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The Straight and Arrow Path

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"Okay, look, the city is flying, we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense."

In some modern-day settings, the normal human members of either side will use guns, and often with less than stellar accuracy, regardless of allegiance. Combined with the idea that guns are easy point-and-click weapons, how do you set apart your ranged combat hero with no cool-looking superpowers? Why, give them a bow and arrow, of course! Not only will it prove that they're a Master Archer who's a much better shot than everyone else, but are cool under pressure as well. Crossbows can fit this trope as well, though they're not quite as cool.

Usually, the coolness factor will be ramped up by giving them all sorts of neat arrows that'll come in handy for any situation they might encounter. And of course, their arrows will always be more effective than bullets. Unlimited supply of arrows often included, despite the fact that arrows are pretty large ammunition and not many can be carried in an ordinary quiver compared to bullets.

This trope also lets you replace the negative violent connotations that guns bring with them and replace them with the positive violent connotations of the bow and arrow. It's also more believable (if not necessarily more true) to invoke Thou Shall Not Kill with a bow and arrow than with a gun.

Before the widespread adoption of revolvers and repeating rifles, bows and crossbows really did have some advantages over guns. A skilled archer with a powerful bow could shoot deadly arrows at an impressive rate, while the crossbow sacrificed shooting speed in exchange for a weapon that could be learned more easily, allowed an archer to span a bow he wouldn't be strong enough to draw manually (with the help of a spanning device), and could hold a bolt at full draw without fatiguing the user. The challenges of military archery were raising (or hiring from elsewhere) enough people who had trained since childhood to draw and shoot powerful bows accurately, stockpiling enough arrows for a campaign ('cause arrows weren't cheap!), and importing the materials needed to manufacture bows and arrows if they couldn't be gotten locally.

The appeal of early firearms was that they were more powerful than bows or crossbows, and just about anyone could be taught to use one. They could also pull double-duty as mêlée weapons through swinging the weapon itself or using a bayonet. The arquebus was good enough to replace the crossbow in Western European warfare by the 16th century, since it filled the same role and did it better. However, the bow could still shoot faster than these single-shot muzzle-loaders, and the English didn't give up on keeping archers as well as arquebusiers until it was clear there weren't enough skilled archers left in the country. Warriors in Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe would often use the bow and musket together for their different advantages. Even in the early 19th century, white settlers on the American Great Plains were at a disadvantage against mounted, bow-using Natives such as the Commanches who could out-pace their single-shot pistols and rifles. Ironically, the fact that Europeans had decided that Armor Is Useless against massed firearms and therefore gotten rid of it left them more vulnerable to arrows, which would have been stopped by plate armor. Samuel Colt's revolver turned the tide in favor of guns by being the first commercially produced firearm to really challenge the bow's shooting rate, and the subsequent spread of breech-loading and repeating rifles rendered the bow outclassed.

Of course, that applies to mass deployment, where the disadvantages of guns aren't a constantly glaring flaw. Take noise as an example: Hollywood Silencer, put simply, doesn't exist — any gun will make a distinct, very audible noise when fired. The only question is how much and whether or not you can pinpoint where the shot came from. Although bows and crossbows aren't actually silent — and in fact a crossbow's mechanism makes a pretty loud "thwack" when shot — either of those is still much quieter than a gun. They also don't produce muzzle flash or powder fumes. In a situation where that matters, such as stealthy military operations or just plain old hunting, the "archaic" arrow/bolt-throwers may be preferred.

As this trope only applies when guns or other firearms are typical ranged weapons, this trope is dependent on the setting. Settings where guns are rare do not qualify (as bows or crossbows are the norm there) nor do settings in which both traditional ranged weapons and firearms are both used frequently.

Close relative of the Archer Archetype, sometimes overlapping it, though one can exist without the other. This trope regards situations where someone manages to make a bow and arrows a better choice than other, more modern weapons like guns. Often, a hero (or villain) who follows the Straight and Arrow Path can be pretty dangerous with their fists as well; it's all that muscle to pull the draw string.

Subtrope of Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age. Also related to Guns Are Worthless. Enhanced Archaic Weapon can overlap, while Annoying Arrows often doesn't. Name not to be confused with No "Arc" in "Archery". Likely to evoke a reference to Robin Hood.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Signum of Lyrical Nanoha. In a world where others use blasters, guns, rifles, and Wave Motion Guns, she, as an old knight, prefers to use a bow and arrow that packs enough explosive whallop to destroy a Humongous Mecha's Deflector Shields when going long-range. Although, it is merely a (rarely used) form of her Cool Sword.
  • Played with in One Piece. In a world where every pirate seems to carry a pistol and the Marines use muskets, the marksman of the Straw Hat Crew is a deadeye with a slingshot. Which, the particular weapon apart, keeps him within the trope: with the modifications (magic seashells to increase the speed and power of his projectiles and a variety of weaponized plants as Abnormal Ammo), his slingshot is better than most firearms, and he has the training.
  • Angewomon of Digimon Adventure can shoot arrows of light from a bow attached to one of her gloves and first appears in the human world. Digimon Tamers has Pajiramon, a Villain of the Week who wields a crossbow in a setting where guns can't hurt Digimon. Digimon Fusion has Zamielmon, a bow-wielding Sizeshifter elf who hunts other Digimon for his own amusement while Revolmon, a living gun, is on the heroes' side and doesn't get to fight very often.
  • Guts of Berserk is an interesting case, in that he has both a gun and a crossbow. While gunpowder weapons are limited to bombards (that we can see), his artificial arm carries a small cannon inside it, and has an Automatic Crossbow that can be attached on it.

    Comic Books 
As mentioned above, this is a common trope in comics, though that's really putting it lightly. There's an entire sub-class of heroes known as archers.
  • DC Comics:
    • Green Arrow and his former sidekicks and associated characters. The second Green Arrow (the first's son Connor Hawke) was a variant in which the archer is also good in close combat. Connor is one of the six best martial artists in the DC Universe. The first Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy (first Roy Harper, who has since operated as Red Arrow and Arsenal, and then his replacement Mia Dearden) also qualify, as do his enemies Shado and Merlyn as well as Young Justice's Arrowette, whose mother Miss Arrowette was Ollie Queen's Stalker with a Crush.
    • The Huntress, whether the Post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli or the Pre-Crisis (and New 52) Helena Wayne. The former is a Gotham vigilante and a prominent member of Birds of Prey, and the latter is Batman and Catwoman's daughter and a member of the Justice Society of America.
    • Celestial Archer of the Great Ten, who was probably intended to fill the traditional superteam role established by Green Arrow and Hawkeye.
    • A villainous example: the Spider, formerly of Quality Comics, who replaced Green Arrow in the post-Crisis version of the original Seven Soldiers of Victory and only fought crime to eliminate competition. His sons, the second Spider and Spyder, are another villain and an anti-hero, respectively.
    • Robin Series: The Rising Sun Archer, Lisa Yurigama, is a young assassin who uses a bow because of its quieter nature as opposed to a firearm since she often works in busy cities and doesn't want to draw attention.
    • Wonder Woman
      • The Amazons are often seen using bows and arrows as long range weaponry and they can be as dangerous any modern day firearms, though in the Golden Age their archery practice was for recreation and as they were much more technologically advanced. Diana has sometimes used a bow and arrow herself.
      • Artemis' favored weapon is a bow, which she uses alongside allies and opponents using more advanced weaponry. In her first appearance back in Wonder Woman (1987) she split an arrow in an archery competition and while working as Wonder Woman mostly left the lasso clipped to her belt and used her bow instead.
    • Tigress a villain of the Justice Society of America uses a crossbow among her weapons. Appropriately, her civilian name is Artemis Crock.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Marvel has Hawkeye, who trained under fellow trope-qualifier Trickshot and performed in the circus before turning to crime and then heroics. He later took up the identity of Ronin, a close-combat fighter.
      • In a subversion of this trope, the Ultimate version of Hawkeye ditched the bow and arrows for guns, and manages to be just as accurate with them.
      • Kate Bishop also currently uses the name Hawkeye. Notably she first took the alias when Clint Barton was dead, but later he gave her permission to use the codename as well.
    • Yondu of the Guardians of the Galaxy uses a high-tech (as in "in the year 3000") bow and arrows. The MCU version doesn't does archery but he still uses an arrow as his signature weapon, the difference being that it's a highly advanced Attack Drone.
    • Hercules is known to be a master archer, but because the bow serves as a reminder of Nessus' treachery and Deianira's suicide, he rarely uses one.
  • Golden Age hero the Arrow was the first superhero to use archery as his primary gimmick. First appearing in 1938, he was actually one of the first superheroes. Now in the public domain he currently appears in the Project Superpowers series from Dynamite Entertainment.
  • Another early example is Fawcett's Golden Archer. The name being the same as the GA Captain Ersatz from Squadron Supreme is likely a coincidence.
  • Even Rob Liefeld had to get in on the act—his series Youngblood had Shaft, who used a high-tech gravity-catapult longbow because he thought it looked cooler than a gun. In later series, he's not above using guns depending on the situation, but still strongly prefers the bow because he considers it to be irrevocably his "thing".
  • G.I. Joe:
    • Storm Shadow is shown to have carried a bow into Vietnam, which he uses because it happens to be quieter than even a silenced gun. He's considered the best archer in the world in the Marvel G.I. Joe comic. The second-best is Zartan, who uses technological aids to achieve high accuracy.
    • Scarlett, the intelligence officer of the Joes, uses a crossbow as her main weapon. She gets by thru not being a primary combatant amongst the team.
  • Sonya Savage in the later series of Danger Girl. She manages to make a bow seem like a sensible choice in a setting where most of your foes are toting automatic weapons (or worse).
  • Robyn Hood: Robyn has no problems in using a bow (albeit a modern compound model) against modern criminals armed with automatic weapons. There is a mystical component to her skill, but she's that good. However, many of her foes use magic, which tends to level the playing field somewhat.
  • Robo-Hood from Big Bang Comics is a robot archer superhero (a composite character of Green Arrow and the Golden Age Robotman).
  • In The Metabarons: Othon and his retainers used bows and knives (their belief in Bushitaka forbids the use of "modern weapons") against the Purple Endoguard, the Emperor's finest soldiers who have power armour and cogan rifles. It works because Othon at the time, was the greatest warrior in the universe.
  • Commando. In "Legend of the Longbow", a British fighter pilot who's crashlanded in France teaches La Résistance—who don't have any weapons—how to use the longbow to shoot German soldiers and get their weapons. Even after they've got the weapons they need, they continue using the bow because it's now become part of their reputation.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Wolfwalkers Robyn and her father use crossbows to hunt, and appear to have much better aim than the Lord Protector's musketeers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The professor in Diary of the Dead is able to kill zombies at 50 feet and farther with bow and arrow. When the group is offered weapons, he picks up the bow and comments it seems "friendlier" than the guns available.
  • Blade: Trinity has Abby Whistler using a bow and arrow as her weapon of choice against vampires.
  • Rambo, definitely. Including high-explosive arrowheads.
  • Likewise, Arnie's powder-headed arrows from Predator.
  • Melina Havelock, from James Bond For Your Eyes Only uses a crossbow as a way of demonstrating just how badass she is.
  • Inara, in the final fight sequence of Serenity was to have used a bow and arrow, but it didn't look right in the final cut, so was digitally replaced with a sort of bolt gun. Which explains the apparently weird firing mechanism of that gun. They only did the replacement on the close-ups, though, so she's still got the bow in long shots. The official RPG tried to meet things halfway by explaining it as the Serenity-verse version of the Bowcaster.
  • In The Punisher (2004), the Punisher uses a bow and arrow at one point. Surprisingly justified for an action movie as he makes two silent kills against body armor, since the armor is not arrow proof, and ditches the bow once the building's alarms trip.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor, a S.H.I.E.L.D. sniper passes over a Wall of Guns in favor of a bow, revealing himself to be Hawkeye pulling a cameo.
    • Justified in The Avengers. Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, uses a bow because his variety of arrow heads come with secondary functions that a bullet could never have, such as explosive, second stage projectile, and grappling. Barton is also an impeccable shot with his bow, as shown by him casually hitting a moving target while looking the other way. He does use a sidearm in the beginning of the film however, and eventually runs out of arrows during the assault on New York.
  • Brenda from the 1984 vigilante film Savage Streets uses a crossbow and some bear traps to deadly effect against three of the members of the vicious street gang responsible for raping her sister and murdering her best friend.
  • Rudy of The Monster Squad similarly uses a crossbow loaded with wooden stakes against the female vampires during the final battle.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Abstergo Rehabilitation Center guards use crossbows against the Assassins during the prison break. Callum uses a bow meanwhile. The in-universe reason is that Callum's training comes from his 15th century ancestor and the bow was much easier to get his hands on than another long-range weapon but doesn't he look heroic with Connor's bow?
  • Played for Horror in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Kevin goes through all the trouble of becoming an expert at archery so that when he unleashes a massacre on his school, the press will not try to file this under any hot-button issue like gun control or bullying the like — he's The Sociopath, he wanted them all dead because they annoyed him, that's all there is to it.
  • In Pig Hunt, John carries a crossbow while his friends use rifles. He is still the most effective hunter in the group.
  • RRR (2022): Ram wields a bow taken from a shrine against a squad of British soldiers with guns, grenades, and motor vehicles. He and his spear-wielding Bash Brother Bheem manage to take them all out.

  • Mack of Louis Lamour's Last of the Breed very capably uses his bow to defeat any number of armed Russian soldiers. He was a perfectly capable gun user when he got his hands on one. His use of the bow was a combination of its increased stealth, the fact that it could be made on the fly (Mack being on the run from a Russian gulag and crossing Siberia), and that it brought him closer to his Native American heritage.
  • Yeoman from the Wild Cards universe is the setting's premier Badass Normal, capable of taking on super-powered opponents wielding nothing more than a bow. Or less- he's a master martial artist and has killed with just a bowstring.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series: While the series takes place in the 21st century, most of the demigod and demigod-adjacent characters prefer bows or crossbows to firearms. Though there have been a couple of instances where "modern" weaponry are used, they tend to be limited to mortals without divine heritage.
    • The children of Apollo and Artemis's Hunters will both use bows and arrows with far more efficiency than guns.
    • To characterize him as a more cerebral child of Mars rather than a brutish child of Ares, Frank Zhang is not only talented at archery but also strong enough to use Trick Arrows. He makes his debut in the second book of The Heroes of Olympus.
  • Wahrwoorde from Malevil. An Evil Poacher, he preferred to use a bow to commit his crimes in secret and he was a champion archer to boot.
  • In The Mouse That Roared, the Grand Fenwick expeditionary force invades New York City with just a handful of longbowmen.
    Count of Mountjoy: Our national weapon, the longbow, has been out of date for so long that it has become, in many ways, a super weapon. It can kill at a range of five hundred yards. It is completely accurate in skilled hands. It is silent. It requires a low expenditure for ammunition, and lends itself excellently to mass fire.
  • In Neuromancer 3Jane's vat-grown ninja bodyguard uses a bow and arrow, with enough accuracy to shoot a gun out of someone's hand and only slice the gunman's thumb a little, and even then the cut thumb was an accident caused by the coriolis forces of Centrifugal Gravity. Then he's blinded and is still able to shoot them thanks to a Zen archery trick.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, Robin uses a crossbow despite guns being readily available, likely because it's quieter and as an immortal creature, he likely has more proficiency with it than he would with a gun.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy has used a crossbow on occasion, though justified in that her vampires are Immune to Bullets, as well as the fact that wooden crossbow bolts qualify as a "stake through the heart".
    • Faith used a modern compound bow in season 3 of the series, contrasting her with the relatively medieval weaponry that the rest of the Scooby Gang used.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Justified in that Bo and Luke are on probation and can't have guns.
  • Super Sentai and its adaptation Power Rangers have several characters using a bow and arrow as their individual weapon. Male users of this trope tend to use crossbows, while females tend to use a regular bow and arrow. Most of these weapons fire laser beams, though.
    • The second Yellow Four of Choudenshi Bioman. Oh sure, she could use the standard issue blaster that everyone has, but perforating Mecha-Mooks with arrows looks cooler.
    • The Ptera Arrow is the signature weapon of the Pink Ranger in Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. To a western audience, this is more well known as the Power Bow from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Quite memorably, the Pink Ranger uses it to single handedly destroy a a Monster of the Week, a rare instance of a female ranger doing so. This weapon is also notable for firing physical arrows rather than laser beams. This bow can also combine with the weapons of the other four rangers to become a crossbow.
    • In Gekisou Sentai Carranger and Power Rangers Turbo the Pink Ranger gains a bow that shoots two laser beams simultaneously.
    • Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger and Power Rangers Wild Force have the Red Ranger gain a secondary unique weapon, the Falcon Summoner, which comes with his last new mecha and can serve as a blaster or bow. In Arrow Mode, it can also be equipped with Red's Beast King Sword/Crystal Saber, which is fired into the air to summon the Falcon Power Animal/Wild Zord; he can also insert four other Gao Jewels/Animal Crystals into the bow itself to summon them alongside the Falcon if the other Beast King Swords/Crystal Sabers aren't available. Wild Force adds a second crossbow-like weapon, the Falconator, but it's almost never used outside of combining with four other U.S.-exclusive weapons into a team cannon.
    • Engine Sentai Goonger and Power Rangers RPM have the Humongous Mecha of both Sixth Rangers using this trope. Its finisher resembles it using a giant bow and arrow made of energy.
  • Several Riders from Kamen Rider use this trope. Like Super Sentai above, these weapons act more like laserguns looking bows or crossbows.
    • In his Pegasus form, Kamen Rider Kuuga is able to turn regular guns to the Pegasus Bowgun, which looks like a hybrid between a crossbow and a gun.
    • Kamen Rider Blade has two users of this trope: Kamen Rider Chalice and Kamen Rider Larc. Chalice uses a bow that also functions as a double bladed sword, while Larc has a crossbow that fires laser arrows.
    • The New Generation Riders, as well as one of the Super Modes from the title character in Kamen Rider Gaim all use bows doubling as swords.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O, the 20th anniversary series of the Heisei era, features Kamen Rider Geiz's Mix-and-Match Weapon, which has two modes: the Time Severe Axe Zikan Zax, with bow mode being the form it takes when Geiz takes to ranged combat.
  • In The Walking Dead, resident redneck Daryl is usually seen preferring his crossbow to firearms. This makes sense as ammunition for guns is becoming scarce and the crossbow has less chance of alerting other walkers. That and crossbow bolts can be easily retrieved after being fired.
  • Oliver Queen, The Hero of Arrow. Because of his signature color and MO, this is combined to make people initially believe he's trying to be a modern-day Robin Hood. He justifies the trope when training fellow vigilante Helena Bertinelli, citing the advantage of precision and self-discipline it requires. Oliver originally learned to use the bow when stranded on the island of Lian Yu, and was encouraged to go back to it by his own mentor, Talia al Ghul.
  • And before Arrow, Smallville's Oliver Queen didn't shy away from his trademark bow. As this was his live-action debut and as it was going for a more fancy, Batman-esque take on him, instead of his usual longbows, Green Arrow makes use of Compound Bows (which have the advantage of being easier to fire with) and handheld crossbows, which includes such features as grappling gun mechanisms for him to get about. He tends to use the bow for surprise attacks, stronger threats, or for non-attacking purposes, and use the crossbow when shooting at people, due to the fact he can use non-lethal boltheads with this one that the bow won't allow.
  • In Haven, Dwight Hendrickson wields a crossbow, which weirds the others out. This is out of necessity because his Trouble makes it so bullets are attracted to him, so he can't use a gun.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care", Kevin uses a crossbow to defend himself.
  • Oddly enough, Kelly proves a natural at archery trick-shooting in a late-season episode of Married... with Children.
  • Firefly gives us Inara Serra, who, in keeping with her graceful pedigree, prefers using a bow and arrow over the combustible firearms that the rest of the crew uses, although she's not bad with guns or unarmed combat when she needs to be.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones a compound bow deals more damage than handguns, is perfectly silent, doesn't require an action to reload, and arrows maintain a stable flight path further than bullets and can be poisoned. Though it requires a minimum of two dots in the Ranged Combat proficiency to use and arrows cost half a credit apiece while 3 clips of ammo cost 5 credits. note 
  • Bows in Shadowrun have experienced something of a renaissance, both because many of the native american successor states of the US have elevated them to the status of a cultural icon and because with trolls, strength-boosting adept magic and cyberware added into the mix, it is possible to use bows that deal damage comparable to modern sniper rifles while also remaining silent and impervious to hacking. Poisoned, explosive and Trick Arrows are also popular on the streets.
  • Although most people who use bows find themselves seriously outclassed in Rocket Age Martian Chanari tribesmen who use the Bone Bow are generally far more dangerous, due to the sheer power of the weapon in the hands of a strong archer.
  • Warhammer 40,000, one variation of Combi-weapon is a Bolter with a crossbow attachment. It sounds ridiculous, but the crossbow shoots consecrated stakes built to violently disrupt a psychic's power, making the crossbow part a good, if situational, specialist weapon.
  • Warhammer Fantasy is a downplayed example. Due to heavy use of Decade Dissonance, different factions will be using bows, 12th century crossbows, 2nd century chinese-style repeater crossbows, 15th century matchlock arquebuses, 16th century wheellock muskets, 19th century cartridge rifles and 21st century gatling guns, all alongside each other and at the same time. Some factions, like the Empire, will even be using multiple ones (Empire state troops can be armed with bows, crossbows or arquebuses). In some cases this is justified (the advanced firearms belong to the Skaven, who do not export them, dwarfs use crossbows and guns at the same time because they're traditionalists and many dwarfs don't trust 'unreliable' technology), in others not so much (the high elves draft all citizens into militia to fill army ranks, but can only use the time-intensive bows).

    Video Games 
  • Arknights: In the world of Terra, firearms require mastery of complicated Originium Arts to fire, and both guns and ammo are expensive. This has led to bows and crossbows being commonplace ranged weapons - with about half of the Sniper class operators (including most Marksman Snipers) use a bow or crossbow of some sort. Terran bows have massive draw weight to take advantage of the Ancients' higher strength level, with the Rainbow Six Siege collab event "Operation Originium Dust" having Tachanka note that a shot from a Terran bow at close range has equivalent power to a bullet.
  • Connor of Assassin's Creed III uses one, though he mainly uses it for hunting. He can use flintlock pistols, but they end up damaging his quarry's pelt, reducing the value.
  • Simon the Harrowed, a Healing Church hunter in Bloodborne, is not a fan of guns, so he had a special bow crafted for him by the Workshop: The Bowblade, which also doubles as a sword. While said weapon's description suggests he was scoffed at by most for trying to fight horrific (and sometimes gigantic) beasts with a bow, the mere fact you can meet him at all suggests he made it work at least as well as the guns he hated. This is reflected in gameplay: it takes considerable stamina to nock and fire the Bowblade's arrows, and each arrow takes one quicksilver bullet to fire like any other ranged weapon, but the arrows are potentially the strongest ranged attack in the whole game, are silent and only attract aggro of the enemy you hit, have the most range of any projectile, and a fully charged arrow from behind will stagger enemies.
  • Bloons Tower Defense has Quincy as one of the Hero Units introduced in the sixth game. Despite more advanced ranged weapons such as sniper rifles and laser guns being used by other units, Quincy favors his trusty bow and arrow, which includes exploding arrows.
  • In the post-apocalyptic zombie survival sim Cataclysm, the effectiveness of bows varies wildly from update to update. Their main advantage over guns is that ammo is easily crafted, and they don't make noise to attract zombies towards you. However, they are useless against enemies with armor, and the more powerful bows require a high strength stat.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Marle uses a crossbownote  in combat. It makes sense, as real Japanese princesses were often trained in archery for both self-defense and character-building reasons. She's not afraid of using it as a blunt weapon against any enemy that's too close to shoot at.
  • Following the Archer character type, City of Heroes has the powersets Archery and Trick Arrows, both used by Manticore. It's at least on par with the Assault Rifle powerset. The Trick Arrow powerset stacks its powers into the most powerful debuffing set in the game, making it highly desired against Giant Monsters and Arch Villains.
  • Contagion has both a scoped crossbow and a compound bow. Reusable ammo, powerful shotsnote  and almost totally silent operation are very useful in a Zombie Apocalypse, and indeed they are excellent weapons once you get past the initial difficulty of aiming compared to guns. A skilled user is deadly against zombie and human opponent alike, able to clear out vast expanses of the map without attracting any attention, and indeed only really has to switch out in the finales of a map when the hordes come, as the slow operation and low ammo capacity of the archery weapons make them impractical and their inherent stealth is worthless because the walkers know exactly where you are at any given moment.
  • The advertising campaign for Crysis 3, a game set in 2047, puts quite a lot of emphasis on the new bow weapon and its arsenal of Trick Arrows. Justified, in this case, as it's the one weapon that Prophet can use while cloaked.
  • Decision:
    • A bow is one of the last unlockable weapons (by which point the player is likely carrying around a rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and minigun). While it has its uses, the most entertaining one is using it to fire shock collars that turn the affected unit to your side.
    • Mutant brutes carry bows, and are in some ways more dangerous than the captains, who carry rocket launchers. Rockets leave a visible that alerts you to the mutant's presence and lets you dodge, arrows don't.
  • The Mini-crossbow in Deus Ex is obtained very early on, ammo is cheap and abundant if you know where to look, it's classified as silent by default, and it's the only weapon in the game that can deliver a Non-Lethal K.O. at a distance, thanks to the tranquilizer darts.
  • Bows have been a staple weapon in the Disgaea series, being one of two ranged options. Depending on the game, they're mainly useful for inflicting status ailments or dealing strong elemental attacks. Disgaea 2 onward allowed Bow-users to potentially make defeated enemies drop Treasure Chests.
  • Far Cry 4: The Recurve Bow is one of the most powerful weapons in the early game, with better range, damage and accuracy than most sniper rifles. It can kill most human enemies with one shot anywhere on the body, no headshots required. The only thing that stops it being completely ridiculous is that you can not attach a telescopic sight, and have to make do with a red dot sight.
  • When placed in a First-Person Shooter, the bow or crossbow can be counted on to be as powerful as a Sniper Rifle, such as the scoped crossbow in the Half-Life series, which uses tranquilizer darts meant for large animals (in 1) or red-hot lengths of iron rebar (in 2 and on) for bolts. Both are extremely deadly against mostly anything Gordon Freeman comes to face.
  • I Am Alive and The Last of Us use bows as stealthy weapons with retrievable arrows (in the latter game, the arrows might break). They help emphasise the scavenger world where every bullet and weapon counts.
  • Killer Instinct has Black Eagle, the brother of Chief Thunder, who fights with a bow and arrow.
  • Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light feature the Helsing, a pneumatically-driven revolver arrowgun. It is quiet to Hollywood Silencer levels, powerful in the proper pressure level (one-shots an armored human on a bodyshot) and absurdly so when overpressurized (on harder difficulties it can kill a Black Librarian in little more than a full reload if it's overpressurized at the start), and the arrows can be retrieved for later use. On the downsides, the pressure gauge is hard to read at a glance, it's very slow to fire, and due to the arrows' lack of fletching, it's inaccurate at longer ranges, so much so that a scope is next-to-useless on it.
  • Despite looking like Automatic Crossbows, Bowguns in Monster Hunter behave just like regular guns, muzzle flash included. You still have the option of using regular Bows though, and they're just as effective as every other weapon.
  • Mortal Kombat has a modern-day setting, with U.S. Special Forces being a major faction in the story. Despite this, some characters still wield a bow and arrow:
  • Bows and arrows are regularly seen alongside guns and grenades in Nexus Clash, owing to the Urban Fantasy of the setting and the fact that some of the Planes of Existence visited in the series aren't part of the modern world. The Redeemed in particular has supernaturally good skill with a bow that allow them to match all but the most capable users of firearms.
  • In Ninja Gaiden, Ryu's main ranged weapons are either shurikens or a bow and yet he can still kill mooks armed with machine guns as well as helicopters, though it's better trying to use your speed to close the distance and attack them in close quarters than it is to try and shoot them with your bow.
  • Hanzo Shimada in Overwatch brings a bow to an arena full of modern weapons and futuristic Ray Guns. He rounds out the repertoire with Trick Arrows, ricocheting shots, and occasionally using dragon magic to chase the arrow with a Kamehame Hadoken.
  • Paladins takes place in a fantasy world, but still has some modern-looking guns available. This doesn't stop some people from using more archaic ranged weapons. Justified by the Magistrate having strict control over crystals, which are used to power guns in the setting. Unless a character has ties to the Magistrate (current or former) or the criminal underworld, it would be hard for them to obtain firearms.
  • Yukari Takeba from Persona 3. All party members are forced to use more 'old school' weapons due to Japanese laws making obtaining a gun to fight with near impossible, and Yukari has chosen bows due to her role on the archery team. This carries into spin offs as well.
  • Resident Evil
  • 7 Days to Die has five archery weapons: the primitive, wooden and compound bows, and the iron and compound crossbows. All three operate in total silence, not alerting nearby zombies and being hard to hear by players, and do decent-to-devastating damage per shot depending on what ammo you load them with and what mods you've installed on the models that allow them. The primitive bow is the first ranged weapon you're likely to get for yourself (the tutorial missions tell you how to craft it) and it's piss-easy to craft, but isn't particularly powerful even with high-tier ammunition.
  • In the Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Reimi uses a bow. Unusually for the trope, the game takes steps to justify/Hand Wave it: she took classes in both eastern and western archery as a curiosity and to distract herself from her Dark and Troubled Past, and was initially on the ship as a Bridge Bunny, not for her weapon skills. It's only after it's discovered that the alien wildlife is immune to the standard-issue railgunsnote  that she starts backing Edge up in the field.
  • SYNTHETIK: The Ballistic CRX-Bow is a powerful crossbow for sniping enemies. This weapon has perfect accuracy and a short reload time, and it can increase its damage by scoring headshots.
  • Team Fortress 2
    • One of The Sniper's alternatives for his Sniper Rifle is The Huntsman, a bow and arrow. The bow has slightly lower maximum damage, but charges to maximum damage much faster than the rifle. It fires in an arc and there's a definite delay between the arrow leaving the bow and landing on the target, so using it successfully involves both skill and luck, or lots and lots and lots of corner peeking. The arrows can be also lit on fire by friendly Pyros or by sconces in Medieval Mode.
    • The Medic can also opt to trade his default Syringe Gun with the Crusader's Crossbow. Unlike the Syringe Gun (which features an immense fire rate, huge magazine, but paltry individual damage and features the same parabolic projectile behavior, essentially a glorified nail gun), the Crossbow fires a single shot at a time, but has a decent reload speed, deals solid damage to enemies, and heals allies from a distance, generally considered a more Difficult, but Awesome alternative.
  • The Army Scout unit of They Are Billions, the Ranger, uses a bow to attack. It's not very powerful or long-ranged, but it's silent and doesn't aggro zombies at farther than sight range.
  • Tomb Raider
    • In Tomb Raider (2013), Lara Croft's most iconic weapon in the game is her hunting bow, which begins as a makeshift longbow and ends as a professional sports bow. She has access to a nice assortment of guns as well, but for most of the game the bow is preferable due to its relatively high damage output and the fact that it's completely silent (stealth greatly helps in keeping Lara alive), whereas her other weapons make quite some noise.
    • In Rise of the Tomb Raider, centuries-old ancient bows beat out modern compound bows. While they do the least damage out of the three types of bows available, they also fire the fastest, and since one headshot from any weapon will One-Hit Kill any human enemy (unless they're wearing a helmet, then it takes one to knock the helmet off and a second one to kill), the damage stat of weapons is largely useless, making the ancient bows the clear winner out of the three (with compund bows being powerful but slow and recurve bows being the Jack of All Stats option). While some guns now have silencers making them suitable for stealth, bows still win out since arrows can be crafted on the fly (and the game makes damn sure you don't forget how to do it), but bullets must be found in ammo boxes or looted from enemies. Lara can also unlock a perk that causes bows to automatically lock on to up to three enemies' heads (again, headshots are always one-hit kills). There's really no reason to use anything but a bow once you get that.
  • Bows and the crossbow are decent early ranged weapons in Unturned. They're silent, powerful enough to one-headshot a zombie and unlike all other ranged hardware, their ammo is craftable. However, they take up oodles of space in the Grid Inventory (the weapon takes 8 slots, and each arrow takes 2), their durability and that of the arrows is very poor (and craftable wooden arrows can't be repaired, although the durability doesn't affect the damage they deal; non-wooden arrows can be repaired with metal scrap), and the compound bow and crossbow (the two most powerful in the group) can't be crafted, only found, and require both a blowtorch and one point in the Engineer skill to fix up.
  • Valorant: In a team with superpowered people called Radiants, Sova stands out as a hunter with no superpowers using a bow and trick arrows alongside firearms.
  • An odd variation happens of this trope happens in ColecoVision's Venture and Intellivision's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain. Both games are set in fantasy worlds where melee is or would be king, the heroes of both these games are only going with a bow and a very limited supply of arrows. This is especially glaring in the Intellivision game where the bow is difficult to aim and the arrow bounces off of walls and has extremely good chance of hit yourself.
  • Warframe
    • The Tenno are avid users of bows, albeit ones often equipped with fancy tech to make the arrows deadlier or fly faster than normally possible. Their usage is justified in that the Tenno fought against enemies that could corrupt most high-tech weaponry, which bows and low-tech percussion rifles were immune or highly resistant to. Most bows are completely silent, deal monstrous amounts of damage, can use a variety of Trick Arrows, and often come with innate punch-through power.
    • Played even straighter by The Stalker, a special enemy who hunts down players if they kill a lot of bosses. While the Tenno can use any weapon they choose, the Stalker is always armed with a bow and kunai as his ranged weapon. Managing to defeat him will sometimes make him drop a blueprint that lets you craft his bow, and then possibly use it against him should he appear again.
  • XCOM 2: The Alien Hunters DLC features among other archaic weapons, a crossbow with swinging, vertical arms called the "Bolt Caster". It can be equipped by anybody that can use an assault rifle, and compared to the latter, it deals increased damage with no range penalties and it can also stun organic targets or shutdown robotic ones. On the other hand, it has to be reloaded after each shot since it only holds one bolt, and it can't take Gun Accessories of any sort. Also, if the soldier using it is killed and the body not evac'd, say goodbye to it unless you have Game Mods.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Riley from We're Alive was trained as a pro archer and prefers to use a bow since it's quiet and doesn't alert the zombies.
  • Worm has two superheroes who are known for their crossbows:
    • Shadow Stalker, who has one in each hand.
    • Flechette, who has a single, extra-large one.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • "Fighting Jack" Churchill fought with a long bow and a claymore in World War II. He's thus the only person to have made a confirmed kill with a bow in said war.
  • Border Reavers in Early Modern Britain would often use latchet crossbows instead of pistols because they produced no bang or flash during night raids, they were quicker to reload thanks to the latchet mechanism, and they were less susceptible to misfire in the damp climate, which was a major problem before the invention of caplock ignition. A top trigger actuated by the thumb allowed the rider to shoot it one-handed while keeping control of the reins. They weren’t very powerful but they didn’t need to be.
  • Modern crossbows have a certain popularity among police and special forces as specialized equipment for a few reasons.
    • Because of the way many fabric-based ballistic vests work, sharp-edged projectiles like crossbow bolts or arrows can pierce them.
    • They're not nearly as loud as most service weapons, and can make for a more-or-less silent kill if need be.
    • They have more less-lethal ammo options.
    • They can be fired at a target with a bomb strapped to them with much less risk of detonation, a real concern with suicide bombers today.note 
    • When assaulting places with flammable or explosive materials like oil terminals, chemical factories, ammo dumps, etc., there's no muzzle flash to ignite fumes or vapors, and the risk of a projectile spark that can do the same is zero instead of very small.
    • The high weight and low velocity of the arrows make them less likely to ricochet than bullets, and unlike bullets (especially rifle bullets) which always have a chance of overpenetrating the intended target, arrows tend to stick to what they hit, a good thing when there are innocent civilians present in the area.
  • Hong Kong Protesters more out of desperation rather than choice, have armed themselves with bows to combat riot police.


Video Example(s):


Hiromi and Orteca

During a fight with some mooks, Hiromi, a person with a preference for bows, aims his at someone who would usually be his arch enemy, Orteca... However, his arrow hits one of the mooks that was going to attack him, as the situation they're in forces them to work together, all while the opening theme is playing in the background.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / StabTheScorpion

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