The Humble Bow: The Ultimate SHTF Weapon?

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:


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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