Archery is one of the key skills in Mount&Blade. With it you can kill or foes or incapacitate their mounts from afar. However it does require a good deal of skill, through both stats and reflexes.
- Hold down and the aiming reticle will shrink. However if you hold down too long it will open up again. The idea is to fire when it's at its smallest.
- Practise shooting arrows in town or at the Training Ground to get used to the feel of how the arrow arcs. Different arrows arc slightly differently, but the best arrows will fire with a perfect curve.
- Always aim slightly above your target. The further away they are the higher you must aim.
- Always make allowances for inaccuracy. It's better to shoot a foe in the chest and do less damage than to miss a headshot and waste the arrow altogether. Firing an arrow into a mob of allies probably isn't a good idea either.
- Press to zoom in for easier sniping. You can also switch to first-person ( ) for an even closer view. Remember that the arrows still start their arc from your character's location when using these view modes.
- To become an efficient sniper you'll need to raise your Archery proficiency to at least 150, so be sure to shoot as many arrows as you have during each battle to get your level up.
- Head shots deal double damage, so get them if you can. The enemy's neck also counts as a headshot. With practise you can also score a headshot against an enemy holding up a shield by aiming just above his helmet—the arc should carry the arrow down just enough to penetrate.
- Just because you see an opening behind your opponent's shield doesn't mean you can hit them. The shield's hit box extends slightly beyond its visible region, and will catch any arrows aimed near the very edge. Instead, aim for a part that can't be covered by that shield type. Enemies with round shields have no leg protection.
- If you've nocked an arrow that's no longer needed you don't have to waste it; just hit block () to disengage it. This is a crucial skill for conserving ammunition.
- When buying arrows, be sure to buy the "big bag" variety if you can afford it; you get a handful of extra arrows for a slight bit more, and these can make all the difference.
- Don't skimp when buying arrows. Bent arrows are pointless and will make your aim even worse. Bodkin or Khergit arrows deal +3 damage and are well worth the higher price.
- Get a good bow. Even the best arrows will be made less damaging when fired from a cracked bow.
- Always have a melee weapon equipped of a type that you have a decent proficiency level with. The arrows won't last for long, and against the tougher enemies you'll need an unlimited weapon to fall back on without returning to the supply chest. Even if you sacrifice both a weapon and a shield to carry triple a normal stash of arrows it still won't last long enough for all but the most skilled.
- If you are going to use a horse you will probably want a Courser (ideally with the Spirited modifier). With a Courser and a few points in Riding you can outrun most enemies, allowing you get far enough out of reach to slow down and wheel around to fire at your pursuers.
- You can't shoot to the right when riding. You can only shoot forwards, to the left, or behind you. The reticle disappears when shooting behind so it's probably a waste of arrows; instead try swinging around and firing from your good side.
- The faster your horse is going the bigger the penalty on the reticle's accuracy; you'll need to raise Horse Archery a good few levels before you'll see any improvement. 4-5 should do, but 6 or more is the ideal.
- Riding penalties are only in effect when your horse is moving. If you stop your horse (hit until it stops or use + to stop immediately) you can fire just as well as if you were on the ground, except of course you have a higher vantage point and can easily escape from danger.
- The slower you go the less penalised your archery is. If you have a nimble horse with a good turning circle you might be able to move at less than top speed and therefore have an easier time of aiming.
Using a crossbow is another possibility. They're slow to load but deal good damage and shoot almost straight over long distances. The arc and overall handling is completely different from using a bow. With a crossbow it's more down to how good your crossbow is rather than how high your skill is, but the more powerful ones can't be reloaded while riding.