Rifle Hunting Vs. Bow Hunting: A Hunter’s Personal Perspective


While the weapon that you choose to hunt with is mostly a personal preference, which one is the best? There is a big debate in the hunting world among your weapon of choice, and almost a division among hunters when it comes to hunting with a rifle or with a bow.

Each one definitely has its own pros and cons, but is there one that is better than the other?

This article is written by one of our favorite ghostwriters, masterthehunt (Fiverr handle). Jon’s hunting has been almost all shotgun, and all my archery and rifle shooting is recreational. We loved the article on elk hunting vs. mule deer hunting vs. whitetail deer hunting and wanted another great article on hunting from an expert. We hope you enjoy this one as much as the first!

Rifle Hunting Memories

I first started hunting as a kid with a rifle. Rifles, when compared to bows, are much easier to learn to use and require much less skill in order to be proficient enough to kill a deer.

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest reasons that most people get their start into hunting with rifles.

Not only are they easier to use, but they can kill an animal from a much farther distance. It takes a lot of practice and skill to get within bow range of a deer, but even the worst rifles can easily take down a buck from several hundred yards away.

Introducing the Bow

On the other hand, I also got started into bow hunting at a very young age. I wanted to get into archery hunting not only because the rest of my family loved it, but because the archery deer season is considerably longer than any rifle season in my home state.

While a rifle tag usually afforded you 6 days of hunting, an archery tag gave me nearly 3 months of hunting. While it proved to be much tougher, the extra time to hunt more than made up for it and I quickly fell in love with bow hunting.

In addition to more time to hunt, I quickly realized that being so close to the animals while bow hunting was so much more of an adrenaline rush for me personally. This, combined with the longer seasons, led be to almost exclusively bow hunt for many years and never picking up the rifle again until years later I drew a hard to draw deer tag for a great unit.

I borrowed a custom rifle from a family member and ended up killing my biggest deer to date. It was this hunt that made me realize that I didn’t have to pick between the two and that I could happily hunt with both a rifle and a bow every year.

These days, I use both a bow and a rifle to fill up my hunting season with as many tags as possible. In some states, rifle tags are actually much easier to draw than archery tags, and in other states it is the opposite.

Because I now hunt with both, I can use this to my advantage to draw as many tags as possible and enjoy hunting as much as I can every season.

So is one better than the other? I would argue that it all comes down to your own preferences. While I love the intimate experiences and adrenaline filled encounters with animals that bow hunting provides me, I love the reliability and higher success rates that rifle hunting brings.

Pros of Bow Hunting

  • Longer hunting seasons
  • Easier to get tags
  • Generally better season dates (ex: hunting the rut, etc.)
  • Fun to practice with
  • No loud noises to deal with

Pros of Rifle Hunting

  • Easier to use
  • Less margin for error in shot placement
  • Greater range
  • Faster reloading and follow up shots
  • Much less moving parts and equipment to worry about

These are just a few advantages to each method of hunting, many of which I have seen firsthand myself. As you can probably see, hunting with each of these weapons will drastically change your hunting experience.

Do you want a surefire way of killing an animal once you find it? Then taking a rifle might make a better choice. Once you find an animal while bow hunting, the real challenge has only begun.

Or maybe you want to enjoy nature and some peace and quiet? Then a bow might be better, as the loud shots from a rifle could be avoided.

While both methods of hunting are extremely different, they are still both hunting. The division that we see in today’s hunters over what weapon they are using shouldn’t carry much weight, as we are all hunters that are pursuing a common interest.

As hunters, we should respect each other’s choices, even if they are different from our own.

If you were to ask me, I would recommend using both a bow and a rifle to hunt with (where allowed). The combination of using both weapons throughout my hunting season has not only afforded me much more time to get out and enjoy the woods, but it has also dramatically increased my success in the field.

Both methods of hunting are so different that you get to enjoy both aspects of them throughout the hunting season, and it is often nice to change up your tactics throughout the season when switching from one weapon to another to avoid getting too frustrated or burnt out.

By including both a bow and a rifle into your hunting strategy and season this year, not only could you potentially have more tags and more success, but you could also enjoy much more time out in the field. Isn’t this the biggest reason that we hunt?

Enjoying Your Type of Hunt

Spending time in nature and enjoying the wilderness is one of the most important things that draws us to the hunt year after year, so does it really matter what weapon we have in our hands while we do it?

Whatever you decide to hunt with, just don’t forget to enjoy the hunt to the fullest!

Other Hunting Articles You’ll Love

Big Alaska Dayton

I've always loved the outdoors and have heard the call of the wild, so to speak, since a young age. Big-time camping, hiking, backpacking, and traveling enthusiast, I'm always up for another adventure or another activity that gets me away from the desk and out to enjoy the world. An Eagle Scout with an incurable case of outdoor wanderlust, this blog was a natural labor of love and personal expertise.

Recent Content