I have recently acquired the Huntsman when playing as a sniper and I have been wondering why should I use it in Team Fortress 2, other than completing some Achievements.
- Faster charge time.
- You can fire into a passageway where you suspect an enemy is about to appear, and unlike an instantaneous shot the arrow has a much higher chance of hitting someone, simply because it's around for a longer time.
- Deadly taunt :)
- Leaving arrows sticking out of enemies is awesome.
- You can launch flaming arrows! Just let a friendly pyro or soldier with the Righteous Bison shoot you while pulling back the string.
In general, the bow is better for shorter ranges. If I'm holding a rifle I can usually counter-snipe bow-using snipers easily; on the other hand, defending cramped spots or running along with other attackers is far easier with the bow. It's really a weapon recommend for aggressive snipers.
In my personal opinion, a bow-wielding sniper is nice but it's not the truly scary thing thing a good rifle-wielding sniper is, and I only use the bow in specific situations. Not that I say that the bow should be underestimated, but the rifle:
- Is easier to hit with, in my opinion, because of the instantaneous bullet.
- Has a potential for higher damage.
- Is much harder to dodge.
... so I prefer it.
In addition to the advantages that Oak posted:
- You have a greater field of vision due to not being scoped. You'll be less likely to miss that spy creeping up behind you or the soldier firing rockets in your face.
- Much easier to quickfire in frantic situations. Being able to fire against a slow moving target (like a heavy) and retreat behind cover in a split second during recharge is incredibly advantageous.
- Similar to 2, taking out sentries when you're stuck in range I find to be much easier.
- Distinct "thwack" sound when you successfully hit a target. Cant count the number of times I've blind-fired into a group of teammates, heard a "thwack" and instantly known that there's a spy in there.
And in addition to the disadvantages:
- Smaller ammo capacity, 12 vs 25.
- Arrows CAN be compression blasted back in your face by a lucky / skilled pyro.
- You cannot fire your bow underwater. This makes snipers who decide to use Jarate / Razorback (which is most of them) and the Huntsman practically useless and defenseless if going in the water.
The bow is also great on Medieval Attack / Defend maps like DeGroot Keep, being one of the few non-melee weapons available to any class in this mode.