See also: Non-Firearm Projectiles

Bows and crossbows can be used as a stealthy way to kill zombies as they do not make much noise, they can be used to kill large zombie groups silently without attracting more zombies or bandits.


Bows have long exist in human history, existing approximately 72,000–60,000 years ago. Bows are a simple mechanism, launching a projectile using the elasticity of the material used on the body. Bows are as simple as a flat body and a string. Bows are very easy to use, but hard to master weapons and the most basic effective long range weapon to mankind.

Bows have many different types

Recurve bow

A recurve bow

A recurve bow is what comes to most minds when people say bows, recurve bows have a "recurve" profile outwards at the tip of the bow (hence the name recurve) to add for power and velocity on the arrow. Modern recurve bows are made with different materials like wood, fiberglass, pvc , light metal and other materials. Recurve bows are both used for hunting and target archery. Recurves are well liked by some preppers because of the simple shape, ease of fixing and relatively budget price (compare to compounds)

a Compound

Compound bows

Compound bows are complex, powerful and highly accurate. Compound bows uses energy stored in pulley systems to launch an arrow as opposed to elastic energy like other bows. Compound bows are compact and very powerful compared to their traditional counterparts. Compounds are usually fitted with aiming systems like sights and lasers (not saying recurves don't have but its rather rare on a recurve). However compounds are very hard to craft and improvise especially one does not have or have little experience on bows. Compounds are usually used in hunting and bow-fishing but target compounds do exist.

an American longbow/flatbow

An english longbow


Common longbows comprised of two different versions, the American Flatbow and the English long bow. Both are high powered beasts that range from 80 to 175 pounds (there are even sur-200 pound bows). Longbows are highly powerful and long ranged bows compared to the other two previous mentioned. However the great power comes at a hard to use cost, longbows require every strength and correct form to draw it correctly and use. Longbows are also hard to carry and some longbows shoot only special made arrows.

The difference between The American flatbow and the English variant is American longbows are flat bodied and English bows are more round. English longbows have same handle thickness as the limbs but the American flatbow has thicker and slimmer bow handle compared to its flat and thin limbs. American bows are more commonly used in hunting and English bows are more common at target (but there are some who prefer to use it the other way around).

Target bows/Olympic bows

Target bows are longer than usual bows. Target bows is more of a variant of the previously mentioned bows. Target bows have special equipment that is used to balance and stabilize the bow. Target bows are very personalized and are extremely unsuitable for field use. Unless one is a trained professional or a shooter in a fortified and protected area, keep looking for another bow.

Japanese Yumi

Japanese Yumis are slightly longer than long bows but more suitable for field use than target bows. Japanese Yumis usually are made with more traditional materials like bamboo and wood. Most Japanese Yumis will not shoot normal arrows but longer and more powerful ones that almost resemble long darts. Japanese Yumis are usually only seen in a type of target archery called Kyudo and rarely seen hunting.


A crossbow works with the same principle as a normal bow, using stored elastic energy to launch a projectile. However crossbows have a trigger group and a main frame that allows crossbows to handle much higher poundage than normal. As so crossbows are usually a lot more powerful than bows. Crossbows also uses shorter length ammunition called bolts rather than arrows. Crossbows came a lot later into invention than the bow, during the 4th century. Crossbows also need more work to manufacture and produce. Crossbows are easier to learn and master with but the firing rate is much more slower than bows.

As with bows, crossbows also come in many variants.


a recurve crossbow

Recurve crossbows are very similar to their bow counter parts. Recurve crossbows usually don't need special mechanisms to cock and load the bolt as the poundage is low enough to cock it with hands.

A compound crossbow


Compound crossbows also uses energy stored in pulley systems to launch bolts rather than relying on elastic limbs. Compounds are usually more expensive and powerful than recurves, usually sur-250 to 350 pounds. Compounds may need a cocking device to load comfortably without hurting the user's hands, usually a crank or a string.

Medieval crossbows

a medieval crossbow

Medieval crossbows are hard to load, and even harder to shoot. Medieval crossbow bolts are much shorter and thicker. Medieval crossbows do have absurdly high poundage , exceeding 1000 pounds but the low string travel distance makes less than a fraction of the energy delivered to the bolt. Medieval crossbows are near impossible to cock with bare hands. If you have a better alternative, the Medieval crossbow is nothing more than extra iron and firewood.


Repeating crossbows are fast, usually having a built in mechanism to cock the crossbow after each shot (levers, pump action, electric motors and gas). Repeating crossbows are usually more expensive and rare to find. Most repeating crossbows can still be used as a normal crossbow if one choose not to use the built in mechanisms.

Bows or crossbows

Here are some pros on both bows and crossbows.


  • Usually not regulated even in nations where crossbows are regulated (such as Malaysia) as it is regarded as a sport equipment.
  • Much higher fire rate
  • Lighter than most crossbows
  • Easier to craft and improvise with.
  • Much more quiet than a crossbow
  • Bows can be carried daily, which can help a lot if an outbreak happened while you are outside.
  • More likely to stick to flesh which can help identifying hunted animals and zombies


  • More powerful than most bows
  • Much more compact than bows
  • Has the ability to mount optics and lower rail attachments
  • Much more accurate and longer range than bows
  • Bolts are less likely to break compared to normal arrows due to shorter size
  • Can shoot while prone
  • Can be pre-cocked and loaded, much less stress on your limbs while shooting

Pros of carrying a bow/crossbow than a firearm

  • Element of stealth, as even a shot by a crossbow is much, much quiet compared to even a suppressed .22lr rifle.
  • Reusable ammunition
  • Self improvisable ammunition, such as smoke/explosive/incendiary
  • Can be used for Bow-fishing /stealth hunting and less likely will damage the flesh compared to firearms
  • Can pierce Kevlar, Kevlar is a fiberous material that is bulletproof but is vulnerable to sharp edges.
  • Mostly accessible to the public, where as firearms are hard/impossible for civilians.
  • Bolts and arrows can be self made, where as firearm ammunitions are way harder
  • Most hunting bows and crossbows come with camo print, whereas some guns charge extra fees for camo prints.
  • Bows and crossbows won't jam
  • Lower fire rate, which saves ammunition as you have to make every shot count.
  • You can train with a bow/crossbow at your own backyard, where as firearms may not.

Cons of carrying a bow/crossbow than a firearm

  • Much less ammunition to be carried ,one arrow/bolt has almost have the same weight and size of 5-10 9mm rounds
  • A bow/crossbow is less concealable than a handgun/subcompact gun
  • Plates/hard surfaces can easily destroy the arrow/bolt
  • Very low fire rate compare to most firearms (unless its a single shot)
  • Lower range compare to normal firearms.
  • Needs more practice to perfect the weapon , this is more obvious on bows and even worse on bare-bows (bows with no sights and accessories)
  • Bows and crossbows are best left unstrung if not used for long time, this is not the case with guns as they can be left unloaded but assembled.
  • No hydrostatic shock damage to flesh


The ammunition for bows and crossbows are arrows (bows) and Bolts (crossbows)

see also : Arrows and Bolts