A Bow is one of four weapons (the others being the sword, axe, and the Crossbow) that can be crafted in Minecraft. It functions as the primary ranged weapon for the Player (and the only one, aside from Crossbows and Tridents that damages entities), giving them a preferred ranged method of attack over the sword.
A bow is an item that can be used to attack mobs, using the arrows in the inventory. To fire the bow, hold down right-click to charge the shot, then release to fire. A bow can be used 385 times before it breaks. The damage and range depending on how far back the arrow was drawn. For best results, shoot at maximum charge. A fully charged bow can be identified in two ways. First, the bow is fully charged when it stops the drawing animation and begins shaking, or the bow's arrow, when shot, will leave a particle trail, much like that of a critical hit when jumping and attacking with a sword.
The bow is best used to take on mobs at a distance, or where sword attacks could endanger a player (such as engaging Creepers, Skeletons, or Strays). The bow is a good way to attack skeletons while swimming because the skeleton's bow will knock them back causing the player to have a hard time getting to them.
When fighting a creeper or another mob, try to hit the block beneath it so one can keep a distance as aiming at the torso will slow one down and allow the said mob to advance. Shooting from above ledges is the most effective way to kill mobs and/or a player, However, when aiming, stay close to the edge and sneak falling off the edge isn't a risk. Bows are best used when fighting range attack mobs such as skeletons. The further back the bow is pulled, the further the arrow will go.
Bow in PvP
Bows are an excellent initiator or full-length combat weapon if the opposing player lacks one. The bow starts to lose its significance quickly when the opponent equips armor. When shooting atop of a platform, the bow user has the upper hand. However, on solid ground, sword users can easily run them down. However, to a person trying to cross a river or other body of water, a bow is a tough opponent. To enhance the abilities of the bow, enchanting the bow is a must-have in PvP unless it is simply a defensive weapon in the defense of towers, walls, etc.
- Flame (I) adds a flame animation to the arrow and burns the target. It also cooks the meat of cows, pigs, and chicken if they are killed by the fire.
- Infinity (I) allows for an infinite amount of arrows as long as one has at least one arrow in one's inventory.
- Punch (I-II) is equivalent to Knockback.
- Power (I-V) increases damage per shot. Only up to power IV can be obtained from enchanting depending on the level, 30 being the max. In Survival Mode, power V can only be obtained by combining two power IV enchantments from another bow or a book.
- Unbreaking (I-III) increases the bow's durability.
- Mending (I) allows for the user's bow to regenerate its durability over time.
- Skeletons and Strays will rarely drop bows, and may even drop an enchanted bow (Assuming the skeleton killed was holding an enchanted bow), but the bow will be damaged as of 1.4.5.
- A bow drew back all the way can destroy a Minecart or a Boat.
- In the PS4 Version, a bow will only damage another player that has PvP privileges enabled, even if the attacking player has PvP privileges. Example: P1 has PvP, P2 does not. P1 shoots at P2 but the arrows will simply bounce off or have no effect (the arrows may become glitched and appear in the air still). If P2 has PvP, then P2 will take damage from P1's arrows.
- Arrows shot from a bow by either a skeleton or a player will stick to whatever surface they strike (including players). They will remain there, Despawning after one minute.
- A fully charged bow is stronger than a diamond sword.
- A bow with flame allows for remote TNT detonation.
- On console editions, if a player has an arrow in their right hand and a bow in their HUD, they can hold the right trigger and shoot the arrow with the bow despite the fact that they don't have the bow in their hand.
- When fully charged, the Bow shakes and sometimes doesn't fire accurately.
- In update 1.9, the bow was given an animation in the HUD while a player is charging it. This animation shows the arrow in the bow being pulled back and stops when the bow is fully charged.
- In older versions, skeletons held bows as if they are an item instead of being a weapon.
- On the Java Edition, Illusioners have a chance to drop their bow.
- In the earlier versions of the game, the bow's drawback didn't affect the damage of the arrow allowing for the player to spam a large number of arrows dealing a lot of damage at the same time.