For thousands of years man has used the bow and arrow for hunting and for war. Many indigenous tribes around the world used archery, and it became the primary weapon of war in the dark ages.
Every development in weapons technology has always either increased lethality or increased range. For example, stone or metal arrowhead when combined with the arrow speed make archery incredibly lethal.
Many archery setups can pierce armor and bone. In addition, bows will allow an archer to shoot accurately at 40 yards to 100 yards depending on the skill of the archer. This compares to spears or atlatls with a much more limited range and lethality.
In modern times, most people use archery for hunting. Since the invention of the rifle, archery has largely retired from modern warfare. However, archery can be used for self defense in an emergency.
In many ways, archery can be more effective when SHTF.
In this article, we will cover the different types of bows that can be used in and emergency. We will discuss other equipment you need, how to prepare your home, and strategies to successfully use archery to defend yourself.
Types of Bows
The three primary types of bows that could be used for home defense are compound bows, recurve bows, and crossbows.
Each of these have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s review them:
Compound Bows – Most modern bows are compound bows with wheels to reduce draw weight after a let off point. These bows allow you to pull and hold your draw for a longer time so you can aim or remain still while your target shifts.
Compound bows deliver high arrow speeds with a small amount of bowstring noise when you fire. This means you can fire at a target without alerting other people to your presence.
If you are good, you can take out three or four targets before they realize what’s happening.
The downsides are reload time and maneuverability. Compound bows take longer to draw, fire, and reload than a recurve. This makes it tough when targets are in close.
Also, carrying around a compound bow in an urban setting is not ideal. Trying to stay hidden while maneuvering around corners in hallways would be difficult.
Recurve Bows – This is the oldest technology of the three bow types. Recurve bows rely entirely on the energy released from the arms of the bow.
The arrow speed is not as high as a compound bow so there is not as much killing power.
However, recurves are quiet and quick. You can draw, aim, and fire in just a second or two.
Many people use recurves for hunting quick targets like birds or small game. They are even longer than a compound bow, so sneaking around in buildings is not ideal.
Crossbow – You can get crossbows in both compound and recurve versions.
Crossbows are the most accurate of the three options because you can use a scope and hold it like a rifle.
The arrow speeds are high like a compound bow, so there is maximum lethality. It is smaller like a rifle, so it is the best option for tight spaces.
The only downside is that the crossbow is the slowest to reload.
Arrows and Arrowheads
Your choice of arrows and arrowheads is important for tactical purposes. Your choice of arrow shafts is typically fiberglass, aluminum, or wood.
I would suggest fiberglass for survival purposes. Wood shafts break and aluminum shafts bend, but fiberglass flexes when needed so the arrow can be reused for years.
However, one advantage of archery is that you can make arrow shafts if needed. If you run out of fiberglass, use whatever materials you can find to keep fighting.
Related: How To Make a Glass Arrowhead
As for arrowheads, you need some sort of broadhead for tactical purposes. A field point could easily hit a target and do little damage. An attacker could pull out the arrow and keep coming.
Broadheads penetrate deep and cut open tissue. They do more damage, hit harder, and are harder to remove.
You can use traditional broadheads, but I prefer mechanical broadheads. Mine fly just like a field tip but the blades flip out when the arrow hits the target. They leave a wound two to three inches in diameter.
Prepping for Tactical Archery
If you want the option of defending your home with a bow and arrow, you need to have the house set up for these purposes. If you have a way to get on the roof, that will give you the best point from which to hit all approach angles.
On our home, I could use the chimney as cover and still stay high on the roof.
Windows are another option. If you look at the design of medieval castles, they usually had tall, narrow windows on the second story. These were designed so archers could fire at a variety of angles without exposing themselves to incoming fire.
You can accomplish the same effect by attaching two pieces of particle board or plywood across a window with a five or six-inch vertical gap between the two boards.
Once the window is open, you have a perfect perch to fire arrows without completely exposing yourself. If you are using a crossbow, consider placing a shooting stick by the window. This would give you even more stability when aiming your shots.
In addition to having a plan for your home, you need to practice. Prior to bow hunting season, I typically practice at least 30 minutes a day five days a week for a few months.
Especially with a compound or recurve bow, practice will make a huge difference in your accuracy. I like to have consistent three inch groupings at 40 yards to be satisfied.
Finally, be sure you have lots of arrows ready. You likely will not be able to run into the yard and gather arrows up. You should have enough to take out your attackers without collecting fired arrows.
How to Take Action
When the time comes to defend your home, you must take action quickly. Get your bow and arrows and get to your preselected perch. Always fire for center mass and take out easy targets first. Anyone out in the open that is standing still should be eliminated first. Then move to stationary targets taking cover.
Finally, you can try to take out moving targets. If possible, you should have one or more other people on the ground level to take out anyone that gets past your shots. Keep in mind that attackers can be hit center mass and can still have the strength to bust into your home. Have a contingency plan for that scenario.
While firearms are typically the weapon of choice in an emergency, they do have downsides. The biggest one is that guns are loud. If there is a group of 20 looters but they are spread out to cover several houses, a gun shot could bring them all running. You can be sure they are looking for guns.
However, with the right archery setup, you can pick them off one at a time without alerting the rest of the group. Take your time to purchase the right gear, develop a plan for your home, and start practicing as often as possible.
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