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Mordhau archery guide [Patch #7] - Longbow, Recurve Bow, Crossbow tips and techniques

I used to be an adventurer like you

Archery in Mordhau is a bit of a polarizing topic. At times a skilled Longbowman laying waste to their enemy from afar can be just about the most frustrating thing imaginable. Other times, you might go what feels like 5 whole minutes without ever landing a shot - except on your own teammates. If you're looking to improve your game from the latter to the former, it's a good time to start: Patch #7 has buffed ranged weapons to make them, for the most part, faster and easier to handle without dying. Our Mordhau archery & ranged combat guide will walk you through each of the three ranged weapons in turn, alongside practical tips relating to perks, positioning, timing, and all sorts of other useful tidbits to help you rack up eight or more kills for every death.

This ranged combat guide is an offshoot of my main (and highly in-depth) Mordhau melee combat guide, so definitely check that out if you're after the top tips on how to defeat any player you come across in single combat. And while I've got your attention, why not also check out our main Mordhau guide, which is packed with beginner's explanations and advanced tips - not to mention links to all other areas of our guide series, from Mordhau weapons and stats to the most powerful Mordhau builds/loadouts, and much more.

The Deployable Crossbow: three-time runner-up of the prestigious Most Annoying Way To Die In Mordhau award. "Death by horse" always beats it by just a handful of votes.

Mordhau archery & ranged combat guide

I think the best way to introduce the whole concept of skilled archery and ranged combat in Mordhau is to focus first on the weapons, then on the perks, and finally on a series of useful tips and things to bear in mind as you hone your ranged skills. But feel free to ignore this carefully selected ordering, and use the links below to skip ahead to a section of your choice.

Mordhau archery guide - contents

Longbow overview & tips
Recurve Bow overview & tips
Crossbow overview & tips
Ranger & Huntsman - the most useful archery perks
Archery tips & tricks - how to top the leaderboard from afar

"It's alright, Morgan, my friend. I know you're getting beat to shit by the Iron Company, so I'll do the merciful thing and end it quick for ya."

Longbow overview & tips

The first weapon that's likely to spring to mind when you think of medieval archery is the Longbow. Its fearsome reputation throughout history is certainly reflected in Mordhau with a high damage output and strong emphasis on carefully placed long-range shots. The main downside is its extremely dear point cost of 11, which puts it equal with the most expensive melee weapon in the game - and it means if you want to use a Longbow you'll need to make some sacrifices elsewhere in your loadout (I'd strongly encourage you to check out our Mordhau builds/loadouts guide if you haven't already). It also has a relatively long drawback time, which means you need to have a good understanding of the timing involved if you wish to let loose a shot before an enemy closes the distance between you.

In terms of how to control the Longbow, you can nock an arrow (if you haven't already done so) by clicking the left mouse button. Once an arrow is nocked, you can hold down the left mouse button in order to draw back the bow and aim. As you draw it back, a reticule will appear, but it won't be in the centre of your screen right away; instead, it will curve over the course of the drawback until it rests at the centre, at which point you can let loose the arrow by releasing the mouse button. Once the Longbow is drawn fully back, the reticule will stay centred for a short time (this is known as the "sweet spot"), but after a couple of seconds it will start to sway more and more until it forces you to cancel your shot. Another useful thing to know is that if you want to let loose your arrow the very first moment you are able, simply click the left mouse button instead of holding it down when you initiate the shot.

As with all bows, if you are hit by a melee attack as you're aiming then you will drop the Longbow onto the floor - so try to keep your head on a swivel whenever you're not aiming to prevent such attacks from occurring. All in all the Longbow is an extremely powerful ranged weapon for its ability to kill Light Helmet users with a single headshot (which, incidentally, makes it very good for combating the enemy archers, who often wear very little armour in order to afford a Longbow of their own). But it's not a very forgiving weapon, and will force you to learn by heart how far away enemies must be in order for you to release a shot before they are upon you.

How 'bout we just all pretend this actually does look vaguely like Hawkeye?

Recurve Bow overview & tips

The Recurve Bow is nice and easy to explain, because its controls are exactly identical to the Longbow's. So let's get right into why you'd ever bother with the Recurve Bow when you could have a Longbow instead. Well, it's cheaper for one thing. Which allows you to spend your points on a decent melee weapon, decent armour, perhaps even a perk or two (more on this in a moment). It's also the fastest ranged option overall in terms of arrows per minute, with a reload time about a third of the Crossbow's; and you can hold a maximum of 24 arrows compared to the Longbow's 16 and the Crossbow's 12. Oh, and it has a much less pronounced initial sway than the Longbow. AND Patch #7 has made it so you can run while aiming, releasing, and reloading with the Recurve Bow. So if you want to feel like Robin Hood, then this is the weapon for you.

Of course, all this must come with a price, and with the Recurve Bow the price is twofold; damage, and "bullet drop". It can still kill an unhelmeted enemy in a single headshot, but you're looking at 5 bodyshots to kill a Heavy Armour player now, which can make things frustrating when you land so many shots on enemies but kill no one. The other thing to bear in mind is that not only is the projectile speed lower on the Recurve Bow, but in the Advanced Stats screenshot above you can see that the Gravity Scale is set to 0.9 instead of 0.5 - meaning much more drop to your arrow. So this isn't a bow that should be used for long-ranged combat. Stick to medium range, stay on the move, and aim for the head as much as you can to maximise your damage potential.

Well, this was meant to be a screenshot about the Crossbow, but... Is anyone else seeing that 30-foot-tall swordsman bearing down upon the hapless enemy forces? I see little need for my Crossbow skills here.

Crossbow overview & tips

The Crossbow is probably my favourite option of the three, all things considered. It works rather differently from the other two in several ways:

  • You can aim indefinitely without having to cancel
  • There is no "sweet spot", meaning you always have to contend with a little bit of sway
  • You are locked still for over 2 seconds as you load a new arrow into the Crossbow, making you a very easy target

Besides these unique qualities, the Crossbow is a 7-cost weapon with an even greater damage output and projectile speed than the Longbow, which means you can devastate the enemy team from quite a distance as long as you're able to adapt to the unceasing sway of the reticule. To balance it out, you're only supplied with 12 shots before having to restock; and of course you'll need to be very careful where you reload, particularly if you've earned the attention of an enemy archer.

That's the main downside, right there: being locked still as you reload. The sway is actually fairly minimal, so I never miss the "sweet spot" when I use it. And sure, 12 shots isn't many, but most of the time you'll want to set up shop near a supply box anyway, so this is another non-issue. And you get the damage of a Longbow for a much more reasonable price, allowing you to spend elsewhere. Personally I love to kit my Crossbowman out with an additional Falchion, a medium chestplate, and the below two perks.

Please ignore the ridiculously photogenic man on the left.

Ranger & Huntsman - the most useful archery perks

If you want to be an archer, it means you'll need to put at least 7 of your 16 points into your weaponry. More than that, in fact, because you're going to want a secondary melee weapon for when enemies get too close. So in the great big battle between armour and perks, which should you prioritise for your remaining 4-8 points?

My answer would always be "give yourself a Level 1 or 2 chestplate, then put everything else into perks". And by perks, I mean two in particular which are excellent for any archer: Ranger, and Huntsman. The first gives you increased movement speed while aiming with a bow, and the second gives you increased damage with your bow and throwables against the head and torso of enemies carrying a quiver (i.e. other archers). And with Patch #7, both these perks now only cost 1 point each instead of 2. That's a big deal.

Ranger is fairly straightforward and obviously very useful in negating the movement speed disadvantage of aiming for extended periods, and many archers swear by it, saying they'd pick up this perk over any kind of Armour. But not too many players seem to also realise the power of Huntsman. See, it doesn't just give you a slight damage boost. With the Recurve Bow (the least damaging bow), you can kill Heavy Armour in 3 bodyshots instead of 5, and you will start to one-shot those on the lighter side of the Armour spectrum. But - get this - with a Longbow or Crossbow, if you hit the enemy archer anywhere in the torso (let alone the head), it's an instant kill. 100 damage. Even against Heavy Armour. Now that's pretty goddamn crazy if you ask me.

"Lone Assassin Disrupts Local Dance-Off", oil on canvas 677 x 381 cm (2019)

Archery tips & tricks - how to top the leaderboard from afar

Finally, let's look through some general tips and techniques to help you get the very most out of your archery game. These are all practical tips that you should make an effort to put into practice if you're not already doing so, because they really do matter.

  • Learn by heart your bow's drawback time. You know how people learn to count in seconds by saying "elephant" between each number? Or how you're supposed to perform CPR to the beat of "Staying Alive"? That's the stuff you should be doing to get used to your bow's drawback time (or reload time if you're using the Crossbow). Your biggest nightmare as an archer is not swapping to your melee weapon in time to parry the oncoming Maul-to-face technique so many Mordhau brutes insist on using these days. So learn the timing involved, because your life often depends on it.
  • Always play it safe when deciding whether to switch to melee. To follow up on the previous point: sometimes even with a great understanding of timing it can be a very close-run thing to decide whether you have time for one last shot before your opponent teaches you the ways of the melee. It may be painful, but you need to learn to cancel that shot that might have killed them, so you can draw your Cleaver or Falchion (or whatever it is you're using) in a timely manner. Far better to play it safe than to risk one last shot.
  • Set up camp less than 10 seconds away from an ammo box. Another downside of the archery game is that you're always limited in the number of arrows on your person. Running about looking for the nearest ammo box wastes time you could spend shooting dangerous enemies in the face for your team. That's why it's always the best idea to stay fairly near an ammo box instead of running about trying to find the best angle on someone.
  • You can shoot a Crossbow near-instantly. A nocked Crossbow is magnificently quick. I first found this out on a 1v1 duelling server: I was about to beat a great player who was backing away from my advance (and the inevitable); then, quick as lightning, he pulled out a Crossbow and I was dead. That's how quickly a Crossbow can shoot if you just tap the left mouse button. And you can most assuredly fire accurately, because even though there's no "sweet spot" on the Crossbow it still begins the aim with your reticule in the centre of your screen, making the "tap-shot" deadly accurate.
  • Aim high with the Recurve Bow. I've spent a fair amount of time with the Recurve Bow (though it's honestly my least favourite of the three), and I can tell you that if you're having trouble with it, you need to aim higher. Whether the problem is that you keep missing mid- to long-range shots, or your damage potential isn't high enough because you're hitting them in the chest rather than the face, the solution is to aim higher. The "bullet drop" on the Recurve is horrific, remember. You can't aim with it in the same way you would with a Longbow or Crossbow
  • Don't let yourself become predictable. This is as true in 1v1 ranged fights as it is in 1v1 melee fights. If you've garnered the attention of an enemy archer, don't adhere to the usual cycle of "shoot, hide, draw/reload, appear, shoot, hide..." You will be punished for it. Break the cycle; wait a good ten seconds if you need to. Far better that you stay alive and in position by having a bit of patience and game-sense than dying because you were so intent on releasing arrow after arrow after arrow in as short a time as possible.
  • It's your responsibility to deal with deployable Crossbows and enemy archers. A decent cluster of enemy archers can spell destruction for your team's melee ranks. Fortunately, as we know, archers often sacrifice armour (particularly helmets) in order to afford their weaponry, which makes them prime targets for your archers. In your Great Big List of People to Kill Next, top of the list should be Ballista and Deployable Crossbow users (they're the most dangerous of all by a country mile), then horses, then enemy archers, then melee enemies.
  • In a ranged 1v1, duck the moment you release your arrow. As I just said, archers are often prime targets for other archers, which means in big team battles you will often find yourself firing across the battlefield at another archer while they do the same to you. My best advice for these moments is to get into the habit of ducking to the side the moment you release your arrow. This means three actions: you turn and begin to move; you crouch; and you bend your torso to 90 degrees to make yourself as small and difficult a target as possible.
  • Be excellent at melee combat. Wait, what? Melee combat? But this is an archery guide! Well here's a droplet of cold hard truth for you: even archers have to melee fight regularly whenever an opponent manages to get too close to you. I never used to be an archer, but after I started I found I was consistently top of the leaderboard, not just because I was adhering to all the above tips and techniques, but because when the enemy pushed past my teammates and I was suddenly forced into a 1vX against three Halberd or Zweihander wielders and all I had was my Falchion, I was able to defeat them all time and time again. And let me tell you: that, more than anything else, will really get on their nerves, if they can't even beat you once they've closed the gap. I strongly recommend you read through my Mordhau melee combat guide if you're looking to send your melee combat skills skyrocketing in a matter of days.

And with that, I think we've reached a point where I can end this Mordhau archery guide. Hopefully you've gleaned a few tips and details you wouldn't otherwise have known, or weren't quite sure about before; and now you can head back into the battlefield with a steady hand and a much greater game-sense when it comes to when to shoot, when to swap to your melee weapon, when to reposition, and everything else we've covered in the above words.

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Ollie Toms avatar

Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is sheriff of Guidestown at RPS, and since joining the team in 2018, he's written over 1,000 guides for the site. He loves playing dangerously competitive games and factory sims, injuring himself playing badminton, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.