Hiking staff/survival bow

Picture of Hiking staff/survival bow

I was recently looking for a new project and happened on some videos by the Backyard Bowyer on making bows from PVC pipe.  After watching a few of his very instructive tutorials, I decided to make one for myself.  After I got it done, I was surprised how well it shot and how easy it was to make, not to mention being very low cost.  While I was researching all things PVC, I happened on some other fellas who had made hiking staffs from PVC pipe.  The pipe doubled as storage for survival items.  Some of these were quite involved with all kinds of connectors, sections, etc. and looked to be quite handy.  After a bit I kind of melded the two ideas and thought why not make a bow that doubled as a hiking staff (or vice versa, if you prefer!)

So, here tis the Hiking Staff Survival Kit/Survival Bow thing!

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Step 1: Making the bow/staff

Picture of Making the bow/staff

I used a 66 inch piece of ¾ inch white PVC for this.  Most of the guys who made staffs from PVC used 1 inch which makes it easier to store stuff inside.  However, I found one inch to be a little too stiff for a bow, at least for a weak old man.  To strengthen the center of the bow and control the bend, I cut an 8 inch piece of one inch pipe, cut a slit down one side on the table saw and then slid it down to the center.  I had to spray a little WD40 on the ¾ and tap it with a hammer to get it to slide, because even with the slit it fits pretty tight.

Once I got it centered, I super-glued it and then filled the gap with JB Weld.  The side with the gap is the back of the bow.

hallen414 months ago


I made a slight improvement. I had used a 6" piece of 1" pipe for the hand grip. I lengthened it to eight inches and made sure that the 3/4" limbs wet in a full 4" on each side. now the bow tests at 37.4 lbs at 28". Not bad for PVC! I included broad heads with removable blades I put .357 mag shell casings over the broad heads. they don't take up any more room. If I need thumper arrows for small game, I can tape the shell casings right to the arrow shaft. I am going to share the Ideas with some scouts on the next outing.

zippetydooda (author) 4 months ago

hallen41: Glad it helped you and sounds like you made some cool improvements too.

hallen414 months ago

I was trying to build a survival staff when I found your Post. Thanks. I tested my PVC staff/Bow and it is a consistent 30 lbs. at 28". I also added a fishing spear that attaches to the screw and covered the screw with a hose nozzle for a tip.. I added a 1" PVC 6" end cap to store extra gear. I will try to put a photo on tomorrow. Thanks again for the ideas.

zpo11 months ago
Late addition. Use insertion plugs, remove/thin the grip. Slip inside a 1 inch for better stiffness, not only for stability, but protection for the arrows.
Adastra621 year ago
Instead of electrical tape for the hand grip, I would have used the same tape used to wrap racquets with. (Non-slip grip).
the problem with the stuff used to wrap racquets is it can be quite bulky at least in my experience and i don't exactly have small hands, then again it can easily be removed if it is so worth trying out. as a bonus you could even use it to form a shelf to use as an arrow rest due to it's bulk.

I guess there's proabably dozens of things that could be used to form the grip, each with their own pros and cons I think I'm going to have to make a few when I get time and try them out
Try that medical tape (about 1" width, white, fabric) that the sports guys always seem to be wrapping their wrists/ankles with (track team doctors used to wrap my feet/arches to keep me from getting nasty blisters on my arches, before I ditched the Nikes and discovered Asics). Its lightweight, sticky, and the non-sticky side is fabric-textured for a good grip. I've got a couple of dumbbell weights (that I really *should* be using more often...) that I wrapped the grips with to help when my palms get sweaty. Great stuff!
zippetydooda (author)  Adastra621 year ago
Yes, that would certainly help make the handle grip better. I used the electrical tape because I can use it for so many other things.
crwydryny1 year ago
very interesting I'm actually considering making one of these. though I think I'm going to go with 25mm (1inch) pipe and will probably pack a more compleate survival kit.
a few thoughts maybe wrapping the middle with fishing line to use as an improvised reel (hooks, weights, sewing needles can be carried inside for fishing and doing repairs on kit. I got the idea from the original jimmy lyle survival knife (the one used in rambo 1/2) which had fishing line on the grip for such uses)
zippetydooda (author)  crwydryny1 year ago
One inch would certainly give more room for survival stuff, but you better try to draw the bow first!! It would be way to heavy a draw weight for me, I think.
well I commonly use a 60lb draw recurve bow and from what I've found after some research a bow made of 1inch PVC pipe would have a top limit of about 40-45lb
nerd121 year ago
Hmm, a hiking staff needs to be somewhat stiff for walking, but a bow needs to be nice and supple. Best thing i think would be to get a stiff stick, and make it an atlatl. That way, you can hurl projectiles AND have a sturdy staff for walking/bo fighting.
zippetydooda (author)  nerd121 year ago
nerd12: You're right. There is a bit of flex to the staff, but its a bit of trade-off. An atlatl would be cool but would take me too long to learn to be accurate, I'm afraid.
maybe, but its a challenge to learn to be accurate using the atlatl, and besides, everyone has a bow in some form or another but few know of the atlatl. The name itself is enough for most people to take notice, and using it would be even better. Personally, i am a bow person but i also like using a staff.
jamob1 year ago
Great instructable by the way!
zippetydooda (author)  jamob1 year ago
Thanks, jamob!
Kiteman1 year ago
Let's see it in action!
jamob1 year ago
I had thought of something very similar to this! I thought it would be cool to have interchangeable ends for the staff such as kayak paddles, a spear for spear fishing, ect. Just hadn't had the time to do it...