Recurve, Compound, or Crossbow? What is The Best Choice For SHTF Scenario?

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation
Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation

Last Updated on February 11, 2017

Editor’s Note: This post has been contributed by Jennifer. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter the Prepper Writing Contest today.

The bow has been used as an effective weapon for thousands of years and still continues to prove its worth in today’s weapons arena. As a matter of fact, with improved design and technology, the bow and arrow have only gotten better. You can now enjoy higher precision with your bow, thanks to features such as single pin bow sight.

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF scenario – whether it’s hunting, bugging out, post collapse, combat/self-defense, etc. – a bow will offer you more help than you can imagine.

There are a variety of bows available today. The main options are recurve bows, compound bow, and crossbow. Which model should you use for a SHTF situation?

If you’re having a tough time deciding on the best bow to use as your SHTF backup weapon, the following guide will help you out…

Best Bow for SHTF Scenario:

 Recurve Bow for SHTF

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation


Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation
SAS Courage 60″ Hunting Takedown Recurve Archery Bow

Beginning with the recurve bow, this is simply a traditional bow whose limbs curve away from the user when unstrung. Because its arms are made of multiple layers of carbon, carbon foam, and fiberglass, this bow comes with a greater mass.

Keep in mind that the greater the mass of your bow, the greater its stability is (and the more accuracy it will offer you).

But again, accuracy is directly related to your bow’s draw weight and how well you handle it. If you’re a beginner archer, therefore, we highly recommend you to pick a draw weight that suits your body build as well as experience level.

That being said, a recurve bow is not as accurate and powerful as it will require the same force to hold the draw – this will result to momentary shakiness which directly affects your accuracy. For this reason, this bow is best suited for hunting smaller game or shooting competitions.

  • Recurve bow is incredibly easy to use
  • It’s a take-down bow – you can quickly detach the limbs from the riser


  • You’ll need a lot of force to pull your arrow back and hold it there as you wait to shoot. This way, you’ll end up feeling tired and lose concentration
  • Lacks additional features to help absorb shock or recoil


Compound Bow for SHTF

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situationVia

Next up is the compound bow…

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation
SAS Rage 70 Lbs 30” Compound Bow

This is a modern bow that employs a leveling system. That is, pulleys and cables are used to bend the bow’s limbs, making it stiffer than the recurve model. This rigidity makes the bow more efficient compared to the others, given that energy is dissipated during limb movement.

The longer strings that come with this bow enables you to pull your arrow back as far as you can to generate more power. This will further aid in loosening your hold on this bow, and you’ll not need to use a lot of effort and energy to hold your arrow in the firing position.

Overall, this improves stability, making a compound bow more powerful and accurate SHTF weapon!

Remember that consistent amounts of force are supplied to your arrow in each shot, thanks to the draw spots present in the bow’s pulley system. This further boosts the bow accuracy. Owing to the deadly precision, you’ll have an easy time handling any SHTF scenario.

The cams and pulley design in this bow directly control the acceleration of your arrow. The soft cam is known to accelerate your arrow more gently compared to the harder cam. Novice archers tend to choose the soft cam, unlike the advanced archers who might opt for the harder cam.


  • Reduced recoil and vibration after shooting
  • Perfect for amateur archers
  • Less energy needed to draw the arrow and retain it in firing position
  • Comes with additional features – like dampers and stabilizers – that improves its overall efficiency


  • Regular maintenance needed for the most parts of the bow
  • The low holding weight of this bow compared to that of a recurve bow makes it more prone to the shooting form faults


Crossbow for SHTF

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation


Much like the recurve bow, a crossbow is a traditional model. In fact, it’s basically a recurve bow mounted on a stick such that it holds the loaded bow string.

As we have seen in the case of the compound and recurve bows, you’ll need to use both hands to string the bow and to shoot (this requires you to use a lot of energy and makes the bow unstable). Thankfully, a crossbow allows you to use a single hand to shoot since the mechanism already holds the bowstring for you.

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situation
CenterPoint Sniper 370 – Camo Crossbow Package

While compound and recurve bows use arrows, a crossbow used bolts. Unlike the arrows, bolts are a bit less efficient when it comes to releasing energy.

Crossbow not only makes an excellent choice for shooting sport, but also a great hunting weapon. What’s more, it’s used for modern military/paramilitary as well as scientific research.

Why is it used in military and research fields and not the recurve and compound bows? You might ask yourself… Simply put, a crossbow has high noise resistant abilities – it creates less noise when shooting.

In the military field, this bow finds great use in some tactical scenarios. Soldiers are trained to deploy it with a rope to create a zip-line in case they’re handling a difficult terrain. It’s also worth noting that the bow is used in the initialization of booby traps and mines.

Many countries equip their soldiers with a crossbow.


  • High noise resistance capabilities
  • High accuracy even in unskilled hands
  • Powerful
  • It allows you to knock a bolt and carry the bow all day- ready to fire – which reduces fatigue
  • Easy to use


  • Most states limit/ban/restrict the use of crossbows
  • Low firing rates compared to compound bows


Final Verdict:

Hopefully, you’ve learned how the three top bows work – recurve, compound and crossbow. All the three bows are members of the same family but bear different designs, features, and shooting capabilities.

While the recurve bow is incredibly easy to use and is highly portable, it lacks in power and shooting accuracy. Furthermore, it lacks additional features to handle the recoil and shock after shooting. If you’re a beginner archer, therefore, you might want to keep off this bow for now.

A compound bow will meet your expectations of a perfect SHTF weapon. It’s an excellent choice for beginners, with a high degree of accuracy, no much energy needed to use it, reduced recoil and shock effects, and so on. However, be prepared for regular maintenance of various parts that come with this bow.

A crossbow is an improved model of the recurve bow. It also exhibits a high degree of accuracy and power. It’s incredibly easy to use and does not require you to input much energy. Both amateur and pro archers will find this bow a valuable asset!

Author Bio:

Every prepper ought to have a bow in their survival gear today, considering its endless benefits! If you find yourself in a SHTF situationJennifer is the founder of BuckWithBow, a great blog that focuses on helping you learn how to hunt deer with a bow. As an experienced bow hunter, she will guide you through the Do’s and Don’ts of the bowhunting world and transform you into a better hunter. Whether you are an experienced bow hunter or an absolute beginner, you will find BuckWithBow a gem!

    1. It’s hard to compare sling bow with the other types of bow that I mentioned. However, it is a good replacement. Sling bow is generally cheaper, allowing you to stock up more easily, and the slingshot bands are not as intricate and fine-tuned as the bowstrings. Moreover, its biggest advantage over the a bow lies in its size: a slingbow is not a 5-foot tall (and $500…) piece of wood or fiberglass.

  1. I find it hard to believe that the author of this article knows much about archery. Some issues:
    Not all recurves are takedowns.
    Recurves are not inherently more massive, I have a few compound bows that weigh more than any of my recurves.
    Many recurve limbs are made of wood covered in fiber glass.
    Recurves are not inherently less accurate than other bows because they do not have “let off.”
    Recurves are absolutely acceptable for large game as well as small game.
    The length of draw on a compound bow is dependent on design just as much as the length of the string and DO have a finite draw length without really risking the integrity of the bow. Recurves on the other hand do not. Your maximum draw length is dependent on your arm length, strength, and limb strength.
    Compound bows require the same amount of strength to draw as any other bow at the same weight. If it’s 55 pounds, it’s 55 pounds regardless of whether it’s a compound or recurve bow.
    Crossbows can be kind of like a recurve on a stick, but some are also kind of like a compound bow on a stick. Most available today have cams.
    Crossbows are arguably more efficient than any other form of archery. When tested next to eachother, your average compound bow will fall short of an average crossbow’s kinetic energy and momentum.
    Crossbows are loud, typically much louder than bows. This has been a complaint about them for years.

    1. Grandpa’s old recurve is a beautiful 1950s laminate with fiberglass. Certainly not a take-down, but I don’t ever see a need to conceal it in a bag, so that matters not.

      I’d like to see some hard data on point of impact energy for similarly weighted recurve, compound, and crossbows. Say, 40-60# draw weights.

      1. I’ve never done the tests, but I own recurves, compound bows, and crossbows and I believe that the energy on impact (among averages of each type of bow) would be greatest with crossbows and least with recurves. Draw weight is not the only factor that determines the kinetic energy of a bow or the velocity of a projectile.

        1. I’m not an archer, so I can’t refute your statement.

          But I’m a bit of a problem solver, and one way to determine effective ‘stopping power’ is by standardizing as many variables as possible. Same draw weight, same arrow (lengths can vary), same tips, same targets etc to provide a generally clean body of data.

  2. Crossbows are not quite than a compound as your article states in actuality they are louder in most cases. I k ow this as I hunt with bows and shoot on a regular bases

  3. Good article, but I disagree about a bow being a perfect shtf weapon. These are hunting tools much more than they are anti personnel. Unless you’re shooting at a single person, these are not tools for fighting. Can they kill another human, yes. Are they designed for reactive situations against multiple bad guys, hell no. I hunt with a bow at times. You only get one shot on an animal. There are no make up shots. It will be the same against humans.
    A bow has a very limited range. A duty/full sized pistol in a fighting caliber (9,40,45) trumps any bow in terms of power, range, and ability to maintain firepower. In a much smaller, handier package. Try to clear a structure using a bow or crossbow. Not very handy in close quarters.
    Militaries have all the money of a country at its disposal. I know of no militaries that issue crossbows. They have silencers when soldiers need to be quiet, and robots are used to detonate ied’s. The crossbow has long been left behind in modern warfare. There are just better tools available these days.
    Again, bows and crossbows, I believe have a place in a preppers arsenal, as hunting tools or game getters. If someone goes to a gunfight with a bow thinking they are going to be effective, they need to lapse back into reality. As that would be a very bad move tactically.

    1. I too wondered about world militaries issuing crossbows. Never heard of it. And I’ve worked with a few. I can see some very specific spec ops situations where a near silent first strike could be useful, but any military guy I know would take a silenced .22LR over an arrow shooter. The ability to suppress a M4 where the bolt doesn’t cycle can make for a very quiet first strike.

        1. When? Viet Nam?

          This is why I suggested that outside of some spec ops units, the author’s claims are less than substantiated. Not calling anyone a liar. I’ve been wrong many times in my life. I’d love to know what non-bush league military uses xbows.

          I’ve studied Warsaw Pact military formations, vehicle configurations, load outs, and techniques. Nothing in the former Warsaw Pact uses such tools. The US, UK, Germany, Ukraine, all look like standard issue 1980s military. No xbows.

  4. I keep multiple recurve bows for HUNTING after TSHTF but also have multiple compound bows for home security ( gun free uk) . Crossbows take to long to reload compared to a compound bow.

    1. What?! No love for the English longbow made of Yew? Serious. If SHTF for real, basic, strong alternatives to firearms may well be in the offing at some point.

      I’d also invest in a boat load of cheap arrows, as well as some of the HQ carbon or similar material arrows. Cheap target arrows aren’t the same as fancy britches carbon fiber or graphite, but when the tip still penetrates the target, in a SHTF situation, that’s still one target on the ground be it predator, or prey.

      1. Hi Bob the English long bow is just far to long, and of all bows requires the most frequent practice, Flat bows, Recurves esp TDRs tend to be more compact or take downable. And fractured limbs can be replaced. Compounds can be fired from within my van.

        1. Sorry SE. It was just a bad attempt at humor. I’m taking a history of the middle ages course at the local college, and we were just talking about the much vaunted English longbowmen.

          I agree that a straight long bow is rather too long in many situations, although with a good piece of wood, could double as a passable defensive staff in a pinch.

  5. I’ve often read and heard in person people claiming that a modern crossbow or compound bow is the ideal SHTF weapon. They especially claim “after a year of anarchy everyone’s ammo will be gone and my compound bow will be worth its weight in gold”.

    But what they always gloss over is when I bring up the question of what they are going to use for arrows? You ever seen or heard of anyone trying to shoot a homemade wooden arrow out of a modern recurve or compound bow? I have done both, and they broke every single time. Even using a 75lb recurve and using heart of oak overly large (3/8″ shaft) homemade arrows. Modern high velocity, short throw bows are not compatible with wooden arrows.

    A coworker makes medieval armor and weapons. He got ahold of a bow and quiver of arrows made in the 17th century Spanish style (supposed to be the most modern war bow before firearms totally took over). He shot a few out of his 80lb compound and my 75lb recurve and they all failed one way or another.

    What’s that? You will just reuse your arrows and live happily every after? You obviously have never hunted before. Or target shot for that matter. My admittedly limited experience says that out of a quiver of a dozen tough aluminum practice arrows with target points you will be lucky to get 2 dozen shots before they are all lost or broken if you are out hunting.

    1. But Darryl always manages to recover his bolts.

      I think TV deludes people into believing the make believe. I’ve taken the boys out back, and even using a steep hill as our back stop, arrows were lost. Then found later with the brush hog…

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