6 Reasons You Should Own a Survival Bow & Arrow

by A Manly Guest Contributor on February 18, 2014 · 37 comments

in Manly Skills, Outdoors, Survival


Editor’s Note: This guest post by Creek Stewart first appeared at willowhavenoutdoor.com.

I am a big fan of the bow and arrow for a variety of reasons, and I personally think that anyone who has an interest in primitive survival skills or modern urban survival should seriously consider purchasing a good bow and arrow and become proficient in using it. There are hundreds of bows to choose from, but my particular bow of choice is an October Mountain Blue Ridge Hunter Take Down Recurve Bow. Below are six reasons why you should consider owning a similar survival take-down bow.

1. Portability

survival-bow-taken-down-300x168“Take-down” simply means that the bow comes apart in three pieces: the middle grip section and the two limbs. It is simple to take down – just the twist of a couple lug screws and voila. The fact that it comes apart makes it very portable. You can stash the bow in your pack or Bug Out Bag. It’s perfect for a Bug Out Vehicle or BOL (Bug Out Location) cache as well. And, it weighs very little. My bow weighs only a couple of pounds – if that.

2. Affordability

A good take-down bow should only cost you a couple hundred bucks and if you take care of it, you can expect it to last your lifetime. Not only is the bow itself affordable, but the ammunition (arrows) are cost effective too. Once you hone your shooting skills, you should be able to retrieve your arrows after shooting and reuse them over and over again. With a little practice, you can also easily make your own arrows using wooden dowels or even natural-found wood and plant shafts.

3. Versatility

Some modern arrow points as compared to flint arrow-heads

Modern arrow points vs flint arrowheads.

Modern arrows have come a long way. Most new carbon fiber arrows are ultra lightweight and have a tip that accepts different screw-in arrow tips. I have an extensive selection of tips to choose from: small game stunner tips, broad-head razor large game tips, standard practice tips, hook tips and line for bow fishing, etc. I’ve killed both squirrel and deer using my take-down bow with various arrow tips. A good selection of arrow tips can be easily kept in a pack or vehicle. I also practice flint knapping regularly so that if I was ever in a situation when I need to make my own arrow points, I would know how.

4. Laws, Red Tape, and Paperwork 

Take Down Recurve Bow: A Great Survival BowLegal limitations and laws are much more lax on the bow and arrow than they are with guns and bullets. You don’t have to mess with paperwork and permits, even though, in the right hands the bow and arrow is equally deadly. The less you have to deal with this stuff the better.

5. Silent

The bow and arrow is a very quiet weapon. You never know when you might need the convenience of a weapon that is nearly completely silent as well as deadly.

6. Multi-Use


Some pieces of a take-down bow kit can be multi-use items, which is always a plus. I like for everything I pack to have at least 2-3 other uses. The first and most obvious multi-use piece is the bow string. Bow strings range in length from 4 feet to 6 feet and are incredibly strong. You could use a bow string in a variety of ways:

If you are packing a bow then you are probably packing a few arrows as well. Arrows can be used as spears and gigs for small game and fish. They can also be lashed to a longer shaft and used as a larger spear for big game such as wild pig. This larger spear can be used in self defense as well. Imagine a spear with three arrows lashed to the end and each of the arrows with a razor broad-head on the tip – you can’t even buy a spear that effective. I would love to hear any ideas you have on the subject of multi-use with a bow and arrow kit!

Final Thoughts on the Take-Down Survival Bow and Arrow 

Creek with Home Made Hickory Bow

Creek with a homemade hickory bow.

Pros of the Bow and Arrow:

  • Very Portable for such an effective long range weapon
  • Silent
  • Affordable
  • Multi-Use
  • Can reuse arrows
  • Can make arrows in the bush
  • Lax laws

Negatives of the Bow and Arrow:

  • Requires practice and skill to be effective
  • Arrows can be a little cumbersome to pack

What I enjoy most about the bow and arrow is that it requires skill to use. It is also a weapon that carries a certain amount of respect. Ninety-nine percent of being able to effectively use the weapon is the skill itself – not the equipment. The skill will always be with you. Even if your bow is damaged or broken in a survival situation or stolen in a bug out situation, you can even make a bow as long as you have a strong piece of cordage. I made the bow at the top of the conclusion from a hickory sapling using only my knife. I also made the arrow. Making a bow and arrow in the bush is definitely an option. However, it will do you no good if you don’t know how to shoot it. Preparation is the key. Practice now for the situation later.

Remember, it’s not IF, but WHEN.



Creek Stewart is a Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft. Creek’s passion is teaching, sharing, and preserving outdoor living and survival skills. Creek is also the author of the book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. For more information, visit Willow Haven Outdoor.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daniel February 18, 2014 at 9:21 pm

I think a follow up article on how to make a bow/arrows by hand would be pretty rad.

2 Jeremy February 18, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Observation from reading these articles on survival: Creek is a total badass.

3 Andrew February 18, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Case and point: hooded vigilante Oliver Queen from the tv show Arrow.

4 Aaron Dutil February 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Great article! I don’t use a traditional bow but enjoy hunting with a recurve crossbow. A few more moving parts than a traditional bow but still easy to repair in the field if the string breaks. I only use the iron sights, not a scope. Crossbows are also lots of fun and require less training than a traditional bow in terms of hunting but carry less restrictions than purchasing a firearm. It too is quiet.

5 Matt February 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm

I’d love to see some recommended bows and recommended equipment (perhaps another article to follow?)

6 C Jackson February 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm

My father in law makes bows with PVC pipe and paracord. I have one with about a 50-60lb pull. He can fashion them very plainly or even shape them to look like a recurve. So if you’re willing to put in the time, no need to even spend the couple hundred bucks!

7 Noah February 19, 2014 at 12:13 am

There’s a great set of books called the “Bowyer’s Bible” for any aspiring bowyers out there. It’s split into three volumes and walks you through making flat bows, long bows, arrows, working with backing materials and different types of wood, etc. VERY comprehensive, and an entertaining read besides.

8 MCM February 19, 2014 at 1:47 am

I carry a takedown in the my truck most of the time. But in a SHTF situation, I prefer a longbow since it can double as a staff.

Love this part……. “Ninety-nine percent of being able to effectively use the weapon is the skill itself – not the equipment. The skill will always be with you.”

9 Nikola Gjakovski February 19, 2014 at 3:00 am

As a Sagittarius I think this post fits me perfect. I have heard that professional assassins, even these days, use the bow to kill because there is no sound and no fire so they can’t be traced.

10 Shawn February 19, 2014 at 3:20 am

Would love a buyers guide too. I have no idea about what the differences are between any of the good or bad ones and would love to own one myself.

11 Darren Bush February 19, 2014 at 6:54 am

I guess it’s time to write that piece on building a longbow..

12 Brandon February 19, 2014 at 8:31 am

For anyone interested in building their own bow, Sam Haper at http://poorfolkbows.com/oak.htm has a great how to guide for bowyery.

As far as buying a beginner bow goes, the Martin Jaguar and the Samick Sage are two of the better entry level Takedown Recurves. Both in the 100-150 dollar price range.

13 Benjamin Dunn February 19, 2014 at 10:47 am
14 Jeremiah February 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

Definitely interested… perhaps a list and/or links to stores and website that sell these types of bows…

15 Martin February 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm

This makes me want to take up archery. A post about which bow to choose and pro’s and cons of every bow would be greatly appreciated! Good stuff, keep it up!

16 john February 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Just a couple of ideas I had for additional uses for the bow and arrow or its specific parts.
1. Smaller hand held projectiles like a throwing spike.
2. A means for getting a rope or line across a gorge or in between trees for bridge building etc.

17 Josh February 19, 2014 at 8:58 pm

To learn how to make a bow, check out boarriorbows on youtube.

18 Erick Mercadante February 19, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I have been doing archery for about 11 years now, it is the best sport it is fun and you get alot out of it. however I think wooden bows are the best bows to use. composite bows are good and all but bulky.

19 Sven February 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm

This post reminded me of an excellent man-novel a friend of mine wrote. One of the most clever parts is when the protagonist builds a bow in a country with notoriously strict gun laws. More than that will spoil it. Great thriller if you are interested. I have no financial or other ties to the book.

20 brandon February 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

A recurve bow is one of the better long range zombie apocalypse weapons out there. Re-usable ammo, silent, decent rate of fire, and can be used to catch food as shown above.

21 Gil February 21, 2014 at 2:04 am

Another upside: since it take much more time, strength and practice to become proficient than with a firearm the chances of someone turning your own bow and arrow against you are considerably low.

Downside: the chances of taking someone down with arrows is nowhere near as affective with a gun. People in the old days before guns were more prone to die from infection from arrow wounds than the arrow per se. Hence archers would dip the tip in some sort of poison.

22 Reily February 21, 2014 at 3:21 am

A good compound bow to start with would be the St. Charles Buckskin Bow, considering it is a takedown, believe it or not.

23 P.M.Lawrence February 21, 2014 at 3:33 am

With a little practice, you can also easily make your own arrows using wooden dowels or even natural-found wood and plant shafts… Even if your bow is damaged or broken in a survival situation or stolen in a bug out situation, you can even make a bow as long as you have a strong piece of cordage.

Unless your bow’s midsection is cranked to the side just above the grip to allow arrows to be shot in the plane of the bow, the arrows have to pass to the side and so they need to flex in just the right way to get past it without being deflected by contacting the bow (it’s a sort of Fosbury Flop). Home-made arrows of any sort are vanishingly unlikely to do this properly, which is why fletchers need skills. Making a good bow needs skill too, particularly in choosing the material and how and where to trim it, because one side needs to work in compression and the other side in tension (traditional yew bows were cut to produce that combination best, and the materials in composite bows were chosen to combine that way).

I also practice flint knapping regularly so that if I was ever in a situation when I need to make my own arrow points, I would know how.

No, you wouldn’t, not until you had also learned the best way to fasten them on. Two good sources for knotting skills are Clifford Ashley and Geoffrey Budworth – google them. You could bypass this by using fire-hardened points from the arrow’s own wooden material, but those need to be re-sharpened and re-hardened frequently and the fletching needs more attention as the arrow’s centre of gravity is farther back (and it will shift a little each time you re-sharpen and re-harden the arrow).

There’s another disadvantage to using a bow and arrow: it isn’t suitable for ambush hunting, as you can’t shoot well from a prone position and you can’t hold steady for long while waiting to shoot (apart from some intricate and specialist bow designs, that let a mechanism take the load until then). That kind of hunting works better with a crossbow and bolts, and a crossbow has less learning curve too.

I am glad you didn’t talk about firing a bow and arrow.

24 ww rutland February 21, 2014 at 6:21 am

I used to use a bow but age and medical problems overcame me so now I use a crossbow. The crossbow does not need extra training time to use – if you can fire a rifle then the crossbow is the same skill. They are more compact and a bit more powerful. So if th bow is too much for you go to the crossbow. We had a fun time firing my crossbow when she and her family visited last year. Even the ladies can hit targets with it at 60yards. By the way I’m retired SF and know my weapons.

25 David Latham February 21, 2014 at 8:55 am

I bought a bow three years ago because I live inside the city limits and it is illegal to discharge a weapon except in teh case of an emergency. Yet behind my house is a very nice wooded area full of deer, duck, and geese. Last year a got a small doe, this year I bagged a 250 lb. seven pointer! I got 140 lbs. of meat in my freezer! The reason why i did all this was for the skill, stealth, and quietness involved with using a bow. It has been a very satisfying experiment. Weapons are like tools you need to have something for every situation. A bow with arrows with the added skill is a must. Great article!

26 bodypuncher February 21, 2014 at 11:19 am

Thanks for the article. When introducing my young kids to archery I re-discoverd the fiberglass recurve bows of my youth-http://www.tradbow.com/public/272.cfm. I like them because you can set them down in wet grass, drop them in a lake or puddle, scratch and gouge them, and they can take it. And recurve is best for reliablitity (less parts). Of course a compound or crossbow gives superior velocity and makes even a poor archer a good shot, but recurve works fine if you use a razor sharp broadhead and have decent aim- velocity won’t matter as much with the right head. Higher poundage fiberglass recurves are a thing of the past, but Bear sells a 35 lb a s a”youth” bow, but I find it to be rather nice. Also, I went on eBay and bought a very old 45 lb recurve fiberglass for a very right price, and it shoots amazingly accurate and strong. Last- there are websites showing “slongbow” -a wrist-rocket slingshot converted to shoot arrows. Seems useful for compact storage/transport/survival situations. Someone on the web claims to have bagged deer with it. Like I say, with the right head the velocity is not so important. Have fun, but be safe.

27 Jerry G February 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Want a compact – strong- accurate-silent bow ? look at the “liberty bow” a compond bow with no riser ! The bow is no longer than it’s arrows…

28 Rex February 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Good article! At the end, you site 2 disadvantages to the bow:
* Requires practice and skill to be effective
* Arrows can be a little cumbersome to pack

I would submit that a rifle has the same disadvantages.
The skill level may be a bit lower, but is still a factor.
the rifle itself would be MORE cumbersome than a take-down bow, and carrying enough (non-resuable) ammunition could get a little bulky as well.
To me, the big advantage to a rifle is distance. Once you get out of the smaller calibers, I don’t think there is any comparison.

29 Evan S. February 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I am far from proficient in the bow, but enjoy making them from pvc. My more skilled friends have told me that my pvc bows shoot well. The pvc bows are cheap to make, allowing dozens to be stashed alongside better bows as backup.

30 Jim Pickens February 24, 2014 at 12:52 am

A buddy of mine as a kid made one out of a long thin sturdy tree limb and yarn that was pretty good but only used it for play since he also had a compound bow. Another friend of mine had a recurve that he used for bow fishing and I had a Fred Bear recurve that was pretty good.

31 Tom February 24, 2014 at 7:25 am

I used to build bows and arrows with
hazelwood, when I was a kid, as taught by my dad. Great fun and hours of practising and looking after the arrows!

32 John February 26, 2014 at 12:31 pm

This is a great idea and I agree that it’s definitely something that you should add to your survival kit. Thanks for the suggestion and if you are looking for the best selling survival kit I recommend http://www.survivalkit.com/best-selling-survival-kits.

33 Chickasha Hoolba March 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Another advantage to the take down bow is that if one or both limbs develop any defects (stress fractures for instance) the limbs can be replaced without costing you one or two of yours.

You can also replace the limbs if you want more or less draw poundage; please note that more draw strength does not necessarily mean a more efficient or powerful shooter- familiarize yourself with how to “tune” your bow. Then practice, practice, practice.

34 Gabe March 8, 2014 at 6:37 am

I’ve never thought about adding a bow in a survival bag, but it makes a lot of sense because you can make your own arrows if you needed to.

It would be hard to make your own .22lr ammo once you run out while your out in the woods ;)

35 Aleksiej March 24, 2014 at 8:11 am

It’s true that it will take some time to shoot accurately but it’s also so much fun. Most people (including me) get hooked and move to more serious bows such as hunting compound bows.

36 Ted April 5, 2014 at 9:23 pm

A long bow, a broadhead, and a bottle of Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust (the best IPA out there) is all you need to survive the next zombie apocalypse!

37 Evans April 9, 2014 at 9:10 am

Nothing like a good old badass traditional bow. haha! Man i really prefer a traditional over the modern compound bow. It’s really convenient especially those takedown bows where you can just dismantle them and put it your casing or bag. I use to be an adventurer then i took an arrow in the knee. Sigh

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