I have spent the greater part of 5 years carrying bows in my backpacks. And I don't mean strapped to the outside, I mean actually INSIDE my pack.
I have also read a lot of reviews and posts discussing what people believe are good options for packable bows and I think many miss the mark when it comes to understanding what makes for a good backpacking bow. I am sure they understand what makes for a good bow, but when it comes to actually carrying a bow with you in a pack more than a few hundred yards to your yearly whitetail hunt, it seems very few people who are writing on the subject have actually real world experience with extended time out in the woods.
My previous two articles dealt with "Survival Bow - Who should consider owning one?" and "Choosing a Traditional Bow vs a Compound Bow for Survival - What you should know." So if you would like an all round look into these subjects be sure to check them out.
Ok so let's start by defining what makes for a good backpack bow. This is luckily a rather simple matter (at least I think so). Backpackable bows need to:
1. Deliver an arrow accurately enough to hit its intended mark.
2. Deliver an arrow with enough energy to penetrate its target sufficiently.
3. Be long enough not to stack for taller archers. Stacking is a phenomenon whereby the bow draws nice and smoothly at the start of the draw and right near the end of the draw there is a very sharp increase in poundage making it very difficult to hold the bow at full draw due to the excessive poundage. Bow length and limb to riser geometry is critical in this equation, as are the materials chosen for the limbs. A bad combination of these leads to a bow that stacks badly for taller archers than the bow was optimally designed for.
4. Be protected from the elements and other rigors they may come across whilst on the move through the woods; including falls and hitting hard objects such as rocks.
5. Be easily assembled and disassembled.
6. Be easy to maintain.
Pretty simple right?
So let's now take a look at the type of bows one would typically consider that would attempt to fulfill these 5 criteria. Naturally this would include takedown recurves, takedown longbows, survival bows and what I would term dedicated backpackable bows such as the new Atmos Compact Modern Longbow sold by Survival Archery Systems.
Let's now look at how each of these stack up against the criteria.
1. They deliver an arrow accurately.
2. They have enough energy to penetrate their target and are typically available in poundages up to 60# and maybe higher depending on the manufacturer.
3. Typically bows over 60" in length do not cause stacking issue for taller archers. Shorter bows of 58" and below have been known to stack for taller archers depending on the exact geometry. The only way to know is to test a bow before purchase; which isn't always possible.
4. This is where most recurve bows fall short of being a good option for many backpacks. Many people prefer the shorter style one-day or assault style packs which typically run about 22-23" tall. A 60" bow, which is a good bow to prevent stacking as we discussed above, typically has limbs about 24-28" depending on the length of the riser itself.
Do you see the problem here? 24-28" limbs just don't fit into a 22-23" space very well. And laying them on the diagonal takes up so much space it makes it hard to fit other items in the bag you are using. This is probably the least most understood point I have seen online, as most people have never actually tried to fit a bow into a pack before and if you can't fit a bow inside your bag then it must be strapped to the outside and is then at risk of being damaged due to falls and hard nocks; which is inevitable when on the move through the woods.
5. Assembly and disassembly is easy.
6. Maintenance is easy enough.
Very similar to takedown recurve bows, but limbs generally need to be a bit longer to reduce stacking thereby compounding the problems with points 3 and 4 above. The main issue here is a combination of the straight limbs, as well as the materials typically used by most of the manufacturers. Wood just doesn't flex as much as more modern materials such as composite fibre.
1. Due to the geometry of most grips found on survival bows a lot of readers are concerned that accuracy may be affected. Whilst they are in theory correct that handle shapes would not be as good as a more ergonomic shape (which would reduce hand torque), feedback from many users of such survival bows has shown that they are accurate enough to harvest game. We are talking about hunting bows here and not Olympic archery bows. Whilst they may affect accuracy ever so slightly they are typically good enough to be very effective hunting tools up to 25-30 yards. Most whitetail deer are harvested in the 15-20m range.
2. With poundages up to 55# there is more than enough power.
3. Most survival bows on the market make use of deep flex composite limbs which allow them to flex a lot more than other traditional materials. If you combine this with a good limb to riser ratio and typically have a 60" bow length then you are able to get a bow that doesn't stack much for the taller archers out there. So keep this in mind when looking at survival bows.
4. Most survival bows on the market are 22" or under so will fit inside most packs and therefore be well protected. Other survival bows are longer so don't fulfill this requirement too well.
5. Assembly and disassembly (if required due to some folding designs) is easy.
6. Maintenance is easy.
Dedicated backpackable bows
This is a whole new breed of bows and its seems Survival Archery Systems is the first to design and launch a truly backpackable version, in the form of the Atmos Compact Modern Longbow, which not only allows for a variety of shooting styles and accessories, but has also reduced the total overall pack length of a 60 IBO bow to just 22". No other bow on the market comes close to this in terms of compactness for a 60" bow.
Let's take a look at how well it fulfills the criteria:
1. The riser and handle is styled similar to that of a compound bow allowing for very good accuracy and balance. As it allows for a number of accessories such as sites, whisker biscuits, etc it should shoot just as well as a regular takedown recurve bow and longbow.
2. With poundages up to 55# it has more than enough power.
3. The Atmos makes use of deep flex composite limbs similar to those on the higher end survival bows, so allows for straight limb geometry that not only reduces stacking, but also allows for a smaller pack volume. Arrow speeds, as with other higher end composites limb survival bows, are surprisingly good with claims up to 210 FPS for a 55# bow.
4. The Atmos comes in at that critical 22" packed length. Due to a combination of the limb to riser ratio and the limb material used the 22" length allows for a 60" bow that draws smoothly, but fits INSIDE more packs than any other full spec 60" traditional bows on the market. This is what sets the Atmos apart from all other 60" bows which typically have 24-28' limbs.
5. Assembly and disassembly is the same as with takedown recurve and takedown longbows though less simple than the folding survival bows.
6. Maintenance is the same as with aluminum riser takedown recurve and takedown longbows. It requires less maintenance than wooden bows which require care to keep the wood coatings in good condition.
So as we can see from the above choosing a bow for backpacking is not as simple as just jumping onto Amazon and choosing the cheapest or most popular recurve bow. Especially if you want it to last you any amount of time.
If you don't mind carry a bigger bag then you can pretty much fit any takedown bow inside of it, but a bigger bag means more weight and not everyone prefers the bigger hiking style packs when on the move through the back-country.
So let's summarize what we have discussed.
Takedown recurve and longbows are accurate and easy to use in the field, but unless you carry a really short bow that may stack on you then you pretty much have to strap it to the outside of most packs or let it stick out the top. In my opinion this goes against the whole point of backpacking with a bow. It really should fit INSIDE your pack to avoid damage and the potential of losing other items because the packs zip is not fully closed.
Survival bows whilst maybe slightly less accurate do a good job if they are long enough when strung, but short enough when packed so that they don't stack but actually fit inside a backpack. Some survival bows such as those from Survival Archery Systems have the added benefit of being able to store takedown arrows inside the riser, thereby protecting the arrows and reducing pack volume.
Dedicated backpackable bows (a new concept) seem to be the only bows that fulfill all 6 criteria I set for what I consider to be a good backpable bow. Whilst they are not within everyone's budget (NOTE: Their risers are CNC billet machined and not cast like cheaper bows which makes for a much more durable, robust and lighter design), they do fulfill the needs of a growing number of people who want a weapon that can be packed into their rucks and not worried about until needed. If this sounds like you then the Atmos would be a great option and from what people who have used the bow have said, they are well worth the investment.
That brings an end to this article so I hope it has been helpful to you. If you would like more info on Survival Archery System's products check them out here. www.survivalarcherysystems.com.
Let us know your thoughts? Until next time.
"Survival Bows And Who Should Consider Owning One" was the topic of my previous article and we talked about exactly what a survival bow was good for and where they excelled in the world of archery. We even mentioned that such bows may slowly start to be renamed the "compact modern longbow" and as such form a new segment of the archery market more widely accepted than a weapon thought to be useful purely as a survival tool.
Today however we deal with one of the most widely misconstrued perceptions of what makes a good survival bow. In order to do this we need to take a look at the industry benchmark for what is believed to be a good bow and that is of course no other than the compound bow.
We also need to look at a few other options to compare to and this is where more traditional bows such as the recurve bow, the longbow and the compact modern longbow come into play.
I have many a time come across forums filled with pages and pages of people discussing (and sometimes even arguing) about what the best bow for a survival or SHTF situation would be. There is a somewhat clear divide in opinion on what the answer to this question is and it generally comes from two very distinct camps of people.
The first camp is a camp of people who seem to be more open minded. People who like to question things and make their own opinions based on extensive research and personal experience, as well as the actual experience of others. They ask questions, debate with fair reasoning and seem to have experienced the use of many types of bows and equipment suited to the outdoors. They seem to be more experienced in the outdoors in general and have a wealth of knowledge of what it means to be an outdoorsman. It is this camp that seem to be more open minded toward considering a more traditional bow such as a recurve bow or compact modern longbow for a survival or SHTF situation.
The second camp of people seem to be more set in their thinking. They seem to be more biased in their approach to the debate and almost exclusively seem to have little real world outdoors experience other than their annual 200 yard walk to their tree-stand for the yearly whitetail hunt. Added to this they deem any bow other than a compound bow to be substandard, almost without exclusion and with further prodding it normally comes out that that is all they have ever shot.
It is no wonder that newcomers to the world of "survival archery" can be so confused when it comes to choosing a bow for a survival or SHTF situation and its time to put some thoughts on the table and take a look at the pros and cons of what makes a good survival bow and then discuss which type of bow may be better between a more traditional bow and a compound bow. For the purposes of this article we are going to look specifically at takedown bows (recurves, longbows and compact modern longbows) vs compound bows:
Let's first take a look at what attributes make for an ideal survival bow. Survival bows need to be:
- Powerful enough to hunt game the size of deer and antelope.
- Accurate enough to take small game such as rabbit, squirrel and medium to large birds.
- Durable enough to last a lifetime
- Easy to maintain
- Easy to transport and free up your hands for other tasks or to carry other equipment such as rifles for self defense.
- Light enough to allow for carry of other necessary equipment
- Simple enough to require no or minimal tools
- Adaptable enough to allow for multiple users or unit members both left and right handed
Those who are trained and experienced in the outdoors in a wide variety of skillsets including survival, hunting, tactical, backpacking, etc will quickly appreciate ALL of the points above. You see a survival or SHTF situation would incorporate most if not all of these skillsets and not just a hunting skillset. That is why I am kicking off this "debate" with a list of "What would make for an ideal survival bow?"
Now let's move on to compare takedown bows and compound bows against this list of points.
The Compound Bow definitely has plenty of power and is as accurate as bows come, but when it comes to durability one has to question them by considering the amount of moving parts involved as well as just how "fragile" these parts are when it comes to the bow taking knocks and bumps when spending extended time off the beaten path. Personally if I had to make it through a SHTF situation I would not feel terribly comfortable putting it through even the smallest amount of hardship I may encounter on my journey, especially if I wanted it to last a lifetime.
Ease of maintenance is also a big issue when it comes to a SHTF scenario. One usually requires special tools and jigs to restring and maintain a bow and you certainly won't be able to carry those around with you. Sure you may have these at home, but if you had to move you would have a problem.
Ease of transport is another big disadvantage to compound bows. Unless you are strapping them to your backpack (which increases the risk of damaging them) you will either need to leave it at a basecamp or carry it in your hand and that not only reduces the tasks you can accomplish and where you can travel, but it will certainly become a nuisance at some stage. Imagine trying to move through thick underbrush or climb up banks or swim across a river. Certainly not ticking the box of easy to transport.
From a tools perspective you will be fine so long as you don't need to change or maintain anything, but scene as this is a bow that is needed to last a lifetime, you will at some stage need those tools and as mentioned above you will at some stage have issues.
And finally, the last point of allowing for multiple users. A compound bow is great in that it allows for various poundages to be dialled in on the same bow. Which is great right? The drawback is that it allows for either a left or a right handed archer, not both and therefore cannot be used in an ambidextrous way. Luckily most archers are right handed so this point is less important than others above.
The Takedown Bow segment has three main categories in the form of the takedown recurve, the takedown longbow and the compact modern longbow such as the SAS Tactical Survival Bow and the SAS Recon Folding Survival Bow (soon to launch at the writing of this article) from Survival Archery Systems.
Each of these 3 types of takedown bows has its own unique attributes which we shall summarize briefly against each of the points on our list.
Bow power is something that is misunderstood when it comes to actual takedown ability. Native North Americans were harvesting bison, elk, moose and deer with bows in the 30#-40# range and it all comes down to arrow placement and blood-loss. If you hit your quarry with any bow 45# and up in the vitals it is pretty much game over. There is enough penetration power to cause enough blood-loss that the quarry will go down. What is important thereafter is your ability to track the quarry after having given it enough time to bleed-out. So takedown bows are a good choice for a survival or SHTF situation for sure.
The accuracy of takedown bows whilst not as good as that of a compound, is generally good enough for small game if you have put in the practice. Don't think you can just stuff a takedown bow in your bag, whip it out and shoot a squirrel at 30 yards when you get hungry; you will learn a hard lesson. Takedown bows, unless fitted with a well sighted sighting system take practice to learn to shoot with an instinctive style. Other than that they are accurate enough to do the job and thus tick the box.
Durability of takedown bows with respect to real world abuse is orders better than that of a compound bow as you typically only have 3 major parts securely bolted together. The riser and two limbs. Wooden limbs and wooden risers typical of many takedown recurves and longbows are not as durable as composite limbs such as those used on compact modern longbows such as the SAS Survival Bow range, so choose carefully. Composite materials are not only stronger than wood, but can weather out the elements such as rain, sunshine, heat and cold and generally last much, much longer. Wooden products require much care whilst composite materials can take substantially more abuse.
Aluminum is also a great riser material as it has very stable mechanical properties that engineers can use to accurately develop bows to ensure they are working well below material fatigue limits, thereby ensuring your bow will last a lifetime. This is important to remember; if a manufacturer does not claim to have designed a bow using engineering principles then beware, because it normally means designs are more based on touchy-feely shape decisions rather than on structural integrity through material selection and detailed analysis.
Ease of maintenance is up next and again, takedown bows require very little maintenance and just a tool or two at most. Wood certainly requires maintenance to keep it in good condition, but composite limbs and aluminum risers require little to no maintenance at all. You also don't need special tools for compact modern longbows such as the SAS bows, but for recurves and longbows you will generally need a stringer and an allen key or two.
When it comes to multiple users takedown bows generally cannot account for different poundage needs from users. You are pretty much stuck with one poundage unless you are carrying spare limbs around with you. Recurves and longbows with cutouts restrict left and right hand usage with the same bow, but compact modern longbows with non-cutout shapes such as that on SAS Survival Bows allow for both left and right hand usage by simply swapping the bow between hands.
Lastly, let's talk about transport ability and weight. This is where the big gamechanger comes in when it comes to choosing a bow for survival. Takedown bows are all comparatively light enough for easy transport when you have other gear you need to ruck around. From a packability point of view they are even better, because they can fit into large backpacks which not only helps protect them, but get them out of your hand. Compact modern longbows are the most compact of the lot and can even fit into one-day packs if they are shorter than the magic number of 21".
Straight limb bows such as longbows and compact modern longbows pack down much better than recurve bows do and take up much less space. Recurve and longbow limbs are usually quite a bit longer than compact modern longbow limbs so are only compatible with very large backpacks, but all takedown bows are much more suited than a compound bow to a SHTF scenario.
This is super, super important to understand when making a decision on buying a bow for survival. Skilled and experienced outdoorsmen with all the skills we spoke about earlier will tell you that having a bow that can easily fit in a backpack is pretty much the crux of your decision. Why, you ask? Well its like what my dad used to tell me when I was a kid trying to do stuff in the workshop and I had a whole bunch of tools I was trying to use, "Put that down and use both hands boy." He was right and it comes down to freeing your hands up. It makes almost everything you do so much easier.
Like carrying a rifle if you are in a tactical survival situation for instance. Or how about dragging your bike rack deer back to camp? Climbing, swimming, hand-to-hand combat, running with a pack; the list goes on.
Having the ability to get your bow out the way is in my opinion THE most important attribute of a bow for survival and this is exactly why Survival Archery Systems developed its patented SAS Tactical and Recon Folding Survival Bows. They not only pack down very, very compact, but they are the only bow on the market that has a solution for the transport and protection of your takedown arrows. Our customer's feedback speaks for itself and the number of repeat sales purchased for friends and family seals our opinion on why we believe that the SAS Survival Bows should be your bow of choice if you are looking for a compact, silent bow for survival that will not only last a lifetime but will do the job you need it to do, each and every time.
Well I hope that helps you in your decision in which bow to choose.
To get more info and get yourself one of the very popular SAS Survival Bows for your bugout or survival bag click this link now - https://www.survivalarcherysystems.com/products/survival_bow.
A Survival Bow is not a new concept, but what is new is the compact folding survival bow of which the SAS Tactical Survival Bow is one such bow. It was designed specifically to fit inside a backpack, store and protect takedown arrows during transport, last a lifetime, yet still be powerful enough to bring down game such as large deer, antelope and even boar.
Over the past two years I have read many a forum where there is some healthy (and at times not so healthy) debate surrounding the modern compact folding survival bow and what its practical use really is versus among other, takedown recurve bows and compound bows.
This will be the first of a number of articles related to the concept of a survival bow, but I just wanted to cover who should consider owning one and why, so that you the consumer can be better informed when it comes to making a decision for buying a bow that really suites your needs.
Two of the biggest criticisms I read online about modern compact folding survival bows are:
1. They can't be much more than a gimmick right?
2. Why not buy a real bow?
In order to answer these two questions we need to look at the fundamentals of what a bow is expected to do and that is luckily pretty simple. A bow in its bare essence is expected to accurately deliver an arrow to the point at which the archer is aiming with enough force for the job it is being employed to do. Whether that is on the Olympic archery range or stump shooting in your favorite part of the woods, that is what a bow is supposed to do. Pretty simple right.
I think the problem comes in with expectation of the reader. If the reader is wanting to shoot a half inch grouping and is used to a $2000 and upward bow with sites, stabilising bars, shock absorbers and all that other fancy equipment often seen at a pro archery shoot, then he will naturally ask the two questions above.
If he is a big game hunter on the hunt for an African Hippopotamus then he is going to expect some serious kinetic energy which is only going to come from a high powered compound bow and he may also ask the questions above.
Then there is a whole other world of archers out there, each with different expectations and needs from an archery bow, but the one thing remains true to all of them; they want a bow that can "accurately deliver an arrow to the point at which the archer is aiming with enough force for the job it is being employed to do."
The SAS Tactical Survival Bow is one such bow when used for hunting. Over the years I have received amazing feedback from my customers who send me photos and videos of their hunts. With wild boar, blue wildebeest weighing upward of 550lbs, deer and more, this bow does what a bow is supposed to. It delivers and arrow with enough power to the point of aim. It is therefore no gimmick and certainly is a "real" bow. Maybe not to the elitist snobbish archer who cannot get out of his own head no matter what he is looking at because his bow will always be better in his mind, but it certainly deserves it place in the archery world and that is what we are talking about today.
So now let's take a look at what survival bows are good for.
The modern survival bow was built with two needs in mind; compactness and durability. So naturally people who are looking for these two elements would be looking at two archery industry segments; takedown recurve bows and the modern survival bow (modern compact longbow).
Let's look at the differences between these two types of bows in terms of pros and cons.
The takedown recurve bow is a concept that is well established in the archery world. It is known to be accurate, fairly compact and a number of accessories have been designed to work with such a bow. On the other hand, it is not a very durable item when stuffed into a backpack and even then, with the curved limbs they are certainly then not considered compact when one considers what other equipment one may want to pack in as well. Another two cons of the takedown recurve bow is that one still has to find a storage solution for arrows if you are backpacking and you need tools to assemble the bow.
Modern survival bows are a concept that has only started to take off over the past 5 years or so. They are relatively unknown and are as stated above, often open to naive comments from people who have never actually shot such a bow. What they do have going for them though is that they are extremely robust, very tough and are extremely light and compact. They require no tools or maintenance and are built to last a lifetime. And to boot, they are actually rather accurate too.
The SAS Tactical Survival Bow is a 60" longbow, but is only 21" long when in storage mode, 2.5" wide and only 1" thick along the main part of the riser which makes it easy to fit even into 1-day packs. What's more is that it stores the arrows inside of the riser giving a package that takes up almost no space at all in comparison to a takedown recurve. It shoots more than an acceptable enough grouping even up to 30 yards to hunt with. One needs to consider the fact that nearly 80% of all whitetail deer are harvested at a distance of under 15 yards in the US. So 30 yards is more than enough in most hunting areas.
I have done loads of hunting in my lifetime, but my first ever hunt in Kentucky on a WMA with a crossbow was what made me realize just how useful such a weapon can be. Season had just opened and I was ready to go. I had scouted a great spot for deer earlier that month at the back of the WMA where people seldom go due to the long walk in and out and when entering the area I saw a large group of wild turkey. I spent a few hours laying up on them and about an hour before sunset ended up shooting a nice female. Happy with my hunt I wanted to exit the woods, but realized I would most probably mess up another hunter's day by leaving just before sunset. The problem was that I was 2 miles into the WMA so had no choice but to wait it out.
So I ended up setting up in a natural ground hide at one of the forked deer trails I had scouted earlier that month. "Why not?" I thought. Improbable, but lets see what happens. Low and behold just before sunset out walks a 6 pointer. Knowing my freezer still needs filling I took the shot; placed just above his right elbow as he faced slightly away from me. Perfect! He ran about 50 yards and I found him after a brief wait just were he entered the underbrush and fell.
This is where it got interesting. I now had a turkey, a deer, a small backpack and a crossbow. What followed until past 1am that night will be an experience I won't easily forget. I had to drag that buck with a turkey and a crossbow slapping me around my knees for 2 miles up and down the muddy tracks of that WMA until I got back to my vehicle. It was during those hours that I just wished I could put both the crossbow and the turkey inside my backpack, but I couldn't. I had to do it the old fashioned hard way.
It is experiences like these that let one realize that all the people who naively criticize a compact, folding bow, have actually very, very little real world experience when it comes to hunting and tactical activities. There statements about, I would rather just use a compound bow in a survival situation shows this perfectly and for the reasons my story above shows. Struggling through the woods with a big heavy object in your hand as you try to do other activities is just not practical. After 1-2 days you would ditch your bow if you were on the move and never had a camp setup where you could leave your bow.
Imagine a tactical survival situation where you are then also carrying a rifle for self defense? Yes you could arguably use it to hunt with instead of a bow, but that may not be wise in terms of noise disciplines or conserving your ammo.
So yes, the survival bow has a very specific market of people it caters for, but who knows, maybe the concept will take off like the once ridiculed compound bow did. It all depends how much one is willing to try out new things and experiences.
So, to answer the question, "who should consider owning a modern survival bow," the answer lies in what you want to use it for. Here is a list of reason why we believe you should consider owning one:
You are needing:
A bow that is compact and can fit inside a backpack or other small compartment.
A bow that is easy to transport when on foot, a bicycle, motorbike or in a vehicle full of people or other equipment.
A bow that is durable and strong and can handle a fair bit of abuse.
Something that can pack away before and after your hunt so you can move quickly to and from your hunting area.
A backup bow for when your compound bow has a mechanical failure out in the field on a remote trip.
I am sure there are a number of other reason why someone would choose to buy such a bow and therefore it would probably be fair to assume that in future these modern survival bows will start assuming a different name once they start to become more and more widespread in the archery world and can fall into their own category of what they truly are, a compact modern longbow.
I hope this article has given you some insight into whether this is the right kind of bow for you and that it helps you to make your decision a little easier.
To get more info and get yourself one of the very popular SAS Survival Bows for your bugout or survival bag click this link now - https://www.survivalarcherysystems.com/products/survival_bow.
Till next time!