How to craft a Minecraft bow – recipe and best enchantments

Knowing how to craft a Minecraft bow is almost as essential as knowing the sword recipe, as the ranged weapon can get you out of most scary situations.

A player dressed in a Steve skin holds an enchanted Minecraft bow.

How do you craft a Minecraft bow? The Minecraft bow recipe is one of the most infuriating in the sandbox game, as you’ve got to get your sticks and string the right way round. Don’t worry if you can never remember it, we forget sometimes too. That said, we promise the bow recipe below is accurate, and we prove it with images, just in case you’re worried.

While an axe or sword are crucial for combat in Minecraft, a bow can actually be one of the most important weapons in your hot bar in the survival game – especially when daring to walk through a Minecraft Nether portal. Firing arrows at a distant Ghast in the lava-filled realm is the best way to keep them at bay, and they’re also a good tool against Blazes, especially with some of the best Minecraft enchantments equipped. So, read on to find out how to craft a Minecraft bow and the best enchantments we recommend applying to your new ranged weapon.

Two Minecraft bow recipes side by side, showing variations.

Minecraft bow recipe

To craft a Minecraft bow, place three sticks and three string into a crafting grid. The difficult part is remembering which resources go where, but just remember to replicate the curved wood and resting string of a real bow.

As you can see in the image above, the recipe works with the resources oriented either way, as long as string is in either the left or right column, and the wood placement looks like a c-shape (or less-than symbol). Hopefully picturing the curved wood of a bow helps you remember, as we’ve all tried to craft this recipe the other way round, trust me.

A minecraft bow in an anvil being combined with an infinity enchanted book.

Best Minecraft bow enchantments

The best Minecraft bow enchantments are infinity and mending, but the two can’t be used together. Whichever you choose, complete your setup with the rest of these bow enchantments for the best enchanted Minecraft bow.

The best Minecraft bow enchantments are:

  • Infinity or Mending
  • Flame
  • Power V
  • Piercing IV
  • Punch II
  • Unbreaking III

It’s an ongoing debate within the Minecraft community whether infinity or mending is best (team infinity!), but there are pros and cons to both, and it depends on your own preference and how you play Minecraft. The reason this is a question at all, is because Infinity and Mending are mutually exclusive enchantments…

Can you use Infinity and Mending on a Minecraft bow?

Infinity and Mending are mutually exclusive as, together, they would create an almost indestructible weapon with infinite ammo, which we can all agree would take the fun out of it. As such, you must choose which is most important to you, as either can be considered one of the best Minecraft bow enchantments.

A player aims a Minecraft bow at a Ghast in the Nether.

Should you use infinity or mending on a bow?

So, which should you choose? Again, this really comes down to you, but we’ll explain each and let you decide. If you don’t like making decisions, then we’re in the infinity camp, as Unbreaking III helps maintain your bow’s duration longer than normal anyway.

The benefit to mending is that, by killing creatures with it, or earning XP with your bow in your off-hand (Java edition only), some experience orbs are used up in mending your bow, meaning it lives longer. This is great news for any tool that you’ve kitted out with a number of enchantments, as building a new one from scratch is time, resource, and XP consuming. On the other hand, you must have plenty of arrows with you, which means gathering them in the first place, and trying not to run out when you need them.

With infinity, you do still need to have one arrow in your inventory, so you still always use up a slot. However, this one arrow becomes infinite and is never used up, no matter how many you shoot. Perfect if your aim isn’t the best. Since you can’t have mending equipped, unbreaking gives your bow a little more life than standard and, here’s the important bit, if you keep an eye on the durability of your bow, you can take it to an anvil when it gets low and simply combine it with a basic, unenchanted, wood and string bow to increase its durability, rendering mending almost useless. Even with mending, you should still keep a close eye on the durability of your bow, as it can still break.

Of course, either way, you need additional resources: arrows for mending, and an anvil and additional bows for infinity. Plus, if you drop or lose your infinity arrow, you need to find another. This is where you need to decide which is better for you. To get more arrows, you can always trade with a fletcher villager. Iron for an anvil might be harder to find if you’re running low.

That’s everything you need to know about the Minecraft bow, so off you go to kill those foes! Ah, poetry. We know the infinity-mending decision is a tough one, but you could always make one of each. Either way, hopefully we’ve helped you decide.The bow is one of the cheapest weapons to craft as you don’t need Minecraft diamonds or the even more rare Minecraft Netherite to make one, unlike the best swords and axes. However, as you need string, you should make sure you’re familiar with spiders, the Minecraft mobs that drop the resource. Don’t worry, they’re not too scary.