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 arrow is then released and the string pushes the arrow forward.
Bows are found throughout Skyrim and are a common weapon, with many types varying in damage, arrow speed, weight, fire rate, and value.
Improvement and damage
The damage of a bow varies from bow to bow, with the Long Bow being the weakest and Dragonbone (Dawnguard only) being the strongest. Every bow's damage is governed by perks and the level of the Archery skill, but there are multiple other ways to increase a bow's damage.
Almost all bows can be tempered using grindstones found near or around blacksmiths and other locations. Depending on the material of the bow, a bow may be improved with Firewood or the appropriate ingot to increase the damage of the bow. Depending on perks and level of the smithing skill, bows can be made increasingly more powerful.
Bows may also be enchanted with weapon enchantments for a variety of different effects. The strength of the enchantment depends on the size of the soul used, the number of usages per charge and the level of the enchanting skill. The potency of fire, frost, and shock enchantments can be boosted if the Augmented Fire, Frost or Shock perks from the Destruction skill are chosen.
See here for a full list of enchantments that can be applied to bows.
Weight and fire rate
The weight of the bow also dictates the effort required to pull the string back, or "draw", meaning that the heavier the bow, the longer it will take, and the more damage the shot will do. The lightest bow is 5 and can fire 0.55 shots every second (1.818 seconds before 1 shot).
The fire rates between 5 and 6 may seem insignificant, but the difference becomes much more noticeable with heavier bows. The Dragonbone Bow, for example, is the heaviest bow weighing in at 20; and fires at a rate of 0.3624 shots/second (2.759 seconds/shot).
The overall draw speed can be calculated by the equation:
full draw time = 0.4s + 1.66s / (weapon speed * (1 + Quick Shot perk))
As weight and quality of the bow's construction material are directly proportional, it is important to note that the better the material (i.e., Glass, or Daedric), the slower the draw speed, and thus the lower the fire rate.
The three fastest bows in the game in terms of draw speed share a common speed of 1.0, the fastest speed: Zephyr, from the Dawnguard quest Lost to the Ages; Auriel's Bow, acquired at the end of the Dawnguard quest Touching the Sky; and Froki's Bow, a unique long bow found in Graywinter Watch that is obtained at the end of Kyne's Sacred Trials.
The velocity at which a bow shoots an arrow is inversely proportional to the bow's fire rate. In other words, the greater the fire rate of the bow, the lower the velocity.
Usually this means that the heavier the bow, the greater the velocity of the shot. However there are two exceptions to this rule. In the case of Zephyr, a unique bow weighing 10 and which fires 30% faster than other Dwarven Bows, arrows fired from this bow will travel slower than even a Hunting Bow which weighs 7. This is due to Zephyr's previously mentioned unique enchantment. Also the Dragonbone Bow weighs 20, that is one more than the Daedric Bow, and the arrows have a lower velocity than those fired from a Daedric Bow.
Though the velocity depends on the fire rate, the velocity is not hindered by the quick shot perk.
Bows have two types of range, arc range and maximum range. The former varies from bow to bow and is directly proportional to the bow's firing velocity. Arrows fired from a low velocity bow will come down in an arc earlier than arrows fired from a high velocity bow. To compensate for this shorter range, low velocity bows must be angled higher to hit targets at range.
The latter type of range, or maximum range, is a universal range between bows. After traveling a certain distance, somewhere around 60 - 65 yards, all arrows have a damage of 0. Arrows at this distance will most of the time clip through (pass through) enemies and land on the other side having done no damage. This will still cause animals and characters to become aware of the player character's presence and search for them, however this will not cause friendly characters to become hostile.
|Ancient Nord Bow||8||12||45||0.875||Steel Ingot||Steel||000302CA|
|Angi's Bow||7||7||50||0.937||Steel Ingot||Steel||000CC392|
|Auriel's Bow DG||13||11||1000||1.0||Refined Moonstone||Elven||xx000800|
|Bow of the Hunt||10||7||434||0.937||Steel Ingot||Steel||000AE087|
|Daedric Bow||19||18||2500||0.50||Ebony Ingot||Daedric||000139B5|
|Dragonbone Bow DG||20||20||2725||0.75||Dragon Bone||Dragon||xx0176F1|
|Dravin's Bow||7||7||50||0.937||Leather Strips||Steel||0006B9AD|
|Dwarven Bow||12||10||270||0.750||Dwarven Metal Ingot||Dwarven||00013995|
|Dwarven Black Bow of Fate DB||13||10||1446||0.750||Dwarven Metal Ingot||Dwarven||xx02C01A|
|Ebony Bow||17||16||1440||0.562||Ebony Ingot||Ebony||000139AD|
|Elven Bow||13||12||470||0.687||Refined Moonstone||Elven||0001399D|
|Falmer Bow||12||15||135||0.75||Chaurus Chitin||None||00038340|
|Falmer Supple Bow||15||20||410||0.75||N/A||-||00083167|
|Firiniel's End||13||12||785||0.687||Refined Moonstone||Elven||00017059|
|Forsworn Bow||12||11||145||0.875||Steel Ingot||Steel||000CEE9B|
|Froki’s Bow||6||5||307||1.0||Iron Ingot||None||000C0186|
|Gauldur Blackbow||8||12||253||0.875||Steel Ingot||Dwarven||Level 1 - 11: 000A5DEF|
|8||12||407||0.875||Level 12 - 18: 000F5D1F|
|14||18||530||0.875||Level 19 - 26: 000F5D20|
|14||18||750||0.875||Level 27 - 35: 000F5D21|
|14||18||972||0.875||Level 36+: 000F5D22|
|Glass Bow||15||14||820||0.625||Refined Malachite||Glass||000139A5|
|Glass Bow of the Stag Prince DB||16||14||375||0.625||Refined Malachite||Glass||xx018ED5|
|Hunting Bow||7||7||50||0.937||Leather Strips||Steel||0010E2DD|
|Imperial Bow||9||8||90||0.75||Steel Ingot||None||00013841|
|Nord Hero Bow||11||7||200||0.875||Steel Ingot||-||00068C57|
|Nordic Bow DB||13||11||580||0.6875||Quicksilver Ingot||Advanced||xx026232|
|Orcish Bow||10||9||150||0.812||Orichalcum Ingot||Orcish||0001398D|
|Stalhrim Bow DB||17||15||1800||0.5625||Stalhrim||Ebony||xx026231|
|Supple Ancient Nord Bow||14||18||235||0.875||N/A||-||0005D179|
|Nightingale Bow||12||9||493||0.50||Ebony Ingot||None||Level 1 - 18: 0007E5C3|
|13||11||838||0.50||Level 19 - 26: 000F6529|
|15||13||1409||0.50||Level 27 - 35: 000F652A|
|17||15||2240||0.50||Level 36 - 45: 000F652B|
|19||18||3405||0.50||Level 46+: 000F652C|
|Zephyr DG||12||10||670||1.0||Dwarven Metal Ingot||Dwarven||xx00CFB6|
- Though the max range to hit an animal or character is around 60m-65 yards, a bow can still shoot an arrow at a tree or most other structures from 100 yards away and still be retrievable.
- Sometimes when an arrow is shot the arrow takes a couple of seconds to shoot after the animation shows it fired.
- It may not be possible to sneak fire an arrow properly. For example, when attempting to fire on a resting dragon, the arrow will fall to the ground a few feet ahead. When aiming to miss it fires normally.
|Weapon classes in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
|Arrows • Bolts (DG) • Bows • Crossbows (DG) • Battleaxes • Daggers • Greatswords • Maces • Swords • War Axes • Warhammers|
|Ancient Nord Weapons • Daedric Weapons • Dragonbone Weapons (DG) • Dwarven Weapons • Ebony Weapons • Elven Weapons|
Falmer Weapons • Forsworn Weapons • Glass Weapons • Imperial Weapons • Iron Weapons • Lunar Weapons • Nord Hero Weapons • Nordic Weapons (DB)
Orcish Weapons • Silver Weapons • Skyforge Steel Weapons • Stalhrim Weapons (DB) • Steel Weapons
|Staves • Enchanted Weapons • Unique Weapons • Console Commands|
|Archery • One-Handed • Two-Handed|