Is An Arrow More Deadly Than A Bullet? A Comprehensive Analysis




We all know how dangerous arrows and bullets are. But the real question comes: Is an arrow more deadly than a bullet?

There are a lot of things that need to be considered to answer this question. Curious to learn about them? No worries. Read ahead and this comprehensive analysis will answer all your questions.

Is An Arrow More Deadly Than A Bullet

Arrow Deadly Than A Bullet

Is an arrow more lethal than a bullet? It is the other way around. These are both deadly but some factors make a bullet a lot more lethal compared to an arrow. These are velocity, accuracy, penetrating abilities, and more.

Salient Highlights

  • Arrows are stealthier than bullets.
  • Bows and guns require different skill sets to be handled.
  • The crossbows played a significant role in medieval warfare.

Is An Arrow More Deadly Than A Bullet

There is a common misconception that an arrow is more deadly than a bullet. In reality, it is the total opposite. A bullet is more deadly and lethal than an arrow. To the extent that a bullet can cause damage to both armored and unarmored whereas an arrow can only cause damage to an unarmored. 

Why is that? Some factors affect both arrows and bullets. However, they have a greater impact on bullets than arrows. Want to learn about the factors? Read ahead.

The Basic Structure Of An Arrow And A Bullet

The basic structure of an arrow and a bullet is completely different which causes them to work differently. Eager to know the structures? Here is a small description of the different parts of arrows and bullets. 

The Basic Structure Of An Arrow And A Bullet


  • The shaft is the main body of the arrow, generally made of wood or carbon
  • The tip is the pointed end of the arrow that pierces the target.
  • Nock is a groove at the back part of the arrow that attaches to the bowstring.
  • Fletching is attached to the back part of the arrow shaft, before the nock.


  • The projectile is the main body of the bullet, generally made of lead or copper.
  • The casing is a metallic container that holds gunpowder and projectiles.
  • A primer is a small explosive that ignites gunpowder, located at the base of the casing.
  • Gunpowder is a fuel that creates explosions, located inside the casing.

How Arrows And Bullets Work

Are arrows more dangerous than bullets? To know that, you must understand how arrows and bullets work. They are designed differently and have different functions. Feeling curious to learn about them? Here you go; 


First, the arrow is placed on the bowstring (in compound bows, on the arrow rest) and attached to it using the arrow’s nock. To release the arrow, the archer pulls it back, creating tension in the bow. After he releases the bow, the stored energy in the bow transfers to the arrow and pushes it forward.

The fletching at the back of the arrow shaft stabilizes its flight and prevents it from veering off the course. The tip of the arrow penetrates the target.


Bullets are loaded in the chamber through a magazine. When the trigger is pulled, it activates the firing mechanism and strikes the primer at the base of the casing. The primer ignites the gunpowder. It accelerates the expansion of gasses rapidly and generates pressure that forces the bullet out of the barrel at a high speed. The bullet travels toward the target and transfers its kinetic energy with a force.

Though arrows and bullets function differently, they have a lot of things in common. It is what makes people compare them over and over again.

Historical And Modern Usage Of Arrows And Bullets

Arrows were the most dominant weapon for a long time. It is apparent from how many arrows in a quiver soldiers used to carry. Over time, people shifted from arrows to bullets.

Historical And Modern Usage Of Arrows And Bullets

Preindustrial Bow Vs Modern Firearm

FactorsPreindustrial BowModern Firearm
TechnologyPre-industrial bows required skilled craftsmen to construct.Modern firearms utilize advanced engineering and sophisticated mechanisms.
Effective RangeBows had limited effective range, usually 200-300 yards or 183-274 meters.Depending on the type of firearm and caliber, it has a significantly longer effective range.
AccuracyTo achieve accuracy on bows, it required years of skill development and practice.With the help of technological advancement, firearms can accurately target at distances of more than 500 yards. 
Rate of FireSkilled archers were able to shoot 10-12 arrows per minute.Firearms offer higher rates of fire due to their semi-automatic or automatic firing capabilities.
LethalityA single shot of an accurately shot arrow can be lethal and could cause significant damage, especially for unarmored or lightly armored targets.Modern bullets can cause severe damage to internal organs due to high velocity and energy transfer for both armored and unarmored.
NoiseBows were quite compared to firearms for archers to maintain stealth during war and hunting.Firearms produce extremely loud sounds and are significantly less stealthy than bows.

The Shift From Arrows To Bullets In Warfare

It was a gradual process for over a few centuries. Arrows have been used for a long time, starting from hunting food to the primary weapon in wars to sports. The most significant shift was when China invented and started using gunpowder. This is also where are black eagle arrows made. The firearms developed and improved over time. Arquebuses, muskets, and rifles slowly developed for generations, offering greater range and accuracy than the previous ones. 

By the 19th century, firearms and modern bullets became the most dominant weapon on the battlefield, replacing arrows and traditional deadly weapons.   

Differences Between Arrows And Bullets?

Differences Between Arrows And Bullets?
MaterialMade of wood, carbon, aluminum, fiberglass, etc.Made of lead, metal, copper, and brass jacket.
UseUsed in bows and crossbows.Used in pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
Flight trajectoryFly through the air in an arc.Travel in a straight line.
VelocityHave less velocity compared to bullets.Have higher velocity than arrows.
DamageDesigned to pierce through the target.Designed to cause damage to the target upon impact.
RangeHave a shorter effective range compared to bullets.Have higher effective range and accuracy.
NoiseQuieter when fired which makes arrows stealthier.Make loud noise when fired.

Range And Rate Of Fire: A Comparative Analysis

Distance Covered By Arrows And Bullets

RangeDepends on the type of bow and the skills of the archer. For traditional longbows and recurve bows, typically 200-300 yards or 183-274 meters. For compound bows, typically 50-7- yards or 46-64 meters.Depends on the type of bullets. Shells or gunpowder used, caliber, and the target.Usually, it varies from a few hundred yards to over a mile.
DistanceCan be shot over the effective range but the effectiveness drops significantly.Depending on the distance, arrows lose accuracy and experience drop or get affected by the wind.Can travel a lot farther than the effective range but becomes less accurate and loses velocity.Factors such as gravity, wind, etc affect the trajectory.

Speed Of Arrows Vs Bullets

SpeedDepends on the type of bow, draw weight, arrow length, etc. Traditional longbows or recurve bows shoot from 150-250 feet or 46-76 meters per second. Compound bows travel 250 to more than 350 feet and 76 to more than 107 meters per second.Depends on the ammunition, barrel length, and caliber.Handgun bullets travel 700-1500 feet or 213-457 meters per second.Rifle bullets travel 2000-4000 feet or 610-1219 meters per second.
Factors that affect speedDesign and weight of the arrowDraw weightEfficiency of the bowSkills and Techniques of the Archer.Cartridge designPropellant chargeBullet weightBarrel length, etc.

Which One Scores Better Between Stealth And Handling?

Noise Levels Of Arrows And Bullets

Noise levelQuieter than bullet70-80 dB (decibels)Quite loud140-190 dB (decibels)
Factors that affect noise levelBow’s draw weightArrow weightFletching designType of firearmPowder charge of ammunitionCaliberBarrel’s length

Difficulty Levels In Handling Bows And Guns

It depends on various factors as handling bows and guns requires different skill sets. Handling a bow requires more intense physical strength than using a gun. That is why archers have to go through strict physical training to develop upper body strength. Are aluminum arrows better than carbon? No. It is a must to aim to shoot accurately. They also need to consider things like wind and distance while aiming.

Basically,  handling guns requires more knowledge instead of physical strength. Gun users must learn how to load, aim, and fire a formidable weapon safely and effectively to use a gun. They also need to understand the factors that affect accuracy.

Both bows and guns are challenging to handle. If you want to know the exact difficulty level, it will be hard. Why? It varies depending on the specific weapon and the skill level of the user.

The Crossbow: A Game Changer

A crossbow is an effective weapon that consists of a bow mounted horizontally on a stock or frame. To operate a crossbow, the archer needs to draw back the bowstring and lock it into its place. Here, a mechanism is used called a trigger. It is used to release the bowstring which forces the quarrel or arrow to bolt towards the target.

Crossbows are more powerful than the other arrows. It has altered the weapon landscape throughout history. Do you want to know how? Here it is;

Easy To Use

It requires less physical strength compared to traditional bows. It makes it accessible to archers who have limited upper body strength and less experience in archery.

Range And Accuracy

It has a more effective range and accuracy compared to traditional bows. The mechanism used in crossbows and the broadhead-tipped arrow allows the archers to aim and shoot accurately using comparatively less physical strength. 

Piercing Capabilities

The high draw weights and broadhead arrows used in crossbows create specialized forces that penetrate armor more effectively compared to traditional arrows. It also works effectively against heavy plate armor.

Impact On Warfare

It played a significant role in sieges and castle defenses in medieval warfare. It was a great help to China in protecting its northern borders in the battle of Ma-ling in the 4th century. To put it briefly, crossbows transformed the Chinese method of war.

Shifts In Military Tactics

The military tactics shifted upon its introduction to the world. Its range, accuracy, piercing abilities, and easy-to-use features made crossbowmen an integral part of the military forces.

Hunting And Sporting

It had a vast impact on hunting and sporting activities. The ease of use and accuracy in a larger effective range made it a hero among hunters and sport shooters.

What Factors Affect The Lethality? Arrows vs Bullets

Which is worse arrow or bullet? To know that, you will need to know which one is more lethal. Various factors affect lethality in arrows and bullets. These are;

What Factors Affect The Lethality? Arrows vs Bullets


Velocity is a quantity that indicates how fast and in what direction something is moving. Bullets have more velocity than arrows which results in greater kinetic energy. When the bullet transfers its kinetic energy to the exit wound upon hit, bullet wounds can cause severe damage to soft tissues. Bullet fragments can cause infections. Arrow wounds or arrow injuries can tear blood vessels causing severe blood loss. 


What hurts more a bullet or an arrow? Though arrows are designed to penetrate, the higher velocity in bullets gives them more tensile strength. It also allows them to penetrate much deeper and cause internal damage to vital organs. What type of wood was used for arrows also affects the lethality of the arrow.


Bullets and arrows both require accuracy. However, bullets have greater accuracy and consistency due to the design of the weapon. Guns require less physical strength than bows which makes it easy for a gun user to make accurate shot placements compared to an archer.

Is an arrow as deadly as a bullet? From the discussion ahead, it is clear that an arrow is not as deadly as a bullet.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using An Arrow Instead Of A Bullet As A Weapon?

Quieter than bullets when shot.Have a shorter effective range compared to bullets.
Can be used with different types of bows which gives the archer a chance to choose the bow he feels comfortable using. Requires effective skills, techniques, and practice which takes a significant amount of time to develop and acquire.
More accessible compared to bullets.Comparatively slower.
Have both lethal and non-lethal options.Limited penetration abilities compared to bullets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Bows More Lethal Than Guns?

It is the opposite. Guns have more velocities, penetration abilities, and accuracy than bows which makes them more lethal than bows.

What Makes An Arrow Lethal?

The speed at which an arrow travels, its penetrating abilities, the accuracy of the shots, the sharpness of the tip, etc makes an arrow lethal.

Which Would Do More Damage, An Arrow Or A Bullet?

A bullet will definitely do more damage than an arrow as it is more lethal. A bullet has much higher velocity, accuracy, consistency, and penetrating abilities than an arrow which causes more damage. 

Is Archery Harder Than Rifle Shooting?

Archery and shooting are both difficult as they require different skill sets. However, archery requires more physical strength whereas shooting requires more knowledge. In that sense, archery is much harder than shooting.


Is an arrow more deadly than a bullet? Definitely, not. The factors that make an object deadly are what speed it travels at, the level of accuracy it has while making shots, and the penetrating level. A bullet has a much more advantage than an arrow in all of these factors. Which is why a bullet is always much more deadly than an arrow.

Bob Magic

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Bob Magic

Meet Bob Magic, the archery maestro. A National Champion, “Coach of the Year,” and gold medalist. Bob simplifies archery, ensuring your bullseye success. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, let Bob’s magic guide your arrow.

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