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A bow for survival

IMG 4387By Rean Steenkamp

When I looked at the object I removed from the package, I would hardly have said it was a bow. In fact, it looked more like a car jack of some kind! But I could make out bow limbs… and I knew this was it… the survival bow that was to be sent to me to test.

The bow was sent to me by Doug Shadwell from Survival Archery Systems (SAS). Doug says SAS is a company dedicated to developing properly engineered equipment that will not only get the job done out in the field, but will withstand the elements over a long term – to ensure that you get through whatever disaster or situation you may find yourself in. He says SAS has recently introduced the SAS Tactical Survival Bow, the first of a range of products dedicated to long-term survival usage and also suited to the high demands of tactical equipment.

Doug says whilst the Tactical Survival Bow was born on a team building survival trip back in 2010, when a question that was posed to the team that day. That question being, “What would you consider to be the perfect, single weapon that you would have packed in your grab or bug-out bag?” In IMG 75692012 the owner of the company decided to concept and build that very weapon. Less than 12 months later the first prototype was test fired.

Doug says it became very clear from the outset that the end goal was to produce a product that would stand up to a real-world survival situation and any factors that could affect both usage, maintenance and durability had to be taken into account. The production-ready version of the tactical survival bow makes use of the finest US and Aerospace materials: riser and limb holding brackets – Aerospace Grade T6 Aluminium (a premium grade even when compared to aircraft grade T6 aluminium). The material also receives a special surface treatment prior to anodizing in order to make the surface non-reflective. This same surface treatment also allows for a better surface for paint adhesion should the customer want to employ a camo paint system to the product. The limbs are made in the USA from the same high-quality composite material that is used by most of the big names in the archery industry. The retaining nuts and bolts are made of marine-grade 316-stainless steel that has been chemically treated to allow for a black surface treatment that prevents glare. The limb-securing bolts are made from high-tension steel that offers a high degree of safety to ensure compliance in the field and only requires light oil from time to time.

IMG 7571Back to the bow in my hand! The first test, of course, was to try and assemble the bow without reading the instructions. That was quite easy. I only had to unscrew one bolt and nut, place a limb in a different slot and screw the bolt in. Then I had to string the bow – and it was ready to shoot. Pretty quick.
The second test would be how it shoots and how accurate it is. The first couple of shots were not as good as I had hoped. The provided arrow seemed not to be of the right spine and the nock set seemed far too low. However, I was surprised that the bow did not have significant hand shock.  And then I changed the nock setting and – voila! The arrows flew well! One must remember that different people have different draw lengths and, thus, one would have to get arrows of a different spine as well – depending on the archer’s length of draw. I was lucky though, since the take-down aluminium arrows that came with the bow worked well once I moved the nock set-up with about an inch and a half. I quickly shot just as close a grouping as I do with the traditPicture-2015-01-06-at-11.25ional bow I am used to shooting.

I certainly like the bow and would like to own one. It is certainly well designed for the purpose it was made for. It might not be regarded as a beautiful bow by most people, but it certainly is practical – and that is what is important in a survival situation. The bow can be stored in a small space. The folded up bow, with its metal corners, can be used effectively to ward of an attacker. One well-placed blow with this weapon will send most people to dreamland. The bow is quick to assemble and has all its parts stored in one easy-to-carry unit.

The bow is 55 pounds at 29 inches and it shot a 663-grain arrow at 125 fps and a 440-grain arrow at 155 fps. When I sent this information to Harry Marx he replied that the weapon can certainly bring down animals weighing up to 50 kg, however, I suspect it will kill kudu and wildebeest as well, if one has to. However, a 65-pound version of the bow is also available that is sure to bring down these animals more effectively.

For more information, contact Doug Shadwell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.survivalarcherysystems.com.


About the Author

Rean Steenkamp

Rean Steenkamp

Rean Steenkamp, editor and owner of Africa’s Bowhunter magazine, is an enthusiastic traditional archer and bowhunter. He started hunting with a longbow in 1997 and has since bagged many African plains game with traditional bows, compound and black powder rifles. He also dabbled in bow building and published a bowhunting book titled “Let loose the arrow!”

Rean started his career in journalism in 1984 at a newspaper in Pretoria, South Africa. He interrupted his career at the end of 1991 when he joined the 37th weather team expedition to Gough Island, where he worked for 14 months as the communicator. The team consisted of only seven people living in isolation on the seven by 16 km island. Rean started the Africa’s Bowhunter magazine in 2000 while working as editor for the Game and Hunt magazine.


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