solid hunting bow can make the difference between life and death in the backwoods. In a worst-case scenario, a reliable bow like the Primal Gear Compact Folding Survival Bow can help keep you fed and even offer protection in the backcountry.

I believe the Survival Bow is an innovative design that truly enhances the ability of any woodsman to carry a compact yet awesomely powerful hunting tool into the woods in packable form. It is lightweight, easy to assemble and very comfortable to shoot. I tested it at ranges from 10 to 30 yards using a Pathfinder takedown carbon arrow built on a carbon hunting shaft with a 110-grain, field-tipped arrow. The bow is amazingly fast and accurate, and did not stack at my 27-inch draw length. I had the 50-pound limbs on my test model, which I believe are plenty powerful enough to take medium and large game in North America. I would not hesitate to shoot this bow on my next whitetail hunt.

After speaking with the owner of Primal Bow, Jeff Barber, I got a better idea of how this unique backwoods tool came about.

Barber said, “I had moved from a rural area in Brantley County, Georgia, to a subdivision near Savannah, Georgia, for my work. In a subdivision, I couldn’t step out the back door and shoot my pistols and rifles like I was accustomed to in order to relax at my rural home. I remembered fondly having a longbow as a child, and decided it would be a way to shoot quietly in a subdivision and provide the sport and relaxation I find in target shooting.”

Spurred by his recent move, Barber began searching for a budget-friendly bow option. “I began looking for bows online and was amazed at the prices of wood longbows. We didn’t have the extra cash at that time, so my wife, Heather, asked a question she always asks: ‘Can you make one?’

“I did some research and reading online, went to the hardware store and bought a 6-foot length of red oak with the appropriate qualities, and made a beautiful 6-foot-long bow that pulled about 45 pounds,” Barber said. “It was fun to shoot and provided the relaxing distraction that I was looking for.

Take-Down Testing

With his new bow in hand, Barber started to see how he could improve the design to better aid hunters in the real world.

“Being proud of my new bow, we went to take it with us on a trip to see family. I had to slide the bow through the trunk, past the folding back seat. And with the back seat folded back up into position, it rendered the rear passenger door useless. After a day of two boys getting in and out one side of the car, fighting about who had to get in first, slamming the door closed on the other one as they got out, I knew I needed portability.”

This experience led Barber to look at how to incorporate the features of a take-down bow design into his long bow. “I wanted to combine the best qualities of each—no tools to take down or put together, no parts to rattle around in my bag,” noted Barber. “I also wanted to reduce the bulk of the bow when it’s in take-down position, and did not see why it had to be right hand or left handed.”

Barber continued, “I began to design a bow based on materials I had in my garage, and it worked great. Having spent plenty of time roaming the woods of southeast Georgia growing up, and being a fan of all of the survival shows on television, I thought this would make a great survival bow. I took the design to a local machine shop to see about having it produced, and the figure they gave me was astronomical, not economical at all. That is when I decided the design might rear its head in the future, but I needed to go back to the drawing board.

Backwoods Tool

Barber started working to update the bow’s design while keeping its portability, function, weight, appeal and toughness in mind.

“After building a prototype completely from wood, I ordered some fiberglass samples,” Barber said. “When they arrived, I replaced the wood limbs with fiberglass and tested it extensively. I refined and simplified the design until it was ready to produce.” With his new design in hand, the Compact Folding Survival Bow was born.

For more about Primal Gear’s Compact Folding Survival Bow, visit or call 912-519-0120.

This article was originally published in the AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN™ Winter 2016 issue #205. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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