PVC Survival Bow




About: I don't like people stalking me...

Warning! The bow made in this project is made using things you might find in a survival situation. The materials are obviously not of the best quality and will shoot differently than other bows you might be accustomed to. Please get familiar with the bow before you shoot it around people. Be cautious when shooting the bow around or you can seriously hurt someone or yourself.

Note: I will talk A LOT about safety and stuff. This will seem annoying but this is a lethal weapon and you have to be very cautious or you might hurt others or even yourself. If you get hurt, don't blame me...

In this project, I will be teaching you how to create a makeshift bow out of materials you might find in a survival situation. Keep in mind these materials aren't the best, so the bow won't be better than any bows professionally made. This particular bow is made from a PVC pipe that I had lying around and some rope. The rope I used was strong enough to be able to survive the bow's strength, but that won't be the case for every rope you find lying around. Just make sure your rope can sustain a lot of pressure. My bow takes approximately 35 lbs. to pull, but you can easily increase the draw weight using different methods. The bow takes about a minute to string and will last for a really long time. You can make many different versions of this design with different materials, but given the limited materials I had, this was the best I could make it. Get creative and see see what you can do!

Step 1: What You Need


  1. A knife.
  2. A serrated edge.
  3. Muscles. Big, giant, large, muscles... or a friend...
  4. A ruler.


    PVC Pipe, about 5' long and 3/4" thick. You can find some at Home Depot.

    Paracord or thin rope, 5' to 6' long. It has be strong enough to withstand a lot of force and shouldn't be flexible.

    Straight sticks that are about 2' 6" - 3' long and 3/8" - 5/16" thick.

    Scotch Tape. You'll use plenty.

    Scrap paper. One of the lengths has to be longer than the circumference of the arrow.

    Time: Approximately 30-45 minutes

    Step 2: Making the Bow

    Note: If you choose to do this project alone, you may find this part to be troublesome, so consider bringing a friend.

    1. Cut the PVC pipe to about 5' in length.
    2. Measure where the middle of the bow is and mark it, this will help you later when you start shooting.
    3. Make a hole 1" from both ends of the PVC Pipe. You can do this by putting the point of the knife where the hole is going to be and spinning the knife between your hands. Make its diameter large enough so your rope can fit through.

    Step 3: Stringing Your Bow

    1. Pull the rope through the hole, wrap it around the pipe three times and knot it.
    2. Pull on the rope and curve the PVC Pipe. This step may require some muscle depending on the material's strength.
    3. While keeping the PVC Pipe curved, pull the rope through the other end and tie another knot.

    Step 4: Making Arrows

    Caution: Even if the arrows aren't sharp, THEY CAN STILL KILL THINGS. So don't go around shooting everything just because they're dull. If you do choose to make your arrows sharp, they can be much more dangerous. So choose wisely.

    Step 5: Choosing the Stick

    For the arrows, I used 48" by 3/8" dowel. You can always whittle down a stick to the right size.

    I cut the dowels in half, making them into two 2' pieces.

    Step 6: Making the Tip

    Whittle the tip into a point. If you have a heat gun, You can heat up some plastic and mold it into a tip.

    Step 7: Making the Notch

    The notch is an indent at the back of the arrow that prevents the arrow from slipping off of the bowstring. Without it, shooting would be much harder. To make the notch, you will have to rub the arrow on the serrated edge. You should make the notch about 1/4 of an inch deep.

    Step 8: Making the Fletching

    Fletching is used to stabilize an arrow's flight. If you have a weight, then a fletching isn't necessary, but it will help. If your arrows are just pointy sticks with a notch a the end, you might want to add fletching. This is a refined method based off of ZNA Productions' video on YouTube.

    1. Mark your arrow 1" to 2" from the end with a notch.
    2. Take three pieces of duct tape (the length of the markings) and fold them over with a little bit of the sticky side showing.
    3. Stack them on top of each other as neatly as possible.
    4. Cut them into a fletching shape.
    5. Stick the sticky ends onto the marked spot and fold them to that the flap and the fletching are about 90 degrees. (be neat about the placement of the fletching)
    6. You should tie the fletching down on the ends to make the fletching more secure.

    Step 9: Shooting Your Bow

    Have caution when shooting around other people, safety should be your number one priority, not looking cool. If you were to hit someone in the head, believe me, they won't care whether you looked cool or not. DO NOT SHOOT AT PEOPLE.

    To avoid injuring yourself, you might want to where gloves so irregular spots from the arrow won't scrape you. While you're at it, get a jacket that covers your arms. Believe me, it hurts when the bow string rubs against your forearm. Even a jacket won't completely prevent bruises, but it'll help.

      1. Hold the bow in your non-dominant hand. Hold it a bit under the line you marked earlier.
      2. Place the notch of the arrow on the string and align the arrow with the line. Rest the front of the arrow on your hand.

      3. Hold the arrow in place using your forefinger on top with your middle and ring fingers on the bottom.
      4. Get into a good stance: Feet shoulder width apart, facing 90° clockwise from the target
      5. Hold the bow out vertically and point it toward the target, make sure your arm is fully extended
      6. Pull the arrow back to your cheek
      7. Aim.
      8. Release the arrow.

      Step 10: Questions

      When curving my bow, what is considered a good curve?

      To do this, make a thumbs-up with one of your hands and put it in the center of the bow. The top of your thumb should touch the bowstring.

      Why is my bow really weak?

      If you want your bow to be more powerful, use a thicker PVC pipe.

      Why doesn't the arrow fly straight?
      You fletching might not be attached correctly. Try straightening them.

      Other questions? Comment down below and I will do my best to answer them.

      Step 11: Improvements

      If your bow isn't good enough for you, you can improve it. These are just little things that can be added to your bow to make it better. You can make it fly farther, store things inside or just generally make it more useful. Here are some ways you can do it:

      Improving the Bow's Draw Weight (Make it Fly Farther)

      You can add things like dowels or other long sticks into a PVC Pipe Bow to increase it's draw weight. If you don't have a PVC Pipe Bow, you can duct tape the things to the side.


      You can put things like string, matches, a lighter, and other small things into a PVC Pipe Bow.

      Melee Weapon

      You can make the end sharp (by rubbing it against rocks) and poke things with it. You will have to do this before making the hole (for stringing the bow).

      Make a Water Filter
      Wood removes 99.9% of bacteria in water. If you have some extra PVC pipe left over (like 3-4 inches), you can jam a debarked branch into it. Just make sure water doesn't leak from around the wood. Although it removes a lot of bacteria, it doesn't remove many viruses because they are smaller and can pass through the tubes or the wood easily. So unless you're desperate, boil the water afterwards if you can. You might also want to clean the PVC pipe too, before cleaning any water. To see where I read this, click here.

      Bow Quiver

      To store arrows, slip them into the top and bottom of the bow.


      When drawing back an arrow, you sometimes hear a raspy sound. You can put duct tape where you draw your arrow to make it quieter.

      Fishing Rod

      If you unstring one end of your bow, you can attach a hook and use it as a fishing rod. You could keep hooks inside the bow.

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        13 Discussions


        2 years ago

        This is a great bow and one of my favorite PVC bows. Here is a similar bow that I actually like much better. I think you will enjoy it as well.

        2 replies

        Reply 7 months ago

        yes, the recurved ends give the bow a higher arrow speed at a lower draw-weight. This is because the recurved ends are also being flexed, and when you release both the recurved ends, and the primary bend are flinging the arrow, thus shooting the arrow at a faster speed and giving the bow a lower draw-weight because you don't have to flex just the primary bow, but you also are flexing the recurve ends. While this seems like it would give the bow a higher draw-weight, it actually doesn't. This is why recurve bows are better for beginner archers, and kids.


        Reply 7 months ago

        Your bow is still very good and your instructable is very well done and indepth. Great work!


        2 years ago

        Great bow, love the simplicity and effectiveness. Also, as a side question, you said "water removes 99.9% of bacteria in water". Where did that statistic come from? Seems interesting! Nice 'ible!!! :)

        3 replies

        Reply 2 years ago

        I don't remember, but apparently the wood acts like lots of really thin straws where the bacteria (but not viruses, because viruses are smaller) can't fit through. Water, which is smaller than bacteria, can go through the "straws".


        Reply 2 years ago

        Cool beans! I'll have to research that before I drink that post-apocalyptic water, though. Thanks for the fast response!


        Reply 2 years ago

        LOL sorry, I meant to put: " WOOD removes 99.9% of bateria in water. My bad!


        2 years ago

        You can break arrows really easily, though. I broke one by shooting it against a rock and another on a concrete wall. I sharpened them again and now they're almost good as new!


        2 years ago

        When the zombie apocalypses comes I know what to make. :D


        2 years ago

        Great instructable! I appreciate you adding in the safety warnings. :)

        1 reply

        Reply 2 years ago

        Thanks! Turns out someone actually liked all the warnings :D