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I have read the description of the buckler from d20pfsrd but remain confused on whether the defense bonus applies to the character while he is shooting with the bow, or not. I have read many arguments against and towards this but nobody seems to have come to an agreement nor a WOW argument for this subject.

A more clear question, perhaps, would be: Does shooting a bow count as using a weapon in the off hand?

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I've retagged this with just Pathfinder, since if we're discussing a rules subtlety within that system, 3.5e isn't relevant. Additionally, the dungeons-and-dragons normally should not coexist with a more specific system tag. –  doppelgreener Oct 19 '13 at 15:36
@JonathanHobbs got to know for the future. –  Discipol Oct 19 '13 at 19:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You do not get the buckler's armor bonus when attacking with a bow. A bow requires two hands to shoot, and therefore uses the arm on which the buckler sits to fire. Typically, in real archery, the bow itself is held in the off hand while the primary hand draws the arrow.

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It is worth adding there is still a benefit to equipping the buckler whilst firing a bow: It costs no (additional) actions to gain the bonus of the buckler AC defence once the bow is no longer in use. –  Neil Slater Oct 19 '13 at 15:19
@NeilSlater are you sure? I thought the comment just established that the bow is probably in the buckler hand. Otherwise you are trying to reach for your arrows with the arm that has a buckler attached to it! Conceivable if they're at your hip... almost. Except drawing an arrow is a free action... I can't easily imagine a bucklered arm not getting caught on something while moving so fast as to be a free action! -- Note the comments on the answer below by Paul Hutton say you'd not get the bonus back until your next turn. –  Julix May 17 at 17:28
@Julix: The timing is still a consideration (you don't get the bonus immediately, and you do have to stop making attacks with the bow), but it does not cost an extra action to deploy the shield once you have put the bow down/away (it would for a small shield) –  Neil Slater May 17 at 17:43
Huh? Down? Like back in the bow quiver or what have you? Dropping is a free action, so I'd like to allow dropping the bow to regain Shield bonus in the same round. I guess you could switch hands (free action) - but it messes with my sense of immersion, because rounds are an abstraction. Many things happen at the same time, so it would look silly to just change hands, shoot three times, change hands again. -- Even then I'm not sure if it would work by RAW given the phrase " In any case, if you use a weapon in your off hand, you lose the buckler's Armor Class bonus until your next turn." –  Julix May 17 at 17:49
Even if you threw a dagger with the buckler arm (accepting the minus 1 to hit) you'd loose the AC bonus until the next round, and that one stretches the willingness to suspend disbelief much less than switching hands a bunch. –  Julix May 17 at 17:50

The rules are unclear about this.

It all boils down to if the wording "if you use a weapon in your off hand" includes or not helping the primary hand in wielding a two-armed weapon.

The wording of the buckler, though, makes a distinction between "using an off-hand weapon or using your off hand to help wield a two-handed weapon" so I'd say that the no-AC penalty does apply in the first case only, but I know many D&D games where this isn't held true (it's the difference between using and holding the off-hand weapon).

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Historically they were used as protection by archers for when they were attacked and needed to drop their bows to draw their long knives / shortswords. They were worn, but not used, while using the bow. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '13 at 17:28
but while you shoot the bow, say aoos wouldn't hit the buckler, but once you finished your round, you would be able to defend with the buckler hand, right? –  Discipol Oct 19 '13 at 19:10
No, the rules state: 'you lose the buckler's Armor Class bonus until your next turn' –  Paul Hutton Oct 19 '13 at 19:19

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