Archery is the term given to the practice of firing ranged ammunition at targets by a personal weapon. It is also the military skill, (Archer), which is trained alongside the marksdwarf skill in Dwarf Fortress.
The Archer skill increases with the use of any ranged attack including throwing weapons.
In terms of weapons this naturally encompasses the crossbow, the bow as a foreign or natural weapon depending on modding; and the blowgun which can only be made as an artifact in a bowyer's workshop by a strange mood, and which does not have any ammunition for its use outside bludgeoning.
In order to engage in archery a dwarf needs five things: a ranged weapon; a quiver and ammunition; proper labor/military assignments; and a target. For further information, see the archery target page.
Dwarves will fire at targets 20 tiles away and are able to engage targets that are 3 z-levels up or down without any loss in firing distance.
Assignment of ranged weapons is done through the military equipment screen ( -> ). If you only have a few ranged weapons, military squads get first pick, and then hunters can choose from the leftovers. Squads can be assigned a particular type of weapon, but hunters cannot be controlled so finely.
A living target can be selected from the quad menu, by selecting the squad(s) you wish to have attack, then selecting attac target. You can then select a single target with the cursor, a number of targets by enabling selection by ectangle, or selecting a number of targets through a ist. Note that if your dwarves don't have the required ammunition, quiver or bow/blowgun/crossbow, the squad members missing these components will attempt to engage the target in melee. There is no way to force dwarves to only attack from range, but adequately equipped dwarves stand the best chance of remaining at range.
 Subsections of Archery
 Effects of Skill Leveling
Higher skills in the bowman, crossbowman or blowgunner attribute equates with greater accuracy and higher rates of fire. In order to increase the crossbowman/blowgunner/bowman skill a dwarf must fire at something; if it misses a target it will gain the same amount of experience points even as if it had been hit.
Firing at live targets gives much more experience points than firing on inanimate archery targets. The difference is vast. Tests found that by firing around 67 practice bolts provided 7.5 experience for each shot at the archery target; the same experience total is gained by firing 17 bolts at a live target, providing 30 experience per bolt.
 Value in the Military
Dwarves using archery have their place in the military: They may fire at a distance without the threat of being attacked by melee weapons or by being mauled to death. They may fire from higher or lower Z-levels than the target intended. Archery targets must be engaged from the same Z-level and with no empty spaces in between the ranger and target. They may fire at enemy targets through fortifications and over empty spaces although their usefulness is thwarted by proper armor and tactics.
Hunters use the archery skill and will use ranged weapons in general.
You cannot provide soldiers with a secondary weapon to which they may fall back to if they engage in melee combat. Archers will use their bows or other ranged weapons for melee combat if given the choice. Crossbows and bows train the hammerman skill while bows and blowguns use the swordsman skill.
- If you assign both arrows and bolts to the same group dwarves who are holding a crossbow may grab arrows and dwarves who are holding a bow may grab bolts.
- The way weapons get assigned is bugged. Bug:535 The basic problem is this: when a hunter which is equipped with a crossbow goes on duty as a marksdwarf it will look for a different crossbow rather than the one it is currently carrying. One workaround is to have lots of spare weapons.
- If a squad is set to use two different materials of a certain kind of ammunition one for practicing, and one for combat, (an example of this would be metal bolts for combat and bone/wooden bolts for practicing.) Oftentimes the most expensive kind will be grabbed and stored inside a quiver, the dwarf then being unable to practice with the ammunition will be stuck on "Archery practice" and stand around doing nothing. Workarounds for this include only assigning one type of bolts at a time when in combat or training mode. Only assigning bone/wooden bolt and nothing else, or assign metal bolts and nothing else. Bug:4530