Introduction to Survival Bows

Posted on 2024-04-16
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Check out the typical “Top 10 List” of survival weapons and you’ll likely not see a bow mentioned –– unless the list was compiled by a survival pro.  After all, field tested pros with some serious exprience know there are some significant advantages to having a bow in your bug-out arsenal because they are:

  • Versatile.  A bow and arrow can be used for a wide range of survival tasks such as hunting, fishing, and self-defense.
  • Lightweight and portable.  They are lightweight and easy to carry, making a bow and arrow an ideal choice for situations where you need to move quickly and cover a lot of ground.
  • Virtually silent.  When you don’t want to draw attention to yourself in a hunting or survival situation, a bow provides the ultimate in stealth.
  • Sustainable.  A bow and arrow can be used repeatedly with very little maintenance, without a gun’s appetite for constantly replenished ammo.

Although there are many types of bows available such as recurve, or compound and crossbows (with their more complicated mechanisms and pulley systems), many seasoned survival experts recommend the simpler longbow types.


Recurve Bow:

Compound Bow:


A variety of longbow, known as a takedown bow, can be folded or broken down into smaller components for compact storage and transport, making them ideal for a bugout bag.  I recommend finding models that easily expand to full size with spring loaded mechanisms, or can be assembled without the need for tools. The simpler, the better.

Compound bows and crossbows may look nifty in the movies but most models are not all that practical in survival situations because they are complex, bulky, heavier than traditional bows, and not easily serviceable in the field if they need repair.  And if you’re in a defense situation, you won’t want a model that takes too much time to reload and shoot.

Traditional bows and longbows typically weigh less than 5 pounds, although you can find certain dependable models that weigh as little as 2 pounds.

You’ll want to start with a lower draw weight, which refers to how hard it is to draw the string back.  The higher the draw weight, the greater the power, distance and impact.  Look for a draw weight of 30-50 pounds, which is the legal requirement in most states to hunt wild game with a bow.

You’ll also need to determine your draw length. Draw length refers to the distance at full draw of the archer from the base of the nocking point (where the arrow’s nock docks on the string) to the deepest point in the grip (pivot point).  The draw length to the pivot point is called “draw length pivot point” (DLLP). For example:  26.25″ DLLP + 1.75″ = draw length.


Also, consider getting a stringing tool.  Although you can string a bow without one, it’s much safer and easier to use this cheap and light tool.

To protect and extend your bow string’s life, be sure to wax it.


1. The SAS Tactical Survival bow is my top overall choice.  Only 21 inches when folded and weighing a mere 2.2 pounds, it’s still over 60 inches when ready to fire.  You can even get arrows that split into two halves for compact storage, and none of it requires any special tools for assembly.  It’s made of T6 aluminum and marine-grade stainless steel with matte black surfaces that have been specially treated so they are not reflective. (Bow: $129.95, Arrow: $20.00)

2. The Xpectre Nomad is a good option for a tighter budget, at roughly half the price of the SAS Tactical. Even better, it breaks down to a tighter package of just 17.5 inches, is designed to be ambidextrous (whichever hand you favor), and includes a handy carrying case.  The drawback is that it only comes in a 45 pound draw weight, so you may need to practice and develop some strength on other models first. (Bow & Arrows: $104.95)

3. The SAS Atmos Survival Longbow breaks down to fit in a 22 inch backpack with multiple draw weights available.  This is a premium survival bow which easily lends itself to modern sighting systems commonly found on most compound bows. It’s made of 7075 aluminum and lets you select the desired draw weight upon purchase. (Bow: $499.95)

*BONUS RECOMMENDATION:  The Stinger II AR-6 Mini Crossbow (if you insist on a crossbow) actually fits well in preparedness scenarios. It’s light weight, easy to cock, and capable of firing one shot every 2 seconds with effective fire out to 50 feet for self-defense situations. (Crossbow Pistol: $299.99)


The four parts of an arrow are:

  • Tip or Bullet Point: This is the business end which typically screws off in most modern arrows and can be replaced with other tips that perform different functions.
  • Shaft: The shaft is the main body of the arrow. It’s usually made of wood, fiberglass or aluminum, and it’s critical that the shaft is straight.
  • Nock: The rear of the arrow features a slot, either cut into the arrow or as a separate plastic bit, which seats the arrow on the string. Some types of nocks lightly latch onto the string while others just rest on it.
  • Fletching: Fletching is the feathers or plastic fins that stabilize the arrow and help it fly true. There are usually three: two “hen” feathers and a “cock” feather. When you shoot an arrow, you want to make sure the cock vane is pointed to the outside so it doesn’t hit the bow as it flies.


Beginners Guide to Bow Hunting

Read more >

Beginners Guide to Bow Fishing

Read more >


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