The classic bow is the first choice in distance combat for most fighters, although its true masters are the dextrous bards and rangers. With this weapon, it is possible to rain a barrage of arrows on enemies, without them having any chance to strike back. However, this advantage is also its biggest disadvantage, since should the foes close to melee range, the bow is useless. However, this can be avoided by using more destructive ammunition to keep one's foes at bay.
Bows can be loaded with various kinds of arrows, both normal and magical, to increase their capabilities.
According to Vetron's Guide to Weapons and Armour, the bow has an effectiveness rating of "8."
Bows were standard weapons even from the beginning of Ultima I. Throughout the ages they stayed the trusty distance weapon of the warrior, changing very little, but only in Ultima V did ammunition first become limited. They were sometimes referred to as "short bows" in Savage Empire, but otherwise functioned the same. In that game, they were available from Atlipacta, the Nahuatla Tribe armourer, in trade for 2 Emeralds each.
Numerous special bows have shown up over time:
- The +2 and +4 bows in Ultima III.
- Magic bow - This bow raises the damage significantly.
- Infinity Bow - A bow that need no ammunition.
- Siege Bow - The strongest commercially available bow.
- Iolo's Bow - Iolo's custom-made bow.
- War Bow of Blood - A bow that drains the warrior's health for more damage.
A truly competent long-range weapon. Get thy enemies before they can get thee! The Britannian bows are made from the finest yew wood. Each longbow is hand-rubbed and ornamented with horn nocks on the tips. A favorite among those with poor armour.
Bows come from craftsmen in the deep forest. Made from strong and resilient yew, bows, and their stronger counterparts, crossbows, make formidable long-range weapons. Be aware, however, that one engaged in hand-to-hand combat is unlikely to be able to load such a weapon, much less shoot it.
Bows and crossbows are capable of firing with tremendous force, but they require use of both hands and cannot be used effectively at point blank range.
An expert bowman can end a fight without the enemy's awareness that one has begun. Though of no use in hand-to-hand combat, a bow can deliver a killing blow from a hundred yards distant. Crafted of flexible timber and animal sinew, a lightweight bow does unduly burden a fighting man. Targeted from afar, a strong enemy can arrive in a weakened condition. They who would flee can be encouraged to remain. Only a fool refuses to carry one.