Archery Fighting Style in DnD 5e: Rules and Uses

Last Updated on January 19, 2024

Fighting Style: Archery 

You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.

Whether you’re a fighter, paladin, or ranger, martial character classes in D&D 5e all get to choose from a handful of fighting styles. These class features improve damage output, grant access to new abilities, and generally enhance your character’s capabilities with a chosen style of combat. 

If you’re looking to deal damage from range with a longbow, crossbow, or other ranged weapons, then the Archery Fighting Style might be the right choice for your character build. 

What is the Archery Fighting Style?

Simply put, the Archery Fighting style makes it more likely to hit when attacking enemies with ranged weapons. It doesn’t directly increase your damage output, but hitting your enemies more frequently will certainly help you feel more effective in combat. 

While a +2 bonus by no means guarantees a hit against an enemy with decent AC by itself, combined with your ability score and proficiency bonuses, it should allow your character to attack with a bonus of between +7 and +9 (assuming your Dexterity is at least 16) to their ranged attacks at first level. 

If your character is going to be wielding a ranged weapon as their primary form of dealing damage, this is objectively the best choice to make. This is especially true if your party is primarily composed of melee-focused classes, like the Barbarian, Paladin, or Monk. With a few stout allies to soak up the brunt of your enemies’ melee attack and keep them tied up in combat, you should be able to put this fighting style to good use as you pepper your targets with arrows, pick off stragglers, and target vulnerable spellcasters hiding behind your enemies’ front line. 

However, if your fellow party members tend towards having lower hit points and/or armor than you, and rely on their fighter to tank enemy attacks while they cast spells or make ranged attacks of their own, then taking the archery fighting style will probably feel like a bit of a waste. Attacks made with ranged weapons incur disadvantage if your enemy is within 5ft, so it’s rare that this fighting style will feel useful on a character who spends all their time in melee, especially when there are options like Duelling or Great Weapon Fighting out there. 

The pros and cons of the Archery Fighting Style

Situationally, if you’re going to be attacking with a ranged weapon most of the time, Archery is objectively the best fighting style. Superior Technique, which allows you to learn one Battle Master Maneuver, might provide you with a bit more versatility if you grab something like Disarming Attack or Goading Attack.

If you’re going to be dividing your time evenly between ranged and melee combat, you can try something like the Defense fighting style, which increases your AC (useful in melee or at range). If you’re only going to be breaking out a ranged weapon infrequently, then something like Dueling or Two-Weapon Fighting might be a better alternative. 

It should also be noted that this fighting style is not available to Paladins, only Fighters and Rangers. This isn’t the end of the world, though, as Paladins don’t do well outside of melee anyway, as they need to be up close and personal to use their divine smite. 

Feats and Abilities that Work Well With the Archery Fighting Style

If you pick up the Archery Fighting Style, you’re going to be spending most of your time in combat shooting at people from range, so it makes sense to grab some feats that synergize. 

Sharpshooter. A classic choice for any ranged character, this feat grants the following benefits: 

  • Attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls.
  • Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half and three-quarters cover.
  • Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If that attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.

In addition to ignoring all but full cover and being able to hit enemies up to 600 ft away without disadvantage using a longbow, the extra +2 to your attack rolls goes a long way towards softening the sting of a -5 penalty to hit in exchange for 10 damage. Instead, it’s like you’re taking a -3 penalty, which doesn’t sound nearly as risky. 

Grabbing this feat at first level if possible (by playing a Variant Human or a Custom Lineage) can make you a one-shot-kill machine at first level, although the damage boosting effects of this feat do tend to become less effective as monster hp pools bloat at higher levels. 

Crossbow Expert. Crossbows deal more damage than bows, but they come with a few drawbacks. The Crossbow expert feat not only negates these drawbacks, it also makes crossbows dangerously viable in a range of other circumstances. The feat confers the following benefits: 

  • You ignore the loading quality of crossbows with which you are proficient.
  • Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
  • When you use the Attack action and attack with a one handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a hand crossbow you are holding.

Remember how the biggest drawback of the Archery Fighting Style is that it’s useless in melee? Well, not anymore! 

Fey Touched. If you’re interested in a less obvious, but no less fun synergistic feat for the Archery Fighting Style, Fey Touched might be the choice. Taking this feat grants the following benefits: 

  • Increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You learn the Misty Step spell and one 1st-level spell of your choice. The 1st-level spell must be from the Divination or Enchantment school of magic. You can cast each of these spells without expending a spell slot. Once you cast either of these spells in this way, you can’t cast that spell in this way again until you finish a long rest. You can also cast these spells using spell slots you have of the appropriate level. The spells’ spellcasting ability is the ability increased by this feat.

A neat little bonus to one of your mental stats is never to be sniffed at (especially since you’ll have wanted to put as many points as possible into Dexterity as a primarily ranged martial character) and a 1st level enchantment or illusion spell can have a lot of utility, with Sleep, Command, and Bane being strong contenders. However, as a ranged character specifically, it’s being able to use Misty Step to teleport up to 30 ft to a point you can see that’s especially powerful. Get away from enemies trying to close to melee range, gain access to an elevated vantage point to negate enemy cover, etc. 

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