A bolt to the face or a blade to the gut. Either way works.
A character who wields both a bow and sword (this includes crossbows). This is quite common in fiction for a number of reasons:
- It makes tactical sense. Even the toughest swordsman or most accurate archer will find their weapons useless when fighting at the wrong range.
- It looks damn cool.
- It gives the author another tool for their hero to use, allowing for easier writing during action sequences.
Besides these more down-to-earth or aesthetic reasons, using a bow and sword competently takes a lot of training and time; it can symbolise dedication, co-ordination, flexibility of character and perhaps even a certain kind of intelligence. It's certainly the mark of a wary, well prepared character; if you're this well prepared you're either naturally thorough in preparing for circumstances or have been taught the value of said preparations by experience. Characters like this are often royalty or nobility in reduced circumstances; the combination of a bow, a relatively humble weapon, beside a sword or other heraldric arm, a sign of high birth. It might also be a character from a humble background who has come into a more heroic, important role in life.
It can also signify that this character, for all his noble bloodlines, is an amoral person. Be wary of sword and crossbow combinations in particular.
Characters armed this way tend to be rather lightly armoured. This may of course be due to the fact that most archers are lightly armored. (When was the last time you saw or read about a hero in full plate using a bow?) For some reason, the archer element seems to dominate. They tend to either be extremely agile or wily and cunning in order to make up for it. This does make some sense, given that the more weapons you carry, the less weight you can devote to armor.
Of course, it's rather difficult to wield both a bow and a sword at the same time
(though some characters with crossbows small enough to be fired one-handed manage) unless you've got more than two hands. The favoured technique for this style is typically to shoot foes with arrows from a distance, and then draw the sword once they get too close for comfort.
A mutation of "pen and sword, in accord
" (the samurai
ideal) of course.
This trope is not for gun-and-sword combinations. For those, see The Musketeer
(wielding a melee weapon and a firearm, but not at the same time
) and Sword and Gun
(wielding a blade and a firearm simultaneously
) for Dual Wielding
and a gun
(or similar variants).
Subtrope of Choice of Two Weapons
It's worth noting that this trope used to be called The Ranger
, from the The Lord of the Rings
rangers. Any references to rangers on this page are likely from when the trope was in YKTTW
Anime & Manga
- Guts of Berserk fits the ranger profile, using throwing knives and a repeating crossbow along with his BFS. He deviates from the general profile by being heavily armored and by also having a fourth weapon (a gunpowder cannon built into his arm) as a nasty surprise for any demons who think they have him beat.
- Uryu of Bleach relies almost entirely on the bow part of his ranger make-up, and even his melee weapon is an arrow that can also be fired with devastating consequences, but he has the option of melee open to him.
- Signum of Lyrical Nanoha. In her case, she's a swordswoman first and only switches to a bow when an enemy can't be fought at melee range or if she's going for a long-ranged sneak attack.
- Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke uses both a long bow and a short sword. The pommel of his sword is fashioned with a ring that allows him to keep the sword in his hand while shooting.
- Judd Winick had Green Arrow spend the year following Infinite Crisis training to become a swordsman as well as (obviously) an archer. Robin Hood was explicitly named as the inspiration for this.
- Miho sometimes employs the sword/arrow combo in Sin City. Sometimes shuriken are used instead.
- Hawkeye trained under both a master archer and a master swordsman. He tends to favor his bow, but when he had to give up his identity, he used his fall-back weapon to become "Ronin".
- Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings uses both bow and sword in the movie (and is the source of this combination being dubbed "The Ranger" initially), but he usually uses the bow only to open battle, staying in melee once it opens. Legolas is more flexible, switching between his bow and his knives when appropriate. Elves in general are capable of both archery and swordplay. Faramir's rangers from Ithilien used bows and swords and were lightly armoured, but an exception is the Gondorian archers, who are depicted in plate armour, though it may have been a lighter style.
- The Uruk-hai captain (Lurtz) at the end of the first film also employed a bow/sword combo.
- Kíli from The Hobbit carries a bow as his primary weapon but also a short dwarf sword.
- In the Errol Flynn version of the Robin Hood legend, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Robin is an expert fencer and bowman. (He also wields the quarterstaff, to somewhat less effect.)
- Navarre in Ladyhawke uses a Cool Sword and a double-crossbow.
- The Na'vi of Avatar use both bows and knives.
- Rambo uses a modern variant, with a compound bow and a large bowie knife (in addition to whatever guns he can get his hands on).
- Some of the Leafmen in Epic.
Myth and Legend
- Tarl Cabot of Gor is an expert swordsman, but he's also quite good with the peasant bow, even though everyone else looks down on it because it's a peasant weapon.
- Discworld example: The Ankh-Morpork City Watch carry both swords and crossbows, and in Vimes' case various coshes and knuckledusters as well. Oh, and a truncheon.
- In Guards! Guards!!, one of them (Colon) attempts to kill a dragon with a bow.
- The Wolfhound is both an expert marksman and swordsman.
- Richard in The Sword of Truth is very skilled with his sword, but his gift also makes him a perfect marksman.
- Bazhell in David Weber's Bahzell series is known for his sword, but also carries a crossbow. He typically gets off one or two shots before dropping it to charge with his sword. He's also heavily armored. (Scale or ring mail, though he'd probably like plate if he was ever in one place long enough for someone to make him a set.)
- Appears several times in The First Law trilogy. Dogman and Grim Harding both use bows almost exclusively, but are still plenty capable with bladed weapons. Ferro Maljinn fits the trope even better, being a deadly archer and swordswoman, switching from one to the other based on how close her enemies are and how many arrows she has left.
- Gilan in Ranger's Apprentice uses a sword next to the usual bow. But only because he already had years of training before becoming a ranger. All others have 2 knives as their melee weapons. This is because of time required to master both bow and sword.
- In just about every legend of Robin Hood, Robin of Locksley was one of the deadliest archers of the land, and no slouch with a sword either.
- The ranger character class is the archetype from early Dungeons & Dragons. This is still their theme somewhat in later editions, though in 3rd, Fighters and their abundance of feats can be more effective, and in 4th, Rogues can do this without having to spread out their ability growth.
- It's generally considered a good idea for every character in any edition of D&D to have both a melee and a ranged weapon. Particularly with the combat rules of 3rd and 4th editions, it's highly advised that frontline warriors pack a handful of javelins, and wizards take advantage of crossbow proficiency.
- Made painfully obvious with the Swordbow (Regular, Light, and Great versions) from the Magic Item Compendium (D&D 3.5). The weapon transforms from a sword (Longsword for Regular, Rapier for Light, Greatsword for Great) into a bow (Longbow for regular, Shortbow for Light, Composite Longbow (+4 Str requirement) for Great) and back again as needed. On top of this, you can also interchange attacks with the two forms as part of the same full attack action.
- It's also entirely possible to wield a melee weapon in one hand and a hand crossbow in the other. The 3.5E sourcebook Drow of the Underdark offers the Versatile Combatant feat for this arrangement, while 4e offers the Drow Fighting Style feat.
- The Soulbow class in Complete Psionic can summon up arrows composed of mental energy and shoot them at people in addition to summoning up a sword composed of mental energy.
- As of the Dawn Solution, Solars in Exalted have a Charm that specifically facilitates this combat style: Elegant Dance of Bow and Blade. Furthermore, they can switch between weapons mid-combat via Hyperspace Arsenal.
- For many of the same reasons mentioned in the Real Life examples below, every ranged combat unit in Warhammer Fantasy carries a hand weapon in addition to their bow/crossbow/gun/blowpipe/etc...
- Of especial note, however, are the elite scout types of the three elf armies - Dark Elf Shades (such as our friend in the picture up there), High Elf Shadow Warriors and Wood Elf Waywatchers. Unlike most missile troops, who are generally decent shots but of only average close combat prowess, these warriors display exceptional skills with both sword and bow / crossbow, having both a Weapon Skill and a Ballistic Skill characteristic of 5.
- in Dishonored the main character Corvo is equipped with both a shortsword and a crossbow, and can use both at thesame time. The assassin Daud has much the same gear in the DLC. These two also conform the the Sword and Gun trope, as they can replace the crossbow with a pistol.
- In Assassin's Creed I and its sequel, pretty much every archer also packs a sword or bludgeon for close quarters combat. In Brotherhood the crossbowmen intriguingly do not pack close-quarters weapons, but with the crossbow finally in his hands after being foreshadowed back in the first game's first trailer, Ezio can do this. A tactic is to anger some guards, crossbow half of them, chainkill the rest, finish up with crossbowing any cowards. In Assassin's Creed III Connor has a conventional bow.
- Your hero from Fable I is an example of a ranger, with a bow and a sword. Also a Magic Knight, as he can wield will magic.
- Fable II lacks longbows, but has the same basic combat style and the option to use a crossbow and a sword. Otherwise you're The Musketeer.
- Easily possible along with countless combinations in The Elder Scrolls. In Oblivion, for instance, most archers will put away their bows and draw a melee weapon if their enemy gets close enough.
- Ranged units in Total War games always come with a melee weapon. For most archers this means little more than daggers, but some (like highland nobles in Medieval II, Gaul Noble Archers in Rome and Bow Samurai in Shogun and Shogun II) this means full-fledged swords.
- Some units go the other way, and have a ranged weapon as an auxiliary when their main mode of attack is in melee — most Roman footsoldiers have a sword, shield and three javelins for example. The Danes in Medieval II have Norse Archers, which are actually substantially better in melee than they are at range (base ranged attack is 7, while base melee is 12).
- Age of Empires III has longbowmen who use swords in melee combat. This is shown with them doing more damage in melee combat than other infantry made for range.
- Dorstag in Ultima Underworld 2 uses both a sword and a crossbow, and is famous for his skill with both. He essentially serves as the boss of the Pits of Carnage.
- Link carries a slingshot, then either upgrades to or, more frequently, simply picks up an actual bow in The Legend of Zelda games. Of course, that's hardly the only weaponry combination he's capable of, but his sword and bow are generally his most powerful weapons and required to defeat the Final Boss.
- The majority of units in Battle for Wesnoth carry two different types of weapons, often one each of ranged and melee.
- Special mention goes to the Duelist's higher level sprites which are shown wielding both a crossbow and saber simultaneously.
- Just one of many combinations possible in Might and Magic. Everyone can learn to use the bow (including crossbows) in addition to his or her primary weapon (with other weapons being very class specific, the primary weapon is often something other than a sword).
- There is one exception in the late-game of VI and VII: blasters. You can wield them together with bows (blasters go in the right hand slot, while bows go on the back), but blasters always takes precedence when attacking (melee weapons take precedence if they are close enough to attack. Blasters are ranged weapons in the melee slot...), so the only point in going blaster-and-bow is using the bow as a Stat Stick.
- Arcanum characters can be built who switch between guns or bows and melee weapons, but carrying multiple weapons of your chosen type is also common because Breakable Weapons is in effect and swords are no good for breaking open stubborn chests.
- In Dynasty Warriors 5 (and most other games in the series), all characters can switch between their normal weapon and a bow. The bow is more or less useless, though. Unless its used by Huang Zhong, who incorporates the bow much more into his move sets, and can shoot out muliple wide waves of 5 arrows rapidly.
- It's a fairly good idea to have this set up in Diablo, at least in the first game. Warriors occasionally find themselves needing to shoot at something (or, in the case of enemies trapped on the opposite sides of portcullises, want to pick enemies off at a distance.) A rogue often finds herself needing to resort to hand-to-hand if fast enemies are encroaching, so having a sword and shield and the strength to use both available helps. Straying out of The Ranger and into Magic Knight, magic is helpful to the rogue as well, though the warriors' maximum magic is so low that it's barely worth his while. The sorcerer is pretty damn awful with both bow and sword, but it's worth giving him a bit of strength and a light sword and shield in case he runs out of mana. (True, you might be screwed if this is the case, but it's better than nothing.)
- The Lord of Destruction expansion pack for Diablo II added the ability to switch between two whole sets of wielded equipment with a single keypress, making this set-up tremendously more practical.
- Shadow of the Colossus: The player has exactly two weapons, a bow and a sword. Funnily enough, Wander himself is very much an archer and clearly has no idea how to use his sword.
- A frequent combo in the Fire Emblem games.
- Alm from Fire Emblem Gaiden used swords and bows upon promotion to Hero, as the first unit in the series able to use more than one weapon type.
- Nomadic Troopers in Fire Emblem Elibe. Lyn is capable of using swords and bows after she gets promoted to Blade Lord.
- The Ranger in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
- In Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance, you can give bow-wielding Astrid a sword (or lance, or axe) upon promotion. You can also give a bow to Oscar (lance user), Kieran (axe user), or Makalov (sword user) when they promote. In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Fiona, Geoffrey and Oscar could learn to use a bow upon promotion to Silver Knight, and Astrid could learn to use a lance upon promotion to the same class.
- In the DS remakes of Fire Emblem Akaneia, there is the Horseman, the promoted version of the Hunter, which not only learns how to use swords but also gets a horse. Quite useful.
- Assassins and Bow Knights in Fire Emblem Awakening. Also, the DLC Bride class uses Bows, Lances and Staves.
- Warriors can wield a bow and an axe. Generals can use a bow and a lance in the remakes of Fire Emblem Akaneia.
- In Tear Ring Saga, Holmes could gains sword upon promotion to Stealth Hunter. Also, the Lady Knight and Arrow Knight classes could use them, as well as the Mamluke upon promotion from Horseman. Plus, another class, the King's Knight, could use sword, lances, axes and bows!
- Draenei Hunters in World of Warcraft wield a crossbow as their primary weapon and a sword as their secondary, at least when they first start out. Oddly, they're the only Hunters who use a bow and sword combination as their default weapons (Night Elves and Blood Elves use bows and daggers, which is probably close enough).
- Potential reasons this doesn't show up much: Although all Hunters in World of Warcraft can learn to wield swords, there are more appropriate statistics for hunters on axes and polearms. And while all hunters can learn bows, crossbows and guns equally well, guns can be crafted if you're tired of waiting for a good bow to drop.
- Early versions of hunters were supposed to be more like this, to the point that hunters started without their pet to learn how to shoot an enemy at a distance and switch to melee when they closed in, rather than relying on their pet to keep them at distance. Their survival talents tree contained talents focusing on close range combat, too. As the game evolved this has dropped considerably, making survival more about traps (which hunters can now deploy with their ranged weapons). If anything, their pets (which, at least for Beastmaster specialists, make up a considerable portion of their damage output), represent the sword now.
- The only other classes with the potential to use both sword and bow are warriors and rogues, who tend to use the bow only for attracting an enemy's attention, at which point melee weapons carry the battle.
- And as of Mists of Pandaria, no class uses both ranged and melee weapons (at least not at the same time, as there is no dedicated ranged weapon slot any more. Only Hunters really relied on ranged weapons anyway, and no longer have to worry about minimum range)
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl's incarnation of Pit uses a bow that he can split into two short swords. This carries over to Kid Icarus: Uprising.
- And of course, Link is as much an example of this in the Super Smash Bros. series as he is in his own. Kirby can get in on the fun too, if he copies Pit or Link's archery abilities, combined with either the sword he uses for his own Final Cutter recovery move or the Beam Sword item.
- Garr/Woodrow from Tales of Destiny can use both a bow and a sword in combat in the PS2 remake. In the original, he has to choose between one or the other.
- Tales of Vesperia features Raven, whose weapon of choice is a "Transform Bow", a bow that literally folds into a dagger.
- Baleog the Fierce from The Lost Vikings is equipped with a bow and sword, though he ditches the bow in the sequel.
- A possible combination in Mount & Blade, and near universal among higher-level archer units.
- Firion in Dissidia: Final Fantasy is treated as this. He's a full-blown Multi-Melee Master; his sword and bow receive the most attention.
- In Fate/Stay Night, Servant Archer is named such because he's primarily focused on ranged combat and uses a bow. He's also very adept at using swords, such that his ultimate attack is known as Unlimited Blade Works. This is because he is the Future Badass incarnation of Emiya Shirou, who also has the power to summon swords.
- In Battle Realms, The Dragon Clan Samurai wield both a bow for ranged combat, and a katana for melee. In line with the game's troop alchemy system this makes sense, because samurai require that a soldier be trained as both an archer and a melee fighter (the alchemist's guild is presumably for the armour, or the tempered steel sword).
- In Team Fortress 2, The Sniper can pull this off if you use the Huntsman, since his melee weapon is a kukiri. You can even include a shield, though it sticks to his back rather than being useable.
- The Medic can also replace his syringe gun with a crossbow that's both a Healing Shiv and a regular weapon while using any of a number of bonesaws in melee.
- Lenneth of Valkyrie Profile.
- She loses this ability in the sequel, since you can use all three Valkyries in battle. Her younger sister Silmeria uses bow as her primary weapon in battle, while she uses swords for Nibelung Valesti.
- In Mark of Kri, the main character, Rau, starts with a sword and gets a bow later. He eventually receives other weapons, but spends most of the game with the basic combination.
- Dragon Age: Origins allows you to switch between two full sets of weapons. Given the thrust of the game as being somewhat more tactical, it's almost unheard of that even one character doesn't switch to a bow. (Even mages, whose staves automatically hit at range, can do a lot more damage with a bow if they hit often enough.)
- While Dragon Age II lacks the weapon switch option, archers automatically switch to the "murder knife" whilst attacking in melee.
- Many Strategy games go the extra mile of having close-range animations for ranged units forced to defend themselves in melee combat, usually with a dagger or short sword. Exceptions may or may not be made for ranged units which explicitly have no penalty in melee combat.
- As noted above, this is a sound strategy for games set in D&D. Though the actual choice for ranged weaponry is highly dependent on the character and ruleset.
- Elise from Gungnir uses both a longbow and a rapier, and it's generally a good idea to have one of each in her available weapon slots.
- All characters in the Avernum games can equip a bow or crossbow alongside their normal weapon. There's not even any way to determine which one is being used at the time.
- Your main weapons in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes this to perhaps the most literal extreme. Serah's bow and sword are the same weapon which she can transform at will.
- Garret uses bow and sword in the first two Thief games (partly as an artifact of the unexpected history of the engine in those games) and switches to bow and dagger in the third.
- The Apprentice can wield both a crossbow and a bladed weapon, but not at the same time and only if the player chooses to equip either.
- DeathSpank wields a crossbow alongside a sword (or a number of other melee weapons) in his first and third games. The second game has a gun instead.
- Quite possible in Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, although it's more useful in the first game because the sniping opportunities (e.g. taking potshots through a portcullis) are much more frequent.
- Knights of the Old Republic allows Blaster and Sword In Accord, though it's easier in the second game because you can equip two full sets of weapons and switch with the click of a button. The first game requires you to go through the inventory menu to do this.
- Temporal Wardens in Tales of Maj'Eyal are very good at this. They start with access to bow-specific and double weapon-specific skillpaths, and their starting Celerity ability lets them swap weapons without losing a turn.
- Warriors, Rangers and Thieves in Guild Wars 2 can use both swords and bows.
- The rebooted Tomb Raider (2013) has a longbow as Lara's signature weapon, and can use a climbing axe to lethal effect in close combat after earning enough experience.
- In Terraria, this option is quite feasible, as is The Musketeer. This tends to work best with the harpoon or other ammoless weapons that count as dealing ranged damage. Melee specialists can do the same by using boomerangs and similar weapons, as those are distance weapons that count as dealing melee damage.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, a revamp of the Disco Bandit skill set in October 2013 gave the Disco Bandit a number of combat skills involving knives, on top of their usual affinity for ranged weapons.
- Goblins: Kore takes this Up to Eleven with his crossbows and AXES. He usually Dual Wields one or the other.
- Momba Kawunei in The Water Phoenix King is always seen in flashbacks to the war with his massive recurve bow, "Eye-Biter," but he carried a katana then, too — though recently has upgraded to a Magitek blade capable of cleaving just about anything.
- Visseria: Treneth holds a knife in his hand at the same time as his bow, presumably in case something surprises him.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) example: Although Splinter usually uses no weapon save for his walking stick, he equips himself with a katana and bow for his assault on the Shredder's mansion in the season 3 finale "Exodus".
- Until the wide adoption of repeating firearms the Central Asian style of mounted archery was nearly unstoppable. The use of mobile archery from the ancient Parthians on was nearly unstoppable. The sword and lance were used at close range and on those rare occasions when fighting was on foot, but they were always secondary tools.
- The Muslim world pretty much abandoned its previous weapons and tactics upon contact with tribes such as the Mongols and Seljuks. The straight sword gave way to the shamshir and its variants. Heavy infantry was largely replaced by horse archery.
- In an even earlier era, the Prophet Mohamed said that all Muslim men should know archery and said that the value of prayer was multiplied if one wore a sword.
- The Russians, Georgians, Poles and Hungarians adopted similar styles of arms and tactics. The Hungarian bow is a variant of the Asian asymmetric compound bow. The Magyars also were a prominent horse archer culture who once ruled the plains.
- English longbowmen prove themselves to be quite lethal in hand to hand as well as ranged combat when the few bogged-down French knights at Agincourt managed to close the gap (mainly due to the English running out of arrows!). With their variety of weapons (and with the French caught in the mud), the archers played a decisive role in defeating the remaining French.
- Longbowmen were commoners and could not legally bear chivalric arms such as the sword. When they were overrun by regular infantry let alone horse they tended to get slaughtered. However, some simply carried swords anyway. allowing them to help finish off the French knights. However, much of the strategy at Crecy and Agincourt centered around protecting the archers from French horsemen and maximizing the time the French stayed in the killing ground.
- Some English archers preferred the woodsman's maul, a terror of a weapon in the hands of one who can draw a 200 pound war bow.
- Who could forget Jack Churchill? In charge of third and then second commando during World War II, he was famous for fighting with a longbow and a claymore (a long-bladed, one-handed basket-hilted sword, not the two-handed great sword).
- Even though they believe Katanas Are Just Better, the primary weapon of the Samurai was originally the bow. The katana came later in history; their legendary code of honor, "Bushido" or "Way of the Warrior", was originally known as "Kyuba No Michi", or "Way of the Horse and Bow".
- The cult of the sword was often important in Japan, but it was never the primary weapon of war. That place was held by the spear and the Naginata, a halberd-like Polearm. Samurai were very quick to adopt muskets as well. The true cult of the sword and the flower of Japanese swordsmanship occurred after the unification of Japan and end of the Warring States. In other words, the sword only became dominant after the wars.