Archery is technically a warrior skill, receiving its leveling speed bonus of Skyrim Standing Stone Warrior, not the Thief Stone. The skill, however, straddles the line between the game’s Warrior and Rogue skill trees, with the bow being a favored weapon for thieves and assassins. The fact that this skill tree caters to both warrior and rogue playstyles is indicative of the overall hybridization of archery with many other aspects of the game. The potential damage achievable with a bow is therefore very high, since they are supplemented by four other skills.

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Skyrim Smithing, Enchanting, Alchemy, and Sneak skill trees all increase archery damage. Combined with the Archery skill itself, there are a total of five skill trees that govern the damage of each arrow shot. While the benefits of the archery skill tree are somewhat disappointing, having high levels still helps as it affects damage calculations. Each Archery skill point adds 0.8% damage with each shot. Combined with Overdraw, it’s possible to get 180% more damage with bows before you even factor in critical strike bonuses or stacked damage from synergy with other skill trees in the game.

Skyrim’s archery skill tree has pros and cons

Some of the downsides of Skyrim's archery skill leveling are negated by using a tied bow.

There aren’t many, but there are a few downsides to playing an archer in Skyrim. First, crossbow stealth attacks can be fun to watch the first hundred times, but eventually they will get boring and repetitive. It’s tempting to approach every fight with a stealth arrow shot from the shadows, but not investing in other combat skills can backfire. If the first arrow doesn’t kill the Saber Cat, Cave Bear, or Dragon in Charge, the Dragonborn will be forced to take on them up close.

While it is possible to fight melee with a bow or crossbow, it is far from ideal. Arrows will always fire slower than the Dragonborn can swing a sword or cast a Destruction spell, and crossbows will recharge slower than a bow. Bows and crossbows are two-handed weapons, which means that while players have limited striking ability, they cannot swing swords, use sticks, hold shields, or cast spells while they didn’t first unequip the bow. Since Skyrim the toughest bosses have a lot of health and durability, these extended melee encounters are often easier with magic or melee rather than arrows.

Although arrows of iron, steel, or the ancient north are ubiquitous, Skyrim more powerful arrows are a limited resource, even if the player is good at blacksmithing. Ebony arrows are sometimes used by level Draugr Deathlords; Daedric arrows are even rarer, found in thieves’ caches or on dwarf centurions; and only one of the three Guardians of Soul Cairn uses Dragonbone arrows. Dragonbone Arrows are the most powerful in the game, dealing 25 base damage, but without forging or level 100 feats, they are far too rare to be reliably used.

The Hunter’s Discipline advantage is a good way to keep a constant supply. Besides being a way to maximize the use of hard-earned Daedric or Dragonbone arrows, it’s also a good way to preserve elven arrows. Blocking the sun as a vampire lord from Dawnguard DLC is only possible by shooting a cursed elven arrow in the sky per day. Likewise, Sanctified Elven Arrows are needed for the Sun Explosion effect.

Instead of finding, looting, or buying special arrows from merchants, a player with a good level of blacksmithing skill can also craft arrows in a forge. The required components are firewood, which is available indefinitely, but requires a lumberjack’s ax and various ingots. Higher levels in Blacksmithing, along with the appropriate Perk Points, allow forging arrows from Glass, Ebony, and Dragonbone, but high-level ingots and ores are still scarce and expensive.

For players who want to skip the drudgery of Smithing’s leveling, the Bound Bow spell is a useful alternative. Similar to how the Conjuring Tree allows players to craft Daedric gear without forging, this mighty bow can be summoned at any time into the hand of the Dragonborn. Not only is it weightless, but it comes with a quiver of 99 arrows. Conjuring perks like Mystic Binding, Oblivion Binding, and Soul Stealer also add extra damage and side effects to the bow. While a Bound Bow cannot benefit from forging or enchanting, it still gains the benefits of a player’s archery and any poisons applied.

For regular bows and crossbows alchemy, enchantment, and blacksmithing play an important role in maximizing damage as an archer in Skyrim. Just as light and heavy armor can be upgraded through forging, bows and crossbows can also be upgraded. An ebony bow, for example, deals base damage of 17 (more if the player has perks in Overdraw). With the Ebony Smithing perk, this value can be increased by 24 points (or more with Fortifications from Smithing or Alchemy), increasing the weapon’s base damage to 41.

The sneak attack damage bonuses, however, are where archery shines the most. Skyrim The Stealth Archer is a popular build because the Deadly Aim perk of the Sneak Tree increases the damage of the Stealth Bow by three times. This is a considerable increase in damage, and one which is very useful when considering the layout of most of the Skyrim dungeons; crevices, overhangs, long hallways, and huge caverns are common in the game, and high vantage points are great for archers to choose their targets one by one.

Alchemy and enchantment can also dramatically affect the amount of damage an Archer can deal. This is especially true because, unlike blacksmithing, these two crafting skills can affect archery in two cumulative ways. Alchemy can be used to concoct all kinds of poisons which can be easily applied to a bow or crossbow. Alchemy can also improve archer formations with a high quality Fortify Marksman potion. This temporarily increases the damage of the arc even more. Bows and crossbows can be enchanted further to deal elemental damage, trap souls, or cripple targets. Additionally, up to four pieces of gear can be enchanted with Fortify Archery. When placed on Helmet, Gauntlets, Amulets, and Rings, it can deal up to 160% more damage.

Use Skyrim’s archery tree to hit targets more easily and deal bonus damage

The pros of Skyrim archery have their pros and cons

Which advantages to choose

  • Exceeding: This is the most valuable perk in the Archery skill tree. This is a flat increase in all damage dealt to both bows and crossbows, adding an additional 20% to each of its five levels. Not only is this useful for all archers builds, this damage also increases with all other sources of bonus damage.
  • Powerful shot: To be able to stagger Skyrim Bigger, deadlier enemies with an arrow can make all the difference. This can save the player time to drink a potion, sneak around, equip a melee weapon, or wait for a Shout to cool down. While this only works 50% of the time, it’s usually good enough when combined with the extra speed of Quick Shot.
  • Rapid fire: While a melee weapon’s faster swing speed is its main advantage over a bow or crossbow, that advantage is a game-changer. With this advantage, players can nick another arrow 30% faster. This has a significant impact on arc damage per second and also makes the player less vulnerable if ambushed by melee opponents.

Skyrim stealth archer from building

What advantages not to choose

  • Bullseye: A 15% chance to cripple targets is moderately useful, but this chance can be increased up to 100% by simply enchanting the weapon. The people who played Skyrim as an archer, he will also have little trouble hitting moving targets, rendering paralysis unnecessary.
  • Stable shooting: Slowing down time while aiming does not change the trajectory of an arrow, nor does it affect the enemy’s movement speed. Some players may even find that this skill makes archery more difficult, as it distorts time in a way that takes a long time to get used to.
  • Tidy: Moving faster with a bow is only useful for players who are not crouching. Since most archers integrate Skyrim relying on stealth, and therefore crouching, largely undermines the most useful way to use this weapon. For enemies that get closer to the player, it’s usually more beneficial to switch to a melee weapon than trying to move away to shoot more arrows.

Next: Skyrim: Pros And Cons Of The Leveling Destruction Skill Tree

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available on Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and will be released for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S on November 11, 2021.

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