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Jordis the Sword Maiden is my new companion after spending the first 40 levels exploring with Lydia, getting into fights, watching her take a knee, waiting for her to catch her breath, take a few swings, rinse and repeat.

After a few missions in Solitude, Jordis and I became partners (and Lydia took the long walk home). While working on my smithing and enchantment skills, I made her a delightful ebony with a swell fire enchantment. Sadly, she has completely snubbed my efforts. For some reason, she really prefers her clunky old log of a bow.

Can I convince Jordis to at least try the new bow? It's really quite nice. Besides, it matches her new outfit....

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

That is a bug associated with followers that already have a default bow in their inventory (this is usually the Hunting Bow).

... followers who start with any kind of bow in their inventory are bugged so that placing a different bow in their inventory will have no effect. It may look as if they equipped the new bow, but the follower will switch back to their default bow as soon as combat starts, even if that bow was removed from their inventory.

Source: http://uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Followers#Follower_Equipment

I've noticed that at least several followers seem to prefer to use their own personal (non-inventory) hunting bow over at least some more powerful bows you might give them to use. So far the only way I've been able to get a follower to consistently use the bow I provided to them is to console remove the hunting bow SEVERAL TIMES until they stop equipping it. It took about 5 removed before it worked with aela, using the command (targetted on her) removeitem 10e2dd 1
...
For console-users that don't have the luxury of the in-game console, giving your follower a Forsworn Bow seems to be something of a workaround. It appears to be the only type of bow that totally overrides the default hunting bow in a companions choice of weaponry. It's certainly not the best bow in the game, but it's still a damn sight better, especially since it can be upgraded and enchanted.

Source: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim_talk:Followers#Equipment_AI_bug_.28bows.29

If you're playing on the PC, you can use mods that will fix that bug, like Follower Hunting Bow Fix, DFB - Disable-Show Follower Bow And Arrows or Followers Hunting Bow Replacement. The followers overhaul mod, Better Followers, allows you to remove the Hunting Bow from your follower, forcing your follower to use the bow you gave him or her.

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