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The eldritch archer magus archetype can cast spells with somatic components and wield a ranged weapon at the same time (most of them are two-handed). The thing is that most spells require material components or foci, and even admitting that the eldritch archer would't have any difficulty to use material components while wielding a ranged weapon, the rules about foci are very nebulous. Moreover, I wonder if the False Focus feat would be helpful to me, to save gold and carrying capacity by removing the need of material components for most spells.

Does a focus/divine focus need to be held in hand to cast a spell ? If so, can the hand holding it perform somatic components (and in the case of the eldritch archer, wield a ranged weapon) ?

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The extraordinary ability ranged weapon bond of the magus archetype eldritch archer says, "Holding her bonded item does not prevent the eldritch archer from providing somatic components for her spells."

But on Choosing a Spell says, "To cast a spell, you must be able to… manipulate the material components or focus (if any)" necessary for casting the spell. Unless the GM can be convinced that the PC can manipulate the material or focus components with his mouth, the PC'll likely need an empty hand to manipulate any of the spell's material or focus components.

Thus, as written, an eldritch archer magus must still manipulate material and focus components, probably using an empty hand. (Also note that I've never heard of a GM that didn't allow a spell's somatic components, material components, and focus components to all be used with the same at-first-empty hand, but I've also not heard of a GM who allows a caster to manipulate material and focus components with his mouth.)

In sum, this means the typical eldritch archer magus must pick his spells carefully—that is, spells without material and focus components—if he's to cast spells while wielding a two-handed ranged weapon. However, it's a free action to take a hand off a two-handed weapon and a free action to put a hand back on a two-handed weapon (see here), so that's an option instead (although that's usually not an option if casting off turn a spell that possesses a casting time of 1 immediate action).

The feats Eschew Materials or False Focus (perhaps by wearing armor or employing a bow created with the feat Create Reliquary Arms and Shields) will certainly be useful if manipulating material components has become an issue for the eldritch archer magus.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess I should point out that the joke in the hover-over text of my user image comes from pretty much this exact kind of situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 12 '17 at 13:18
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Casting a spell that uses material components requires only that you be able to manipulate those components. While the rules tacitly assume a free hand plus a spell component pouch somewhere on your body is sufficient to enable your manipulation of said components, in actuality no rules text states that, nor are many guidelines available as to what should and shouldn't be allowed, and the guidelines that are present are a little silly.

What you should do is ask your DM how material components are going to be handled in your game. Probably you can just pay for some twine and tie your spell component pouch or the components themselves to your bow, manipulating them indirectly. Possibly you can stuff them in your shoes and do a jig or something. Regardless, what level of manipulative faculty is to be regarded as sufficient is a call only your DM can make.

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