Is a Bow Considered a Weapon?

When we talk about weapons, we usually refer to items that have typically been used either in war or to harm others.

Such as swords, daggers, guns...and yes, bows! But just to make sure, let’s take a closer look at the definition of ‘bow’, and the definition of ‘weapon’, and then put two and two together! Nothing like us tackling tackling archery news and advice here.

What is a bow?

Okay, so the word ‘bow’ has many definitions. But in this instance, we are clearly referring to the bow as an item.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (the official go-to when you want to know the meaning of a word), a bow is a weapon used to propel forward an arrow, made of a flexible material and a cord connecting both bent ends.

So….a bow is defined as being a weapon. That alone kind of answers the question, right? But just to be thorough, let’s go ahead and check out what a weapon is.

What is a weapon?

Once again, we’re using the Merriam-Webster dictionary (because you really can’t get more official than that when looking up words).

It states that a weapon is something that is used to cause injury, defeat, or destruction upon something or someone. It also gives examples of a gun and a knife. (Not of a bow though!)

Is a bow a weapon?

Let’s add up and put two and two together. Right from the get-go, a bow is described as being a weapon, so that pretty much makes it clear. But a weapon is defined as something that can be used to cause injury, and can a bow do that? Absolutely yes!

A bow is traditionally used for hunting, but it has also been used in wars, and to fight other humans or to cause injury. So it 100% fits within the definition of a weapon.

So, answering the question: is a bow considered a weapon? Yes, 100%.
(Unless the bow is a toy or a miniature or something like that, in which case it technically is no longer a bow!)

But what about legally?

Is a bow considered a weapon by law? So, as in, if they said “no weapons allowed”, would you have to leave your bow behind?

Well, as a general rule, the bow is indeed considered to be a weapon. However, the regulations on owning or using a bow can vary from state to state, as do the regulations for other weapons.

It’s worth mentioning that the regulations on bows aren’t usually as strict or as limiting as to the regulations on other weapons, because bows aren’t considered to be as deadly (although they can be), and are more often regarded as being simply the means to practice archery as a sport.

Does a bow count as a firearm?

We know for sure that a bow counts as a weapon, but does it count as a firearm?

Usually, weapons that are considered firearms are guns and other weapons that get ‘fired’’ as such. But let’s take a look at the United States official and legal definition of a firearm (this can be found in the Legal Information Institute, as it has open access!)

According to the United States Code on firearms, a firearm is any weapon that can expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. So all types of guns, bombs, grenades, mines, rockets, and other explosive weapons.

However, it does not include antique firearms within the definition, as they are considered to be display items.

And according to that definition, it also does not include bows, as a bow uses elastic energy to fire the projectile, and does not use an explosive action or chemical energy of any sort.

So the answer is a redundant no. The bow does not count as a firearm. Therefore, firearm regulations do not apply to the bow, even though it is still considered a weapon. Instead, there are other specific regulations that control the use and ownership of bows, such as archery and hunting licenses, which can vary from state to state.

In Conclusion

A bow is 100% considered a weapon, as it is completely defined as being one, and it also fits into the definition of a weapon, based on its design, uses, and common purpose.

However, a bow cannot be considered a firearm, as it does not use an explosive action, nor chemical energy, in order to fire a projectile. Instead, it uses elastic energy and is therefore not regulated within the rules and laws of firearms.

Instead, bows are controlled with other laws, and with things such as hunting licenses, archery licenses, and others (depending on which state you are in).