The Best Bows in BotW
- Ranked -

The single most potent bow in Breath of the Wild is, without a doubt, the Bow of Light. It tops every category and rips Ganon to shreds in the final boss battle. Of course, we can only wield the Bow of Light in that isolated boss fight, so it isn’t exactly the most practical item to pursue. If you want to clear out enemy encampments and slay a few mini-bosses, we’ll need to compare loot drops a little more carefully!

So, I’ll be listing a breakdown for 4 categories: Strength, Draw Speed, Durability, and Range. Then we’ll factor in some buffs like Multishot, Zoom, and Guardian Damage before reaching a final verdict of the 10 best bows in BotW.

Most Powerful Bows in BotW

Let’s start with the obvious – brute strength! No bow quite compares to the fated Bow of Light when it comes to raw power. Each of its arrows drive home a respectable 100 points of damage. Talk about overkill! Still, BotW has a few bows that can spark fear into the eyes of a mighty Lynel or fearsome Molduga.

Here’s a breakdown of the highest base damage ratings in the game:

 

  • S-Tier Damage: Royal Guard’s Bow @ 50 damage per arrow.
  • A-Tier Damage: Ancient Bow @ 44 damage per arrow.
  • B-Tier Damage: Royal Bow @ 38 damage per arrow.
  • C-Tier Damage: Steel Lizal Bow @ 36 damage per arrow.
  • D-Tier Damage: Savage Lynel Bow @ 32 damage per arrow.

Some Royal Guard’s Bows offer pretty hefty damage buffs, climbing upwards of 70 damage per arrow, but they lack durability. It also isn’t uncommon to find a modified Royal Bow that packs 50 damage per arrow.

Believe it or not, multishot bows won’t blast through your arrow reserve. Multishot bows only consume one arrow per shot and deal more cumulative damage, provided each arrow lands on the target. Let’s take a look at the multishot buff before sailing into the next category:

Multi-Shot Buffs

  • Savage Lynel Bow (x5) = 160 damage per shot.
  • Savage Lynel Bow (x3) = 96 damage per shot.
  • Great Eagle Bow (x3) = 84 damage per shot.
  • Mighty Lynel Bow (x3) = 60 damage per shot.
  • Forest Dweller’s Bow (x3) = 45 damage per shot.
  • Duplex Bow (x2) = 28 damage per shot.

Now that changes things! Suddenly the top 4 multishot bows fall into S-tier damage output.

Bows With The Fastest Draw Speed in BotW

Each bow in BotW has a hidden draw speed rating. Thanks to a user on GameFAQs, we have some solid data on rates of fire. When measuring in shots per second, most bows fire 0.7 arrows. The quick shot enhancement increases that number to 0.77 arrows/ second. The Ancient Bow is the only bow to shoot slower than a standard ranged weapon, firing 0.6 arrows/ second. Of course, there are a handful of bows that fire faster, too:

  • S-Tier Draw Speed: Royal Guard’s Bow @ 0.9 shots per second. (The quick shot buff can enhance the rate of fire to 1.05 arrows/ second.)
  • A-Tier Draw Speed: Great Eagle Bow @ 0.85 shots per second.
  • B-Tier Draw Speed: Falcon Bow, Forest Dweller’s Bow @ 0.8 shots per second.
  • C-Tier Draw Speed: Swallow Bow @ 0.75 shots per second.

Bear in mind: Any standard bow with quick shot will slightly outspeed the Swallow Bow. 

Anyway, don’t rule out draw speed! Even a slight augmentation to how quickly Link can fire off arrows can spell the difference between life and death while taking down the most tenacious enemies!

Most Durable Bows in BotW

Ah! I’d argue this is the most important category since everything in this Zelda installment is so dang fragile!

Hitpoints determine durability ratings in BotW. It’s pretty straightforward: Each arrow fired consumes one hitpoint. 

Now to address some corner-cases. Multi-shot bows will only expend one hitpoint per shot, and durability isn’t lost when Link neglects to shoot an arrow (i.e., Firing blanks or putting the bow away before shooting.) For reference, most bows found in BotW have 20 hitpoints, and the almighty Bow of Light has 100.

  • 120 Hitpoints: Ancient Bow
  • 100 Hitpoints: Twilight Bow
  • 60 Hitpoints: Golden Bow, Great Eagle Bow, Royal Bow
  • 50 Hitpoints: Falcon Bow, Steel Lizal Bow
  • 48 Hitpoints: Knight’s Bow
  • 45 Hitpoints: Savage Lynel Bow, Phrenic Bow

The Mighty Lynel Bow and Forest Dweller’s Bow win a runner’s-up award for their 35 hitpoint durability rating. While the number isn’t exceptional, these weapons boast authoritative scores elsewhere, too. Unfortunately for the Duplex Bow, it snaps after firing 18 times – making it the second least durable bow in BotW.

Bows With The Longest Range in BotW

A bow is only useful if it can hit its target. For those of us who don’t want to play a game of trajectory calculus every time we fire an arrow, range is ultra important.

Dinraal spawn point near Hebra Tower. Big Red Dragon in BotW.

The majority of bows in the game have a range of 20 feet before the arrows begin to arc. You’ve probably noticed while aiming to headshot a Bokoblin that a shot or two have dropped off and missed the target entirely! Next thing you know, the enemies are sounding off their horns, and the whole camp comes charging in for an attack. Luckily, there are a handful of bows with exceptional range!

  • S-Tier: Bow of Twilight @ 8,000 ft. range.
  • A-Tier: Ancient Bow @ 50 ft. range.
  • B-Tier: Swallow Bow, Falcon Bow, Great Eagle Bow, Golden Bow, Phrenic Bow, and Duplex Bow @ 40 ft. range.
  • C-Tier: Royal Guard’s Bow @ 30 ft. range.

Four bows have additional modifiers that further amplify their range and accuracy.

Altered Arrow Gravity Buff

The Ancient Bow and Silver Bow have a hidden gravity reduction stat that improves both range and accuracy.

Zoom Buff

The Golden Bow and Phrenic Bow come with the added perk of zooming in on enemies, making them top choices for long-distance enemies or farming dragon shards.

Misc: Guardian Damage Buff

One last thing before we compile that top 10 list of best bows!

The Ancient Bow has another little trick up its sleeve: Bonus damage to guardians. That might sound super niche, but those pesky flying guardians tremble in fear at the sight of one. Link can shoot down a guardian’s propeller using the Ancient Bow with two standard arrows. That’s incredible!

The Final Verdict: Best Bows in BotW

Link in Ancient Tunic with Midna DLC helmet. He's firing an Ancient Bow with and Ancient Arrow.

#1 - The Ancient Bow

If you fancy yourself as someone with mad sniping skills, this bow is the perfect tool for the job. This ancient piece of tech packs a serious punch and outclasses every standard bow in the game in terms of range, at a small cost to draw speed. This bow is exceptional. You can craft the Ancient Bow in the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab. It’ll cost you 1,000 rupees, 15 ancient springs, 10 ancient gears, and a giant ancient core. You’ll also need to clear a particular quest to purchase one.

Link stands in Tarrey Town with Savage Lynel Bow drawn on merchants.

#2 - The Savage Lynel Bow

This bow slays. Even if your aim is atrocious enough to keep you from flipping on the hottest new battle royale game, the spray and pray technique works wonders here. You can loot Savage Lynel Bows from white-maned, silver, and golden Lynels that roam Hyrule Field and the Hebra Mountains. Other colors are considerably weaker and will drop weaker loot.

Twilight bow inventory screen.

#3 - The Twilight Bow

Unfortunately, this bow can only be obtained as a random drop for scanning an Amiibo during gameplay. That’s why I couldn’t whip up a sweet action shot for this bad boy. With the second highest durability in the game and a range that dwarfs even the Bow of Light, it’s a little unfair to unsuspecting Hinox and friends.

Link testing out Revali's Great Eagle Bow outside his home.

#4 - The Great Eagle Bow

While the Rito champion Revali might be the most condescending and obnoxious character in BotW, his bow is a near-perfect upgrade to the Golden Bow, aside from the lack of zoom. It’s also easily replaceable: To craft a Great Eagle Bow, you’ll need to offer Harth a Swallow Bow, one diamond, and five bundles of wood. Harth lives in Rito Village. The Great Eagle Bow is easily the strongest bow in BotW for braving a violent thunderstorm without being struck down by lightning.

LoZ BotW Dark Link holding Royal Guard's Bow in Zora's Domain.

#5 -The Royal Guard’s Bow

The Royal Guard’s Bow bears a menacing appearance! Any time you fumble across one of these puppies, and you’re short a bow, pick it up! Other than its lackluster 20 hitpoints, this bow packs a serious punch. Its range is well above average. Royal Guard Bows only spawn in Hyrule Castle. They’re easiest to spot in the castle armory or Princess Zelda’s room.

Link draws Golden Bow in the Gerudo Desert.

#6 - The Golden Bow

Scattered throughout the scorching dunes of the Gerudo Desert is a gem of a ranged weapon. On paper, this bow might appear as nothing more than ‘above average,’ but I can’t stress enough the sheer strength of the added zoom feature. These bows are also abundant, making them prime targets for burning through simple exploration tasks. The most accessible location to spot a Golden Bow is in the barracks of Gerudo Town. I also cover a site with a Golden Bow and Radiant Shield Spawn in my guide to shield surfing!

Royal bow vs. the Calamity

#7 -The Royal Bow

Durable. Dependable. Devastating. The Royal Bow is built to last. They’re perfect for combat that’s gotten up-close-and-personal, and they’re somewhat common to loot from chests or high-tier enemies. Specifically, you can snatch Royal Bows from Hinox and strong enemies across the Hebra Mountains and Tabantha region.

BotW Link action shot with Forest Dweller's bow, fire arrow, and Lynel hat.

#8 - The Forest Dweller’s Bow

Those little Korok rascals can do more than play hide and seek! They’re also skilled craftsmen who have mastered the art of wooden bows and shields. If you haven’t completed Vah Medoh and unlocked Revali’s bow yet, these are the best bows to equip when dealing with lightning. Unfortunately, the arrows travel 11% slower than usual. If you’re on the prowl for one of these bows, you can find one in the Korok Forest. There’s also a notorious spawn point in Lanayru on Kincean Island behind a wall of bombable rocks.

Link standing outside Rito Village with his fresh new Falcon Bow!

#9 - The Falcon Bow

The Falcon Bow is a speedy little devil that can get a lot of mileage during bullet time and related aerial combat shenanigans. Bonus points for being wooden. You can find Falcon Bows around Rito Village and rip them from enemies’ hands throughout the Tabantha Frontier and Hebra Mountains.

Feeling impatient? There’s a tall pillar south of Hebra Plunge with a chest that guarantees Falcon Bow drops. The exact location is marked on the map above.

incognito Lizalfos Link draws Steel Lizal Bow.

#10 - Steel Lizal/ Duplex Bow

The Duplex Bow just isn’t super durable, so I couldn’t justify placing it higher than the trusty Steel Lizal. That doesn’t necessarily make it worse, either. Anyway, these bows aren’t too shabby. They also aren’t taking home any dazzling awards like the others. I’d say these are the perfect bows for knocking out enemies with better bows. That’s still a prominent role worthy of a Hylian hero’s inventory slots. You can pluck a Duplex Bow from Yiga-Clan archers and a Steel Lizal Bow from black, silver, and golden Lizalfos.

Anyway, that’s a wrap, folks! The 10 best bows in Breath of the Wild in a nice tidy list, as well as some invaluable data on what makes a bow uncommonly strong. Happy hunting, and try not to keep Princess Zelda waiting too long while you’re out feeding local wildlife or deciding whether to join the Prince Sidon Fan Club!