Right tool for the job: Bow and arrow in modern warfare

Eric Sof

Bow and arrow in modern warfare

Bow and arrow in modern warfare may sound a little ancient, but what if it is the right tool for the job? In the world of modern firearms, when you mention bow and arrow it might look silly, but it is actually something deadly the same as the modern firearm. Of course, in the right hands. The U.S. military is constantly after ways to use technology to tip the scales of warfare in its favor.

Bow and arrow in modern warfare

From large military build-ups which include massive naval vessels or advanced aircraft, all the way down to personal issue pistols and rifles, Uncle Sam has never been one to shy away from new tech in his pursuit of national security. But then… maybe new isn’t always the answer, as demonstrated by this documentary footage from 1961, starring members of the famous Green Berets.

This short video footage starts by showing the simple bow and arrow the U.S. Army’s 19th Special Forces Group are training on and discussing a few of the ways they’ve adapted the platform for modern combat (etc. “Green Arrow” style explosive heads). It then goes on to set the bow and arrow in a competition with three modern firearms one would think it had no business competing with: an M1911A1 .45 caliber automatic, a .30 caliber M1 carbine, and a .30 caliber M1 rifle.

The point of this showcase wasn’t meant to suggest that the bow and arrow is actually the superior weapon. It really serves as a powerful demonstration of why it’s important to use the right tool for the job.

In fact, classic Special Forces footage shows the deadly value of a bow and arrow in combat.

MARSOC course with bow and arrow

Under some specific circumstances, having a bow and arrow on hand may well do the trick (though it seems likely that today’s stealthy operators would instead rely on suppressed sub-sonic firearms that, while not silent, are awfully quiet). There are still some courses in the U.S. military which has bow and arrow training in their curriculum.

A bow and arrow in modern warfare may be an ancient weapon, but it’s lasted through the centuries for a reason: this thing is just as deadly today as it was in 20,000 B.C and at some points, if needed can be easily crafted in the field.

Crossbows in modern warfare

It’s almost impossible to go to war and not see someone who brought a crossbow (or a longbow, or a tomahawk) with them. There are even military units, mostly in third world countries, who have their “special” units equipped with crossbows.

The reason? It’s the same reason why these units train so many martial arts. It looks cool, at least to them, and it may have a psychological effect on their adversaries, especially if these adversaries aren’t professionals, either. But the question wasn’t whether there are crossbows around but whether they are used.

Crossbow in modern warfare could not survive the battle
Crossbow in modern warfare could not survive the battle according to the analysts (Photo: XY)

The answer is a clear NO. Today’s armies have sound suppressed guns, what do you need a crossbow for? You can put a highly accurate and almost silent gun in your backpack, with loads of ammo for it, but you can’t do the same with a crossbow. Crossbows also require a lot of training which (just as too much martial arts nonsense) is better spent on learning more useful skills.

Therefore, the crossbows you sometimes see at the beginning of a conflict never survive the first battle. After that, they are left at the base and you only use them to make cool pictures.

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1 thought on “Right tool for the job: Bow and arrow in modern warfare”

  1. “Crossbow” in photo is a compound bow, not a crossbow. Still deadly as draw weight can exceed 100 lbs while design permits holding at full draw as in photo at around 10 lbs.
    Roy Clark
    USA Archery Certified Level 2 Instructor Trainer
    USAF GMO, active 70-72

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