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Rambo's Compound Bow is John Rambo's main non-firearm weapon of choice, save for his survival knife. Rambo uses a vintage compound bow in every film after First Blood when he can't use a gun or is too far away from his target to use a knife He equips his bow with various accessories, including flashlights, glow sticks, and explosive arrow tips to make it easier to kill enemies.

Having been trained on the tool for hunting and practice since childhood, Rambo is highly skilled with the bow, and he is able to take out enemies from well over sixty yards away, usually pulling back so hard on the tightly-wound bow that it is capable of exerting massive amounts of pressure, the arrow being able to travel at speeds of 250 MPH.

The arrows used in the films were guided by wire so they would hit their targets and not harm anybody.

Design and Assembly[]

Rambo uses his Hoyt Gamemaster longbow to fish in the Salween River.

The Compound Bow, unlike other traditional bows like the Longbow or the Recurve, which were both made of one piece of wood, the Compound Bow is a more sleek, advanced version of the traditional instrument. When disassembled, the bow can fit into a single tube, and is very light, only weighing about six pounds. Made of three basic parts, the handle and the two limbs, all composed of lightweight aluminium and fibreglass. The limbs can be snapped onto the base and then a crank must be turned to wind and tighten the bow. There is a single string with two cables wound round the cams at the end of each limb, unlike the one as seen in more traditional bows, although only the string is used for firing. The cables wrapped around two cams (one at the end of each limb) to reduce the draw weight once the string is drawn past a certain point (the let-off point), this means that it requires minimal effort to hold the string once the bow is fully drawn. The sights are relatively simple to assemble, but must be put together manually. On the side of the bow is a mounted quiver to hold the arrows, although Rambo usually carries them in a quiver on his back. The bow can allow for flashlights and other accessories to be placed on the bow to customize it. Rambo also has explosive arrow Torque tips that he screws onto the tips of arrows.

Because a bow is designed to transfer energy to the arrow, it can harm the bow if you dry fire it without an arrow. This is because the energy has nowhere to go and it snaps back into the frame, putting pressure and tension on it and gradually weakening the frame. Rambo says in the Rambo II novelization that this could kill a man instantly or take down an Alaskan Kodiak Bear.


Rambo with his compound bow in Rambo: First Blood Part II.

The 1972 novel First Blood gives no mention to Rambo's Compound Bow or Survival Knife. Interestingly enough, the idea for Rambo to carry a survival knife was thought of by Sylvester Stallone when he got involved in the writing of First Blood. As a knife collector himself Stallone wanted Rambo to have a unique survival knife that caught the eye and looked good on film and for it to almost be a character itself. In the 1972 novel, Rambo only carries guns or explosives, which he uses to kill people. The film versions are much more tame, and Rambo uses his bows and knives to fashion elaborate traps. Rambo first uses the Compound Bow in David Morrell's Rambo: First Blood Part II novelization. He is given the compound bow by Marshall Murdock, and Rambo becomes excited, as he believes that the mind is the best weapon, and you can use a bow to your advantage more than a gun. As Rambo assembles the bow so he can assault the NVA convoy, he recalls how he learned to become an expert archer. As a child with half Navajo American Indian ancestry, he was taught by wise elders how to shoot a bow at a very young age, and soon became proficient. The Navajo were experts at using bows, battle axes, and other weapons against their enemy, and it became tradition to teach the young children how to use the traditional tools. Although Rambo's father was an Italian who preferred rifles for hunting, the Navajo used bows, and Rambo was taught by the town's elder that, although strength was important, skill and endurance were more important, and

Rambo shooting his Hoyt Archery compound bow in Rambo III.

that concentration was the most important of all. Although a young Rambo convinced himself that he would never become an archer, Rambo soon learned on a longbow (a bow made out of a single piece of curved wood), and later trained on a recurve bow (a bow which has limbs that "recurve" away from the archer, towards the end), but when Murdock introduced Rambo to the military-grade Compound Bow, a three-part bow made out of metal and fibreglass, Rambo jokingly dubbed it the "Ram Bow" and used it throughout the rest of the novel. 

Rambo: First Blood Part II[]

Rambo uses a custom built Hoyt Spectra compound bow with carbonized fibreglass limbs and Omega wheels with explosive torque tips to destroy buildings and cars in a North Vietnamese prison camp, and personally executes Lieutenant Tay with one as revenge for killing Co Bao. He also had personalized four-sided arrows that he used to kill NVA and Spetsnaz soldiers silently, ripping through flesh and bone with ease.

After killing Tay with his bow, Rambo is left with no arrows left. Sgt. Yushin arrives in a helicopter and drops a fuel bomb onto the waterfall he is at. Rambo flees as Yushin drops the bomb and discards his compound bow so he can run faster. This decision leads to his life being saved as the bomb explodes without hitting him. The bow is not seen after this, having presumably been destroyed during the explosion.

Rambo III[]

Rambo threatens Lewis with his Martin Cougar II compound bow in Rambo.

Rambo III Stallone used a Hoyt ProVantage with a 90 lb. pull. They wanted a hard pull to accentuate Stallone's flexing muscles.  He first uses arrow equipped with torque tips to destroy helicopters. Later on, he uses it in a fight with Soviet soldiers in a cave where he attaches blue glow sticks to arrows.

Rambo IV[]

Rambo uses a Hoyt Gamemaster long bow for fishing and later a vintage Martin Cougar II to massacre a squad of Burmese soldiers that are murdering civillians. He later threatens Lewis with it when Lewis attempts to turn back from the rescue mission.


Rambo: Last Blood[]

When rambo is preparing for the human traffickers to come, he is seen putting the bow into a contraption to hold it in place. He then practices, hitting playing cards from atop the Barn's second floor. He later shoots Hugo Martinez in both legs, and both arms, pinning him to the wall. Rambo discards the bow before ripping the man's heart out.