The Lady bowed her head, and she turned then to Boromir, and to him she gave a belt of gold; and to Merry and Pippin she gave small silver belts, each with a clasp wrought like a golden flower.
To Legolas she gave a bow such as the Galadhrim used, longer and stouter than the bows of Mirkwood, and strung with a string of elf-hair. With it went a quiver of arrows. ("LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring", Chapter VII, "FAREWELL TO LÓRIEN")

Now, I'm not an archery expert; but it's pretty obvious that an expert archer being given a bow that's quite different from the one he trained with all his life, with different draw strength, is NOT necessarily a good idea. Even if it's a better bow.

Did canon address this seeming issue of the gift in any way?

  • 4
    Reject the edit, I approved. It was a mistake.
    – Vishvesh
    Dec 3, 2015 at 6:24
  • 5
    “By your reasoning a person trained in firearms would be a shit shot if he was given a different gun to shoot??” Well, yeah, if you’ve shot small pistols for years and then you’re shooting a rifle, you probably won’t be that great. Dec 3, 2015 at 12:47
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    Legolas is nearly 3000 years old. Presumably he's practiced with more than one kind of bow in that time.
    – iayork
    Dec 3, 2015 at 13:15
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    @Cherubel - if you ask any archery expert, different bow types (and especially draw strengths) are vastly different. It takes a LONG time to train an excellent archer on a specific bow. Dec 3, 2015 at 14:26
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    in the typical way of fantasy, weapon masters seem to always be able to use the weapons they find, have, or are given. Legolas as a bow master, of some thousands of years, i think will be able to manage using a different bow with little to no effort.
    – Himarm
    Dec 3, 2015 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


There is no canon matter discussing how this problem (and it appears it would be a problem) was addressed in the narrative.

I'm unaware of any writing describing what Tolkien knew about archery in general. He mentions the subject once, in the essay "On Fairy-stories", saying only, "I had and have a wholly unsatisfied desire to shoot well with a bow." One might infer from his use of the word well that he had some experience with a bow, but I have no confirmation of that. It seems at least possible, however, that he may have been aware of the possible difficulties in switching between bow types; whether or not this was the case, though, Tolkien never discussed a solution in the book, nor in any other writing that I'm aware of.

Speculating, one could guess that Legolas might have been "playing with his new toy" during the night hours while the Fellowship was camping. There was a week between him getting the bow and shooting the Nazgûl's mount (cf. Appendix B entries for 16 and 23 February 3019); perhaps this was enough time for Legolas to familiarize himself with the bow. Or perhaps he had had some experience with a long bow in another context.

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    He's certainly had a lot of time to practice with all sorts of different bows prior to the events in LotR.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 3, 2015 at 23:53

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