a silenced firearm? Other than with a subsonic .22 round they really aren’t that silent. Not compared to a bow releasing an arrow that is.

Also arrows, unlike bullets, are reusable. Even if you could find the bullet buried in the animal (or zombie) carcass, it would most likely be deformed. Then having to reload that bullet would require you to find the ejected case and have powder and a reloading press on hand – something not realistic in a bug out situation.

Finally, although it’s not as concealable as say a handgun, the newer take-down recurve bows can be taken apart and stored quite easily in (or strapped to the outside of) a bug out bag — so portability is really not a huge issue.

Post Collapse

We’ve already discussed the silent advantage that bows have over firearms in a bug-out situation. This applies equally as well in a post-collapse situation.

In a situation where resupply is not possible, the ability to manufacture and maintain your own bow and arrows makes it an ideal post-collapse weapon.

I’ve successfully built both bows and arrows using materials found in nature as well as “urban” materials.

For example, using nothing but cedar for arrow shafts, glass bottle bottoms for arrow heads, and duct tape for fletchings, I’ve made very capable arrows that would do serious damage in both a hunting or self-defense situation.

For a bow stave, there are many things that you could use. In fact, people even make very powerful bows simply using PVC as you can see in the following video:

Using a Bow and Arrow in Combat

We all know that the bow and arrow has been an effective tool in ancient warfare for millennia. However, with the advent of the firearm it seems like the bow has played second fiddle.

When it comes to combat, most people think a bow wouldn’t be an effective weapon for modern times — especially when dealing with multiple threats. The thought is that “speed shooting”, as depicted by Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, isn’t possible.

You don’t either? Think again…

The reality is, not only is this possible but even faster speeds can be obtained. When it comes down to it, as we switched from bows to firearms, we lost a great deal of the combat abilities that were around during the ancient times with cultures like the Persians, Huns, and even our Native Americans. These ancient warriors were able to consistently shoot three arrows in under 1.5 seconds with deadly accuracy!

Still don’t believe me? Check out this video:

Combat Effectiveness

Another myth that people fall for is that arrows don’t have effective stopping ability. Having seen firsthand the damage a modern broadhead arrow tip can do to a deer, I’d much rather get shot by a .22 than one of those.

Finally, bows can be used to shoot arrows on top of structures or onto people hiding behind barricades. By taking advantage of its short parabolic flight by shooting an arrow at a steep upward angle, you can effectively hit the tops of structures and reach people behind barricades — something a firearm cannot do (at least the ones we have access to). Using flaming arrow tips to set roofs on fire are a perfect example of this.

Final Thoughts

Although I love shooting my recurve and compound bows, I am still very much a gun guy. And as such, I would prefer to have my guns with me in any of the situations above.

With that being said, I still do not disregard the extraordinary capabilities and effectiveness of archery in a SHTF situation and neither should you. Therefore I highly recommend you adding both firearms and archery to your SHTF plan.

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14 Comments»

Comment by Dan
2014-08-01 17:14:19

I’m convinced I need to add bows to my SHTF stockpile. Eventually guns may break and rounds hard to come by or two precious to use for everyday work. Guns will give us enough time to become proficient with bows. Sure, when I have the time I’ll practice with bows now.

 
Comment by radarphos
2014-08-01 18:14:24

Both weapons are preferable for different situations. Guns are preferable when you know where the other person is, and s/he knows where you are based on the report and/or flash of the gun. The first gun shot may be a surprise, but not the next ones.

Heck! I want to say that provided bow or crossbow accuracy is present, then the bow/ crossbow is preferable when one opponent knows where an enemy is, but the enemy does not know where his or her opponent may be. On the other hand, so long as an ample supply of arrows is present, accuracy is sort of relative because the arrow flies silently. If you miss one shot, there was no report and no flash, so just shoot again. With an arrow fired when under cover, your location may be hard to determine. Where are you, when shooting your arrows? Behind a tree? In shrubbery? In a window? If accuracy is present (and/or multiple arrow shooters), it will be tough to determine where you may be. And that is scary and gives the arrow shooter the advantage.

 
Comment by Ken
2014-08-01 20:37:27

In the battle of Agincourt the vastly outnumbered English using the long bow managed an approximate casualty ratio 6 or 7 t0 1 against the French, and the overall rate was approximately 9 to 1 in the total battle. The Long bow played a very important role in that battle and was far superior to the ‘Continental Bow’ or crossbow. A good long bow, of sufficient draw weight, will penetrate a cast iron skillet where a .45 ACP will not at the same range. A bow takes a little more practice than a firearm or crossbow, but they are invaluable in a survival situation. Everyone should have a bow of their choice and maybe even a working knowledge of bow construction. I have made my own arrow shafts, both by turning them down (European) and by heat forming small branches (some Native Americans) and it is quite easy. A person might even go as far as learning to fletch arrows by the glue method or the thread/gut method. Making solid strings is a good idea to, I have made both crossbow and long bow from the artificial sinew that you can get at leather working places, that stuff has many uses. Over all, a good bow is a good weapon to have in your arsenal, maybe even a book on archery in your library as well.

 
Comment by Badger359
2014-08-25 17:50:39

I agree that it should be apart of one battery and it’s on my do list. I haven’t shot archery since high school. Take down bows interest me. I have two cross bows in my battery. great article BTW

 
Comment by Pineslayer
2014-08-29 02:48:18

Nice write-up. Bows are just fun too. That first video of speed shooting, wow. I need a lot more practice.

 
Comment by Darian
2015-02-16 22:04:39

John “Mad Jack” Churchill was a British Lieutenant Colonel who went into battle armed with a long bow, bag pipes, and a basket-hilted Scottish Broadsword, during World War Two.

It is claimed that Churchill also carried out the last recorded longbow and arrow killing in action, shooting a German NCO in 1940 in a French village.

He even stormed German machine gun nests while shooting arrows at the Nazi’s.

Very interesting read, just Google his name.

He survived the war, despite rarely using a rifle or pistol.
He survived a war with a bow and a sword, against thousands of Germans who were armed to the teeth with, what was, modern day equipment. THEN, he complained about how the Americans ended the war, saying:
“If it wasn’t for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years.”

 
Comment by Darian
2015-02-16 22:08:38

John “Mad Jack” Churchill was a British Lieutenant Colonel who went into battle armed with a long bow, bag pipes, and a basket-hilted Scottish Broadsword, during World War Two.

It is claimed that Churchill also carried out the last recorded longbow and arrow killing in action, shooting a German NCO in 1940 in a French village.

He even stormed German machine gun nests while shooting arrows at the Nazi’s.

Very interesting read, just Google his name.

He survived the war, despite rarely using a rifle or pistol.
He survived a war with a bow and a sword, against thousands of Germans who were armed to the teeth with, what was, modern day equipment. THEN, he complained about how the Americans ended the war, saying:
“If it wasn’t for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years.”

This, in my opinion, proves that a bow, in the hands of the right person, can be just as deadly, if not more deadly, than a firearm.

 
Comment by Darian
2015-02-16 22:10:36

John “Mad Jack” Churchill was a British Lieutenant Colonel who went into battle armed with a long bow, bag pipes, and a basket-hilted Scottish Broadsword, during World War Two.

It is claimed that Churchill also carried out the last recorded longbow and arrow killing in action, shooting a German NCO in 1940 in a French village.

He even stormed German machine gun nests while shooting arrows at the Nazi’s.

Very interesting read, just Google his name.

He survived the war, despite rarely using a rifle or pistol.
He survived a war with a bow and a sword, against thousands of Germans who were armed to the teeth with, what was, modern day equipment. THEN, he complained about how the Americans ended the war, saying:
“If it wasn’t for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years.”

This, in my opinion, proves that a bow, in the hands of the right person, can be just as deadly, if not more deadly, than a firearm.

Not to mention, a bow is definitely quieter than a firearm, no matter how good your suppressor/silencer is.

 
Comment by Follol
2015-07-14 09:35:20

Thanks for the article.

A bow is only useful when one has had a LOT of practice. That said, I’ve been doing archery since age three. It took me many years to learn about how all sorts of bows work. A standard ‘recurve’ or composite bow is not easy to use properly. Anyone can pull a string and release an arrow, means nothing if the form isn’t right. Same for any bow.

If one should choose a bow as a survival weapon, please practice. May as well take a rifle otherwise. At least they usually shoot straight and take less time to figure out.

 
Comment by MSGB545
2015-09-29 01:38:14

The takedown bow makes perfect sense as part of a get home bag when travelling across multiple state lines for business. Obviously not every state or municipality is gun friendly- a takedown bow looks benign and can be quickly unpackaged and carried in the event the SHTF. A take down bow with a draw weight of 45+ lbs and broadheads is an effective game getter for turkey, deer and wild boar. Field or blunt points can be used for smaller game. I carry a minimum of 6 arrows and an equal number of field points and broadheads- an extra string is inexpensive and can mean the difference between a useful tool and “really pretty sticks with matching short spears”. Good judgement and avoiding conflict/unecessary contact is more important than depending on your bow as a primary anti personnel tool……

 
Comment by kyle
2016-07-04 16:39:13

Actually the use of the long bow at Agincourt was not the deciding factor history had initially claimed. Modern research has found that most of the armour used at Agincourt was made of modern steel as evidenced by relics of armour found on that very field. All arrow heads found to have been found at Agincourt were of softer iron and found not to be able to penetrate the armour of the knights and soldiers (most were minor nobles in full plate armour) some shots found gaps but the figures you presented were incorrect. It was found to be the fact that the knights had to cross an open field of deep boggy mud whilst the arrows bounced off their armour further demoralizing the troops who became physically and mentally exhausted, most were in fact defeated by a rested enemy who had not had to march and crawl over fellow fighters in knee deep bog all the while having arrows bouncing off their helmets. The bow contributed but never achieved the kill rate that u stated, however it is a magnificent weapon.

 
Comment by proline bowstrings
2016-11-07 15:09:02

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