Skyrim Crossbow Vs. Bow

Thanks to the diversity of weapons, Skyrim players could dispatch enemies throughout the game in a lot of ways. Still, once it comes to hitting enemies from a distance in Skyrim, many people tend to opt for either crossbow or bow. Both types of weapons have unique characteristics and that is why they excel in particular situations. Needless to say, the Skyrim community is at odds regarding the winner in Skyrim crossbow vs. bow.

An In-Depth Comparison

New to the Elder Scrolls series and don’t know which one comes out on top in Skyrim crossbow vs. bow? In that case, you have come to the right place. Down below is everything you must keep in mind about the pluses and minuses of bow and crossbow in Skyrim.



  • Stealth: To put it plainly, bows in the game work in a silent manner so they won’t alert enemies in the vicinity. That is by all accounts a big plus if you intend to keep a low profile as you infiltrate the enemy stronghold. Need something that lets you quietly eliminate enemies on your path while avoiding the hassle of getting up close and personal? Then there is a good chance that you won’t regret choosing bow as the go-to type of weapon for assassination.
  • Reload speed: As you use ranged weapons to hit enemies in Skyrim, it’s natural to miss every now and then. That being said, if you use a bow, you should be able to send out follow-up shots before the situation turns against you. Assuming that your aim is so-so, you could turn enemies into pin cushions and stop them from approaching you with relative ease. Of course, there is no need to worry too much about missing if shooting is not your primary way to deal damages.
  • Munition: Generally speaking, in the case that you go with a bow, the odds of you running out of arrows tend to be low. Since all shops in Skyrim sell arrows, you would have an easy time restocking the munition for your bow. Furthermore, you always have the option of crafting arrows and each batch consists of two dozen projectiles. Last but not least, if you run out of arrows out of the blue, feel free to retrieve some from the bodies of fallen enemies.


  • Damage: In most of the cases, bolts of crossbows deal more damage than arrows of bows. For instance, the damage output of the entry-level Crossbow is equal to that of the Daedric Bow, one of the best Skyrim bows. However, it’s noteworthy that with the best arrows, high-end bows could surpass their crossbow counterparts in terms of raw damage. In exchange, it takes less time and effort to stock up on the best bolts than the best arrows.
  • Velocity: All in all, compared to bolts of crossbows, arrows of bows drop more as they travel. Thus, a mistake in drop compensation is all it takes to cause the arrows to miss their marks. On the other hand, thanks to the high velocity of bolts, crossbows won’t require too much drop compensation in use. Once it comes to hitting fast-moving targets, bows fall behind crossbows regarding hit probability.



  • Stagger: In Skyrim, when you stagger enemies, they cannot do anything for several seconds which leaves them vulnerable to attacks. Each of the crossbows could stagger enemies with a 50% chance and the number would go up to 75% if you have Power Shot.
  • Ready: One interesting thing about crossbows is that they should be able to shoot as soon as the Dragonborn loads the bolt. If you don’t shoot the bolt, your crossbow is going to remain ready to shoot. In the case of bows, you have to draw an arrow every time you like to shoot something.
  • Movement: Readied crossbows won’t slow you down as you move around the enemies unless you keep them raised. Whereas, readied bows always impair your walking speed.


  • Weight: The weight of crossbows ranges from 14 to 21 while the weight of bows stays between 5 and 20. Thus, if your character cannot carry a lot of weight at the moment, it’s wise to stick to bows.
  • Animation: For your information, it’s impossible to cancel the reload animation of crossbows after you initiate it. Hence, enemies could land a couple of hits on you if they catch you in the middle of reloading your crossbow.

Rules Of The Game

  • Don’t shoot what you cannot hit: Whether you go for bow or crossbow, avoid shooting unless you know for certain that your arrows/bolts would hit. If you miss your shots, there is a good chance that whatever you aim at would catch on to you. In addition, you should know that not all missed arrows and bolts can be recovered. Because of that, if you like to conserve munition for your bows or arrows, don’t get trigger happy.
  • Give enhancements some thought: Bows and crossbows work well on their own but if you wish to get the most out of them, consider enchantments. Enchantments grant bows and crossbows quite a few effects that prove handy during combat. It’s worth pointing out that as you use enchanted weapons, enchantments wear down. Hence, it’s widely advised that you keep an eye out for soul gems to restore the enchantments when a need arises.
  • Go for Hunter’s Discipline: Arrows and bolts that bows and crossbows consume have a chance of breaking. Nonetheless, if you have the Hunter’s Discipline perk, you would be able to retrieve more arrows and bolts from dead bodies. That means you don’t have to spend too much time and effort on restocking your munition. To unlock Hunter’s Discipline, you need to have the Critical Shot and at least 50 points in the Archery skilltree.

Where Is Fort Dawnguard?

You could reach Fort Dawnguard via Dayspring Canyon north of Stendarr’s Beacon. Currently, Fort Dawnguard is the only location that sells crossbows and players also have to visit it to forge crossbows.

How Many Kinds Of Bows And Crossbows Can I Get In Skyrim?

In a Skyrim playthrough, you could come across 39 bows and 4 crossbows. While some of the bows cannot be crafted and can only be picked up, you can craft all of the crossbows.

What Is The Maximum Range Of Skyrim Ranged Weapons?

The maximum range of ranged weapons such as bows and crossbows depends on the way you use them. Still, the damage output of projectiles share certain similarities here and there. For instance, regardless of the way you shoot your bows, its arrows deal 0 damage after they fly over 60 yards.

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