Created By: lycropath on May 12, 2013 Last Edited By: lycropath on March 17, 2015

Bows and Ballistics

The skilled use of bows and crossbows.

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The bow is one histories most prolific weapons, with almost every culture over the entire globe having their own variant of it. While crossbows saw use as early as 1st century AD though not coming to popularity until the Middle Ages. With good reason these weapons reigned supreme in battles and hunting for their ability to sling sharp missiles much further and more accurately then javelins and slings until firearms begun to render them obsolete.

Bows and their variants are just as popular if not more so in fiction then they where in real life, especially when they can be taken to ridiculous(ly awesome) extremes when not bound by reality by using Improbable Aiming Skills to pull things off like the Multishot and the Trick Arrow. Likewise the Horse Archer, Arrows on Fire and the Rain of Arrows are also extremely popular and of course have Truth in Television.

These weapons are typically wielded by the Archer Archetype, Crossbows are also very popular with The Hunter (especially their fully automatic variants), and likewise both weapons can find themselves in the hands of rank and file type characters because of Fantasy Gun Control. If used in a modern setting where firearms are the norm the the character is following The Straight and Arrow Path.

The Energy Bow can be seen as this weapons counterpart to the Laser Blade, although it prefers fantasy roots rather to sci fi.


Anime and Manga
  • The Quincy from Bleach wield Energy Bows though some of their bows are solid and only fire energy arrows.
  • Housei from Juushin Enbu wields a bladed bow which can split into a pair of swords.
  • The Miko Kikyo and her Reincarnation Kagome in InuYasha both wield bows that they concentrate their spiritual magic through.
  • This is the ultimate attack of Sasuke's Susanoo Instant Armor in Naruto which manifests in an enormous magical entity that fires massive arrows at ludicrous speed. A bow and arrow made of hardened spider's silk is also the ultimate ability of the villainous Kidomaru of the Sound 4
  • The Emishi prince Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke uses a bow as his primary weapon and was even a skilled Horse Archer although he rode something closer to an elk.
  • Amir from Otoyomegatari is a skilled Horse Archer and hunter as is customary in the nomadic tribe she comes from.
  • Fuu from Magic Knight Rayearth was on the archery team at her school before she was whisked away to Cephiro and because of this her initial weapon before getting her Evolving Weapon was a bow.

Comic Books
  • Green Arrow and his sidekicks Speedy and Red Arrow/Arsenal are all famed for their use of a bow and arrow.
  • Hawkeye of the Avengers is likewise a master of archery and the Trick Arrow.


Mythology and Folklore
  • The twin Gods Apollo and Artemis of Classical Mythology are always depicted as a pair of archers gifted with arrows that represent the rays of the Sun and Moon respectively.
    • There is also Cupid who uses magic arrows to make people fall in love.
    • Odysseus wielded a bow that took such strength that he was the only one who could string it. Its only after doing it that he is able to prove to his wife Penelope that he isn't an imposter after being stranded at sea for decades.

  • Surprisingly not as common as it could be in Final Fantasy. Bows are available for use for multiple characters in II, III, V, XI, XII, XIV and the Tactics sub series but only a short list of dedicated archers; Maria, Rosa, Fran, Serah, Trey and Shara. Vaan and Firion both also carry a crossbow and longbow respectively in Dissidia: Final Fantasy although it is just one piece of a much larger arsenal in their case.
  • The Legend of Zelda has a bow as one of Link's weapons in every game and it is usually one of the most important tools you can find for fighting and solving puzzles. Some games even include magical or bomb arrows and horseback archery.
  • Warcraft features elves as the settings primary archers though far from the only ones and any race that can be a Hunter in World of Warcraft is welcome to using them.
  • Fire Emblem features many archers as a standard unit type in every game, while some other classes can pick up new ones after promoting to a Prestige Class.
  • Dragon Age and Dragon Age II have bows as primarily a rouge weapon and are used as the main weapon by a few allies such as Leilana, Varric (Who actually uses a crossbow) and Sebastian.

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, has the famous Yu Yan Archers who's skill is so great they can pin a fly to a tree without killing it. There is also Longshot of Jet's Freedom Fighters who is an expert bowman skilled in guerrilla warfare.
  • Merida in Brave is something of a Badass Princess who's main weapon throughout the movie is a bow much to the dismay of her mother who wishes she would pursue more ladylike hobbies.
  • Artemis of Young Justice who is sponsored by Green Arrow mentioned above to join the team despite her criminal background as daughter to the super-villain Sportsmaster. Also appearing in the show are Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal.
  • Speedy also makes an appearance in Teen Titans first as a rival to Robin and later as a member of Titans East.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • May 12, 2013
    Few or none of the Weapon Of Choice pages are tropes. How is this better than them?

    We already have a page for the trope about the common character type who uses a bow.
  • May 12, 2013
    I don't see how preferring a certain weapon is less of a trope then something like being good with machines or being manipulative. The Archer Archetype is a much more restrictive trope and this one would be a broader use parent trope.
  • May 17, 2013
    ^ Because someone using a bow doesn't have any function storywise. Tropes are narrative tools and Archer Archetype points out the tendency of bows being preferred by certain type of characters. Simply using a bow isn't a trope in itself but if bows are used more often by certain type of characters, in certain kind of situations or in certain ways, that is a trope.

    Both Gadgeteer Genius and The Chessmaster are specific kind of character types. They do serve a certain narrative function.
  • May 17, 2013
    What is a weapon if not a tool to advance the story? Bows and Ballistics would be to highlight that certain characters prefer to use these weapons regardless of the personality. Its why we have tropes like Pyro Maniac while we still have Playing With Fire or Shock And Awe while still having Psycho Electro. Its a noteworthy trope to have a supernatural Elemental Powers and another to have a personality associated with them, its the same for a weapons it should be a trope to be skilled with a weapon and another to have a common personality trait to go with it.

    This isn't People Sit On Chairs not everyone uses a bow or crossbow, a character being skilled with a bow isn't too common to be a trope.
  • May 17, 2013
    People Sit On Chairs isn't about being too common to be a trope. It's about not having meaning. It's just a thing that happens. A good way to check is to ask yourself if this is different than, "Person uses a bow." If there's more that ties it together, then it can be a trope.
  • May 17, 2013
    Maybe something like a "Bows Are Better" trope would work.
  • May 17, 2013
    Okay I got that wrong but, my point still stands.

    What is the difference here then a specific Elemental Power then? What makes skilled usage of archery any less of one the pyrokinetic abilities or being skilled with machines? Someone can be of any personality trait can fit in them and they are still tropes so what is it about wielding a certain weapon regardless of personality any different? Is it because its possible on real life? Honestly I am missing something here because I don't see a difference.
  • May 17, 2013
    We also have pages for Someone uses a machete, Someone uses a flail, Someone uses a polearm and Someone uses a club. None are tropes as currently written, and we'll get around to fixing them eventually, but let's not add to the problem by creating similar pages.
  • May 17, 2013
    ^^^ I don't think so. That would just make it look like a trope while still just being "someone uses a bow." Of course they do it because they think it's better than the alternative - that's why anyone does anything. See how Katanas Are Just Better and Revolvers Are Just Better are currently used.
  • May 17, 2013
    So you don't have a reason as to why it is less of a trope then a supernatural power? Or is it an arbitrary thing that I am not aware of? Being a skilled archer is a pretty specific trait at least as much as Elemental Powers are.
  • May 17, 2013
    If we invent something for the sake of fiction and many stories use it, it is a trope. If something just exists in real life and many stories use, it may be a trope but it also may not be. For example, even if we had a page called Toadstool Furniture, that would not make Wooden Furniture a trope.
  • May 17, 2013
    Your still missing the part why this wouldn't be a trope, it seems like a fairly direct one. Skill with a bow or crossbow while real certainly isn't arbitrary like Wooden Furniture and the examples I have listed on the page as using one surely use it as a tool to advance the story or add flavor to the world they are in. So what exactly about this is holding it back? Because someone can do it in Real Life? Isn't that a bit irrational?
  • May 17, 2013
    No, not all things you can do in Real Life aren't tropes - that's just a difference between this and Elemental Powers.

    Currently, this is a list of people who use bows. How would each example play differently if the character waves a sword or threw a spear instead of using a bow? Or would there be no difference at all?
  • May 17, 2013
    Forgive me but, what is The Stoic if not just a list of people behaving in an unflappable, emotionally distant manner? The Engineer is just a list of militant keepers of machinery. So I don't quite understand what that is supposed to mean when this is just a bunch of people who use bows. Archery is a skill that many different people in fiction and real life have and use to shape and interact with the world around them whether the same thing can be achieved or not with a different weapon is irrelevant because this is a trope about archery not sword fighting or javelin throwing.
  • March 16, 2015
  • March 17, 2015
    Archery is considered more ladylike, see Chronicles of Narnia, the only thing they let women use is bow and arrows. It's a hunting weapon, so a woman can become good at it without being, technically, a fighter. There is a trope in there somewhere. See elves ... yes, I think archery is considered less indicative of a character's aggressiveness than, say, swords.