While some people may find it amusing—ridiculous, even—to think of archery as an effective home defense, there have been recorded cases where using a bow and arrow became as effective as using a gun.

Take the case of Claude Gates from Tampa, Florida as an example. In 1997, Gates had successfully defended his store from a repeat burglar even when he was only armed with a crossbow. He managed to hit the robber twice, which resulted in the latter’s arrest.

If you’re hesitant to buy a gun and are looking for a good alternative, you may want to consider investing on a bow instead.

Pros and Cons of a Home Defense Bow

Now before we talk about using a bow for home defense, let me tackle first the advantages and disadvantages of using one. Here are some of the obvious and not-so-obvious pros and cons of using a crossbow, compound bow, or any other type of bow, for home defense:


  1. Stealth

Unlike a gun that fires rapid shots (unless you’re using a silencer, of course), a bow and arrow set tend to be a lot quieter. For instance, while a compound crossbow may be a bit noisier than a recurve crossbow, it is still a lot less noisy than a gun.

I find that this is very important, especially when you’re trying to defend yourself from multiple house invaders. Just like in a hunt, if you don’t alert your targets and competitors of your location, you increase your chances of winning the game in the end.

  1. Legal Concerns

Getting a crossbow usually takes less paperwork than getting a gun. Gun control law requires the owner to acquire permits before he or she is allowed to use the weapon. While you may still need to fill up some paperwork for your bow, you will normally have less legal restrictions for it.

  1. Cost Efficiency

Many good-quality bows are less expensive than guns. If you’re on a tight budget, you can usually find a good brand without having to shell out a lot of money. In contrast, you usually need a bigger budget for a good and reliable handgun.

Ammunition may also be a concern. Because you can usually retrieve an arrow after you’ve shot it, I think it is the more economical choice. As long as you invest in good-quality arrows and take care of them, you can save money on resupplying your ammunition for the next time you may need to use your bow.


  1. Mastery

Before you can use a bow and arrow set properly, you need to take the time to really hone your skill at shooting it. This includes learning how to draw the bow properly, finding your anchor point, and aiming at the right angle so that you don’t end up hurting yourself instead of your intruder.

  1. Ease of Use

Unless you hang your bow in a strategic place on your wall, it may be hard to reach and aim it at your attacker, especially if you only have a few seconds to do this. Also, some bows need to be assembled beforehand (e.g., a takedown bow), so you can’t really use it to defend yourself, unless you plan to chuck the individual pieces at your assailant.

Using a bow may also be a bit more awkward than using a gun. It also takes time to aim an accurate shot, and then much more time to make a second shot if you miss the first one.

Tips on Using a Bow for Home Defense

Now that we know the pros and cons of using a home defense bow, here are some tips that may help, should you decide to go gun-free and use a bow for defense instead:

  1. Know your weapon

Before you try to use any weapon, you should take the time to learn how to use it properly. For instance, most crossbows come with an instruction manual either with the package or online. Take the time to study it and know the different parts of your bow.

You can also watch YouTube videos on how to properly shoot a bow, and then take the time to practice. The saying “Practice makes perfect” may sound cliché, but you’ll be thankful you did it when you do need to use your bow to defend yourself.

  1. Take advantage of your space

Most likely, you would know the layout of your home better than your intruder would. Take advantage of this and find strategic spots where you can hide and aim when an attack does happen. Remember: This is literally your home turf, so make the most of it!

  1. Always have a backup plan

Even the best plans can go sideways, and this is especially true if you’re working under pressure. If your arrow fails to hit its target, make sure you have a backup weapon, whether it’s a pepper spray, a small pocket knife, or just basic combat skills.

Don’t rely solely on your crossbow or compound bow. There’s always a chance that it won’t fire properly, so you need a contingency plan when this happens.

  1. Consider installing a home security alarm

If budget permits, it’s always better to have an alarm system that alerts you of any forced entry to your home. This usually gives you more time to get your weapon, go to a predesignated spot, and wait quietly until you get the intruder in optimal position to fire off a successful arrow.


A bow and arrow set may not seem like the most practical choice for home defense, but I find that it’s a good alternative if you don’t like guns or you don’t have the budget to buy one.

It may take a bit more time getting used to, but once you’ve followed the tips I’ve given and master the art of shooting a bow, you will increase your chances of effectively defending yourself and your family from any home invasion.