Archery is one of three offensive weapon-based skills in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Archery skill is raised by and governs the use of bows and crossbows. Archery benefits from The Thief Stone (Though it appears under the warrior stone on the skill tree simply because it is the last thief stone affected skill on the warrior side, such as enchanting is on the mage side). Users of the skill, such as archers and hunters, are trained in the use of bows and arrows. The greater the skill, the more deadly the shot. Archery provides low health and lightly armored characters the means to engage foes from a safe distance and allows repeated sneak attacks.
Types of bow
A bow is a flexible, bent or curved ranged weapon, strung taut from end to end with a string. Arrows are nocked into the string and then drawn. The string is then released, propelling the arrow forward. The weight of the bow dictates the effort required to pull the string back, or "draw." The heavier the bow, the longer it will take to fully draw. The longer the amount of time taken to fully draw a bow, the more damage a shot will do, and the faster and farther an arrow will travel. While a bow is drawn, movement is reduced significantly.
Bows can be found in stores all over Skyrim. Most stores that sell them are dedicated to selling ranged weapons, mostly carrying both bows and arrows as well as certain light armor a character may use. Many different creatures carry variants of bows, including the draugr found in most dungeons and caves in Skyrim. Some bandits, which can be found in places ranging from camps to keeps, also carry bows and arrows. Bows, like swords, get stronger depending on what they are made of.
A crossbow consists of a bow mounted horizontally onto a mechanical stock. The bow string is pulled back onto a catch which holds the string taut. A bolt is then loaded into a groove in front of the catch. When a lever located at the bottom of the stock is pulled, the catch is released and the bow string pushes the bolt forward. Crossbows are slower to reload than most bows are to redraw, but they shoot projectiles at a higher velocity than most bows. They still however have the same reduction of speed while reloading. Crossbows make a noticeable sound when fired and nearby enemies may become aware of the source, but are still useful for stealth attacks due to their high damage. The slightly lower rate of fire when compared to standard bows is less important when a character is able to kill their target on the first hit. Crossbows are generally more expensive than their bow counterparts.
There are two types of ranges for both bows and crossbows: arc range and maximum range.
The arc range varies between each type of bow and crossbow. It is directly proportional to a bow's/crossbow's firing velocity.
Bows always fire in an upwards arc, propelling the arrow slightly upwards. A bow with a high firing velocity will have a long arc range. When fired from a high velocity bow, the arrow will continue traveling in an upwards arc for a longer period of time, and will eventually start to drop and arc slightly downwards. After this, the arrow will eventually come to a point in which it drops steeply and its horizontal speed decelerates immensely. If in the air for a long enough period of time, the arrow will have lost all horizontal velocity and fall completely.
This works similarly for crossbow bolts, however when bolts are fired they are not propelled in an upwards arc. Instead, they will travel straight from the Crossbow. Because they don't travel in an upwards arc, they will begin to drop immediately and will enter a steep downwards arc earlier than that of an arrow.
The maximum range is a range that is universal for both bows and crossbows. It is the maximum range an arrow or bolt will travel from the Dragonborn before it stops doing damage. This range usually occurs around 60–65 meters. At this point, all arrows and bolts will do no damage to the target, regardless of whether or not the target is in rendering range of the archer. Arrows and bolts that hit a foe past this range will most often clip through them and continue traveling until hitting an object (i.e. a tree, the ground, etc.). A non-hostile character will not become hostile when this happens, however an already hostile character will immediately begin to look for the Dragonborn if the projectile lands close enough.
The following books provide a permanent one-time increase to the Dragonborn's Archery skill. See each book's page for a list of possible locations.
- Vernaccus and Bourlor
- The Black Arrow, v2
- The Gold Ribbon of Merit
- The Marksmanship Lesson
- Father of the Niben
- Oghma Infinium – choosing the Path of Might increases all Warrior skills, including Archery, by five.
The following individuals can increase this skill by giving them gold:
- Faendal (Adept): Riverwood (Lvl 15–50).
- Aela of The Companions (Expert): Jorrvaskr, or the training area behind it, in Whiterun (Lvl 15–75).
- Niruin of the Thieves Guild (Master): Riften (Lvl 15–90).
- Angi (Master): Angi's Camp (Lv 15–100). Only six levels of free training for completing her challenges.
- Sorine Jurard (Master): Fort Dawnguard after completion of A New Order for the Dawnguard (Lv 15–90). Requires the Dawnguard add-on and membership to the Dawnguard.
|Nord Hero Bow||11||7||200|
|Ancient Nord Bow||8||12||45|
|Auriel's Bow DG||13||11||1000|
|Bound Bow with Mystic Binding||24||0||0|
|Bow of the Hunt||10||7||457|
|Dwarven Black Bow of Fate DR||13||10||1446|
|Falmer Supple Bow||15||20||410|
|Supple Ancient Nord Bow||14||18||235|
All crossbows are craftable and are a part of The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard only
|Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow||22||21||550|
The following are perks that become available to select as the skill is leveled up:
|Overdraw (5)||Archery Any/20/40/60/80||Bows do 20% more damage (+20% per additional rank)||000BABED|
|Eagle Eye||Archery 30, Overdraw||Pressing Block while aiming will zoom in your view||00058F61|
|Critical Shot (3)||Archery 30/60/90, Overdraw||10% chance of a critical hit that does extra damage (+5% chance and +25% critical damage per additional rank)||00105F1C|
|Steady Hand (2)||Archery 40/60, Eagle Eye||Zooming in with a bow slows time by 25% (50% for second rank)||00103ADA|
|Power Shot||Archery 50, Eagle Eye||Arrows stagger all but the largest opponents 50% of the time||00058F62|
|Hunter's Discipline||Archery 50, Critical Shot||Recover twice as many arrows from dead bodies||00051B12|
|Ranger||Archery 60, Hunter's Discipline||Able to move faster with a drawn bow||00058F63|
|Quick Shot||Archery 70, Power Shot||Can draw a bow 30% faster||00105F19|
|Bullseye||Archery 100, Quick Shot or Ranger||15% chance of paralyzing the target for a few seconds||00058F64|
- 0.8% damage is gained per Archery skill level. This stacks with Overdraw, making it possible to acquire a natural total of 180% extra damage with bows.
- If an arrow has been drawn, but the Dragonborn does not wish to use it, there is a 'release' key (same button as sheath, R default on PC, X on the Xbox 360, and Square on the PS3).
- With the Bullseye perk, the Paralyze effect, when enchanted, will be applied to the target when the arrow is released, not when it reaches the target (Confirmed on Xbox and PC).
- This can be somewhat of an annoyance, as the target falling due to paralyzation may cause the arrow to miss.
- Arrows fly in an arc, not along flat trajectories. This arc still exists when aiming straight down, resulting in a downwards shot hitting slightly above the cursor.
- Small/normal sized enemies can easily be staggered with a quick shot when they recover. Paired with the Bullseye perk, Paralysis enchantment, potions and poisons, and possibly absorb stamina, can further this effectiveness, and make an archer highly effective at disabling enemies to be finished off by a melee-using follower.
- Force Without Effort taught by Paarthurnax will increase the stagger of Power Shot by 25%.
- Weapons do not deal locational damage, thus shooting a target in the head with a bow does the same damage as shooting it in the foot.
- Arrows make a noise when they hit walls and items. This can be used to draw an enemy's attention elsewhere, allowing for sneak shots at their back.
- An infinite amount of arrows can be acquired by picking up arrows from other archers practicing, such as the Solitude Guards practicing on Castle Dour's courtyard. Get better arrows by pickpocketing all the arrows of the practicing archer and replacing them with a single arrow of superior quality.
- Similarly, a good supply of arrows can be gained by giving one to a follower. The follower will shoot an infinite amount of those arrows, which can be recovered after combat finishes.
- This method can also be used on various Thieves Guild members at the shooting range in the Ragged Flagon Cistern.
- When encumbered, pulling out a bow and keeping an arrow drawn speeds up movement.
- Bashing with a bow immediately after firing an arrow will deal significant damage with the bash, as long as neither the Dragonborn nor the target has moved horizontally since the shot.
- The effect of the Steady Hand perk stacks with the Slow Time shout, making things seem almost frozen in place.
- The bound bow has the second fastest draw speed of any bow in the game, only surpassed by Zephyr from The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard. Zephyr, when used with the Quick Shot perk, has a total of 60% faster draw speed, which is currently the fastest an arrow can be drawn.
- When using followers that are also trainers, such as Faendal and Aela the Huntress, the Dragonborn can train and get their gold back by accessing the follower's inventory, then continue.
- When releasing an arrow while moving sideways, the arrow will continue to move in that direction at that speed as it travels forward. This sideways momentum along with the arrow drop from gravity are features in Skyrim to make archery more realistic.
The equation governing skill gain in Archery is thought to resemble something like this:
- Bwd = Base weapon damage
- Bad = Base ammunition damage
- lm = Leveling Multiplier (rest, stone, etc.)
- x = Damage Translator constant
- bool(DamagingHit) = 1 or 0, true or false
- skillXP += bool(DamagingHit) * (lm(Bwd + Bad) / x)
Thus, this relies on a damaging hit being scored. Therefore, to gain experience, the target must have health points, and that the attack must take away health (so no experience is gained if they nullify damage with a block or dodge).
Upon a damaging hit, the skill experience gained is based on the Base weapon damage and the Base ammunition damage. Therefore an excellent bow and arrows with high damage will level the skill most rapidly "per shot," but if the goal is to achieve the most leveling "per enemy" then basic iron arrows will provide the most total skill since the portion of the damage absorbed by the target's armor still counts toward the skill. The equation ignores perk increases, sneak multipliers, damage boosts from enchantments, or fully drawing the bow. As a result, firing arrows rapidly into a target will yield just as much experience per shot as a full or overdrawn shot. This will therefore result in more experience being gained from a single target, and faster gain, by using quick and weak shots (and poorer quality arrows), since the target will survive more of them.
The division by x is to represent that the base damage is not directly translated into skill experience. Currently, the actual value is unknown.
A Bound Bow will also allow one to increase Archery, as well as provide free arrows.
One method of leveling is to sneak attack the Greybeards at High Hrothgar. Find one of the Greybeards (preferably in the main area meditating), behind them at short distance, and simply shoot over and over (waiting a few seconds between shots yields sneak attacks, which will train Sneak at the same time). This can also help leveling Restoration with the use of the Healing Hands spell. (Using melee or magic will result in angering them.)
Another good target for training is Shadowmere, who has very high health, cannot die permanently, and will not fight back. However, this method requires significant progress in the Dark Brotherhood quest line.
Another way to quickly level Archery also requires joining the Dark Brotherhood. Upon entering the Falkreath Sanctuary, jump onto the ledge that oversees the pool and training area. This can be done by jumping from the nearby staircase. Once on the ledge, wait until Veezara sits on the ground, completely in view, and then enter Sneak mode and shoot him. As it is unlikely that anyone will see this, it's possible to fire constantly, training both Archery and Sneak steadily. A similar technique can be used on Cicero.
A different method is to visit the special archery trainer, Angi, who lives in a cabin in the southwest corner of the map by Falkreath. She trains in archery for free by letting the Dragonborn shoot at targets with special practice arrows. Completing her training will grant a total of six free levels. This is best done with a high Archery skill, since like any other trainer, each boost bumps the Dragonborn's skill up to the next level, ignoring the experience required to reach it. Training with her at level 94 will allow maximizing the skill, skipping the final six levels, which would normally require the greatest amount of time to complete.
A free method of training would be to train with Niruin in the Thieves' guild. He is a master trainer, and can train you up to level 90, though after 50 his training can be expensive. It is suggested to approach him while he's in bed and have 800 gold with you, so you can wake him up, train, let him lie back down, then steal the gold from him. While boosting your archery, this also levels your pickpocket skill. Doing this is suggested with Niruin because even if he catches you stealing, he will not become hostile with you. This can also be done with companions that train archery, allowing you to take your money back.
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|Skills in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
|The Mage||Alteration • Conjuration • Destruction • Enchanting • Illusion • Restoration|
|The Thief||Alchemy • Light Armor • Lockpicking • Pickpocket • Sneak • Speech|
|The Warrior||Archery • Block • Heavy Armor • One-Handed • Smithing • Two-Handed|