Common-sense emergency preparedness from a combat veteran

Archery vs firearms for SHTF weapons

Archery for shtfArchery in a SHTF/TEOTWAWKI world

Are you considering using archery as a backup SHTF weapons system? After what I’m about to show you, you may even consider it a viable primary way to protect yourself even before TEOTWAWKI. Even if you’re not planning on the collapse of the economy/EMP/CME or whatever, you may be considering some kind of alternative to using firearms to protect your family.

Humans have used bows and arrows for hunting and combat for many thousands of years. After the invention of gunpowder, battle tactics started to change. Then when firearms were able to be mass-produced, archery fell by the wayside.

Where I grew up in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, archery was super popular. So popular, in fact, that the schools shut down for the beginning of archery season. Since I hunted with a model 94 Winchester .32 (awesome brush gun for deer), I wasn’t really into the whole archery thing -took too much practice. Same reason I never learned guitar, Latin, or figure out women.

Gave me a great excuse and opportunity though to drop a keg into the creek (pronounced ‘crick’ btw) and have some friends over for a few drinks and maybe a tussle with the kids from the neighboring high school if they felt like invading our territory at the CC Camp we partied at. As such, I never really got into archery.

That being said, I know of several people who are planning on using archery as a secondary weapon system if SHTF. After I saw the video I’m about to show you, I’m now considering it as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guns and pretty much always have one on me (definitely always at the moment since I’ve been in Afghanistan for the past year). Guns do, however, have their drawbacks if they are your only defensive or offensive capability.

Archery vs guns for SHTF:

Zen in the art of archeryAmmo is hard to make. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not technically difficult to make. My dad reloaded (and still reloads) my whole life. You gotta have all the supplies and equipment though. You gonna bring a reloader and ball ammo in your bugout bag? If you’re not set up with a semi-stationary bugout location, you’re not gonna reload. You’ll have to carry or obtain ammo that’s already been made. Because of this, archery has an advantage in the ammo department.

Laws are getting stricter. If your only weapon is an M4, you’re gonna have a tough time making it around town without getting noticed or using it within a couple of miles of anyone. Granted, a compound bow in you hand is gonna draw some attention too but you don’t nearly look like as much of a threat. Also, if the liberals get their way, both weapons and ammo are gonna get more difficult to get a hold of and cost more.

Guns are LOUD! You’re not gonna sneak around anywhere with a shotgun after you shot it. Even silenced weapons aren’t really ‘silenced.’

One of the problems with arrows is that they don’t have the range that firearms do. When you look at the statistics though, most gunfights happen within arrow range.

Arrows won’t penetrate armor either, but are you actually all that likely to come across dudes all armored-up? Even if you do, they’re not fully armored – just the critical parts.

Don’t get me wrong, in most cases, I’ll take my 1911 over a recurve or even a compound bow any day if I have to choose one or the other and don’t know the situation, but as they taught me in most of the weapons training courses I’ve been to, a gun is just a tool; you are the weapon. Each tool has advantages and disadvantages and you have to use the right tool for the right job. Keep in mind though, a bow probably isn’t gonna make a good home defense weapon.

One of the biggest issues I always saw with archery (other than the fact you’re not gonna conceal it very easily) is that you can’t shoot very fast and you have to be pretty much standing still to hit anything. Then I saw this video. Holy shit. Before I go on, you gotta watch this:

Did you see that? There goes the whole you-can’t-shoot-like-that-dude-on-Lord-of-the-Rings argument. That Lars dude is a painter by the way and just started learning how to shoot this way a few years ago. Imagine if you spent the same amount of time learning this that you spend on memorizing baseball statistics? Amazing. This isn’t the Lars Anderson AZ Diamondback dude either, by the way in case you were considering enshrining his rookie card in platinum.

Wanna see another? This is old dude shooting 3 arrows in a second and a half. Give a pistol to the average person and see how many times they can hit a target in one and a half seconds and see what happens:

I definitely wouldn’t wanna come across this dude in the middle of the woods. By the way, that Saracen Archery book he’s talking about is for sale at Amazon if you really wanted to get into it but it’s a tad on the pricey end – Saracen Archery.

So, now that I’ve shattered your misperceptions about the efficacy of archery in CQB, let’s really look at it. Would it really be smart to use a compound bow and arrow or crossbow/bolt (A crossbow doesn’t shoot arrows, btw. I remember that from my Dungeons and Dragons days).

The advantages of bows and arrows (crossbows and bolts)

Let’s look at archery’s advantages a bit more closely:

Stealth.
A recurve bow shot is pretty close to silent. A crossbow is a bit louder but still not gonna give your location away in a lot of cases.

Fire.
Just in case you wanna get medieval on someone’s ass and set them on fire from a distance (or signalling if you’re not so machiavellian, you can use flaming arrows. Here’s one way to make them, although I don’t know how likely it’s gonna be that you’ll find trick candles. It’s the magnesium that you need though:

Getting ammo.
Arrows can be made if need be and I’ve seen flechettes (the feather end) made from not only wild birds but even duct tape. Here’s a video of a guy making one out of saplings.

Getting bows.
A bow can be made out of stuff you can find in the woods or even urban environment. It might not be as accurate as this bow but it’ll do if SHTF. It would be pretty difficult to make a gun out of scraps you find; not impossible because I’ve seen it done, but those guns suck. Here’s a pretty awesome video about how to make a 60 pound pull bow out of PVC. There are a lot of other things you could use but this is as good as any:

Reusing arrows or bolts.
A really big advantage that archery has over guns is that in a lot of cases, if you miss (or even sometimes when you hit) your target, you can just pick up your arrow and use it again. You’re not gonna do that with a bullet. That is, of course, if you can manage to find the stupid thing again.

Disadvantages of archery for SHTF

Accuracy.
This is by far the biggest disadvantage to using a bow and arrow in a SHTF scenario. In order to hit a pie plate at 20 yards consistently, you gotta practice a LOT for like a year. Those with some natural ability are obviously gonna be able to do that faster but the other half of us are gonna take longer. Unless you’re really gonna start practicing a LOT, then bows and arrows shouldn’t really be a big part of your battle plans. If you’re thinking about getting your kid started in archery, take a look at the Crosman Elkhorn JR compound bow.

Portability.
A bow doesn’t really weigh a whole lot but if you add it all up, the weight and volume of a bow and quivver of arrows is quite a lot. An arrow weighs somewhere on the order of 20 grams each, which is about the weight of a .45 caliber bullet, whereas a .22 bullet weighs less than 3.5. The weight’s not a really bad issue but arrows take up a LOT of space. A typical quivver probably holds 6-10 arrows, which is less than the average magazine. My 1911 holds 8+1. If you consider the weight of the quiver in the calculation, then it really gets outta hand.

Availability of ammo.
If you look at this from a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI viewpoint, there are positives and negatives to the availability of arrows. On one hand, you can make them out of anything. On the other, there just aren’t that many arrows out there that are already made that you’ll be able to get your hands on unless you happen to be in redneck country. Even then, it’s not like they’re in all the grocery stores. If you do end up making them, you’re not gonna be able to construct 20/day. At least not good ones. For a zombie apocalypse kind of thinking though, a market would evolve that would include arrow makers (called fletchers, strangely enough). At that point, arrows would become more plentiful.

My conclusions

After researching this article, I’ve reconsidered archery as a viable SHTF weapon. Would I want to give up firearms in exchange? Nope. I really like my guns. But – what happens if something happens and I’m stuck without a gun or ammo? I’m all about contingency plans.

I’m now thinking I’m gonna have to look into practicing with a bow and arrow when I get home. Hell, if nothing else, I’ll get one of those pistol crossbows and keep it for a backup for hunting small game.

In short, I think a bow and arrow shouldn’t replace your rifle, shotgun or pistol – especially as a home defense weapon – but you should consider at least getting some kind of archery training in case the day comes where you’d want to grab that bow.

So, you still think archery isn’t worth looking into?

About graywolf

I am a military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help preppers and others understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life.

Return to top of page

Hosted by WP Engine

Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. All content on this site is subject to copyright law and cannot be reproduced in part or in its entirety without express permission from the original author. In almost all cases, this will be me, Graywolf. Contact me at graywolfsurvival@gmail.com for permission. If you would like to include a short snapshot of my article (the preview paragraph) by way of RSS feed with a link to the rest of the article, please feel free to do so, and I thank you if you do. Disclosure: This is a professional review site that sometimes receives free merchandise from the companies whose products we review and recommend. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

GraywolfSurvival.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to (Amazon.com, or endless.com, MYHABIT.com, SmallParts.com, or AmazonWireless.com).