How Far Can a Bow & Arrow Kill? IV8888 Explores with a Recurve Blow

In a quick break from your regular powder-powered entertainment, IraqiVeteran explores how far a bow and arrow can kill. With assistance of Scott from WAC outdoors, Eric explores what an arrow can do.

Rather than just shoot targets from a distance, Scott and Eric put an arrow through ballistics gel and “Ballistics Bob”. The arrow only gets 5″ of gel (which they discuss compared to real flesh during hunting which penetrated 16″ of Hog).

How far (prior to watching the video) did you think the arrow would kill?

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • whskee

    “… explores with a recurve blow.” uh…

  • Limousine Liberal

    I’m not sure 10yds is a ‘typical’ bow shot. And a compound bow would blow the arrow through that gel.

    • anomad101

      If anybody believes 10 yards is a typical bow shot, they risk dying at an early age. Compound bow or not.

      • 2ndKentucky

        18 yards was my average in the woods while still hunting with my recurve back in the 80’s.
        At that time I also still hunted, or hunted in corn – walking row to row taking one step at a time – many times standing 6 to 15 yards from many bedded deer.
        With the number of coyotes in Ky, Oh, Ind. these days
        I don’t know if the deer would be so approachible.
        Be safe all.

        • anomad101

          Did the deer shoot back?

  • tt_ttf

    A bit more research was warranted before doing this article.

    A modern compound bow with a CF arrow and modern broadhead is completely different to a recurve bow and old style broadhead. A recurve bow arrow speed is typically less than 50% of a compound bow.

    Field archery courses have targets out to 80m often up or downhill and are easy to hit with a modern bow with a bit of skill and practice. I can assure you that at any distance even way beyond 80m that a modern broadhead let loose at >300fps is going to make a mess. You might not die from shock but you are going to bleed out.

    This was about as relevant as comparing a smooth bore musket to a modern firearm as it was to modern archery

    • Just say’n

      +1, it’s apples and oranges. K=mv^2 doesn’t apply much in bow hunting.

      • tt_ttf

        bows have never been about kinetic energy

        Its always been about good ol’fashioned exsanguination

  • Nicholas McCrite

    Watch the video people all of the stuff people are complaining about is addressed.

    • anomad101

      Yea, verily, I say unto you, damned if you ain’t right.

  • anomad101

    One guy has a bad haircut, the other guy swallowed a possum. (kidding). Twang is less noisy than bang. There are, obviously, more powerful bows. This is a beginner. Believe me, they are effective, almost silent killers against humans. Early Europeans found out their body armor, at the time, was useless against a bow and arrow. As much because the armor limited their vision and movement against the more guerrilla tactics of the native tribes of what became the US, and their weapons. Forget the movies and TV versions however. Not a criticism, a bow and arrow is an effective tool. Learned to use the combination at an early age.

    • iksnilol

      I remember hearing in history class that the Spanish conquistadors abandoned their firearms and armor while in South America. The reason they won against the tribes isn’t the better technology, but simply the discipline. Spanish soldiers worked in formations and whatnot. While the Aztec religion encouraged every man for himself and racking up the most kills individually.

      The reason they abandoned their stuff was that the metal armor made it hard to move in the jungles, while the humidity messed with their firearms.

      • The Rambling Historian

        Didn’t have time to really look back at my notes or texts for specific details/numbers but the biggest weapon for European conquest of the Americas was devastation by disease which often spread well in advance of actual European explorers/conquerors. For example, “Old World” diseases had recently ravaged much of the East Coast shortly before the English arrived and had killed as many as 95% of the inhabitants in some areas. This left various nations weak and needing allies to protect themselves against their rivals. Europeans were able to create alliances via trade and successfully pitted Native peoples against each other and other colonial powers.

        Europeans of course had little knowledge of disease, but none the less, when entire villages perished, it left once great nations open for exploitation. The early Spanish conquistadors and English settlers had pretty ineffective firearms to begin with (matchlocks) and thus would have relied more heavily on lances and swords for actual combat.

        • The Rambling Historian

          I should have also noted that disease ravaged Central America and the Caribbean when the Spanish arrived and that this also had a psychological effect. They then pitted the smaller tribes who had been paying tribute to groups like the Aztecs and Maya were certainly happy to rise up and fight against their oppressors.

  • jonspencer

    Well, arrows were killing at around 300 yards at Agincourt.
    Now this was shooting flights of arrows at massed troops, but they were still dying by the numbers.

  • Don Ward

    So why don’t you guys just change TFB’s name to “We’re Gonna Link To IraqVet8888’s Garbage Blog”?