A tactical bow is a critical component of every Prepper’s survival kit that serves multiple functions. A bow is ideal both for self-defense and for hunting in the case that food becomes scarce during an emergency. Check out our top survival bow below as well as the accessories everyone should have with their bow. With a little bit of backyard practice, you too will be a regular Robin Hood splitting arrows on the target!
Types of Bows
Not all bows are made equally, by design – there are four categories of bows, each with their own specialties. While the best bow is the one that fits your style, strength, and shooting ability, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each type of bow.
The recurve bow gets its name from its unique shape, which curves towards the shooter around the center as you would expect but then curves back away from the shooter at either tip. Recurve bows are used in events such as Olympic shooting, but they are also ideal for beginners since the recurved shape requires less arm strength to pull the bow back. Since recurve bows are commonly shot by people with a wide range of ability levels, they can come “bare” with few features that are not required for shooting – which makes them inexpensive – or loaded with features such as sights, pressure buttons, and stabilizers for more advanced archers and hunting purposes. Recurve bows are also easy to take apart and disassemble into small parts.
The design of the compound bow makes it easier to hold a heavy weight at full draw than is the case on recurve or traditional bows. Compound bows are particularly popular among hunters because they offer the ability to shoot faster, farther, and with greater accuracy than other bow types, and they are typically made of synthetic materials that are not sensitive to changes in temperature or humidity. However, compound bows achieve these advantages through a particularly complex design involving multiple pulleys, cams, and cables, which can make it difficult for beginner archers to learn how to use them. In addition, the initial stage of the draw takes much more arm effort than for a recurve bow.
The traditional longbow is one of the most difficult types of bows to master, in large part thanks to its exceedingly simple design. Longbows have few adornments to make them easier to shoot – there is no arrow rest, no sight, and the shape of the bow means there is no easy effort to be had during the draw. While longbows cannot achieve the accuracy or arrow speed of other bow types, some archers use longbows for honing their skills and appreciate the simplicity of this traditional bow. While a traditional bow is one of the only bow types that you could make yourself, it is also the least useful of any bow types when it comes to self-defense or hunting.
Crossbows have become immensely popular, in part because they are the type of bow that most closely resembles a firearm. Rather than being held upright, crossbows are held perpendicular to the body and have a firing trigger on the underside of the bow. The bow on a crossbow is drawn back using a small hand crank – some lighter crossbows are designed for the draw to be performed manually - then fixed into place until the crossbow is fired. Crossbows typically have short ranges and require heavier weights to match the performance of recurve or compound bows, and many states have restrictions on purchasing and using crossbows that do not exist for other bow types.
Why Should Preppers Invest in a Survival Bow?
While most preppers are familiar with the benefits of having an array of guns in a survival situation, archery equipment is one of the best investments you can make to ensure that you’ll make it through any catastrophe. Compared to guns, bows have few to no mechanical parts that can break or malfunction over time. In addition, whereas ammunition will quickly turn hard to come by in a survival situation, arrows are reusable and with a good Bowie knife and some practice you can even make your own. Bows are also much more lightweight and portable than a gun with comparable range and deadly force, especially if you opt for a bow that can be broken down into several pieces for transport. Finally, bows are virtually silent – which can be a major advantage both when you’re hunting for game and in the event that you find yourself in a combat situation.
There are other advantages to having a bow in a survival situation as well. In addition to being used for hunting and defense, a bow can be used as part of a bow drill for starting a fire. The bow string itself can double as a small line for setting snares or traps or even as a makeshift fishing line. The arrows you carry with your bow are also multi-use – they can double as spear tips for hunting large game or for spear fishing.
Recurve Bows are Best for Preppers
The best type of tactical bow for survivalists is the recurve bow thanks to its combination of simplistic design, power, and accuracy. Unlike crossbows and compound bows, recurve bows have no mechanical parts that can break when you need the bow most – only the bow itself and the bowstring. While the recurve bow lacks the power of crossbows and compound bows, a well-made recurve bow provides more than enough striking force to take down large game such as deer or elk – which also means it has plenty of utility for defense if you need it. Considering that you will likely be extremely fatigued in a survival situation, the relative ease of drawing back the bowstring on a recurve bow is also a major benefit to this bow style.
Another advantage to recurve bows is that they are suitable to preppers of any archery skill level. This means that you can invest in a good beginner recurve bow to keep in your emergency supply kit now and use it for practice over time. As your skills improve, it is relatively inexpensive to upgrade the bow so that you have a more advanced archery system in the event of an emergency – but you’ll never be left without a bow that you don’t know how to use in the meantime.
Best Recurve Bow
Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow
For preppers who are looking for an entry-level bow that can be built upon over time, Samick Sage makes one of the best takedown recurve bows currently available. This bow is “takedown” in that the wooden centerpiece of the bow is separate from the limbs flanging it, which allows for portability and for changing out the weight of the limbs over time without replacing the entire bow as your archery skills improve. The wooden centerpiece of the bow has an arrow rest to make drawing and aiming easier, and the bow also comes pre-drilled so that you can add additional accessories such as sights, and a stabilizer if you need accuracy beyond 20-30 yards. While the bow itself is relatively inexpensive, this ability to build onto the bow and upgrade it as you practice is a huge advantage for preppers who are not accustomed to shooting bows.
The grip on the centerpiece of the bow does not have any non-stick material, but in is crafted well enough so that it does not place pressure on your hand as you draw the bowstring back. In addition, the bow comes in both right eye- and left eye-dominant orientations – if you’re not sure which eye is your dominant eye, try sighting darts or similar with one eye closed to find out. Like most other bows, the Samick Sage does not come with arrows or a stringer (although the bowstring itself is provided), so plan on making additional investments in these accessories in order to get your bow set up to use.
Tiger Archery 30” Carbon Arrows
These carbon arrows are inexpensive and perfect for target practice, although it’s worth noting for preppers looking to stock their survival kits that these arrows are neither sharp enough nor durable enough for hunting. The arrow shafts are surprisingly durable, even when shot occasionally against hard surfaces rather than a target, but you’ll want to glue the arrow heads into the shaft since they can otherwise get stuck inside your target. The fletching is rubberized, which is fine for target practice, but does generate a slight amount of knocking as it passes over the arrow rest when shooting. These arrows are an excellent choice for preppers looking to improve their archery skills without spending a fortune on training arrows.
ArcheryMax Three Finger Archery Gloves
This archery glove is the only glove preppers will ever need since it works equally well for beginning and advanced archers. The glove is handmade cow leather with a layer of mesh for breathability and features a double layer of leather at the fingertips to protect your hand when you are drawing on the bow. However, this extra protection does not at all take away from the feel you have for the string and there is no stickiness when releasing the bow. The glove tends to run small and fits snugly, so be sure to measure your hand accurately before choosing the size of glove you need.
Southland Archery Supply 8” Armguard
An arm guard is an absolute must for anyone new to archery, since releasing the bow incorrectly and lashing your arm with it is bound to happen. This arm guard is an inexpensive addition to your archery kit and is long enough to protect most of your inner arm from being bruised by the string. The guard has long openings in the construction to help with ventilation, but note that like any arm guard it will definitely accumulate heat when you are practicing outside on hot days. The design is also relatively rigid at the wrist, which can make holding the bow less comfortable but also trains your wrist to stay solid when shooting. The guard is able to fit most arms thanks to three adjustable straps. Wearing a long sleeve shirt is best when using any arm guard.
Huntingdoor Fixed Blade Archery Broadheads
These carbon-shafted arrows are designed primarily for target practice like the arrows from Tiger Archery - however could also be used for hunting and defense. The arrowheads are three-bladed broadheads rather than standard target practice arrows. The broadhead arrowheads typically have much more drift in the air than traditional arrowheads thanks to their added surface area and weight, which is why you’ll want to practice with these before going out hunting. These inexpensive broadheads are moderately sharp and have more drift than more expensive arrows, and the arrowheads will come off somewhat easily if they are not glued into the shafts. That said, these arrows can be used for hunting small- to moderate-sized game – but don’t expect the shaft to remain intact if it comes in contact with hard material like bone. If you plan on hunting anything the size of deer, practice with these arrows and invest in higher grade hunting arrows when you are ready!
A quality archery set and the knowledge of how to use it are among the most valuable tools that a prepper can have in their survival toolbox. In addition to investing in a takedown recurve bow and entry-level accessories, be sure to invest time in practicing your archery skills – it is this practice that will pay off most of all when a survival situation strikes.