Bows, Crossbows and other Arrow weapons
There are some alternative supplementary weapons and hunting tools that might be of use to the survivalist. Modern bows and crossbows are good for short range near silent hunting and or poaching. Their very slow rate of fire makes them unsuitable for most combat scenarios but they can be used in some special circumstances. Arrows usually kill by bleeding the target to death, as opposed to bullets, which usually kill though a combination of hydrostatic shock and bleeding. A bleeding death by arrow is slow and often painful, thus making bows to be unusually cruel weapons for use against people. Most bow hunters use some sort of weapon to quickly ‘finish off’ mortally wounded animals. Some popular books and movies depict the use of bows and crossbow for sentry removal (a trick used by French and British pattern special forces types) but it is not a favored method in the western hemisphere. People shot with arrows tend to experience great pain and often scream loudly, thus negating the primary advantage of a silent attack.
As hunting tools, arrow weapons offer a viable alternative to firearms and are legal in most jurisdictions, although restrictions on crossbows are common. Bow fishing is a method of fishing in shallow water that involves shooting fish with an arrow that has a string and a reel attached to the bow. You just shoot the fish and reel it in. This method of food gathering is popular with some cultures in the southern U.S. Food gathering with a bow is more difficult to detect than with other methods and can be of use in all survival scenarios. Bows and accessories are widely available and used archery equipment can be purchased used at considerable savings. Many discount sporting goods stores that do not normally carry shooting sports equipment do carry sport archery equipment that can be used for hunting with the simple substitution of arrow heads designed for live game. The low profile survivalist can take advantage of this when procuring hunting equipment in scenario one situations where authorities may restrict hunting and the survivalist must resort to poaching to survive.
There has been considerable controversy between conventional bow hunters and crossbow hunters regarding legal access to certain hunting lands during certain hunting seasons. Since "conventional" bow hunting requires considerably more skill than hunting with a crossbow, bow hunters resent the unfair advantage had by those who use modern crossbows. No doubt, the modern crossbow is at least equal to a black powder rifle in mid-range accuracy and power. Crossbows have been the subject of restrictive legislation since at least the middle ages.
If you decide that a bow or crossbow deserves a place in your arsenal, remember that these are not stand alone items. You should have at least a dozen arrows with a variety of tips, extra string, and some sort of carrying case. For bows, you will also need an arm guard and I highly recommend a string release device. You will also need some sort of arrow box or quiver. Decent bows and crossbows can be bought for under $100 with higher quality ones running around $300. Generic Asian imports seem to be of decent quality with US made bows in the middle and European (especially English) being the best.
There has also been an on again off again development of air powered arrow firing weapons. Most of the designs I have seen are single shot units that resemble a cross between a paintball gun and a firearm. They only for a single shot before a pretty involved reloading process. Two advantages of this weapon are near silent operation and the ability to work underwater. One such weapon was the Stealth Airrow which was sold in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
Assault pistols Backup guns Hunting Rifles Compact Shotguns Machine guns Submachine guns Paintball guns Sniper Rifles Silenced guns Black powder guns Arrow weapons Grenades Grenade launchers Non-lethal Weapons Dart guns Air guns
Heavy Weapons Mortars Artillery Explosives Flame weapons