I play as an archer or use archery in the majority of my characters, and I wanted to know the best bow in terms of damage per second. There are several places where you can find this out, but none that I saw gave a breakdown of archery in relation to skill, smithing and enchanting at various levels, and since I was interested here it is. I hope it is helpful.
Thanks and credit to Nikolaj Poulsen for correcting errors and providing new data on attack speeds.
Bow damage per second formula
(1/(1.45+(1/(draw speed*1.3, quick shot only)))*((bow damage including smithing + arrow damage)*(perk multiplier)*(1 + (skill/200)*(1 + fortify archery enchantments total percentage)+ bow enchantment damage)
Crossbow damage per second formula
(1/(2.7*0.7, quick shot only)*((bow damage including smithing and arrow damage)*(perk multiplier)*(1+(skill/200)*(1+ fortify archery enchantments percentage)+ bow enchantment damage)
I am unsure how quickshot affects Crossbow speed as Nikolaj Poulsen found out that crossbows are all draw speed, so proportionally it would have a much greater effect than on normal bows which have nock and rest time. I have included values with and without quickshot.
Based on damage per second
Not including those which need higher levels, lengthy quests, or high smithing to access. The bound/mystic bow is included as you can pick it up in Fort Amon Prison at any level, and Zephyr as you only need to do part of ‘Lost to the ages’. Steel arrows are used, with the crossbow using steel bolts.
Smithing 30, elven and dwarven smithing
10 Enchantment damage
Smithing and enchantment
Not including items needing above level 30 to appear in levelled lists or smithing of above 70. Elven arrows are used, with crossbows using exploding dwarven bolts. Glass bows are used in those using smithing only, as they don't spawn until higher levels.
Archery 70, 4 overdraw and quickshot
Smithing 70, arcane blacksmith, up to glass and orcish smithing.
Enchanted with 20 points of damage
Smithing and enchantment
All bows available, dragonbone arrows
Archery 100, 5 overdraw
Smithing 100, all smithing perks
Enchanted with 2*25 points of damage
Smithing and enchanted
Nice.. I be referring back to this from time to time (shortcut).
My favorite is the bound bow (I like bound weapons), you can get it early and never have to worry about arrows. It's good all the way throught the game.
Wow, I had no idea that the Dwarven Crossbow was that good. Then again, if I recall correctly, it has the highest base damage out all the game's bows. Also, for what's it worth, they have a graph about this on UESP, though they used some different criteria (for example, using Dragonbone Arrows instead of Daedric, though I can't imagine that would make a difference).
Daedric arrows do 24 damage while dragonbone do 25, so they should still make a difference. What're the asterisks for?
To Sean I will do tests for the stag prince and black bow of fate, I thought incorrectly that they had the same damages as their base bows.
To Rune Red I also love using the bound bow, especially once you get quick shot.
To Albino should I redo the highest tier with dragonbone arrows then? I forgot that you could craft them as in my usual play I barely ever get smithing so high
To Sean again I think the asterisks are for the fact that they can't be tempered, and Karliah's bow, as far as I know, can't be aquired, you get the Nightingale bow instead
Thanks for the info and good luck testing! 1.9's change-log says that the nordic hero bow will be made temperable, so that's nice.
Brilliant, nice job on testing and the presentation makes it easy to follow and understand. Surprised at crossbow also. Still prefer the bow personally, due to being able to reload faster and firing off arrows without being fully drawn at close range targets can make it faster also. I know it probably won't come near top but I noticed you don't have Firiniel's End on your list. Also when you did the enchanting test, did you try frost on the Stahlrim bow, really interested to see what that is, as I'm playing a build that's going to be using it later in game. Nicely done, awesome work
Very cool! These results must've taken much work, great job!
@John Kelly: I've heard that frost / chaos on stalhrim has the highest dps.
Oh I never thought about chaos on top of it, thanks for heads up
Very nice, there is a lot of good information here. I do have a few corrections/questions though.
What do you mean by enchantment damage? If it's something like fire damage then you shouldn't add it in with base damage and arrow damage, enchantments aren't fortified by marksman skill/perks.
You have a multiplier which is "1 + 200 / skill", this should be "1 + skill / 200". With "1 + 200 / skill" you'd end up getting a LOT of damage (1 + 200 / 50 = 5).
What does the third and fourth column represent? Arrow damage or total damage including arrows? DPS with said arrows?
Is the nock and rest time the same for crossbows as it is for bows?
I did some calculations on attack speed in this thread, if you're interested.
Yes enchantment is meaning fire damage etc, and ahh I have put it in the wrong place then, I will try and sort it later today or tomorrow.
The multiplier I used is 1 + skill/200, i just wrote it down wrong, thanks for pointing it out.
3rd and 4th column is dps with said arrows.
For the crossbows I think so, I looked everywhere I could and couldn't find any evidence to the contrary.