With character draw way up and from a high vantage point, sometimes you can see creatures very far away.

With proper angle and height advantage, it appears that I should be able to strike these creatures with an arrow. But no matter how many times I've tried it just looks like the arrow disappears into the body.

Is there some sort of maximum range to arrow shots? Or am I just missing?

I've ruled out the possibility that maybe the health bar isn't showing up because of distance. I'm using a soul trap weapon and shooting a creature that dies in 1 hit just to be sure.

  • Have you tried setting up the shot before hand, then moving the camera (via console commands) to see where the arrow is actually hitting? Dec 6 '11 at 19:22
  • 3
    @RavenDreamer My assumption is that the arrow ceases to "exist" after it has traveled a sufficient distance from the player. If I used console commands to move to the target of my shot, that could change the outcome. An interesting instance of the observer effect.
    – dpatchery
    Dec 6 '11 at 19:41
  • even in that case, if you keep the same orientation otherwise, you should be able to determine the difference of moving camera / not moving camera. Dec 6 '11 at 19:54

You can fix the arrow range in your "skyrim.ini" file.

Add: [Actor] fVisibleNavmeshMoveDist=XXXXX.0000

If for some reason you already have "[Actor]" somewhere in there, just add the next part into that section.

What this does it fixes arrows that can't hit anything past a certain range. E.g., When you shoot something from really far away and it never hit, but when you get a little bit close, it hits. I recommend setting the value (XXXXX.0000) to something around your Actor fade distance (~10000).

Also, the arrows by default are aimed slightly above where your crosshair is. You can fix it with these lines:

Under "[Combat]" add:



  • That's pretty interesting. On Xbox, I can hit things as far away as I can see them. Sometimes I can't see an enemy until I zoom in, and I can still hit them. Wonder if this was fixed in an official patch, or if the draw distance on Xbox is just short enough that it's within that range.
    – DCShannon
    Oct 4 '16 at 20:12

According the the changelog of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch (which resolves the problem for PC users):

Arrows do not cause damage at long range even if they appear to have hit the target. This is due to an internal distance check in the game that is wrong. This issue has now been fixed through the use of an "ini snippet" which is now included with the USKP distribution. (Bug #136)

  • I rearranged your answer to make the quote into a quote including source for clarity (i.e. to prevent "Where did he get that information from?"). Good find though.
    – MrLemon
    Feb 23 '15 at 10:21

This video (screenshot below) seems to indicate that there is no maximum range for a bow shot. I'd still be interested in testing it for horizontal range, but for now I'll just assume that I'm bad at aiming (or just haven't tried enough times).

enter image description here

  • Using sneak attack to see if you hit is clever, since you always get the message in the top left.
    – Ryre
    Dec 6 '11 at 23:02
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    He's done the .ini tweak. He also appears to be in god mode or similar as those falls should have killed him.
    – agf
    Dec 7 '11 at 3:00

Yes, archery is maxed to do damage at like 65 yards. Shooting anything beyond the "max range" will not damage enemies; they will pass right through. So archery does have a maximum range, which is why sometimes you seem to be shooting things and not hitting them, but when you move closer you can hit them. Extend the range in the .ini file so archery works like it should work, not "ghosting" an arrow once it passes the 65 yard mark.

  • By the way, really assinine move on Bethesda's side.
    – SF.
    Jul 2 '13 at 6:35
  • @SF. - It's probably an optimization thing. If the player shoots an arrow up into the air at a 45 degree angle from the top of a mountain, the devs didn't want the engine to be checking for a hit 100 times a second for the next 5 minutes (I just made up those numbers off the top of my head, but you get the idea). Feb 23 '15 at 16:57
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    @GeneralMike: Not really; checking whether arrow location coincides with location of a dozen or so hittable entities is not very computationally heavy, and you can easily 'disable' the arrow once it exits 'loaded chunks'. I believe it was more of a game balance issue: force the players to take risks.
    – SF.
    Feb 24 '15 at 2:08

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