When it comes to survival weapons there are a couple of constants. First, everybody needs a weapon for when the SHTF, for procuring meat and for personal protection. Secondly, for every weapon there will be a person who loves it and one that hates it, and as with nearly everything in life, there are pros and cons to every weapon. It’s not my intent to recommend one weapon over another, as ideally it’d be great if there were a Swiss Army Knife type weapon suited for all needs. But there is no such animal … so we’re going to explore many different types of weapons, pros & cons for your examination.
Crossbows come with most of the advantages of a regular bow, but one in particular advantage stands out. Regular bows require a learning curve, being accurate instantly with a regular bow is all but impossible. A reasonably deadly accuracy can be achieved with a crossbow in a relatively short time, perhaps because the aiming operation is so similar to a rifle, which most people have used to some extent.
Benefits of a Crossbow in a Survival Situation:
As stated earlier, the learning curve of a crossbow is short. Learning the actual mechanical operation of and how to draw and load the arrow are the major elements which will require practice. Once the arrow is loaded it’s ready to go. Firing the cross bow is no different that firing a rifle and most current models are inclusive of a scope. However, you’ll still have to practice, as nobody initially picks up any firearm and starts filling the bulls-eyes with holes.
An often over looked advantage is that an arrow can be fashioned into another weapon. By wrapping the arrow tips with flammable materials, it can be launched into an enemy’s camp and create havoc by setting things on fire.
The crossbow is capable of bringing down small game, squirrel & rabbit, as well as larger prey such as deer and turkey.
Crossbows are silent, which can become a huge benefit. A gunshot will alert every animal for a mile around creating an extended dead period of hunting while animals reorient to their normal activities. A missed shot with a crossbow will not alert adjacent animals of danger, but could also allow the possibility of an additional shot at the original target. It must be noted here, if society has collapsed not alerting other people of your presence may be a life saver.
While being silent, one must be careful, because of the bow’s bulk, not to bang it against any obstacle within your shooting perimeter.
Ammunition is the life blood of any weapon and running out renders the weapon relatively useless. Once a bullet is discharged there is no retrieving it, which is not the case with arrows. Although possibly difficult to locate, arrows are reusable, plus you can fashion arrows from natural material, technically giving you an unlimited resource.
Disadvantage of a Crossbow:
Although the crossbow is excellent for hunting in certain situations, it is not the best weapon available for self defense.
The first disadvantage is the cross bow’s size and weight, @ 7 lbs. Which is @ 3 lbs heavier than a compound bow. When you’re struggling to carry your maximum weight of equipment, every pound counts. However, a good sling helps deal with the carrying issue of bulk.
Cross bows, even without the need of a hand crank, are slow to reload. It takes an average person nearly a full minute to reload an arrow after discharging the first one. That’s a long time regardless the situation. A person could fire several arrows from a compound bow in that time, and of course even more with a rifle.
Limited range could be considered a disadvantage. Usually a decent ranged shot will be 25 to 50 yards away, although an 80 to 100 yard shot is not impossible. Any farther is considered next to impossible because of gravity and wind-age, which will negatively effect the arrow. Obviously a gun has a much greater range, but in reality most shots are taken within the acceptable range of a cross bow.
Unlike a rifle which uses one caliber of bullet, you will have to choose which type of arrow tip you will use. There are many types of arrows and bolts to choose from, which allows for variety, but also create decisions. For example, a razor broad-head tip provides the greatest killing power, but is much more difficult to remove from the animal and could ruin otherwise good meat in the process. While other tip types will allow for easier removal with no damage to the meat, but don’t have the killing power.
Another potential disadvantage is due to the more complex design of the cross bow, there are more parts to wear out or break than with a long or compound bow. Even if you’re mechanically inclined you will eventually break a piece that can not be readily fabricated or purchased, rendering the weapon useless.
Making the Cross Bow part of You:
The best way to determine if a crossbow is right for you is to try one out. I don’t recommend borrowing a friend’s cross bow and making a final decision based on how it felt or shot. Cross Bows can be individualized for your stature which will make a world of difference. Any reputable archery shop will have the expertise to fit you and a range for you to try the bow out.
A crossbow can be an excellent weapon depending on the situation and the individual person. Should your main objective is to avoid people and remain in a stealth mode, bows far exceed guns. Pros and cons? Of course. But in most instances a cross bow will make an excellent backup weapon to a firearm.
Cocking a Crossbow
Many shooters prefer to cock their crossbow by hand, which is the quickest and most economical method. However, there are downsides to this method. The first is the possibly of injury due to the extreme physical strength it requires to pull the string back. Additionally, if you are nearly maxed out on your ability to cock the string, fatigue may not allow you to be able to pull the string back far enough to cock it.
Possibly a worse scenario is when hand cocking it is very easy and common to pull the string with an uneven force, which will cock the string off-center and will distort your aim by several inches, resulting in a non-kill shot or a total miss.
It’s imperative you develop a routine in which you pull and cock the string the same way every time. Easier said than done without practice.
1. Place foot into cocking stirrup;
2. Bend both legs at the knees;
3. Extend your arms and grip the string with three or four fingers … three if possible as the more fingers used the greater the chances of pinching a finger while drawing the string back.
Important Tip: Make a mark in the middle of the string exactly where it crosses the stock. Use this mark to insure you are in the center of the cocking mechanism when finished.
Mechanical Cranking Devise
Mechanical cranking devises are available to use instead of hand cocking. The devise allows easy cocking as it only requires a 12-15 lb pull tension vs 150 – 200 lb required by hand cocking.
There are still considerations of pro and con to take into account.
1. If the devise is a removable type, where do you store it after cocking the bow?
2. If the devise remains on the stock, does it interfere with your aim or the bow’s balance?
3. The devises can be rather expensive,
4. It can be noisy voiding your stealth advantage.
5. It can be time consuming, you can only crank so fast.
Rope Cocking Devise:
There is a rope cocking devise available. It is not as effective as the crank type, but still only requires about half the strength required to hand cock the bow. Additionally, it is inexpensive especially when compared to the mechanical hand crank.
Hand Cocking Method