Sagittarian longbow detail

A sagittarian longbow

This page addresses information about bow-and-arrow-type weapons and their in-character uses in combat at they apply to World 42 roleplaying. Any valuable contributors are welcome to add, especially as new content or ideas come out in-game.

The Basic Concept of Using Bows in Combat

A bow is a ranged weapon used to fire arrows. It consists of a carefully carved or crafted length of wood - the body of the bow - and a bowstring, commonly made out of a durable material like flax. It is possible to use other materials for these, such as silk or unicorn hair for the string, or a treated metal for the body, but Gielinor's resources often lend themselves to the use of wood and flax. Shortbows - bows with wooden shafts generally under 5 feet - are designed for quicker, less difficult firing from a comparatively shorter distance, and longbows - bows of greater size and strength than shortbows such that they often can't be easily strung or tillered just by setting it over your knee - are more effective from greater distances, conducive to the slower, more careful act of "sniping." There are, of course, a wide variety of bows types which cross the boundaries between long- and shortbows, such as composite, recurve, ogre, etc.

Offensive Methods of Using Bows

The ways to combat an enemy with a weapon are really only limited to the creativity of the player and his character. A ranger might shoot an enemy with an arrow, he might sharpen the end of the bow, unstring it, and stab his enemy in the shoulder, or anything in between. That being said, there are a few common strategies for entering combat using a bow-and-arrow set.

  • Bows can be used for shock-and-awe tactics; a relatively small, fast group of archers can swarm a room and fill it with arrows, causing chaos and confusion. One of the drawbacks of this is the chance of accidental 'friendly fire'- shooting one of your own.
  • One could often wait in an ambush point, and wait for a target to come into range, then take the shot from cover. However, this has the weakness of limited visibility at points, and also can have a split-second window of oppurtunity to take the shot.
  • Various archers have claimed that if one cannot hit you, then you cannot lose. A group of longbowmen (or women) could pin down and practically slaughter any advancing foes, either with well-timed volleys or shooting targets of oppurtunity as one sees fit.
  • A variant of the above is a single archer, in a point where they can shoot targets but cannot be hit by their attacks, generally on a high point. Oftentimes referred to as 'snipers', these people can pick off targets that they deem fit, sometimes from a great range; the longest confirmed kill by any bowman was approximately four-hundred meters.

Methods of Defending with Bows in Combat

Defending with a bow is just like attacking with them - the possibilities are limited only by the archer. That said, here are a few common strategies for defending yourself while using a bow and arrow.

  • The best way to defend against arrows is to be preemptive about their usage. Plate armor is the bane of arrows, given that platemail is designed to stop piercing blows, which is how arrows tend to work. Unfortunately, there are types of arrows and bows (See below) that allow archers to work around this defense, but they are uncommon and difficult to draw, so plate armor remains the easiest way to defend against archers.
  • If platemail is out of the equation, shields are a close second in the defense of arrows. When going into a fight that involves archers, it is wise to choose a relatively light shield with a high surface area. This allows the shield to be moved quickly and have a high chance of stopping arrows or deflecting them completely.
  • Perhaps the best way to avoid being shot is to stay out of range, or under cover; if they cannot see or angle enough to shoot you, you cannot be shot unless shot through cover itself, and this can be nullified entirely if taking healthy precautions into play; see the former two defenses.

Methods of Defending Against Bows in Combat

Archers have a definite advantage when it comes to the element of surprise in combat and it helps a character stay alive if he knows how to protect himself against the incoming arrows of an enemy.

In Battle

Here are a few common strategies for defending yourself in a situation where you are already engaged in combat, whether you are directly combatting the bowman himself, or are aware that there are non-friendly bowmen in the area who will at some point pose a threat.

A large shield will hold up well; especially if made of metal. Wooden shields work too, although they tend to get the arrows stuck in them.

Knowing where the attacking archers are works in your favor: you might find a place they cannot see or shoot at - use this to your advantage.


In battle, a character already knows he has a threat upon him and can take some very straight-forward precautionary measures. However, a bowman is at his most powerful when his target is relaxed and unaware. There isn't much a man lounging on his patio can do against an arrow shot from 200 feet away but hope that it misses. However, these are some precautionary strategies characters can take if they suspect they might be a target.

Know the environment. This strategy plays very well to characters who reliably experience paranoia. The basic idea of this approach to bow defense is to know where a bowman might lurk and react accordingly. It applies most directly to someone's home and regular habitats. Check the area over and observe any vulnerable spots where he might be an easy missile target. Is there a groove of trees outside of his kitchen window? Close the shutters when he has to stand in front of it for a long time. Does the building on the corner have murder holes with a convenient view of his patio, or does the city wall have a view of his garden in the back? Unless he wants to dress in full armor or put up magical barriers around himself just to go outside, the best defence in these situations is knowledge. Being aware and keeping attentive to these places in his everyday life could easily be the reason he hits the deck fast enough to get an arrow in the thigh rather than the eye socket. Similarly, a concerned character might begin to case environments when not in the comfort of a home setting. Enter an unfamiliar place, find areas of vulnerability and the nearest exits, and watch out for them.

Protect the vitals. This cautious character may also take a bonus precaution against rogue arrows when out in a suspicious or unfamiliar area. The basic idea of this approach is to armor the character in subtle, bare-minimum ways that will save him from death, but not injury. Wearing a coif or thick hood is not an uncommon practice for travellers, so it won't look absurd or paranoid, and it protects the head and neck from blind angles to a certain degree. If an arrow is going to come from a bowman under cover, the only easy headshot will come from directly in front of the character and give him enough warning to hit the ground if he's paying attention. He may also choose to strap a pair of small metal plates to his chest and back over his heart and wear them under his shirt. It won't stop an arrow from hitting him, but it will probably stop a long-distance arrow from piercing his heart. He's more likely to survive a pierced lung than a pierced heart. And lastly, he should carry some form of teleportation, if he is able. He's much more likely to survive a pierced lung if he can get himself to a safe place or access to a healer quickly.

All Known Bow-Type Weapons

  • Shortbows (in various wood-types and qualities)
  • Longbows (in various wood-types and qualities)
  • Composite Ogre Bow
  • Composite Bows (in various woods and qualities)
  • Crystal Bow
  • Dark Bow
  • Guthix Bow
  • Hexhunter Bow
  • Kayle's Chargebow
  • Sighted Bows (in various woods and qualities)
  • Ogre Bow
  • Quickbow
  • Recurve Bows (in various woods and qualities)
  • Sacred Clay Bow
  • Sagittarian Bow
  • Saradomin Bow
  • Seercull (see: recurve bows)
  • Shield-bow
  • Zamorak Bow
  • Zaryte Bow
  • Bow Sword

Common Mistakes

This section addresses traits or actions that players, often new ones, give their bowmen characters but that aren't actually accurate or otherwise realistic scenarios for someone using this attack style.

  • Certain well-made longbows crafted from high-level wood, paired with metal-tipped arrows, are capable of punching through plate armor from significant distances. However, these bows are often a challenge for even grown men to draw, so do not expect your fourteen-year-old girlscout with a small quickbow to be effective against an armored knight.
  • The design of recurve bows allow for a bowman to shoot an arrow with less strain to himself while maintaining a level of projectile force greater than that of a normal bow of the same size. The downside, however, is that the strain on the bow as it shoots is greater than average and thus creates a much louder thwang! sound. Do not expect your character to be sneaky and unnoticed when shooting around with a seercull.


  • A really experienced Archer can fire up to 12 arrows per minute; making for intervals of around 5 seconds between each shot. Keep in mind that these people have trained hard for years and don't use especially strong bows to manage such speedy firing.
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