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An early archer shooting at targets from a distance. The Bowman cannot be upgraded, but trains quick and cheap.
—In-game description in the Definitive Edition

The Bowman is the most basic ranged unit in Age of Empires and is armed with a bow. They can be trained from the Archery Range from the Tool Age.


Due to their wood-only cost, they are considered a trash unit. Although individually ineffective, they can be spammed in very large numbers and successfully take down swarms of infantry units as advanced as Legionaries.

Bowmen do not have a direct upgrade, but stronger archer units such as Improved Bowmen and Composite Bowmen can be trained in the Bronze Age.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Infantry, Villagers
Weak vs. Slingers, cavalry, siege units
Attack Alchemy Alchemy (+1)
Range Woodworking Woodworking (+1)
Artisanship Artisanship (+1)
Craftsmanship Craftsmanship (+1)
Accuracy Ballistics Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor Leatherarmorarchersicon Leather Armor Archers (+2/+0)
Scalearmorarchersicon Scale Armor Archers (+2/+0)
Chainmailarchersicon Chain Mail Archers (+2/+0)
Creation speed RoR Conscription Conscription (+25%)

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonuses[]


ReturnRome-AoEIcon Age of Empires[]

  • Bowmen take 30 seconds to train and have 5 frame delay.
  • Assyrians AoE Assyrians: Bowmen fire 27% faster (but stated 40%).

Age of Empires Definitive Edition icon Definitive Edition[]

  • Bowmen have 26 frame delay.
  • Assyrians: Bowmen fire 33% faster (but stated 25%).
  • With update 9, Bowmen take 26 seconds to train. With update 38862, they take 30 seconds to train again.

AoE2Icon-ReturnRome Return of Rome[]

  • Bowmen gain +2 bonus attack vs Light infantry.
  • Team bonuses added:
    • Palmyrans AoE Palmyrans: Technologies benefiting Bowmen are researched 30% faster.
    • Phoenicians AoE Phoenicians: Bowmen have +2 Line of Sight.
  • Assyrians: With update 93001, Bowmen fire 11%/22%/33% faster in the Tool/Bronze/Iron Age.


The bow was an important military weapon from the time of the first armies, being easily adapted from hunting animals to warfare. Archers required less discipline and leadership in battle because they were not expected to engage in hand-to-hand combat, a terrifying experience. Bowmen fought from a distance on the battlefield, from behind walls or other cover, and from ambush. They were usually not decisive in battle on the attack because they could not physically take ground from the enemy like infantry could. They acted mainly as defensive troops and as light troops that disrupted enemy formations prior to the decisive moment when the infantry clashed. If barrages of arrows could cause casualties and lower morale of the enemy prior to the clash, friendly infantry had a better chance of breaking the will of the enemy infantry and being victorious.
Age of Empires manual


Tech tree[]

Archery Range
Returnofrome greek barracks icon Barracks
Stone Age Icon (DE)
Tool Age Icon (DE)
Bronze Age Icon (DE)
Iron Age Icon (DE)
Aoede bowman available
Aoede improved bowman available
Aoe improved bow icon Improved Bow
Composite Bowman
Chariot Archer
Wheelicon Wheel
Horse Archer
Aoede heavy horse archer available
Elephant Archer

Units in Age of Empires
CivilianReturnofrome female villager icon Villager · Returnofrome trade cart icon Trade Cart
OtherAoE2 DE priest icon Priest · Slinger-0 Slinger · Returnofrome artifact icon Artifact
Civilian ship1 Fishing Boat Fishing Boat · 2 Fishing Ship Fishing Ship
3 Trade Boat Trade Boat · 4 Merchant Ship Merchant Ship
InfantryClubman Clubman · AxemanAoEDE Axeman
Short Swordsman Short Swordsman · Broad Swordsman Broad Swordsman · AoE nuRoR Long Swordsman icon Long Swordsmen · Returnofrome legionary icon Legionary
HopliteDE Hoplite · AoE nuRoR Phalangite icon Phalangite · Returnofrome centurion icon Centurion
ArcherBowman aoe1de Bowman
Improved Bowman22 Improved Bowman · Composite Bowman Composite Bowman
Chariot Archer111 Chariot Archer
Horse Archer Horse Archer · Returnofrome heavy horse archer icon Heavy Horse Archer
EAICON DE Elephant Archer
CavalryScout-0 Scout
ChariotDE Chariot · ScytheDE Scythe Chariot
Cavalry111 Cavalry · Returnofrome heavy cavalry icon Heavy Cavalry · Returnofrome cataphract icon Cataphract
War ElephantDE War Elephant · Returnofrome armored elephant icon Armored Elephant
Camel RiderDE Camel Rider
SiegeStone ThrowerDE Stone Thrower · CatapultDE Catapult · Returnofrome heavy catapult icon Heavy Catapult
BallistaDE Ballista · Returnofrome helepolis icon Helepolis
War Ship7 Scout Ship Scout Ship · 8 War Galley War Galley · 9 Trireme Trireme
Catapult Trireme Catapult Trireme · Returnofrome juggernaut icon Juggernaut
10 Fire Galley Fire Galley
5 Light Transport Light Transport · 6 Heavy Transport Heavy Transport
Scenario Editor-only units
Short Swordsman Chieftain · Donkey caravan aoe2DE Donkey · Clubman Explorer · Returnofrome heavy cavalry icon General · AoE2 DE priest icon High Priest · Returnofrome horse icon Horse · HeavyCavalryDE Mercenary (removed) · Penguin aoe2DE Penguin · AoE2 DE priest icon Pharaoh · 5 Light Transport Raft · Returnofrome artifact icon War Chest