While an Elden Ring Bow Build is absolutely possible to pull off, it does not come without its fair share of disadvantages. Because as every fan knows, FromSoft games are usually a melee and magic affair, and ranged weapons like bows have always taken a back seat. And this is not helped by the fact that these classes of weapons are usually not all that satisfying to use either.
Instead of weapons that you’d want to use as your primary source of damage, they serve more as tools that allow you to thin the herds of enemies before you go in fully with your swords or magic. Whether it’s sniping a foe from afar, or simply luring them away from their pack to deal with them one-on-one, the usage is almost always indirect.
Using Bows as main weapons is almost never the focus of any playstyles, but with this Elden Ring Bow Build we hope to turn these into the main stars. You may also check Best Bows in Elden Ring to get familiar as well.
Bow Build Overview
As the name implies, a Bow Build in Elden Ring makes use of the Bow classes of armaments. Each of these only has a limited number of entries to choose from, so finding one that works for you can be a bit challenging. Because unlike the dozens upon dozens of varied melee weapons in the game, your ranged alternatives and their unique abilities are extremely tiny.
It also has to be mentioned again and again, that your choice of starting class does now matter when it comes to any build. Some classes obviously start with stats and gear that are more desirable for certain playstyles over others, but overall you can spec into any type of build after a certain point in the game.
But if you are looking to start off with a class that already has a Bow as their beginner weapon, then we have two options available for the Elden Ring Bow Build. These are the Bandit and the Samurai, and they begin the game with the Shortbow and Longbow respectively.
Elden Ring Bow Build Gear
Now because the weapons you are limited to for this build are mostly ranged, your playstyle will revolve around you maintaining distance from your enemies and shooting arrows at them, this much is pretty obvious. But unlike previous games by the developer, Elden Ring features the greatest selection of ammunition we have ever seen. So you can greatly change up your tactics depending on what type of Arrows and Bolts you have on hand.
There is ammunition in the game for all types of status effects, whether they be Poison or Blood status effects. And while using these, players can supplement their playstyles without the use of Incantations or Greases. Those can still be used, but the point is that this range of new ammo gives players the option to not rely on them as heavily as some of the best Elden Ring builds do.
Apart from weapons, your choice of Armor, Talismans, and Ashes of War are also heavily dependent on your ranged playstyle. And we will be going over all of them in more detail below.
As I mentioned above, there are not a lot of options available to the players when it comes to ranged weapons. With 7 Bows, 5 Light Bows, and 4 Greatbows, the total comes to only 16 viable armaments in the game. There are a handful of Crossbows and Ballistas in the game as well, but those aren’t really suited for an Elden Ring Bow Build, so we’ll be skipping over them.
In terms of the 16 actual Bows available to us, we can shave the list down to the 5 that we think are the most effective in combat. You might disagree with our choices, and that’s okay, you can switch any of them out for one that you personally feel works best for you.
With that said, let’s jump into the weapon list for our Elden Ring Bow Build below.
Let’s start this list off with the Composite Bow, which is one of the best Light Bows you can get early on in the game. By all accounts this is as simple as a bow can be, and that’s all it really has to be. It requires 15 points in both Strength and Dexterity to wield and has E and D-rank in scaling for those stats respectively.
Unfortunately, the scaling never improves beyond that even at the maximum upgrade level. And unlike regular melee weapons, players cannot change the affinities of their bows so Infusions do not allow you to change their scaling. This is simply another indicator that ranged weapons were not designed to be the priority.
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But the Composite Bow still has decent damage output, and its rate of fire is really quick. The bow also starts off with the ‘Mighty Shot’ skill, which is okay on its own, but it can also be infused with other Ashes of War, allowing players to change up their skills. Regardless of which one you choose, the weapon can use it in quick succession due to its faster speed compared to other similar bows.
An extremely valid tactic to use while wielding bows is to simply stand at the edge of your weapon’s range and pelt your foes with arrows, as they try and close the distance between you in an effort to attack. And considering that the Pulley Bow has one of the longest ranges in the game, that can take quite some time.
So for this Elden Ring Bow Build, consider sniping as your primary tactic. At the start, it might not be all that satisfying for players who are used to close-quarters combat, but it will eventually grow on you. You can also choose to supplement this style with some additional melee weapons, as enemies you target from afar get closer and closer until you have no choice but to either change your position or simply draw your blade.
The Pulley Bow also has decent damage output on top of the range, but it cannot be infused with any Ashes of War. It also has the ‘Mighty Shot’ skill, but you cannot do anything to change this up. But on the upside, it’s an extremely easy weapon to wield, requiring only 11 points in both Strength and Dexterity.
Here we have our first magical bow on the list, as it splits its damage between both Physical and Holy damage. It requires 8 Strength, 12 Dexterity, and 14 Faith to wield properly, and being a Holy Bow, its primary stat is Faith. But even at the highest level, the scaling never exceeds D rank.
And by all accounts, the Erdtree Bow is a pretty decent ranged weapon. It has great damage and range, and it once again starts off with the ‘Mighty Shot’ skill. And like most special weapons in the game, you cannot switch this out for another Ash of War. Normally I would point this out as a negative, but for stronger bows, this is simply one of the best Skills as it allows you to maximize damage output.
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On top of this, the true strength of the bow comes out when you use ammunition with it that specifically deals Holy damage like the Golden Arrows. In this scenario, the weapon deals bonus damage on top of what would regularly be inflicted.
No, we didn’t mess up the name, the Greatbow is an actual weapon in the game that shares its name with the actual category it belongs to. And you know what, it’s a great armament that can help players one-shot many of the grunt enemies in the world and even deal significant damage to stronger bosses or mini-bosses.
The tradeoff however is that as a Greatbow, it’s much slower than a light bow. On top of this, you require 20 points in both Strength and Dexterity to wield this properly, which isn’t an unreasonable ask but it is still an investment. The weapon also has a flat D rank in scaling for both of these stats, and that rank never goes up even at the maximum upgrade level of +25.
But the Greatbow can be infused with Ashes of War, allowing you to switch up the skill it has access to. Its default ‘Through and Through’ skill is nothing to scoff at either, as it allows you to fire off an extremely powerful arrow that pierces some of the best shields in Elden Ring and even hits enemies behind your primary target.
Now, this is the most unique weapon on this Elden Ring Bow Build guide, and it also happens to be the only one that is a boss weapon. To get this, you first have to defeat one of the key bosses in the game, Starscourge Radahn, and then trade his remembrance at the Finger Reader in Roundtable Hold for the bow.
The Lion Greatbow requires 22 Strength and 18 Dexterity to wield, and it had D-rank scaling for both of these. Even at the maximum level of +10, this does not change one bit, but the weapon still deals a tremendous amount of damage nonetheless.
As a unique armament, the bow cannot be infused with an Ash of War but its own ‘Radahn‘s Rain’ skill is devastating by itself. You launch a group of arrows into the air, and then they fall onto your enemies like rain. Additionally, if you use the Radahn’s Spear ammunition with the Lion Greatbow, then your attacks gain a 20% bonus to their damage.
As mentioned above, Elden Ring features the greatest variety so far when it comes to the type of ammunition available for Bows and Crossbows to use. There are arrows that can inflict almost all status effects in the game, with some even being more effective at this task than actual melee weapons and the best spells in Elden Ring.
So with this section of the Elden Ring Bow Build, we’ll go over the best types of ammunition available to you, and how to use them in the most effective way possible. These can be bought at Merchants or crafted by the player themselves.
The Fire Arrow is one of the simplest types of ammunition in the entire game, and it’s also the most abundant. It’s a basic arrow that has been set alight, and it deals a tiny amount of physical damage alongside a massive amount of fire damage.
The strength of this arrow is the fact that it can easily be crafted throughout your adventure, allowing you to basically use it as a substitute for standard non-elemental ammunition. And the fact that almost all enemies in the game take increased damage from the fire only happens to be a bonus.
Elden Ring is the first game in the modern SoulsBorne genre that gives players the ability to properly use stealth in combat. Previous games allowed you to utilize this in an extremely limited way, but not until now had it been this effective. And so to complement a stealthy playstyle, we have the Sleepbone Arrows.
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These allow you to build up the Sleep status bar in the same you would build up something like Poison or Bleed. But instead of taking damage, the target falls asleep and leaves themselves fully open. Players can then walk over to their sleeping target and initiate a powerful critical strike.
The Hemorrhage effect in this game is extremely powerful, and for an Elden Ring Bow Build it can prove to be invaluable. The core mechanic is the same. All you have to do is attack an enemy with Bloodbone Arrows in rapid succession, and eventually, the Blood Loss meter will fill and deal a lot of damage.
So using this arrow, players can maintain distance from their targets and continue sniping them over time. And even if the foe does manage to aggro and sprint towards you, by that time you can pump so many arrows into them that Hemorrhage has to have taken effect.
Unlike Poison which deals damage slowly over a long period of time, Scarlet Rot deals damage much quicker and over a shorter period of time. Functionally they’re both the same, and they both require you to build up the effect bar with multiple hits, but the difference is in the effectiveness.
And so players can use the Rotbone Arrow to inflict this status effect on their enemies, letting the Rot damage them over time without you ever having to intervene. If you want, you can stand back and let the magic happen on your own, or you can choose to follow up with additional attacks to speed up the process. Keep in mind however that repeated hits do not fill up the status bar once completely full. You have to let it empty on its own before you can inflict Scarlet Rot again.
Ashes of War
Unlike the massive collection of Ashes of War available for melee weapons in the game, the selection of ranged skills is extremely limited. There are a total of 7 of them in the entire game, and one of these is exclusive to the Lion Greatbow.
The remaining 6 are still decent skills, and we’re going to go over them now for this Elden Ring Bow Build. It’s also worth mentioning again that none of these can provide any affinity to a Bow apart from the standard one.
This is the most common skill you are likely to find on Bows, and its function is fairly simple as well. You pull an arrow back on the bowstrings and let loose a charged shot that deals a significant amount of damage.
The Mighty Shot is limited to Light Bows and Longbows, and it is dropped by a Teardrop Scarab wandering the road in the eastern part of the Weeping Peninsula region.
Now you might expect a skill named Barrage to let loose a bunch of arrows altogether, but that’s not exactly how it works. Instead, you take on a stance while using it, and can then follow up with a bunch of arrows in rapid succession.
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This skill is restricted to light bows, and it is dropped by a Teardrop Scarab in the north of the Seethewater River on Mt. Gelmir.
Through and Through
Using Bows against shielded foes can be really annoying since they can basically block all your arrows and still keep advancing towards you without slowing down. But with the Through and Through, you can let out a powerful shot that penetrates those defenses and can even hit enemies behind your initial target.
Through and Through is only usable on Greatbows, and it is dropped by an invisible Teardrop Scarab outside the Volcano Manor on Mt. Gelmir.
You will often encounter enemies in the game that might be hidden behind cover and your arrows cannot reach them. In situations like these, the Sky Shot allows you to launch an arrow into the air, which then lands directly on top of your target. This is great for stationary enemies, but if your target happens to be moving then there’s a good chance the arrow might miss them.
The Sky Shot can be used on Light Bows and Longbows, and it is found on a Teardrop Scarab in the northwest of the Isolated Merchant’s Shack on the Caelid map.
Ever wanted to bend your arrows in the air? Well, that’s exactly what the Enchanted Shot skill does as it allows you to hit foes that might otherwise evade your shots. It also increases the damage they do and the speed at which they travel.
The Enchanted Shot is also applicable for light bows and longbows. It is dropped by a Teardrop Beetle hiding in Nokron, the Eternal City.
Rain of Arrows
The Rain of Arrows skill works similar to the Sky Shot, but instead of a single arrow, an actual barrage of them falls from the sky. It is able to inflict a lot of damage in a short amount of time, provided the target does not move away from the area of impact.
To acquire this, you have to find the “Redmane” Painting in Caelid and solve the puzzle associated with it. Our Hidden Paintings Location guide can help you with that.
Some of the best Armors sets in Elden Ring do not provide your character with any sort of special buff or ability that would make me recommend them over others. Some rare ones do, but even those don’t have anything special to offer for a Bow user. And so your choice of armor set depends purely on the type of Bow user you intend to be.
Once again, armor is situational, and it is purely dependent on how you choose to play the game. Many players even select their preferred armor sets based on what looks nice over what provides better defense.
Raging Wolf Set
On top of being one of the most impressive-looking armors in the entire game, the Raging Wolf Set also happens to be one of the best Medium armors in the entire game. It’s actually the exact same set that was showcased in the trailers of the game.
And I have to say, it is a decent armor set for most combat scenarios. It has great physical damage negation, and it does really well against most elemental damage types as well. The only real weak spot is Lightning damage, but that can be counteracted by switching to something else temporarily when dealing with a boss or mini-boss that uses that particular element in the fight. You can also power through with it equipped as well, that’s exactly how I played the game.
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The thing is, this armor is extremely versatile. It can take a few hits and it’s light enough that you can easily maintain Medium load and dodge roll effectively. So if you have to evade an attack by a slow-moving enemy, you can do that. Or you can invest in some Endurance and brace for an impact with a shield. Even if the shield fails, a blow or two at point blank range won’t kill you.
Crucible Tree Set
The Crucible Tree Set is one of the best Heavy armors in the entire game due to its fantastic damage negation against all types of damage. Physical defense is obviously a bit better than magical, but it’s still decent nonetheless.
It’s also one of the nicest looking sets in the entire game, but to acquire it you have to play through a massive chunk of the game and reach Deeproot Depths before you can get it. After that, few enemies outside of some bosses should be able to down you in a few hits, especially if you stay vigilant. This is meant for Elden Ring Bow Build players who like to get up close and personal in combat. On the subject of bosses, consider reading our Elden Ring bosses tier list.
The only downside to this armor is that it is extremely heavy. Putting this entire set on by itself is more than enough to put you at Medium Load, or even Heavy Load if you haven’t been putting points into Endurance to increase your equip load. Add a weapon on top of that, and you can get over-encumbered extremely easily. So don’t skip out on Endurance, and at a high enough stat level, you can even dodge roll effectively.
Black Knife Set
The Black Knife Set is one of the more unique armors in the game, in that it greatly muffles the sound emitted from the player’s footsteps. Now, this ability is granted specifically by the chest piece of the set, and even then it isn’t exclusive to it. Players can also choose to cast spells and equip Talismans that give them the exact same effect, but if you don’t want to waste an equipment slot or if you aren’t a magic user, then this works as an alternative.
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Basically, you can use this to sneak up to your targets and deliver a critical attack before they ever know you’re there. You can also generally move around enemy encampments without being detected, as long as you avoid any line of sight. But once you do deliver a sneak attack, your cover will be blown.
And in situations like these, it’s good that the Black Knife Set is technically Heavy armor. It actually has lower damage reduction than a lot of Medium armor sets in the game, but overall the stats are much better than light armor. So yeah, keep this little piece of information in mind when sneaking around.
Elden Ring features some of the best Talismans that are useful in a number of different situations. Some give you simple buffs like increasing the amount of damage you do with particular types of weapons, while others massively enhance your core stats.
And with this article, we’re going to focus on those that specifically come in handy for an Elden Ring Bow Build. Thankfully, we don’t have to dig too deep as some of the easiest Talismans to acquire also happen to boost the power of ranged attacks.
Arrow’s Reach Talisman
As the name implies, the Arrow’s Reach Talisman increases the range of your Bows, allowing you to hit targets much farther away than would normally be possible. If your weapon already happens to have a long-range, then that is extended even further.
The applications of this Talisman are pretty obvious, especially for snipers. You can pick a spot and start firing away at a target, and if the distance between you happens to be great enough, the enemy won’t even get aggroed. This of course has the potential to be an extremely boring way to play the game, but it also allows you to take down troublesome enemies from afar before moving into an area.
Arrow’s Sting Talisman
As we’ve gone over before, Bows are not exactly the focus in Elden Ring. Even the best Bow in the game is not going to be able to compete with a melee weapon when it comes to pure damage output per second. And for exactly this reason, you require a Talisman that can boost the amount of damage your arrows do.
And the Arrow’s Sting Talisman does exactly this by bumping up the damage by +10%. For reference, this applies to all Arrows and Bolts in the game, even the elemental and special ones that already do increased damage. Using this, you can put down your foes slightly faster than you normally would, and that’s good enough.
Ritual Sword Talisman
Now this Talisman on our Elden Ring Bow Build all but requires a long-ranged playstyle, but it’s extremely worth it. Basically, this increases the damage of all your attacks by +10% as long as your health bar is at maximum. If you take an attack and your HP goes down, then this buff can be regained instantly as soon as you heal.
And if you’re already a sniper, then the Ritual Sword Talisman works out for you perfectly because you will hardly ever have to move in close to your enemies and as a result, you won’t be taking a lot of damage. Additionally, this damage bonus stacks with the Arrow’s Sting Talisman’s bonus, increasing your total damage by +20%.
The Radagon’s Soreseal is a phenomenal Talisman as it increases your Strength, Dexterity, Vigor, and Endurance stats by 5 points each. To be completely clear, that’s a free upgrade worth 20 levels simply for equipping an item. The only downside is that you also take a bit more damage than you normally would. While you’re at it, consider reading Elden Ring Items tier list.
This however should not be a problem for a Bow user, as your basic playstyle dictates that you stay away from enemies and attack from a distance. And even if you do take a few hits, the 5 extra points in Vigor should be more than enough to cover for it.
Elden Ring Bow Build Playstyle
To be effective with an Elden Ring Bow Build, Pick the type of Bow user you want to be and invest in the proper arrows you’ll require.
Are you looking to be a close-range archer? Then consider picking up a Light Bow and utilize the fast firing speed along with some Rotbone or Bloodbone arrows to quickly inflict the required status effect on your targets. Your entire goal is to be light and mobile, so also consider only equipping a light armor so that you can dodge roll out of the way easily.
If you’re more suited to be a sniper, then consider a Greatbow instead due to their increased reach. Your ammo will be limited to Great Arrows, which are larger in size and also deal significantly more damage. Your firing speed is also pretty slow, so staying at long range is essential when dealing with enemies.
Unlike melee build weapons, your main moveset will not vary all that much. You simply have to stay at a distance and fire arrows. But the type of bow you use and the ammunition you utilize can switch up your effectiveness dramatically. So always be aware of what you want to do and always have a stockpile built up. You do not want to run out of arrows in the middle of a dungeon.
This has been our Elden Ring Bow Build. While you’re here, why not also check out our other Elden Ring Builds: