Archery is an important skill for any prepper that believes that living off the land could one day be their best chance at survival.

But what about guns?

Firearms are only useful as long as there is ammunition. And it’s possible that just the sound of gunfire could attract unwanted guests.

A bow is reliable and quiet, arrows can easily be repaired or made from scratch, and when properly wielded is very accurate and powerful.

Sure you could hop in the car, put the pedal to the floor and speed to the nearest sporting goods store and outfit yourself with the best modern archery has to supply …

But that’s not how I roll!

I believe in sustainability and making use of the items from yesterday that most people would just throw out.

That’s why when I came across an old compound bow for $10 dollars at an estate sale I didn’t pass it up. It needed some work and a new string but it looked like it could be easily functional.

The original plan was to throw it in the storage shed so I’d have it if I ever needed it and I could fix it then. But it sat there tempting me so I decided to go ahead and get it working.

After checking out some information I discovered the bow wasn’t a good fit for my body – my short arms to be exact. It wasn’t adjustable to my draw length and that’s really important when shooting a compound bow.

I still wasn’t ready to give up on it so I went to the internet and discovered that I could convert it into a recurve bow by changing out the limbs and making some minor customizations.

Not all compound bow risers make good donors for a recurve “frankenbow”. If the pockets where the limbs mount aren’t nearly straight up and down – vertical – It’s not a good idea to convert it because the recurve limbs won’t be at an acceptable angle.

Here’s a pic of the bow before the conversion:

Making the Conversion

To make the conversion I first stripped the bow down where I was left with only the riser. I kept all the parts, labeled them for storage incase they’re needed later.
This let me know what I was working with before I ordered the new recurve limbs. Just about any limbs from a takedown recurve bow will work but I read that people had good luck with limbs from Samick – specifically the sage model takedown bow.

Before you order your limbs you’ll need to consider the draw weight. I went with a 50 lb draw weigh after consulting an archery shop. It would give enough power to take down a whitetail deer and still be easy for me to shoot. I also decided on the longer 62 inch limbs since I think they’d shoot smoother.

Then I ordered the limbs online from and waited.

When the limbs came in they basically bolted right up in place. I needed to trim the bottom inside edge of each limb for them to sit in the pocket properly but a miter saw, sandpaper, and careful trimming took care of the job.
The edges were at a 90 degree angle before modification.

When I disassembled the bow I was left with two plastic pieces that sat between the old metal limbs and the riser. These didn’t work with the new limbs so I cut a few pieces of thick leather from a scrap belt to pad the limbs against the riser.


After everything was bolted down tight it was just a quick trip to the archery pro shop to get the proper length string. You can also order strings online but be careful to measure the correct length. I’ll order a couple spares online since I have the correct size now.

Here’s a picture of the bow finished with the right size string attached. I’d like to try a string an inch longer and see how that works but this shoots well for now. I’ll be smoothing the contours of the bow over time and making it much nicer. The riser is a chunky piece of cast aluminum with edges that are to sharp and uncomfortable. But it’s strong, reliable, and accurate which is the most important attributes. Pretty can come later.
After the conversion was finished it was time to get out and shoot. I was impressed with the way the bow handled and it’s a pleasure to shoot.

Compound bows are all made differently so you might have to experiment and get a little creative to do your own conversion.

If you decide to do a conversion on an old compound turning it into a recurve I’d love to hear about it. Jump down to the comments and let me know what you think!

If you don’t want to do your own conversion and want a ready-to-go takedown survival bow the reviews on this one below are great. It’s also a good bow for beginners and its cost won’t break the bank!