Can Crossbows Be Used to Hunt Vampires in Sweden?

Vampires film, 1998
James Woods as Jack Crow in John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998).

On July 10, my interest was piqued by an article Anthony shared on Vamped’s Facebook page. It’s not everyday you read about a guy getting arrested for possessing a crossbow—as protection against vampires.

My first thoughts about the Business Standard article were: what’s up with this guy? Did Jack Crow retire and move to Sweden?

The article also mentioned, “The [unnamed] man said that he admits to his crimes if owning a crossbow was indeed illegal.” So, I decided to do some Scooby Doo detective work.

During the course of my research, I encountered the same issues I experienced writing my article on China’s vampire café: an onslaught of media regurgitation, rehashing the same points with little in the way of investigation or original thought. The more I notice it, the more it annoys me. Can’t the journalists be bothered to do a little research?

Some examples of the sites I scoured looking for answers are listed below. Notice the key words used are “vampires” and “crossbows.” For the Swedish sites, I used “vampyr” and “armborst.” The article with the most unique content was Nivette Dawod’s “Man hade armborst och pilar – för att döda vampyrer” for Aftonbladet.

Swede Builds Crossbow to Fight Vampires” in The Local (“Sweden’s news in English”) was the one most often referenced by English language media. For instance, it popped up in The Viral Trend (July 10, 2014) and Journal Online (Philippines) (July 11, 2014).

It was also one of the few that featured an actual picture of the accused’s homemade crossbow. It credits “Polisen Uddevalla” (Uddevalla Police) for the picture, but there was no direct link to an original document.

The picture also appeared in Cora Van Olson’s “Vampire Hunter Charged with Illegal Possession of Crossbow” for Crime Library (July 10, 2014), with an even vaguer source, but clearly taken from an original document:

Crossbow photo featured in Cora Van Olson’s article. (Crime Library)

The story was also covered in video media. Here is SourceFed’s take on the case, titled “Vampire Hunter Arrested Because Crossbow.”

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A commentator on the video, Zack Applewhite, made the following tongue-in-cheek observation, which ties in with one of my initial questions:

If your [sic] allowed to put crosses, swastikas, david’s star, or other religious/spiritual symbols around your house to fend off evil spirits (yes people do this and can go to extremes) then why can t [sic] a guy have some booby traps to fend off the evil spirits that he believes exist? whether it’s for humans or not if someone breaks into your house it is your right to be able to plunge a stake into their heart. (but I’m also from Texas, religious, and have a knife collect so I’m obviously biased and don’t know any of the Swedish laws so take my opinion as you will)

Was the man within his rights to own a crossbow—even for self-defence? An article in Bohuslänningen reported: “The man said that he had the weapons because he felt threatened, and said that he admits to his crimes if indeed owning a crossbow is illegal. But if there is no clear law against it, he wants the weapons back.”

The most obvious way to answer that man’s question—which no journalist seems to have bothered to do—is to ask whether it’s legal to own one in Sweden. According to Wikipedia:

In Sweden, crossbows are considered equivalent to firearms, and possession requires a license (Vapenlag (1996:67)). Hunting with crossbows is not allowed. Swedish law dictates that any weapon that stores its energy, i.e., weapons with a firing mechanism, that produces more than 10 joules at the muzzle are illegal without license.

You can’t use crossbows for hunting there, either: bowhunting was banned in 1938. The Swedish Customs Agency also provides the following information on their “Firearms and Ammunition” page:

The word firearm means weapons with which bullets, buckshot, harpoons or other projectiles can be fired with the aid of gunpowder charges, CO2 charges, compressed air or similar firing agents.

Tear gas, pepper spray devices and crossbows are also counted as firearms, as are starting and signalling weapons that are loaded with cartridges. Ammunition means items such as cartridges, projectiles, and blasting caps.

Looks like he’s up shit creek without a paddle. I also found further information in a blog comment by Ny Björn:

I was once in the board of a newly started society for traditional crossbow shooting. To own and use a crossbow in Sweden you need to be a member of such a society and through it you can apply for a license. But despite the fact that there’s been organized crossbow sport shooting in Sweden for decades the bureaucracy was a total mess. No one really knew who gave which permit etc, etc

As the following video from 2010 reveals, other Swedes have issues with their country’s crossbow laws.

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The “vampire hunter” was actually arrested in May—his court date’s set for September. He had a store-bought crossbow, while the one rigged to his door was homemade. He named it “Zero — God’s punishment.” Police also found a spear-like object and 30 arrows in his home:

Some of the 30 arrows found in the man’s home. (Crime Library)

The only reason the police found these toys was because they were sent to escort him for a previous illegal knife possession charge. From a criminal’s perspective, you would think if you had a court date coming up and you were already in trouble for weapons possession, maybe strapping a crossbow to your front door as a welcome mat isn’t the best idea. Clearly, he’s not right in the head. In fact, that brings us full circle to one of my initial questions.

Why did he think vampires were out to get him? Why did he arm himself with a crossbow instead of something more traditional—like a sharpened wooden stake? The closest answers I could get were from the Aftonbladet article. His lawyer, Göran Persson (not to be confused with Sweden’s former prime minister), said:

We have not determined that there is no risk of reoffending and my client will assist with the investigation. The probation period will do for the upcoming trial. He is a nice man who is not feeling well and now has been helped.

While the prosecutor, Petter Lundgren, from Uddevalla’s Public Prosecution office said he “didn’t think the man is dangerous.” That says a lot. I’ve e-mailed Mr. Persson, requesting further comments and details on the case. As of this writing, I have not received a response.

The “vampire hunter” obviously needs help. Prior to his arrest, he’d taken to Facebook, making random references to “death” and “killing vampires”—a red flag to anyone. I am going to reach for this one and assume he is a religious man because of the “God” reference for his crossbow.

He may also have some experience with archery—and is likely a member of a local society; the type mentioned in Ny Björn’s comment—which could explain how he possessed a storebought crossbow and was able to replicate a homemade version. That would be a worthy lead for media outlets to follow up.

But why a crossbow in the first place? Perhaps he was inspired by vampire hunters in pop culture. Crossbows have often featured in several vampire films in recent years. Some titles that come to mind are From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998), Blade: Trinity (2004), Van Helsing (2004), Underworld: Evolution (2006) and Daybreakers (2009).

Underworld: Evolution
Selene (Kate Beckinsale) wields a crossbow in Underworld: Evolution (2006). (IT BT SI)

Sidenote: If you’re ever doing research for a flick or TV show and happen to need some firearm info, I suggest checking out the Internet Movie Firearms Database. Type in the show, movie, video game or even actor and you get a plethora at your fingertips. I tried it and the list for Daybreakers was massive!
“In a production still, Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac (Willem Dafoe) holds a shotgun-crossbow combo, while Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) holds a crossbow pistol and Dr. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) holds a more conventional crossbow.” (Internet Movie Firearms Database)

So why do vampire hunters prefer crossbows? I don’t know about you, but if I had to kill the undead, I would want as much distance between them and me as possible. Remember those bastards are fast! The only problem is you have to have good aim, able to reload fast, but if you don’t manage to hit the heart they will be on your ass.

There you have it folks. We started with a supposed “vampire hunter” in Sweden who turned out to be mentally ill (go figure!) and learned, for the second time, that any time a story goes viral, media outlets just rehash content without delving into it. Oh, and crossbows are, in fact, illegal in Sweden. Bad news for this vampire hunter!


  1. The difficulty in choosing the right crossbows has increased steadily over the past years probably because manufacturers have made it a point to improve on the things that they can offer to the people. If you are truly having a hard time with choosing, getting to know the different things that you should consider can help a lot.

    1. Thanks for the info Scootman. I am glad to see people are still reading this story. I would really love to follow up on this article, but alas I haven’t been able to track down any updated info.

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