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Which is better for Hunting Bow or Rifle?

Updated: Jan 13

Rifles and bows both have their own place. Both bows and Rifles are capable of ethically and effectively killing a game with the right shot placement. Each method has its own pros and cons, while time and cost are always an important factor. Making your hunts either enjoyable or miserable, each of them depends on how you use them.


A bow strengthens different skills. Being bang for your buck, a bow is by all accounts is the superior weapon when compared to a rifle. It puts you in the center of the action by getting you so close to the deer that you can almost taste the deer steaks. Many states allow bow hunting and have flexible rules for it.

Some hunters are of the view that you can hunt a big game rather than the small ones with a bow as a small game is very challenging and difficult to hunt only if you’re not a skilled archer. Other hunters take it vice versa and think that bows are not meant for a big game as bows are short-range weapons and you can’t ethically hunt a big game with them.

The trend towards bows (both compound and crossbows) is far more active as several areas are considering to ban using high powered rifles. When you want to improve your target-directed motor skills, a bow is preferable to a rifle, to satisfy your urge with some good exercise.

If you are willing to be extra patient and are attracted to challenges with a primitive style of hunting, want to hone your stalking skills, and can spend a lot of time in the wild, get a bow and start practicing.


  • Stealth and reusable ammo

  • Quiet as compared to guns

  • Long hunting season

  • Cheaper

  • More practice opportunities

  • Strengthens various skills


  • Not accurate as guns

  • Short-range

  • Low penetration as compared to guns

  • Slow arrow speed than bullets


These are the most powerful survival weapons developed to date. Firearms are being far superior to bows inaccuracy. Firearms have the potential of much greater armor penetration as compared to bows. They flee with a faster velocity as compared to bows.

These rifles designed today can hit targets even 600 yards away. One of the major advantages of guns over bows is that it takes years of training to master the art of archery as archery is a sophisticated and skillful pursuit.

On the other hand, the training of firearms is done in a fraction of time. Guns have the power to take down the game with very little effort.


  • Accuracy

  • Rate of fire

  • Penetration

  • Long Range

  • Easy to learn


  • Short hunting season

  • Costly

  • Louder

  • Shortage of ammunition

Unlike a bow, guns can be used readily but once the target is missed and you run out of bullets, all your effort will go in vain but with a bow, sneaking up your target is easy. Many people presume the biggest advantage of a bow over guns is that their arrows can be reused.

Being much versatile as compared to guns, the popularity of a bow has increased drastically due to its natural hunting style. The adrenaline rush which bowhunters feel isn’t felt by riffle hunters and as the recurring cost of guns is much higher than a bow, more and more hunters are switching to using a bow.

Moreover, with bow hunting, you can have a shooting practice anywhere without having to spend a fortune.

Difference in Shape

Though archery weapons were simple a long time ago with time their designs have changed much in order to make them more convenient for the hunter. We have different types of bows in the market today which are much stronger than their proceeds.

These bows are made from different materials and are classified into 3 categories according to their design. Simple (using a single material), backed (using 2 materials) and composite (using 3 or more materials).

Recurve bows: the tips of these traditional bows curve away from the archer once the bow is strung; this gives the bow much more speed with a greater amount of energy.

Compound bow: this modern design bow was introduced in the market in the 1960s. The levering system of cables and pulleys in this bow gives it more energy with higher arrow speed. Though it requires less strength when you draw it fully.

Crossbow: this is a horizontal bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles. It has much resemblance with firearms and gained much popularity because of its easy use.

Rifles: are much like crossbows. You pull the trigger and shoot the bullet. It’s very easy to use crossbows if you have already used a gun.

More Useful

Bow helps you to tiptoe through the woods. As being quiet is one of the major aspects of hunting, even slight noise can send the game running for cover. A rifle is going to be loud even with the best silencers on the market.

The bow being whisper quiet doesn’t disrupt the woods like the gun fires echo does. With the swift silence of the bow, the animals aren’t alarmed.

License Issuance

Hunting regulations no doubt are complex and vary from area to area. The weapons need to be licensed and there are rules which are set and must be followed. The usage of both guns and bows has some applied rules and owning each of them requires a license.

You must check your state and local hunting regulations before heading to the woods and make sure you shouldn’t go hunting on the prohibited days. The allowed hunting days vary a great deal. If you wield a bow you must look at the season dates and check how many days you are able to hunt as compared to rifle hunters.

Usually, archers are granted a longer season and sometimes the archery season even overlaps with the general hunting season which benefits the bow hunters. So it’s indirectly like gaining access to animals before the rifle hunters. The archery season is followed by the gun hunting season.

Accuracy Difference

Though animals have a better survival chance if hunted with a bow and bow hunters incur the extra risk of injuring an animal in a non-lethal way as compared to a rifle but that’s quite different with an experienced bow hunter as they know how to take a good shot.

So we can’t label a bow or firearm more or less ethical than each other as long as we respect the limits of the weapon. Any minor deviations in your archery form may have a major impact on your bow's accuracy and consistency.

The latest bows on the market today are deadly accurate and have even increased the distance a hunter can keep from the animal to have a precise and ethical shot. Though rifles are deadly accurate and have been used for hunting for more than 2 centuries, still the latest bows in the market can easily compete with their speed and accuracy today.

Be careful to keep an ideal distance from the game while shooting with a bow of your choice either that be a compound or crossbow.

Weight and Size

The size and weight of guns and barrels are quite different from the bow. Rifles and guns are much smaller in size as compared to bows. The rifle barrels have a minimum length of 16 inches whereas shotgun barrels measure almost 18 inches.

On the other hand, an average recurve bow measures almost 56 inches, compound bows have an average length of 30 inches whereas average crossbows measure almost 18 inches.

Rifles and guns are normally heavier than bows. Riffles weight averagely about 7.5-8 lbs. On the other hand, Recurve bows weight almost 3-4 lbs on average. Compound bows have an average weight of 3.5-4.5 lbs whereas crossbows which are allowed in the field should weigh between 6 – 8 lbs and must be adequate to kill the game at moderate ranges.

Which is better to Operate for a disabled person?

Crossbows are a blend of both a gun and a bow. Being the game-changer in the hunting world, they are perfect for disabled persons as crossbows have many advantages over guns as having no recoil like a rifle when fired.

They are much quieter than guns with almost no noise, which helps the hunter avoid missing the target. The muzzleloader season or crossbow archery season has its own advantage for the disabled person as it’s an extended season with warmer and more enjoyable weather in the woods.

You can comfortably sit for long hours, unlike the harsh and cold gun seasons. You have greater chances of harvesting a trophy animal as they are in their normal patterns and less spooked.

Many proficient gun and bow shooters have added it to their arsenal recently because of its ease of use and hunting benefits, especially for disabled persons. Crossbows today are legal in 49 states and require a special permit on the basis of medical and physical challenges the hunter faces.

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