The American military is constantly on the lookout for ways to use technology to tip the scales of warfare in its favor. From large purchases like massive naval vessels or advanced aircraft, all the way down to individual issue pistols and rifles, Uncle Sam has never been one to shy away from new tech in his pursuit of national security. But then… maybe new isn’t always the answer, as demonstrated by this documentary footage from 1961, starring members of the U.S. Army’s 19th Special Forces Group.
This short video starts by showing the simple bow and arrow the Green Berets are training on and discussing a few of the ways they’ve adapted the platform for modern combat (like “Green Arrow” style explosive heads). It then goes on to set the bow and arrow in a competition with three firearms one would think it had no business competing with: a M1911A1 .45 caliber automatic, a .30 caliber M1 carbine, and a .30 caliber M1 rifle.
For the purposes of the competition, they placed three cardboard barriers in a dirt filled box and then fired at it with all three guns. All of them penetrated the cardboard and soil far enough to puncture the first cardboard barrier held inside, with only one penetrating the second layer and none penetrating the third. They then show another operator fire at the same box with a bow and arrow — penetrating the box completely.
The point of this demonstration, of course, wasn’t to suggest that the bow and arrow is actually the superior weapon. In most combat environments, the relative short distance allotted by the bow, the space required to operate it, and a limited supply of arrows would make it a poor replacement for even a dated assault rifle. Instead, this video really serves as a powerful demonstration of why it’s important to use the right tool for the job.
Under some specific circumstances, having a bow and arrow on hand may well do the trick (though it seems likely that today’s stealthy operators would instead rely on suppressed sub-sonic firearms that, while not silent, are awfully quiet).
A bow and arrow may be an ancient weapon, but it’s lasted through the centuries for a reason: this thing is just as deadly today as it was in 20,000 B.C.