Oblivion Marksmanship

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The Marksman skill is an essential weapon for any stealth based character. Allowing the player to strike from a distance and cause maximum damage in a short amount of time. With the correct tools and some handy hints you'll be able to turn your stealth character into a precise and effective killing machine.

This guide will go through every kind of bow/arrow you can get and how to put them to good use. It'll also cover some tips and tactics to get the most out of every shot.

Types of Bows

There are a wide variety of bows in Oblivion. With various enchantments ard strengths, your choice of bow for any given situation is critical.

Basic (Unenchanted) Bows

Name Weight Damage
Iron Bow 8 8
Fine Iron Bow 7.2 9
Steel Bow 10 9
Fine Steel Bow 9 10
Silver 12 10
Dwarven 14 12
Elven 16 14
Glass 18 16
Ebony 20 18
Deadric 22 20
Dremora Light Bow 22 8
Dremora Bow 22 10
Dremora Heavy Bow 22 14

Enchanted Bows

Name Original Item Weight Enchantment Damage Charge Cost/Use Uses
Bow of Weariness Dwarven Bow 14 Damage Fatigue 30pts 12 800 34 23
Bow of Harm Glass Bow 18 Damage Health 8pts 16 1200 17 70
Bow of Curses Ebony Bow 20 Damage Magicka 30pts 18 1600 27 59
Bow of Despair Dwarven Bow 14 Demoralize 35pts in 1 ft for 7sec 12 800 32 25
Bow of Gloom Elven Bow 16 Demoralize 45pts for 10sec 14 1200 64 18
Bow of Embers Iron Bow 8 Fire Damage 5pts 8 300 5 60
Bow of Burning Steel Bow 10 Fire Damage 5pts 9 300 5 60
Bow of Scorching Dwarven Bow 14 Fire Damage 10pts 12 800 14 57
Bow of Flames Elven Bow 16 Fire Damage 15pts 14 1200 24 50
Bow of Fire Glass Bow 18 Fire Damage 15pts 16 1200 24 50
Bow of the Blaze Ebony Bow 20 Fire Damage 20pts 18 1600 34 47
Bow of the Inferno Deadric Bow 22 Fire Damage 20pts 20 1600 34 47
Bow of Frost Iron Bow 8 Frost Damage 5pts 8 300 5 60
Bow of Numbing Steel Bow 10 Frost Damage 5pts 9 300 5 60
Bow of Cold Dwarven Bow 14 Frost Damage 10pts 12 800 14 57
Bow of Freezing Elven Bow 16 Frost Damage 15pts 14 1200 24 50
Bow of Glacier Glass Bow 18 Frost Damage 15pts 16 1200 24 50
Bow of Blizzards Ebony Bow 20 Frost Damage 20pts 18 1600 34 47
Bow of Winter Deadric Bow 22 Frost Damage 20pts 20 1600 34 47
Bow of Sparks Iron Bow 8 Shock Damage 5pts 8 300 5 60
Bow of Jolts Steel Bow 10 Shock Damage 5pts 9 300 5 60
Bow of Shocking Dwarven Bow 14 Shock Damage 10pts 12 800 14 57
Bow of Voltage Elven Bow 16 Shock Damage 15pts 14 1200 24 50
Bow of Dynamo Glass Bow 18 Shock Damage 15pts 16 1200 24 50
Bow of Lightning Ebony Bow 20 Shock Damage 20pts 18 1600 34 47
Bow of Storms Deadric Bow 22 Shock Damage 20pts 20 1600 34 47
Bow of Silence Glass Bow 18 Silence 20secs 16 1200 120 10
Bow of Quietus Ebony Bow 20 Silence 25pts 18 1600 150 10
Blizzard Bow Elven Bow 16 Frost Damage 8pts in 20ft 14 1200 31 38
Dragon Bow Elven Bow 16 Fire Damage 8pts in 20ft 14 1200 32 37
Storm Bow Elven Bow 16 Shock Damage 8pts in 20ft 14 1200 33 36

Unique Bows

Name Weight Enchantment Damage Charge Cost/Use Uses Location
Bow of Infliction 20 Damage Agilty 5pts, Drain Marksman 15pts 60secs 18 3000 100 30 Daenlin sells it at The Archer's Paradox in Bravil.
Bow of Infernal Frost 14 Fire Damage 10pts, Frost Damage 10pts 8 200 28 7 M'Raaj-Dar sells it in the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary in Cheydinhal.
Frostwyrm Bow 14 Frost Damage 15pts 15 500 23 21 Taken from the corpse of the Uderfrykte Matron.

Levelled Bows


A reward for the Dark Brotherhood quest, The Lonely Wanderer.

Level Weight Enchantment Damage Charge Cost/Use Uses
1-4 8 Damage Health 5pts, Damage Magicka 5pts, Turn Undead up to level 3, Weakness to poison 5pts 10 100 10 10
5-9 8 Damage Health 7pts, Damage Magicka 7pts, Turn Undead up to level 7, Weakness to poison 7pts 10 450 16 28
10-14 8 Damage Health 10pts, Damage Magicka 10pts, Turn Undead up to level 12, Weakness to poison 10pts 10 850 27 31
15-19 8 Damage Health 12pts, Damage Magicka 12pts, Turn Undead up to level 17, Weakness to poison 12pts 10 16500 34 48
20-24 8 Damage Health 15pts, Damage Magicka 15pts, Turn Undead up to level 22, Weakness to poison 15pts 10 3400 47 72
25-29 8 Damage Health 17pts, Damage Magicka 17pts, Turn Undead up to level 27, Weakness to poison 17pts 10 6700 58 115
30+ 8 Damage Health 20pts, Damage Magicka 20pts, Turn Undead up to level 32, Weakness to poison 20pts 10 9000 70 128

Hatreds Soul

Found in the Chorrol Oblivion Gate during the Allies for Bruma quest.

Level Weight Enchantment Damage Charge Cost/Use Uses
1-4 12 Drain Speed 5pts for 10sec, Fire Damage 5pts 15 1200 10 120
5-7 12 Drain Speed 10pts for 15sec, Fire Damage 10pts 16 2400 34 70
8-10 12 Drain Speed 15pts for 20sec, Fire Damage 15pts 18 3200 68 47
11-14 12 Drain Speed 20pts for 20sec, Fire Damage 20pts 20 3600 98 36
15-18 12 Drain Speed 25pts for 30sec, Fire Damage 25pts 22 4200 175 24
19+ 12 Drain Speed 30pts for 45sec, Fire Damage 30pts 24 4800 315 15

Types of Arrows

There is an even wider variety of arrows in Oblivion. Combining these with different bows can bring different and unexpected results against various enemies.

Basic (Unenchanted) Arrows

Name Weight Damage
Iron Bow 0.1 8
Steel Bow 0.1 9
Silver 0.1 10
Dwarven 0.15 11
Elven 0.1 12
Glass 0.1 13
Ebony 0.2 14
Deadric 0.25 15
Dremora Field Arrow 1.0 8
Dremora Barbed Arrow 1.5 10
Dremora Broadhead Arrow 2.0 12

Enchanted Arrows

Name Original Item Weight Damage Enchantment
Arrow of Withering Silver Arrow 0.1 5 Damage all Attributes 2pts
Arrow of Fatigue Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Damage Fatigue 20pts
Arrow of Harm Elven Arrow 0.1 12 Damage Health 8pts
Arrow of Jinxing Silver Arrow 0.1 10 Damage Magicka 20pts
Arrow of Hexing Glass Arrow 0.1 13 Damage Magicak 25pts
Arrow of Fear Iron Arrow 0.1 8 Demorolize 25pts
Arrow of Qualms Iron Arrow 0.1 8 Demorolize 25pts
Arrow of Misery Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Demorolize 25pts
Arrow of Cowardice Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Demorolize 25pts
Arrow of Dispel Silver Arrow 0.1 10 Dispel 25pts
Arrow of Drain Magicka Silver Arrow 0.1 10 Drain Magicka 30pts for 10sec
Arrow of Embers Iron Arrow 0.1 8 Fire Damage 5pts
Arrow of Burning Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Fire Damage 5pts
Arrow of Scorching Dwarven Arrow 0.1 11 Fire Damage 10pts
Arrow of Flames Elven Arrow 0.1 12 Fire Damage 15pts
Arrow of Fire Glass Arrow 0.1 13 Fire Damage 15pts
Arrow of the Blaze Ebony Arrow 0.2 14 Fire Damage 20pts
Arrow of the Inferno Deadric Arrow 0.25 15 Fire Damage 20pts
Arrow of Cleansing Silver Arrow 0.1 5 Fire Damage 40pts in 10ft for 2sec
Arrow of Immolation Glass Arrow 0.1 8 Fire Damage 65pts in 10ft
Arrow of Discord Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Frenzy 40pts in 10ft for 15sec
Arrow of Frost Iron Arrow 0.1 8 Frost Damage 5pts
Arrow of Numbing Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Frost Damage 5pts
Arrow of Cold Dwarven Arrow 0.1 11 Frost Damage 10pts
Arrow of Freezing Elven Arrow 0.1 12 Frost Damage 15pts
Arrow of the Glacier Glass Arrow 0.1 13 Frost Damage 15pts
Arrow of Blizzards Ebony Arrow 0.2 14 Frost Damage 20pts
Arrow of Winter Deadric Arrow 0.25 15 Frost Damage 20pts
Arrow of Savage Frost Dwarven 0.1 6 Frost Damage 40pts in 10ft for 2sec
Arrow of Light Iron Arrow 0.1 8 Light 10pts for 20sec
Flare Arrow Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Fire Damage 5pts, Light 10pts for 20sec
Arrow of Illumination Dwarven Arrow 0.1 11 Fire Damage 8pts, Light 10pts for 30sec
Arrow of Brilliance Elven Arrow 0.1 12 Fire Damage 12pts, Light 10pts for 40sec
Arrow of Sunlight Glass Arrow 0.1 13 Fire Damage 15pts, Light 10pts for 50sec
Arrow of Sparks Iron Arrow 0.1 8 Shock Damage 5pts
Arrow of Jolts Steel Arrow 0.1 9 Shock Damage 5pts
Arrow of Shocking Dwarven Arrow 0.1 11 Shock Damage 10pts
Arrow of Voltage Elven Arrow 0.1 12 Shock Damage 15pts
Arrow of the Dynamo Glass Arrow 0.1 13 Shock Damage 15pts
Arrow of Lightning Ebony Arrow 0.2 14 Shock Damage 20pts
Arrow of Storms Deadric Arrow 0.25 15 Shock Damage 20pts
Stormcall Arrow Elven Arrow 0.1 7 Shock Damage 30pts in 10ft for 2sec
Arrow of Storm Strike Ebony Arrow 0.1 8 Shock Damage 40pts in 10ft for 2sec
Arrow of Silence Dwarven Arrow 0.1 11 Silence for 15sec
Arrow of Stillness Elven Arrow 0.1 12 Silence for 20sec
Magebane Arrow Deadric Arrow 0.25 10 Silence in 10ft for 20sec
Hatreds Soul Arrow Deadric Arrow 0.20 20 Soul Trap for 15sec

Special Arrows

Name Weight Damage Enchantment Info
Arrow of Extrication 0.2 1 N.A. From the Thieves Guild final quest, The Ultimate Heist.
Rose of Sithis 0.1 9 Kills Adamus Phillida if he is not wearing his armor. From the Dark Brotherhood quest, Permanent Retirement.

Marksman as you Level – Perks and Afflictions


At Novice level you will lose fatigue while drawing your bow. Watch this because for many warrior classes this may be extremely quick.


An Apprentice of marksman will not suffer any loss of fatigue drawing a bow.


At the Journeyman level, the player has the ability to zoom in on a target by holding the block button while an arrow is drawn. Be careful as you'll lose a lot of your peripheral sight when doing this.


An expert of marksman has a chance of knocking there opponent down. Shots at the feet will send NPCs higher, while shots to the body will send them further.


A Master retains all of the abilities of the previous skill perks. He also gains the chance to paralyze his opponent on strike.

Basic Tips

  • Lead your target. Just because you’ve taken the shot, doesn’t mean your target won’t stop moving. Try and anticipate their movements. Practicing on deer (Because they are agile and move a lot) is definitely the safest and most effective practice.
  • Arch your shot. Gravity begins to affect your arrow as soon as it is fired. So unless you are at point blank range, your arrow will hit lower than where you aimed. When taking a long shot, adjust your aim to be higher than your target.
  • Pick your shots. Try and do as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time, to the strongest enemy first. For example, if you were faced with a rat and a Clannfear, you’d try and take out the Clannfear as quickly as possible, then dispose of the rat later. Why alert stronger enemies with a weakling’s death?
  • Training. There are some things you need to know when training. Pumping arrow aftar arrow into a practice target (i.e. The round one's near guilds etc) is pointless. The only outcome is your bow will slowly become more and more damaged. The same applies for bodies. A dead Bandit might look great with 50+ arrows in his/her head, but you've just wasted a lot of time on nothing.

Your Bow is Sweeter with Poison

A marksman’s best friend is of course his/her bow, but their bedfellow is always going to be poisons. Poisons add a huge advantage to marksmen. Without them your bow will be far less effective. Applying bow base damage + arrow base damage + bow enchantment + arrow enchantment+ multiple effect poison will result in huge amounts of damage in a ridiculously short amount of time. Here is a poison that never fails me. Of course a high skill in alchemy is needed.


• Damage Health • Damage Magicka • Ice Damage • Silence • Paralyze

Made with Frost Salts, Milk Thistle Seeds, Harrada and Wormwood Leaves.

Combined with enchanted weapons this poison seals the deal. Even if they get up after you hit them, the enemy will soon die from the Damage Health and Ice Damage effects. Even a simple Paralyze poison will allow you to run in for some quick hits.

Advanced Tips

- Freaky sneaky. While sneak attacking, switching to a melee weapon as soon as you fire will cause the game to apply the melee weapons sneak multiplier (x4 or x6) instead of the bows (x2 or x3). This can add a huge amount of extra damage on that crucial first shot.

- Knock first. Shooting a door that does not lead to another cell (i.e. Old Wooden Door) will sometimes cause an arrow’s enchantment to take effect. This can allow you to draw one enemy away from others or simply land the killing blow.

- Be prepared. Having a bow and arrow combo with only shock damage is great, but what happens when you come up against a Strom Atronach? Having a contingency plan is a must for marksman. Having a few of two or three different types of arrows means you’ll be prepared for every situation.

Bows and Combat

- Thanks to Wash Quon'Asin

“The art of not dying.”

The kind of tactics you will use depend on the kind of enemy you’re going to face. Here’s a bit of a breakdown:

Melee enemies

(Zombies, Trolls, Fighters, Ogres, etc.)

This is the most difficult group to deal with as a marksman. Your best bet is to start off in sneak mode. Getting that extra 3x damage is essential for the long-range character. With the right landscape between you and your opponent, you can take off enough health that by the time they get to you a small tap with a backup melee weapon will do them in. Try and position yourself with lots of obstacles between you and them so they spend more time trying to get to you. If they’re slow enough (like ogres) you can back up and keep firing to keep putting the hurt on them with your bow. Or, if you have at least 50 in Acrobatics, hold block and press back and jump – you’ll backflip very quickly out of the way and put more distance between you and them.

As far as enchantments go, some decent elemental damage will knock huge chunks of their health off in a hurry. Absorb health is also good, as it will give to you what it takes from them. Enchanting bows with either of these effects will require the Arcane University and a lot of gold, or the appropriate Sigil Stones. Alternately, you can enchant a bow with calming effects, so that every arrow that hits them makes them put away their weapon and chill out for a bit. Another popular method is to put a burden enchantment on a bow, so the big bad warrior is stuck in one spot while you pick away at him. The idea is to get as much damage done before they can reach you with their melee weapons.

If there are more than one melee enemy, you have basically two options. An Arrow of Immolation (65 fire damage in 10 feet), Stormcall Arrow or similar area damage bow or ammunition fired into a group does wonders to evening the odds. A couple of those and only weaklings remain to take out with your dagger. The other option is to fire a single arrow from the shadows at the closest enemy, then lure them to an out-of-the-way location so you can dispatch them at your leisure. Repeat until the whole group is done.

Occasionally, these tactics will lead to you getting swarmed by many large and intimidating foes. Should this occur, simply use every archer’s fallback: potions of invisibility. Weak potions of invisibility are fairly priced, and a half dozen or so in the backpack will give you 15 seconds of respite each for you to make your escape and come back to the battle on your own terms.

Magical Enemies

(Mages, Necromancers, Vampires, etc.)

As before, your best bet is to begin in stealth mode and try to get in a good first strike. Mages rarely wear armor, so a one-hit kill is a definite possibility. Pick the biggest damage combination of bow, poison and arrow you can and let them have it.

If you aren’t certain that you can kill the mage in one shot, something else you should try is an arrow or poison of silence. A low-level one will do – 10-15 seconds or so. When the arrow hits, they’ll be unable to cast offensive or defensive spells. They also won’t be able to summon undead or daedra, who can turn a simple mage-killing into a much more complicated endeavor. A mage without his or her magic is just a peasant in a fancy robe, and will fall quickly to another shot or two.

When mages do succeed in summoning creatures, do your best to ignore them. Once the mage dies, the creature will vanish. If the creature gets close or is blocking your shot, quaff one of those potions of invisibility we were talking about. Get into a better angle for your shot, and put a shaft between the mage’s shoulder blades. And if you can’t silence them, just strafe or dodge (for you journeymen acrobats) out of the way of their offensive spells and keep firing. Low armor level typically means a short battle.

Other Archers

(Bandits, Skeletons, etc.)

As always, the first arrow should be fired from sneak mode for the damage bonus. When the archer notices you, they will usually come a bit closer and then start firing arrows at you. The general pattern of the archer is to nock and fire an arrow, then strafe back and forth so you can’t get a bead on them before aiming and firing again. You can waste a lot of arrows shooting at these jokers if you’re not ready for their dodging tactics.

The best option available is to only fire when they make ready an arrow. Draw your bow back and wait as they strafe. When they pull out an arrow, fire and prepare to do some strafing of your own. Typically, archers won’t fire when you’re strafing, so pause briefly and give them something to shoot at before sidestepping the arrow. If you are a journeyman in acrobatics, then you may be able to get two arrows away at them before their one arrow gets to where you are. When they stop moving and pull out an arrow, fire the first arrow and immediately fire the second. Then go into a side roll (hold block and hit strafe and jump) and avoid the arrow just in time. It takes good timing and lots of practice, but is incredibly satisfying to pull off.

Good enchantments for fighting archers, other than the standard plus damage ones, are hard to come by. A decent pick is usually Absorb Marksman, as it improves your ability to do damage while harming theirs. A Damage Agility enchantment will screw their shooting up as well – a combination of the two and the archer might not hit you if you were five feet away. Using calming enchantments will get them to put their bow away and stop dodging, which is mighty convenient. When low on arrows or just plain frustrated, they will drop their bow and pull out a secondary weapon (usually a dagger). They usually suck quite a bit with it, so don’t worry about it too much. Dispose of them in the usual manner.

Alawen the Terrible

Fighter that is. She is one of the most annoying Master trainers in the game. She has a bad habit of not only sleeping in a Bandit camp, but also getting drawn into close combat with nothing but a stock bow. Here are some tips to keeping her alive.

  • Baby-sit her. It's annoying and time consuming but it's a way to know for certain where she is and that she hasn't been killed. You can wander off to the nearby bandit camps while she's sleeping if you need to level combat/mage skills.
  • Stay out of the wilderness. That way the god damn calculation engine wont decide her stats are too low to survive any fight. Fast travel everywhere. No walkies.
  • Don't travel straight to her camp. The likelyhood of her dieing is greater if you fast travel straight to Troll Candel camp. Go to a nearby location and leg it the rest of the way.
  • Travel at night. Basically becasue she'll be sleeping (around 1 am - 4 am), that way you can find her easier (Detect Life helps).

Tables copied and reformated from UESP

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