Gun vs. Bow – Which One Do You Need for Survival

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Editors Note: A guest contribution from Robert Gate of Archerytopic.com  to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

Sometimes you can end up in a situation that needs you to apply any survival skills that you have. Having the right tools and weapons could mean a lot when it comes to your survival. With many options available as survival weapons, for most, it would either be a bow or a gun. So, which one would be the best to use?

The debate about bow vs. gun has been around survivalist forums for years. They always want to know which weapon would help them protect themselves and their family in a critical situation. Some might prefer guns over bows and vice versa, today we get to go into detail to understand which weapon would be the best.

Bows

The bow weapons would come in different shapes and sizes just as it would be the same for the guns. You have to look at the experience you have when it comes to handling the bows. For the sake of survival, you do not want to be an amateur at using the weapon. The same goes for the choice of the bow. Multiple bow types exist today each requiring a different way of handling. No matter whether it is the best compound bow or the best recurve bow, if you are not careful, you might end up with the victim of an accident when shooting the bow as opposed to protecting yourself and family.

The Pros of Using Bow Weapons

  • One good thing about bows is that making the weapons and components, such as arrows, should be easy for many people. Even if the last deer ran off with your last arrow, you can always make new arrows from materials around you. The same could not be said for the guns whereby if you are out of ammo, there is nothing you can do.
  • With a gun, you will make noticeable noise that will make your enemy know your exact position. Having a bow is considered better in some situations due to their quiet nature. Your enemy might end up being defeated by the bow silence and being unable to track your position.
  • The slow speed of the arrow can be a blessing in disguise. If the enemy is smart enough, he can track your position by looking at where the arrow is flying in from. The slow speed should allow you to move from your current position before the arrow hits the target.

Cons of Bow Weapons

  • The first disadvantage can easily be directed towards the rate of fire for a bow. Take the crossbow as an example, it would take long to add the arrow to the bow before firing. This takes time as compared to using a gun. Newer guns will have an increased fire rate and reduced rates of misfires.
  • The amount of training needed to be able to use a bow takes time. The time might not always be on your side in a survivalist situation. Ask anyone who has trained as an archer, the answer is always that the process takes long to master it.
  • Taking bow shots needs the archer to be closer to danger as compared to when using a rifle. You can see that your stealth skills have to be at the top or else you will be noticed before you can take the shot.

Guns

There is no doubt that when compared to bows, guns will easily be seen as a more powerful weapon for survival. New rifles today can deliver impressive ranges, some up to 600 yards easily and still maintain accuracy. The ammo used in guns has the ability to drop the target easily if you know how to handle the gun.

Pros of Guns

  • The ability to deliver the ammo over a longer distance than a bow makes a gun preferred by many people. You can aim easily, in the comfort of your stand, and send the bullet towards your target. A number of factors can affect the type of gun and ammo to use, but on overall a gun would be better at shooting over long distances.
  • The stopping power of a bullet has been always enough to take down the target with ease. It is a minimal effort as compared to using the arrows. You might have to shoot your target with several arrows to get it down.
  • How about learning how to use a gun? As compared to using bows, the guns are always easier to master. You will be a pro in using a gun within a short time as when compared to shooting arrows over a long time.

Cons

  • The shortage of ammo always makes the gun useless. It is not the same as for the bows where, again, you can make arrows in the wild.

By now you have an idea which weapon you would choose. Each weapon has its best applications, so make sure that you keep that in mind before picking a gun or bow.

Robert Gate is the founder of Archerytopic.com. He was enthusiastic about hunting from the first shot, from then he decided to become a pro hunter. If you find something helpful on his blog, he would be proud to hear from you.

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37 Comments on "Gun vs. Bow – Which One Do You Need for Survival"

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JD0001
Guest

Modern rifles have a 600 yard range?! Lol try 1000+. And they don’t have to be “modern”. A Springfield 1903 chambered in 30.06 was shooting a 1000 yards back in WWI. A bow is no match for even a duty sized pistol. And with silencers available, the bow doesn’t even have the sound advantage anymore. As for running out of ammo, 2000-5000 rounds will last a long time before you would either have to, acquire more. I don’t know anyone that has 2000 arrows.

R. Ann
Guest
x2 JD There’s also the pervasive belief that any homemade arrow flies well, and flies the same as the last. Nope. A bench clamped gun with different ammo may change impact point by 2-6″ in the 50-80-100 yd or meter range by type; the same for lower-grade ammo and home-cast speedy reloading of naked lead. A familiar bow and well-aimed shot can miss by FEET at 30-50 yards or meters due solely to differing arrows or components – different tip, different weight or length shaft, different fletching, even with commercial arrows in pristine condition. Flip side, I have contention with… Read more »
JD0001
Guest

Excellent points Rebecca, as usual! Good to converse with you again. I had a little hiatus but I’m laid off for the winter again so I’ll be contributing in the comments and writing articles to submit.

Wild Bill
Admin

Couldn’t agree more. I always ask the archers for an article on just how one makes an arrow? What do you use for the fletch, how do you secure it to the shaft, etc.? Never get that article. PLUS, I have way more desert than forest in my “off the grid”…an arrow made from a cholla would be AWESOME but by the time you made it your would have bleed to death from the wounds.

R. Ann
Guest
Yeah, there’s a reason the natives, Mogolians, cold-Europeans, and Greeks all had specialists doing the builds as they evolved. The bow isn’t so hard – we see it all over the internet, as simple as PVC and 550 cord or the floating boater’s cord the same dimension (name escapes me, starts with an R or a B). The arrows, though… We know it’s been done, throughout history, but … how much time and materials for it, using what handy tools, versus what you get as a result? We’ve done several with BSA troops along the way, and the range I… Read more »
John
Guest

There is no such thing as a “silencer”. There are “sound suppressors” which reduce the level of sound of a shot, but does not and can not make it completely quiet. Plus even if it could, the ammo would have to be “lower power” to avoid breaking the sound barrier and being audible in flight.

Arrows are reusable

JD0001
Guest

The inventor of the “suppressor” called it a silencer. Therefore, I refer to them as silencers. If someone believes that a silencer makes a gun truly silent, well, then it’s amateur hour and they need to do much studying.

John
Guest

Just because a person or people use an incorrect term, often for political purposes, you don’t mind supporting that? I suppose you are willing to call a semi-auto with a pistol grip an “assault weapon” or a person who sneaks into the country illegally an “undocumented immigrant”…

JD0001
Guest

Who says it’s the incorrect term? Suppressor is the incorrect term as far as I can see. The inventor called it a silencer. So I suppose Hiram maxim didn’t know what he was talking about. I suppose the machine gun wasn’t invented by him neither. Some self proclaimed expert in the gun/training industry decided he didn’t like the term silencer, so coined the term suppressor. Learn the facts before you bless us with your knowledge.

John
Guest

Mr. Maxim was a great inventor, and a pretty good businessman. “Silencer” was a marketing term, not one of complete accuracy. If you want to use it, that’s your choice, but it causes more of a fear response than “suppressor” (which first appeared in a patent from 1985, which seems odd since Maxim patented it in 1909).

JD0001
Guest

I don’t give 2 rat fornications what kind of “fear” response the term silencer causes. I am not PC. I do not conform. I call them like I see them. And I use the proper nomenclature related in my industry because I know what I’m talking about. Any snowflakes in fear can go to their safe space.

John
Guest

I detest PC, but I’m willing to use the technique in this case because I’d love for these to be removed from the NFA.

Les
Guest

Re-useable if you can find them and they are not broken or damaged. Not mentioned in the article as a bow ‘con’ is the fact that many people simply may have physical difficulty in using bows of sufficient poundage due to a multitude of reasons. Even a .22lr eclipses using a bow for self-defense, and they are not that loud.

John
Guest

Yes, bows require both physical capability and skill. If a peron does not have and can not or will not get one of these, then archery equipment is probably a waste of money and space. Of course, if a person doesn’t have the capability of drawing a reasonable weight bow, one wonders what other survival tasks will be beyond them.

Les
Guest

Believe it of not, some experience injuries that present a chronic problem in doing certain movements, like drawing a bow. I have a shoulder injury from 33 years in the fire service. But, at 66 can do 100 pushups and lift far above my body weight. Will I have a “problem” with other survival tasks? I don’t think so. Work smarter, not harder, and a firearm does that.

mememe
Guest

You stated “modern rifle” and then proceeded to talk about a round designed in 1901. I think a gun more aptly described as a “modern rifle” would be the AR-15, which has an effective range barely reaching the 600 yard range in the best case scenario.

JD0001
Guest

Your reading comprehension is lacking…

Ben Leucking
Guest
As the author indicates, a bow shooter must engage the target at a relatively close range, say 100 feet or less, to achieve lethal accuracy. That is fine for game hunting because deer and turkeys don’t shoot back. Since the article is focused on protecting yourself against an enemy in a critical situation, I cannot imagine any advantage to a single-shot bow versus a semi-automatic pistol, rifle or shotgun, including, of course, pump action. I’ve tried visualizing the defense of my home interior at night using only a bow and arrow, versus a 12 gauge shotgun or side arm. I’ve… Read more »
John
Guest
5.56×45 is high on penetration and less high on transferring energy to the target. Semi-auto shooters can have a tendency to rely on volume of fire over bullet placement. So while a “competent” shooter will usually defeat “some guy” with a bow, I would say that a “competent” archer has a pretty good chance against “some guy” with a 5.56 semi-auto. Certainly, using a bow and arrow at night, inside the house, is not optimal. On the other hand, there are situations where the sound of a shot or multiple shots could attract more attention than you could deal with.… Read more »
Ben Leucking
Guest

Perhaps you could persuade our military to convert to archery. Good luck.

John
Guest

That’s kind of silly. The military strives for competency with whatever weapon they use, and that weapon needs to be competitive with what the other military they may come into conflict with uses.

I don’s say that archery is better than firearms in EVERY situation, but there are a few situations where that is the case.

Kenny Dundee
Guest
High powered compound bows can only use factory arrows with suitable spine strength, a home made arrow will explode, most likely punching splinters through your forearm. Carbon fiber arrows are not good for hunting for table meat, as splinters of carbon fiber can be left in the carcass and as a result, eaten. Aluminum arrow only for table meat from a compound bow. Low powered recurve/long bows are best choice for preppers wanting to make their own arrows. You want the arrow to stick into the beast, so when it runs, more damage is done and bleed out. Heart lung… Read more »
Kenny Dundee
Guest

I almost forgot, As for which one I would choose in a self defense situation, I would make that decision in the first 2 seconds, as I use both. Love your work, from Australia

Sun Rabbit
Guest

That’s a good point (pun intended) and that’s also the main advantage of a slingshot. You can literally use anything: rocks, broken glass, ball bearings, anything. There’s a guy on YouTube who runs The Slingshot Channel where he mostly makes his own out of inner tubes and he does some pretty devastating things with them. Another advantage they have is that they can be easily concealed, and so can the “ammo.”

John
Guest

“Which to choose” is the wrong question. It would be somewhat suicidally insane not to have both options available. Sometimes you will need the range or ammo capacity of a gun. Sometimes you will need the silence of a bow. And if the bow will suffice for a particular scenario, reusable ammo is a better choice than consumable ammo.

Sun Rabbit
Guest
From personal experience with both bow weapons and firearms, I’d say the firearm is better in a post-Apocalyptic situation. The use of a bow or crossbow requires you to be in good physical shape, and in a crucial situation, that might not be possible if you’re sick, injured, or malnourished. When I bought my 80 lb compound I spent 2-3 months training with it every day after work before I was even able to pull the string back, and that was 30+ years ago. Since none of us are getting any younger, I think that firearms are a better investment… Read more »
John
Guest
I would say that pretty much every aspect of surviving in a post Apocalyptic situation would require good physical shape. And yes, firearms are easier to learn to use, easier to use, and less dependent on physical condition. They are, however, highly desirable targets to be looted, nowhere near silent and the ammunition is a “consumable”. Once you have your firearms set, it would be wise to get some basic (non-compound) archery equipment and learn how to use it. It IS essentially silent and the ammunition is reusable. And if you lose all your supplies but have archery skills, you… Read more »
Sun Rabbit
Guest
Very true. Regarding weapons I’d say everybody should have both types of weapons and be proficient in their use. Both have their unique advantages: bow weapons for their stealth, and firearms for their ability to rapidly fire off several shots in a row. The number one killer in any kind of catastrophe (war, natural disaster, etc.) is disease, surprisingly enough. Mostly easily curable diseases under normal circumstances. That’s why I’m stocked up on antibiotics, mainly doxycycline, neomycin, and ampicillin. Got 2 woodburning stoves with flat tops so I can cook meals or heat (disinfect) water if need be, AND physical… Read more »
Frank Sweet
Guest

Cant shoot wooden arrows in a compound bow. They will explode causing severe injury. Arrows are designed based on weight and straightness and spine strength.

Frank Sweet
Guest

Can’t shoot wooden arrows in a compound bow. You have to buy carbon or aluminum or a combination

Frank Sweet
Guest
Bow hunting has many advantages, its much quieter, more sporty, but it takes skill to not wound an animal. You can bow hunt near population centers without danger of hurting someone, The meat has less chance of being damaged and meat from the loss of blood from an arrow makes the meat taste better, less “wild” My shooting limit is 60 yards but other hunters may be better and still others choose to shoot closer. Most, but not all bow hunting is with a compound bow. They are sophisticated and powerful shooting up to 350 feet per second. All of… Read more »
gdebolt
Guest

A guy in the Navy had the CMH for taking out a large number of VC with a crossbow over the course of 4 days, retrieving his bolts where he could and also using his knife. . I won’t say how many but it was significant. I know this to be true because I personally maintained his service record.

Les
Guest
I can’t imagine choosing to rely on a bow for self-defense against opponents who most certainly would be better armed with a firearm of any description. As for hunting, traps and snares are even more stealthy and they ‘hunt’ 24/7 in any weather condition. Certainly a bow and arrows that you can realistically use and maintain is better than a pointy stick, but its only next in the evolutionary ladder of weapons. I’ll stick with the traps and the firearms. Just because someone really likes using a bow doesn’t mean its a good choice when the chips are down.
JD0001
Guest

Well said!

John
Guest

Traps and firearms are certainly better choices in many circumstances. There are a few situations where a bow would be a better choice and to not have that option available may be problematical.

Les
Guest

What circumstances would those be?

John
Guest

Well, the bow has three things it can do which a firearm can’t. 1)
be silent. So if you need to hunt or take out an enemy without letting everyone around know, a bow might be the better choice. 2) carry things. If you needed to send a note or tiny object someplace, a bow can do that. It can also have a line attached to it to send the line someplace you can’t get to, or to retrieve what you shot. 3) be on fire to set things alight or signal.

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