If you’re thinking about purchasing a bow and arrow in California, you may be curious about your legality and responsibilities as an owner. In this article, theLAShop will discuss the current laws and rules surrounding bow and arrow ownership in California. 

California Archery Laws and Regulations

All types of bows are legal in California, but there may be municipal or county rules that can apply/ specify to your specific area so always double-check before you take archery tool in public or build an archery range in your backyard.  

Califorina Archery Penal Codes

  • 16460 - Defines explosive/incendiary projectiles as destructive devices.
  • 18710-18780 - Limits locations where explosive/incendiary projectiles can be possessed and used.
  • 18720- You need a permit to make explosive/incendiary arrows.
  • 19100- You cannot conceal explosive arrows.
  • 18250- If there is domestic violence incident, police will seize your bow if they find it.
  • 19405- It is illegal to sell a bow to a minor.
  • 16XXX- Firearm defined. If the bow fires a projectile in a barrel using combustion or explosives, it is a firearm, not a bow.
  • 20010- Blow guns are illegal.
  • 21110- Ballistic Knives are illegal
  • 22610/17230- Stun guns are legal. Your bow might be a stun gun if it fires an arrow capable of immobilizing someone with a shock.
  • 16780- A bow designed to fire arrows does not qualify as a "less lethal weapon" (because it is a deadly weapon.)
  • 17510- It is illegal to picket while in possession of a bow.
  • 16570/30210- Flechette Darts are illegal. A flechette dart is defined as a dart that is designed to be fired out of firearm. If you had a crossbow capable of firing darts, you should not use darts meant to be loaded into firearm ammunition.
  • 22810 - No tear gas darts or other gas weapon darts are allowed (there is an exception for veterinary practice.)
  • Fish and Game Code

  • 4370- If you are bow hunting during the archery season, it is illegal to have a firearm.
  • 3001- If you are intoxicated, you can't use your bow to hunt birds or mammals.
  • 3003- It is illegal to shoot birds or mammals with bows via an internet connection
  • 3004b- It is illegal to fire arrows across a road or public way in an unsafe or reckless manner
  • 3004a- While hunting with a bow, it is illegal to shoot arrows within 150 yards of a building.
  • 2005 - Shining artificial lights at onto any highway, field, woodland or forest where mammals are commonly found, while in possession of a weapon capable of killing those mammals at the same time, is illegal, unless if the artificial light is provided by a non-directional lantern, or a flashlight no brighter than a 2-Cell 3 Volt Flashlight. Also, the headlights of a car can be used in an ordinary manner not for purpose of hunting while in possession of a weapon.
  • 10500-10506 - It is illegal to possess a bow in a game refuge, unless the bow is unstrung or stored separate from arrows... additionally if you aren't traveling a public highway, you have to give 24 hours advance notice to Fish and Wildlife Department that you are passing through.
  • There may also be a rule that you cannot use an arrow against fish during certain survival training exercises, but I can't find the specific code.
  • California Codes of Regulations Rules

  • 14 CA ADC § 1.23 - Bow and Arrow Fishing Tackle - Arrow point must be connected by line to the bow or reel
  • 14 CCR § 2.25 Bow fishing fish type regulation
  • 14 CA ADC § 2.45 & 14 CA ADC § 251.9- No computer assisted bow fishing or hunting
  • 14 CA ADC § 28.95 - No bows and arrow fishing tackle within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County, nor aboard any vessel on any day or on any trip when broadbill swordfish or marlin have been taken.
  • 14 CA ADC § 354 - No explosive, tranquilizing, or Poisoning darts may be used, no arrows fired on or across roads, no crossbows too weak to send arrow 130 yards except with flu-flu arrows (while hunting?), no making bow ready to fire in a vehicle by notching an arrow
  • 14 CA ADC § 507 - Only flu-flu arrows for hunting migratory birds
  • 14 CA ADC § 550 Areas where hunting and possession of firearms and archery equipment are prohibited.
  • 14 CA ADC § 551 - some areas specified where firing arrows is illegal. No bows at all allowed at Santa Rosa Wildlife Area
  • 14 CA ADC § 630 - Bows are generally illegal in ecological reserves
  • 14 CA ADC § 632 - Bows prohibited at Punta Gorda State Marine Reserve
  • 14 CA ADC § 1413 - No shooting bows within 150 yards of designated camping areas.
  • 14 CA ADC § 4313 - Within units of the Parks and Recreation Department, no bows allowed except in vehicles and stored to prevent ready access.
  • 15 CA ADC § 5302 - Civil addict parolees cannot have bows.
  • 5 CA ADC § 41301 No weapons at CA state University
  • 5 CA ADC § 100015 No weapons at University of CA


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