A Bow is one of two weapons (the other being the sword) that can be crafted in Minecraft. It functions as the primary ranged weapon for the Player (and the only one, aside from TNT cannons, that damages entities), giving them and alternative method of attack than the sword.
A bow is an item that can be used to attack mobs, assuming a player has arrows in their 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 depend on how far back the arrow was drawn. For best results, shoot at maximum charge. A fully charged bow will be known by 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 or skeletons). The bow is also the best weapon to attack skeletons while swimming because the skeleton's bow will ensure one has a very hard time getting to them unless one has Depth Strider on one's boots.
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 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 so one doesn't fall off the ledge. Bows are best used when fighting range attack mobs like skeletons. The farther the bow is pulled, the farther the arrow will go.
Bow in PvP
Bows are an excellent initiator or full-length combat weapon if the opposing player is without one. The bow starts to lose its significance quickly when opponents adorn armor. To say that the bow is "overpowered" is clearly a matter of opinion. A shooter atop a tower would certain seem "overpowered" because the enemies can not reach him. However, on solid ground, sword wielders would easily run him down. However, to a person trying to cross a river or other body or water, a bow is truly something to be feared. To really keep the bow significant, enchanting the bow is nearly required of it in PvP, unless it is simply a defensive weapon in the defense of towers, walls, etc.
- Flame (I) adds fire to the bow, said more simply making an arrow light on fire when it is ejected from an arrow and makes the cooked version of meat from cows, pigs, and chicken if they are killed by the fire.
- Infinity (I) makes one have unlimited arrows so 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. However, this enchantment is not the most useful for a bow.
- Skeletons will rarely drop bows, and also even more rarely drop an already enchanted bow (Assuming the skeleton killed was holding an enchanted bow), but the bow will be damaged as of 1.4.5.
- A bow at its maximum force can destroy a minecart or a boat with one arrow.
- 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 into 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 is an excellent TNT detonator because it allows a player to set off the TNT from a distance.
- 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 even though they don't have the bow in their hand.
- 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.