The Composite Bowman is better than the Improved Bowman. Civilizations that can train the Improved Bowman usually have the ability to upgrade them to a Composite Bowman. Because of this, the Improved Bowman never really makes their full appearance in a random game. Boasting solid overall stats, the Composite Bowman is an excellent ranged choice due to its low cost.
In Deathmatch games, only the Minoans can use them efficiently, thanks to their range bonus. Since all players start with high resources in this type of game, civilizations that can train Cataphracts, or powerful siege weapons such as the Heavy Catapult or Helepolis, can make short work of them due to their fragility.
Originally, Composite Bowmen were called Longbowmen, this is also the reason why their bow is longer than a traditional composite bow.
The Composite Bowman in game will not be able to imitate his pose in the icon. In the icon, he is facing southeast while aiming at an enemy, holding the bow with his right arm and arrow with the left, allowing his back to face the player's view. In-game, when he is asked to face same direction and fire at an enemy unit, it is the other way around, exposing his front view to the player instead.
The composite bow was developed in Asia was also known as the oriental or recurved bow. It reached the Mediterranean and Middle East by the beginning of the second millennium B.C. It was made of layers of wood glued together rather than a single piece. The composite material was then bent outward at each end to increase tension. The result was a very powerful bow that doubled the effective range of the short bow. Egyptian engravings depicting the Battle of Kadesh show Rameses II and other Egyptian archers using composite bows.
—Age of Empires manual
A group of Composite Bowmen.
A group of Composite Bowmen attacking an enemy Storage Pit.
Composite Bowman in-game and infobox comparison. Even though the two illustrations show the Composite Bowman firing southeast, his in game counterpart does not imitate his pose on the infobox.