In Path of Exile there is a choice of weapons-mode. Being an archer, you can have bow and arrows on one mode, and a shield and a sword in the other mode.

But, for a committed archer, what is the point of the second mode? If you are always using your bows and arrows, and you never switch weapon-modes, of what use is the shield and any "perks" that some with it?

I.E. does a shield protect you if it is on the secondary weapon mode, and is not being actively used? What about any "perks" that might come with the secondary sword? Do those apply?

And if they do not apply, of what use is the secondary weapon mode for a committed archer? Why equip anything there at all?


The items in the second weapon slot/switch/ do not provide anything for you if it is not active.

Nevertheless, there's a few reasons you might want to keep stuff in there.

  • Gems slotted in the alternate weapon set continue to receive experience and level up. When leveling, you often have skills you currently aren't using or can't fit into your current set of gear, but plan on doing so later on.
    Also, it takes alot of XP to have a gem reach L20. Not leveling as many gems as you possibly can is just inefficient =p
  • Movement skills. Probably the fastest way to get across the map is with Leap Slam + Faster Attacks socketed in a Brightbeak (cheap low level unique).
  • Some people keep a culling skill on their second set and switch to it to kill bosses.

You might for example have a bow set that gives you high damage and for example fire skills and extra fire damage but might leave you vulnerable. Then have a second set that boosts your survivability (more HP, resistances, evasiveness, etc) but doesn't do as much damage. And equipped with for example ice attacks/spells or things like molten shell that boost your survivability even more.

Then you can switch on the fly between two different builds by swapping your weapon. For smaller enemies that can't kill you you can take the damage/fire bow to dispose of them quickly. When you encounter a boss who you fear might kill you, you can quickly switch to your defensive/ice bow. Ice can slow or freeze enemies. When you are at a safe distance, you can quickly switch to your fire bow to deal extra damage and switch back to ice bow when it gets dangerous.

I am not sure if this approach is optimal. Often the best defence is high damage. You might want to give it a try, it sounds interesting, doesn't it? :)

If you think the key for swapping buttons is not reachable enough for this (default it's X), you can always map it to any key or even mouse buttons.

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