Q&A: Combat is About More Than Your Weapon Training

my character is just too nice and soft to fight but she learned how to use a bow, is this realistic?

This is fairly normal. Especially with archery, though it can be true with any martial training. Not necessarily the “nice and soft,” part, that’s optional, but many people train with weapons or in martial arts for recreation, and not because they’re planning to use the weapon in a combat setting.

I’ll use myself as an example here. I took archery classes as a teenager because I was working towards a merit badge. I had (and still have) no interest in using a bow for hunting or combat. In a modern context, it’s still a very limited weapon, so most people who learn to use them aren’t going to be planning use them outside of a range.

Bow hunting and fishing are sports, because of the added difficulty. You don’t take a bow out and hunt large game because you want to be efficient, you do it because you want the extra challenge. Bows require you to be much closer to your target, so you need to get there undetected.

Now, supposedly, there is a flavor difference between bow killed venison and firearm killed. I can’t comment on this with authority, as I’ve never experienced that difference personally.

There’s nothing wrong with saying your character’s personality would be incompatible with combat, however, if you’re going that route, asking them to then kill someone would be fairly traumatic. There is a big difference between learning how to operate a bow, and using it to kill someone.

It’s also worth remembering that knowing how to use your weapon is only one component of combat training. You need to be able to shoot straight, but, especially with a bow, you need to understand how to fight. You’re talking about a weapon that is nearly silent, but has very limited range, very bulky ammunition, and has a long delay between shots. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you’re not going to achieve much.

So, while it’s possible for someone to learn how to use the bow, even though they’d never consider going into combat, that training doesn’t mean they can instantly turn into a badass without warning. They would know how to use the weapon, but not how to manage living targets, and their mindset would be working against them the entire time.

-Starke

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