How are bows useful?

Just curious if anyone ever uses bows? Yes, they are silent, but it takes many shots to kill a zombie, … and even in the dark, the are gonna get you long before you can kill them… and if there are more than one, forget about it

It takes many shots if you arent skilled.

Just like guns. Try using a pistol untrained and see how long it takes.

They arent meant to deal enough damage to 1shot zoms, and they dont have the rate of fire of guns. But they are silent, have cheap ammo, and with skill you can headshot and crit. They also are good for hunting game and can be fitted with a few special arrows.

They are useful if you have a good bow and are able to use it.

Befor reaching higher skill lvls you are most of the time better off in melee or with throwing weapons.

I haven t used bows in a while though. I tend to throw things dead now.

Oh and try using skates while dooing the shooting. You won t get caught if you stay on roads.

Bows are incredibly useful, my current character had them as a primary weapon for a few long time, up until I was swimming in ammo and the ability to make some insane weapons and was damn near a demigod with the number of implants I had.

As was mentioned, the ammo is easy and quick (relatively) to make, and it is fairly reusable, not every arrow will remain but a lot of them will. I usually kept 60 in my quiver and another 30-60 in my inventory, depending on how long I planned on shooting things. I was more than capable of killing most things before they could get to me, though hulks were sometimes a problem, pretty much only if there were multiple of them or if they appeared around a corner or so. The damage output won’t be as high as guns, no, but you attract almost no attention using them. I’ve sniped zombies in the light radius of a shocker brute, then the brute itself, without any of them figuring out where I was, despite only being say ten or fifteen squares away. And the range advantage they have over throwing weapons means you’ll rarely be seriously threatened by the various acid type zombies unless they appear in your face, in which case Uncanny Dodge is your best friend once you get it.

More than that it’s also a great way to train marksmanship, which means you should waste less rare ammunition when using firearms, do more damage, and draw a bit less attention with fewer shots taken.

Oh it’s also stupidly easy to train up archery to the point you can hold your own against anything but a full zed onslaught. For the first one to three skill levels, just shoot the ground if you don’t want to risk it against zeds.

I definitely have to recommend the reflex recurve bow with metal arrows though, that’s pretty much all I ever used.

Yes, bows can be amazing if you spend the time to develop your skills.
I usually play melee because i like to, but imo bows are the superior option over both melee and guns. It should show around skill level 6+

Bows along with their ammo are both easy to use and make, while being incredibly effective. At a high skill level firing a reflex recurve bow with metal arrows only takes something like 35 movement points, with Quick you can get off three 30+ damage arrows a turn. That easily rivals most firearms in damage output, using ammunition you can make out of crash site debris and junk you find foraging in the forest, while also being silent so those wandering hordes don’t come crashing down on top of you as well.

I remember having a literal blast with the burst firing crossbow and exploding bolts…

Currently bows are rather useless due to giant move cost of pulling arrows out of inventory/quivers. This is more of a bug than intended behavior.

Quite a range of opinions there :slight_smile:

I use bows mainly with melee as backup. Unless you have skill and a strong bow with good arrows(longbow with anything but fieldpoint/wooden arrows and up) you ain’t gonna kill anything but small game. They are very good for 1vs1 and for night raids(quick and silent), and totally useless for groups(then is when I use melee or explosives).

Pneumatik bolt driver is not bad either. It is quiet, slower but it hits harder. And metal crossbow bolt is even easier to make. And it trains rifle.

Why does the repeating crossbow use the smg skill?

I used to use bows and crossbows during my early days of playing Cata. Anyway, I used crossbows more than bows since at the time they were more customizable (I especially loved putting an underslung shotgun for emergencies.).

Anyway recurve reflex bow is a very strong weapon if you’re skilled, especially with the right arrows for it.

Imo however, the best silent weapon is the pneumatic assault rifle. Silent, automatic fire, cheap ammo, high damage. It uses (ball)bearings, marbles, and pebbles as ammo. Bearings are pretty cheap to craft but the same can’t really be said for the gun, as it takes a pretty high mechanics skill to craft (6) with a marksman skill of 2 to craft this beast of a weapon. Cleared out an entire strange temple with it in less than 5 real time minutes.

With high enough skill bows, reflex recurve bows to be exact, can be very powerful – to the point that they will crit and 1-shot most of things one come across with metal arrows. And they are also silent and lighter than most of the rifles (important for a bird post-threshold like me), and you can make ammo for it completely out of scrap and very quickly, unlike guns. However, they are very unsuitable for hordes as their output is directly related to strength and drains stamina.
Also, IMO pneumatic bolt drivers are only good when mounted on a car. When handheld they take a somehow long time to reload with a somehow low output, so are crossbows to me.

I used to love these until I got a NX-17 and an UPS CBM and an Internal furnace.
Strange temples? that’s nothing. This set can wipe out an enitre freaking ant hill in less than 5 minutes, and there’s nearly no need for ammo as you can eat ripped clothes dropped by zombies (which was basically endless) for energy.

i used bows long ago and back then they were pretty good. Now, i just tend to throw shit at zombies until they get close enough to impale them with my spear.

Bows aren’t particularly useful nor useless. They have their pros and cons, just like any other weapon. You just have to know how to best apply it, and what to expect from a life with a bow. Regardless what your previous main weapon might have been, you may have some behavioral adjusting to do if you go with the bow. (Is that book title that I smell? “Go with the bow”? “Life with a bow”?)


  • Silent ranged weapon
  • Arrow components are abundant, and arrows can often be reused
  • Bows are craftable, unlike the majority of other ranged weapons
  • A variety of arrow types are available


  • Your arrow supply can be heavy
  • A variety of arrow types are available… eventually, since special arrows require crafting knowledge
  • Efficient bow use requires not only stamina but strength, dexterity and perception; 3 out of 4 primary attributes
  • No automatic fire (except repeating crossbow)
  • Intact arrows require picking up afterwards, which can start to feel like a chore. Autopickup, in turn, can be risky in the heat of combat.

So, there you go. To ask “What are bows good for?” is like asking “Why should I try that rotisserie chicken when I have this delicious steak?” or “Why should I listen to Megadeth while I have this good old Metallica album?” or “Who needs Harry Potter when I have all these LoTR books and movies?”

Well, I mean, in the end, bow use requires more management and the requirements are higher. But if you can appreciate a bow, you’ll surely admire the best archer, because that individual is one gifted and trained machine. There is beauty and art in that. Any Average Joe can be trained to be a crackshot with a firearm, but top-notch archery requires more. The best archer is strong, with a 20/20 eyesight, possesses surgical hand-eye coordination and superior depth perception - surely a capable individual, an elitist bastard beyond any measure, and an uptight snob full of himself, with frequent delusions of grandeur… no wait… This might not be appraise anymore. Anyway, the best archers are something to envy, I think.

Ok, So i guess here was the point of my question “What use is a bow”.

Good archery, as pointed out early, requires good stats and lots of good skills, both weapon and crafting, and for a similar, even smaller, investment, I can be an absolute beast with a melee weapon and face very little personal damage, well, right up until one of those brutes or hulks show up … and managing a horde of zeds can usually be accomplished with good use of buildings to create choke points… the same can not be said for bows, or frankly, even firearms in CDDA.

I am not an archer in real life, but I spent a not insignificant amount of time in the military, and ranged weaponry is far superior both in personal safety and raw killing power than close combat. In modern warfare everyone else is equipped with ranged weaponry, which makes ranged weaponry a level field… but against unarmed foes, its not even a question.

From my reading of historical warfare, the invention of longbow basically ended the age of chivalry. A cavalry unit of mounted, well armored knights simply could not stand up to a group of poorly armored, and not particularly well trained unit of archers.

In CDDA, one is alone against a horde of zombies… but even so, a top of line archer with a good bow and supply of arrows should be able to take down an awful lot of zeds from quite a distance, thinning out a horde to quite a small group to be mopped up in melee , or perhaps guerrilla sniping tactics. In CDDA that does not seem to be reflected.

And thus, when min-maxing and looking at best possible investment for survival - (well the obvious answer is a vehicle, making the mid to end game really some kind of version of Roadkill Warrior, but lets put that aside), melee is clearly king. It would be nice to see ranged combat as a viable alternative.

I actually wouldn’t mind a bow made for the post-human or bionic enhanced player in mind, I.E. having even higher strength requirements to use effectively. Maybe make it too big for regular arrows.

The horses generally weren’t well armored enough, but the men were. Crossbows could do it, but they were WAY too slow.

Firearms are what changed things. First, the armor got lighter for faster movement, dropping the joint pieces that weren’t really strong enough to be much use, but keeping the large main plates.

But then, men with bandoliers of pistols put an end even to that. At close range, the pistols punched through even the plate armor, and they were far cheaper to field (both in equipment cost and training) while defeating the armored man in his chosen field (melee combat).

The problem has to do with the concept of the zombie. People react to pain - they also bleed out. Zombies apparently do neither, so the arrow is actually a pretty poor weapon against such a creature. It pokes holes but does little large-scale damage.

But even typical firearms (9mm, even .45, those kinds of things) don’t do all that much damage compared to a real melee weapon. A sword can literally cut a person in half with a good hit, and a club or other good bludgeon can break multiple bones and mess up all kinds of things in one good hit. Barring explosives or LOTS of shots, a firearms just isn’t going to do that.

So, to a certain extent, it makes sense… considering the foe.

Especially considering that these aren’t your typical Romeroesque zombies that take one shot to the skull and go down.

Part of the issue with bows and other ranged weapons for me is the lack of range, but that is an inherent problem with the game and not something that can be easily fixed.

Still I do like bows over firearms because of the stealth aspect and the ease of ammo creation.