Can a felon own a bow?

What is a bow?

A bow is equipment for shooting arrows typically made of curved wood tied on both ends by a string. The tension on the string generates the force required to shoot the arrow.

An archer pulls the projectile (the arrow) against the string and releases it towards the target. Unlike the crossbow, a traditional bow does not have mechanical parts and works manually.

Is a bow considered a firearm?

As per the definition, a firearm is any equipment that released a projectile (for eg. a bullet) using the force generated by burning an explosive material. Since the bow doesn’t use “fire” to shoot arrows, it is not considered a firearm.

However, a bow is still a lethal weapon. It generates enough force that can be used to kill people and animals. So, in many states, there are laws that regulate the use of bows.

Can a felon purchase a bow?

As far as Federal laws are concerned, there are no concrete rules regarding the purchase and use of a bow by felons. So it depends entirely on the local state laws and any specific conditions set at the time of your release.

Felons can own a crossbow in most states as long as it is being used for its intended legal purpose to practice targeting and for hunting. As long as you are not at a shooting range and not violating any hunting-related guidelines issued by the state, it should not be a problem.

In some states, felons are allowed to purchase crossbows for hunting purposes while in some other states, owning a crossbow can be considered a Class 6 felony offense that can result in jail term.

So the bottom line is that rules regarding owning a bow are not clearly defined in the Federal Laws and they vary between states. So always check the websites of local law agencies or consult your parole officer before buying a bow.

Can a felon hunt with a bow?

Hunting and archery are popular leisure activities. Hunting is also used by farmers to guard their farms and scare away any predatory animals.

Since felons lose their right to possess firearms, a bow can be handy. Since it’s not a firearm, laws regarding bows are less stringent. Generally, a felon can buy and use a bow as long as it is used for its intended legal purpose of hunting or archery.

After a felon has served their sentence, they have to be careful and be aware of the laws since, after conviction, there are certain restrictions on activities they can take part in, especially if it involves firearms or any other weapons.

They might unknowingly be violating local or federal laws and it might land them in legal troubles even resulting in going back to prison.


Since a bow is not a firearm, Federal laws don’t restrict a felon from buying or using a bow. However, states and counties have different laws that are stricter than federal laws and may prohibit a felon from using a bow.

Also, certain states have seasonal restrictions on the use of bows. Bows are generally allowed in bow hunting seasons only in certain states.

A bow hunting season is different from a gun hunting season. Apart from this, some states have laws regarding the kind of animal you are allowed to hunt with a bow or a gun.

So, it is always advisable to research as much as possible about the local laws and consult a lawyer if required.

Remember, it is always better to remain on the right side of the law as life is already difficult for a felon and you don’t want to face unnecessary legal hassles for making an honest mistake.