Bows were a common weapon in Arda. All peoples, Good and Evil, were known to have used them, most notably the Elves, Númenóreans, Rohirrim, Orcs, and even Hobbits.
Bows varied widely in shape, size and materials. While Elven flawless bows were made from wood, Númenórean bows were made of hollow steel, forged in armories. It is said in a poem that Eärendil wielded a bow "made of dragon-horn".
Bows by faction
- Elves were the first race to develop and master the use of bows, and later passed their knowledge on to Men.
- Among the Elves of Gondolin, the house of the Swallow and the house of the Heavenly Arch used bows as their primary weapons.
- The Elves of Doriath and Lothlórien used longbows which were, as their name suggests, longer bows which could shoot farther and higher than any other types of bows.
- Bows were a prominent weapon of the Elves of Mirkwood. Archers and spearmen formed the bulk of the Woodland Realm's army during the Battle of the Five Armies near Erebor.
- Númenóreans used the steel-bow, which as its name implies, was made of hollow steel. "In later days, in the wars upon Middle-Earth, it was the bows of the Númenóreans that were most greatly feared. 'The Men of the Sea,' it was said, 'send before them a great cloud, as of rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel...'". It shot black-feathered arrows that were a full ell long from point to notch and much feared by their enemies.
- Among the royal heirlooms of the Kings of Númenor was the Bow of Bregor. The Númenoreans were also the only known culture in Arda to have developed crossbows, used primarily for bird hunting. 
- The Gondorian army contains units of archers who use longbows. These bows are made of heartwood and reach about 68 inches tall. The arrows are about 28 inches long with four-inch steel tips, and accurate up to 200 yards. The longbowmen of the army wear their quiver (the case that holds the arrows) on their hips rather than on their backs like most archers. Bows were also the primary weapon of the Rangers of Ithilien.
- Rohirrim archers used shortbows; as they fought primarily from horseback, a longbow would be impractical. The shortbows were much less powerful than those used by other Men, having a range of only 125 yards.
- The various Northmen nations, including the Men of Dale and Lake-men, used bows for hunting and warfare alike.
- Bard the Bowman was a notable archer from Lake-town and played a key role in the slaying of the dragon Smaug with the Black Arrow.
- Beorn, a skinchanger affiliated with the Beornings, supplied Thorin and his company with a few hunting bows before they headed east towards Mirkwood.
- The Kings of Rhovanion from earlier centuries of the Third Age also employed mounted bowmen (a form of mounted infantry, rather than cavalry) as scouts within their realm. 
- Hobbits also used bows. Hobbit archers fought for Arnor in the Battle of Fornost, and also participated in the Battle of Bywater.
- Dwarves used bows less prominently than other races, but counted them among their military weapons. Dwarven bows were shortbows made of horn, or of a composite build using horn and wood. Thorin Oakenshield used a bow to threaten the Mirkwood Elves and the Men of Dale when he was reluctant to part with the treasures of Erebor.
- Orcs used bows for hunting, as well as weapons of war. Orc bows were made of horn, although the Uruk-hai of Isengard were known to use longer bows in the fashion of Men, which were made of yew.
- Duilin, a lord of Gondolin, along with his House of the Swallow.
- Beleg Cúthalion, who bore Belthronding.
- Bard, who slew the dragon Smaug with his Black Arrow.
- Legolas, a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
The forms quinga, ping are cognates deriving from the Primitive Quendian kwingā.
The form cogn, is derived from Primitive Quendian kuȝnā, itself representing the root KUȜ.
It is possible Tolkien's fascination with bows came from Red Indian stories:
Red Indians were better: there were bows and arrows (I had and have a wholly unsatisfied desire to shoot well with a bow)
But he [Tolkien] liked Red Indian stories and longed to shoot with a bow and arrow.
—Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
The idea of steel bows wielded by Númenorean military elites was likely inspired by historical steel bows from India, similarly expensive and rare archery weapons.  
Portrayal in adaptations
2001-2003: The Lord of the Rings (film series):
- Bows, just like all weapons from the films, were designed during the pre-production by artists like Warren Mahy, with aid from Alan Lee and John Howe. The majorty of them were hand-crafted by Weta Workshop employees. Races seen using bows include Men, Elves and Orcs. In The Two Towers, the Uruk-hai use crossbows in the beginning of the Battle of Helm's Deep (non-canonical to orcs). 
2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:
- Bows are available to player characters as handheld ranged weapons. There are also crossbows, less common.
2012-2014: The Hobbit (film series):
- Bows, just like all weapons from the films, were designed during the pre-production by artists like Warren Mahy, with aid from Alan Lee and John Howe. The majorty of them were hand-crafted by Weta Workshop employees. Races seen using bows include Men, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs.
- ↑ Anthony Burdge, Jessica Burke, "Weapons, Named"; in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (edited by Michael D.C. Drout)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", p. 170
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", Song of Eärendil
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", p. 273
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", "Notes", p. 171
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 340
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Departure of Boromir"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "KWIG" (in that source the first word is spelled qinga, and the second is Noldorin.
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry "KUȜ", p. 365
- ↑ Steel Bows in India. Orig. publ. in Society of Archer-Antiquaries, 1969. Sagittarius Twente University Archery Club website. Margo.student.utwente.nl (archived version, Archive.org)
- ↑ Indian Steel Bow discussion. MyArmoury.com discussion forums, 13 February 2010.
- ↑ ''The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) , Weta Workshop featurette
- ↑ ''The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition) , Weta Workshop featurette
- ↑ Category: Bow Items, The Lord of the Rings Online Wiki
- ↑ Category: Crossbow Items, The Lord of the Rings Online Wiki
- ↑ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Editions, Weta Workshop featurettes