Left image is the player making a bow on a crafting table and the right image is the player holding a bow in third person view.

How to Make a Bow in Minecraft

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You can make a Bow from a few basic resources in Minecraft. Since Bows are both easy to craft and use, assembling one can be a good idea early on in a playthrough. Start by gathering Sticks and String.

Table Of Contents

    What You Need to Make a Bow

    Making a bow with 3 sticks and 3 string.

    All that you need to make a Bow is 3 Sticks and 3 String. On a Crafting Table, place 1 Stick on the middle-left slot, 1 on the top-middle slot, and the last 1 on the bottom-middle slot. Afterward, put the 3 String on the slots of the right column. This will give you 1 Bow, which always starts with 384 durability points. However, there are other ways to get a Bow besides crafting one yourself.

    How to Get Sticks and String

    The easiest way to get Sticks is by crafting them. To do so, place Wood Planks on top of each other in a 1 by 2 shape in any kind of crafting grid. You’ll get 4 Sticks for every 2 Wood Planks used this way.

    For String, the quickest way to get some is to kill Spiders. Both regular Spiders and Cave Spiders have a chance to drop up to 2 String. Since the regular variety spawns very commonly at night, they can be the best mob to farm for String.

    Getting a Bow as a Mob Drop

    You have an 8.5% chance of getting a Bow or an Enchanted Bow from defeating a Skeleton or a Stray. The level of enchantment that can be obtained on a Bow dropped from a mob is between levels 5 to 23. Furthermore, the type is random, so you can potentially get less desirable enchantments. The higher the difficulty you are playing on, the higher level the enchantment will be.

    Getting a Bow From Villager Trading

    You can trade 2 Emeralds to an Apprentice-level Fletcher Villager for a regular Bow. You can also get an Enchanted Bow from Expert-level Fletcher Villagers. In the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft, Expert-level Fletchers will sell you an Enchanted Bow (with a random enchantment between levels 5 to 19) for 8 Emeralds. However, in the Java Edition, you will have to pay anywhere between 17 to 22 Emeralds. No one knows why the Java Edition Fletchers are so harsh with their pricing, but it must have something to do with the Villager economy.

    Getting a Bow From Fishing

    While fishing, you have a 0.8% chance of hooking a Bow instead of a fish. Enchanted Bows caught this way will have an enchantment level between 22 and 30, with the enchantment type being random.

    How to Use a Bow

    A player in third person view standing on a giant red mushroom and holding a bow.

    To draw your Bow, you will need to have at least 1 Arrow in your inventory. Your ammo does not need to be in your hotbar, or even in a singular stack. You will automatically draw any arrow on your person when firing a Bow.

    About Charging Your Bow Attacks

    There are 3 charge levels for shots made with a Bow. Firstly, there is a No Charge shot, which is when you draw a Bow for less than 0.1 seconds before firing. This will result in a poor shot that only does 0.5 Hearts of damage. Next, there is a Medium Charge shot, which occurs when you fire a Bow after drawing it for between 0.2 seconds and 0.9 seconds. Such a shot does 2.5 Hearts of damage to foes you hit. Lastly, there is a Full Charge shot, which you will fire after drawing a Bow and holding for longer than 1 second. This kind of shot will deal 3 Hearts of damage.

    It should also be mentioned that Full Charge shots are the only kind that can land a critical hit. On average, critical hits will do around 5.5 Hearts of damage, though the actual value is slightly randomized.

    How to Repair Your Bow

    Unlike many tools, you cannot repair a Bow on an Anvil. The only way you can repair a Bow is by combining it with another Bow in your inventory crafting grid or on a Grindstone.

    Grindstones can be made by placing 2 Wood Planks of any kind, 2 Sticks, and 1 Stone Slab on a Crafting Table. To start, place the Stone Slab on the top-middle slot. Then, place 1 Stick on either side of it. After that, put 1 Wood Plank under each Stick to get 1 Grindstone.

    When you fuse 2 Bows like this, the resulting Bow you make will have the combined durability of both component Bows +5% of a Bow’s max durability (19 points).

    Bows Used in Crafting Recipes

    The only crafting recipe that you need a Bow for is the one for Dispensers. To make a Dispenser, first, place a Bow on the centermost slot of a Crafting Table. Next, put 1 Redstone Dust under the Bow. Finally, fill all remaining slots with 7 Cobblestone to get 1 Dispenser.

    Every Kind of Enchantment You Can Get on a Bow

    • Curse of Vanishing: causes the Bow to despawn when you die
    • Flame: causes Arrows you shoot to catch fire and will do fire damage to targets (this also sets off TNT and can light Campfires)
    • Infinity: as long as you have at least 1 Arrow in your inventory, you can shoot infinite Arrows with your Bow (cannot be on a Bow that has Mending)
    • Mending: will cause the Bow to repair itself by absorbing XP (prevents you from gaining XP to level up and cannot be on a Bow with Infinity)
    • Power: increases the damage of Arrows shot
    • Punch: increases the knockback of Arrows shot
    • Unbreaking: gives the Bow a chance to ignore durability consumption when fired, meaning your Bow will not break as quickly

    What You Need to Know About How Bows Fire Arrows

    When you launch an Arrow from a Bow, it flies in a gentle arc. Additionally, the Arrow takes time to reach your prey, with farther ones taking longer to hit. As such, when lining up your shots, be sure to lead them accordingly—especially for moving targets.

    Arrows that hit a solid block instead of a mob can be retrieved. You just have to walk up to them and you’ll collect Arrows as dropped items. This means that you can cut down on how many Arrows you need to make when you miss your targets.

    You can shoot Arrows through fire and lava, which will make them turn into flaming Arrows. This causes such projectiles to gain the same effects as Arrows shot from a Bow that has the Flame enchantment.

    If you hit something that activates by contact with an Arrow, it will be triggered. For some examples, both Pressure Plates and Tripwires can be set off by Arrows.

    Depending on where your Arrows are in your inventory, you can prioritize which are used first. Arrows that you are holding in your offhand (the inventory slot with the shield icon) will always be used first. After that, your Bow will prioritize pulling Arrows from your hotbar, starting with those in the slot that is selected. If no slot with Arrows is selected, your Bow will draw Arrows from your leftmost hotbar slot that has them.