Too many players die in Minecraft on a regular basis because they insist on using a sword. I get it – swords are easy to craft, simple to use, and it looks very skilful when you’re able to take a creeper out in melee range without having to deal with a messy cleanup afterward.
But there’s a better way of fighting mobs – a cleaner, safer, smarter way. Allow me to introduce you to our item of the week – the arrow.
Today, pressing “tab” just shows you a list of players you can shoot arrows at, and to do that you’ll need a bow or crossbow – which are crafted with sticks and string (plus a tripwire hook and an iron ingot for the crossbow).
Once you’ve got a bow or crossbow, you’ll need some arrows. Skeletons and strays drop them on death, and so do pillagers if you’re playing Bedrock Edition. You can also trade for arrows with fletcher villagers, barter with Piglins, find them in chests, or craft them out of a flint, a stick and a feather.
Got your arrows? Got something to fire them with? Great! Load your bow or crossbow with one. Then either let go of the button again (for a bow) or press it once more (for a crossbow) to fire it off. Did you hit something? If not, don’t worry - you can go over and pick the arrow up again. If you did hit your target, though, then you won’t be able to pick the arrow up again. It’s gone forever. Sorry.
You’ll quickly find that arrows are a much safer way of clearing out mobs than a sword – particularly in the Nether where many dangerous creatures can fly. If fully charged in a bow, an arrow will do 9-10 damage, and when fired from a crossbow it’ll do 6-11 damage (and also fly further and faster). Enchanting your bow or crossbow can enhance its damage further, and there’s even an enchantment that provides infinite arrows. Very handy.
Want to go a step further? Tip your arrows with potions so that they deliver those potion effects to their target! In Java edition, you can surround a potion with arrows in a crafting grid to tip them all. In Bedrock edition, you can also use your arrows on a cauldron that contains a potion.
Finally, if you’re playing Java Edition and having trouble tracking your enemies then may I suggest trying out a spectral arrow? Created by surrounding an arrow with four pieces of glowstone in a crafting grid, these special arrow variants make their targets glow through blocks for ten seconds, allowing you to see their outline. Just the thing for hunting down a troublesome creeper...
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