Archery has been around since man figured out that launching a stick with a string would make said stick go farther than just throwing it.
The invention of gun powder and mass produced firearms pushed archery to the wayside as the battle strategy of choice despite the fact that for eons it was the best way to defend yourself, family and land rights.
Just like any tool, it’s critical to use the right one for the job. The bow is extremely versatile and can be easily carried (especially if you have a take-down recurve bow that can be broken down into pieces. More on that later.) and it will never run out of ammo. But does that mean that a bow and arrows should be part of your preps? The answer for me is a resounding yes, but I’m here to help you answer that question for yourself.
Most people, given their choice of 1 weapon for life and death situations, would go with a sidearm instead of the bow. And they’re not wrong. I myself will almost always choose my S&W over a bow any day, depending on the situation. Let me explain:
Guns vs. Archery for Survival
The majority of the most popular firearms have a much longer range than any bow and it’s much quicker to get those shots off for defense. And in some cases, just the sight of a gun can deter someone who wishes to do you harm. Firearms, either pistols or long guns, are by far the best choice for home defense and a fire fight. Though, typically, most fire fights happen within bow range. (Just sayin’)
The biggest disadvantage, in my mind, is the fact that guns are so freakin’ loud! Even “silenced” guns aren’t really silent. I really don’t like the idea of sending out a signal to all surrounding people of my position. In a survival situation, a gun shot is going to be a dinner bell to anyone within ear shot. You’re not just protecting your next meal by being quiet. Your also protecting your supplies, not to mention your life.
Another draw back is ammo is finite. You can only carry so much. I’ve heard the argument that one will still be able to find what they need and that’s the purpose of purchasing a weapon with commonly used calibers, but if everyone needs it and is using it, it’s going to disappear quicker than you may realize. There’s also the point of being able to make your own. While technically, it’s not difficult to do, it does require a lot of equipment that is heavy. You’re not exactly going to be able to tote this stuff around when you’re on the move.
And a final disadvantage is the maintenance factor. Even the best maintained firearm can jam. And while anyone who uses a firearm practices for such events, a great deal can happen in those split seconds. I know what you’re saying, “A bow is slower. Much slower than a gun.” And up until a few days ago, I would have agreed. Then I saw this video…
Holy …… Just WOW! This guy is amazing! Yes, I realize he’s spent years training to be able to shoot his bow this way, but it is possible for other people to quickly pick up some of these skills. Which leads me to…
I have to say that my favorite thing about shooting my bow is the quiet. A recurve and traditional bows are almost completely silent. Compounds bow are pretty close as well. With some practice, it’s fairly easy to stalk your prey and pick your shot without giving away your position.
When you fire your bow, whether you hit or miss, you can pick up that arrow and fire it again (provided you can find the darn thing!). No one, in the history of ever, has done that with a bullet. Arrows do get broken occasionally, but the good news is you can make new ones out of pretty much anything. There’s plenty of YouTube videos available to show you how. While it does take some skill (because arrows are just as precise as bullets) it’s about as easy as reloading your own ammo. You just do it with what nature provides instead. Note: NEVER fire a wood arrow from a compound bow. I do not have any experience with doing that, but I have read that there have been many horrible accidents from people doing this. One guy shot the arrow through his own arm! Just don’t risk it.
Another nice thing about bows is there isn’t anyone trying to regulate them the way firearms are. Most people do not look at a bow and see a weapon. In a lot of cases, you can practice in your own backyard (check your local regulations).
Bows are in many ways very multi-purpose as well. They were the first flame thrower. Not only as defense, but also as a signal to contact others when in need. You can also use them to string a line much farther than throwing it. Ever try to throw a rope over a tree limb or canyon? They are also more efficient at fishing than firearms.
They take a lot of practice. (But so do firearms for that matter.) You have to build up your tolerance to shooting a bow. It does require some upper body strength and a lot of core strength. The good news is, with regular practice, those things come pretty quickly. You could hit the gym to move things along, but it’s not necessary. (Yoga really does help with this too, for those that don’t want to bulk up.)
There is also a maintenance issue with bow as well. A compound bow and cross bow require regular maintenance, and unless you have a bow press, this isn’t something you can do yourself. Traditional and recurve bows are much easier to maintain, but they are a lot harder to shoot and require much more practice and skill. There are archers that say the skill required is a lot simpler, because you simply point at your target, but it does still require a lot of practice to become skillful.
While bows and arrows are light weight individually, the combined weight is more that most pistols with the same number of rounds. There’s also the space issue to consider. Arrows take up a lot of space and if you factor in the weight of a quiver, it really starts to get quite heavy comparatively.
Types of Bows and Archery Styles:
Bows have a wide variety of purposes and there are many configurations that one can use. This is why you will always find debates about which styles are best for survival and what type of arrows you should use in any given situation.
I think that it’s a matter of personal preference and it all depends on what you are comfortable with and what you needed it for. While all styles of bows essentially perform the same function, they each do it in an unique way and have their own best uses.
Traditional and Recurve: If you imagine Robin Hood as being the ultimate archery icon, then a longbow or recurve maybe right for you. They are lighter weight, require less maintenance and do not need a bunch of fancy extras. Simplicity at it’s finest. They are, however, a bit tougher to shoot because of what’s called “stacking”. The basic definition for stacking is that the farther you pull the string back, the tougher is gets to do so. And the shorter the bow, the quicker this happens. Recurves tend to do this less because of the curved ends. Your personal draw length can affect this as well. Recurve bows also come in breakdown styles that make them very easy to fit into a backpack.
Compound Bows: If you dream of arrow flying through the air quicker than you can see them do so and your tendencies are toward the latest and greatest technology, then a compound bow would fit the bill. They require a lot less upper body strength because of the cam design. They cams roll over at a certain point and take much of the pressure off you, allowing you to shoot at a much higher poundage, equaling in greater range and speed. Compound bows do require special equipment for maintenance, so if you do break a string or a cam, you will have to take it to a professional. Unless of course, you purchase the required equipment and learn how to do repairs yourself.
Crossbows: They have gained extreme popularity thanks to “The Walking Dead” (who doesn’t love Darrell?). Their ease of use and design make them a great choice for anyone who has trouble with the strength and motions required to pull a bow string, and anyone who can not devote the time to practicing with another style of bow. Be sure to check your local regulations as to where you can practice. Some areas regulate crossbow shooting in the same manner as fire arms. And most states limit who and when someone can hunt with them.
Archery can be expensive to get into. Depending on the style of bow you choose, the types of arrows, and accessories, you could easily be looking at hundreds of dollars. The good news is once you make those purchases, there’s really no need is spending much more on it over the course of your life.
No matter what style of bow you choose, make sure it is properly set up for you. A lot of people “work with what they’ve got” as far as bows go. They are not a one-size-fits-all weapon. Your skill and ability to practice will greatly increase when your bow fits you.
Many archery clubs have bows you can try out to decide what style is best for you. I highly recommend you get training and advice from them as apposed to a store. Salesmen are there to sell and not necessarily what is best for you.
Do I love my firearms? Yes. Do I love my bow? Yes. Which will I choose in survival situation? Both. There is a place for guns and for bows. I like the idea of preserving ammo by using my bow. Bullets are a precious commodity and I plan to use them sparingly.