Quick Look: Archery
Archery increases your damage with ranged weapons, and its perks give you useful abilities like more damage, critical hits, stagger, paralsysis, the ability to zoom and slow time.
The Archery skill determines your damage with bows, and it's the best ranged option in the game - a high-quality bow that's been enhanced by a character who has leveled the crafting skills and is wearing enchanted equipment that further boosts bow damage can do many times the damage per arrow than any spell can hope to achieve. If you actually want to play a ranger/archer type, it's a no-brainer, and it's a skill that makes assassinations considerably easier.
Archery is one of the rare skill trees where pretty much every perk is enticing... or at least on the way to something enticing. "Overdraw" is an obvious investement, as it offers five ranks that each increase your damage by 20%. If you want to use bows regularly, there's no good reason not to invest five perks to double your damage. "Critical Shot" has three ranks which further enhance your damage, while "Eagle Eye" and the two ranks of "Steady Hand" allow you to zoom on targets and slow time while you do so (albeit at a Stamina cost), making it much easier to hit things.
"Power Shot" delivers by constantly staggering foes, giving you time to put more arrows in them, while "Quick Shot" conspires towards the same end by allowing you to draw your bow faster. "Ranger" is another great utility perk, as it lets you walk faster with your bow drawn. It doesn't sound like much, but... after reaching Skill Level 60 without it, it's a godsend. Finally, once you hit Skill Level 100 you can get the "Bullseye" perk, which has a 15% chance to paralyze targets. So, yeah, that's a lot of good stuff. The only dud is the "Hunter's Discipline" perk, which allows you to recover twice as many arrows from enemies. It's not a bad thing to recover more arrows, but arrow damage compared to overall bow damage is trivial, so you might as well just use the cheapest arrows you can get, which doesn't provide much incentive to fret over them.
Unfortunately, Archery is just one of those skills that takes forever to level up. To level it, you really just have to go around shooting things. Alot of them. Expect to expend over 3,000 arrows on this, and that's a generous estimate. It unforunately can't be quickly and cheaply leveled in Helgen because you just don't get many arrows before you leave. Aside from training this skill, there's one way to boost it somewhat quicker. South of Falkreath you'll find "Agni's Shack" in the mountains. Find the shack's namesake and, if you go shoot targets with her, you'll level up your skill very quickly as you meet her challenges. Waiting until your Skill Level is 90 or so is recommended as it's better to get some progress at these painfully slow, higher levels. It's also suggested that you invest whatever perks you plan to invest before taking on some of Agni's harder challenges... being able to zoom in and slow down time will make this much, much easier.
|Faendal||Adept (Lv. 15 - 50)||Riverwood|
|Aela the Huntress||Expert (Lv. 51 - 75)||Whiterun, Jorrvaskr|
|Niruin||Master (Lv. 76 - 90)||Riften, Thieve's Guild (Ragged Flagon - Cistern)|