Letter Re: Archery Equipment for Those Living in Gun-Deprived Locales

Hey James,
I just got into SurvivalBlog after reading “Patriots” and “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It” in consecutive nights. 

I have checked out  a lot of posts on many helpful topics so far.  I wanted to post a question on the blog if possible, or simply ask you.  What is the viability of using crossbows in the survival situations we are all talking about?  I am also interested in compound bows as well.  I live in a country where I cannot legally own firearms, though the mafia here do, but I can legally own a crossbow if I fill out a lot of paperwork and pass a background check.  Since it is the only option I am likely to go for it, but I would like some input/ideas/warnings from your readership, some of whom may already own them.

Thanks and Blessings, – J. in Taiwan

JWR Replies: My advice is to buy a medium draw-weight compound bow rather than a crossbow. This is because compound bows are much faster to fire repetitively than crossbows.

If you can afford it, there might be some utility in getting a compound bow for yourself, and medium-power crossbows for your wife and children. The latter require less practice, but can be kept “cocked” for brief periods. The key question for determining the maximum draw weight of a crossbow is: can they handle the task reloading, with a crutch. (Reloading tool.) Join a local hobby archery club, and choose the right equipment for your particular circumstances. Then practice, practice, practice.

Most modern arrows are essentially modular. The current trend is definitely toward carbon fiber shafts. You screw on plain target points for practice, bird points for garden defense, or various broadheads for big game hunting or self-defense. Some broadheads even have individually replaceable blades. Buy plenty of carbon fiber arrow shafts, spare heads, and spare fletchings. Any arrows or components that are excess to your needs might someday be valuable barter goods.

Arrows can also be used with some slingshots. So, if there is no paperwork required to own a slingshot and arrows, then that might be an even better option than a bow and arrows for those that strive to maintain a low profile.

Also check on the local legality of owning and/or carrying edged weapons, impact weapons, slingshots, flammables, Tasers, stun guns, and chemical irritant sprays. If you opt for a sword, then a Wakizashi (short sword or “companion” sword) is the best length for home defense.

I’ve heard so many stories from my readers all around the globe of this or that being banned. These laws vary widely from country to country, province to province, or even from city to city. Do your homework and stay legal. If all else fails, in almost all locales there is recourse to the humble cane or walking stick, which has been discussed at length in the blog. (Search the SurvivalBlog archives.)