Ranged Attack Done Right: the Six Second Moment

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In D&D the basic unit of combat is six seconds long. During these six seconds all actions are said to occur. However, it has always been part of the rules that anywhere from one to two shots can be fired during this time from a presumably skilled first level fighter. With health, skill, and training it takes around a second to take an arrow from a quiver and fire a single volley from a bow, often less.

How this could be done in D&D in 3.5e may be pertinent to D&D 4e. In the midst of combat a careful archer who is not supported by a unit may fire one more volley than is normally listed in the PHB in a turn (in this edition, six seconds). On a round where an attacker has a readied action with a ranged attack, any exposed target without cover nor concealment nor shield is within a single range increment may be subject of an attack of opportunity from this attacker up to as many times as they might feasibly commit an attack of opportunity as per with a melee weapon.

An example follows: a normal first level warrior with a short bow and fourteen arrows in the quiver. This warrior has a fourteen dexterity and combat reflexes. Should this warrior observe three orcs without shield standing on a grassy plain, she might obtain two attacks of opportunity in addition to her ordinary attack. If one orc is remaining and charges, the warrior has the option of making one normal attack plus two attacks of opportunity.
I don't think one should ever perform AoOs with a ranged weapon, because of what AoOs are.

AoOs exist because of the threatened area of a character. This area (typically all adjacent squares) is called 'threatened' because the character/monster is always considered to be sending feints and checked swings, and the like, into those squares.

You simply cannot do this with a ranged weapon unless you're a big fan of wasting ammunition, because you can't really be firing arrows into squares constantly because you only have so many. And that's not mentioning the game balance implications of AoOs at fifty feet.
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On a round where an attacker has a readied action with a ranged attack

I think this would be better solved by a Feat that allows you to ready more than one attack. Something like "Ready to Rumble"^^
Ceterum censeo scrinium puniceum esse delendam
And that's not mentioning the game balance implications of AoOs at fifty feet.

Yeah. I can just imagine this scenario...

Rogue: I flank you and deal sneak attack damage.
Opponent: You are all alone. Where's your flanking partner?
Rogue: That would the archer threatening you (by keeping his bow trained on you) 1000ft away.
Yeah. I can just imagine this scenario...

Rogue: I flank you and deal sneak attack damage.
Opponent: You are all alone. Where's your flanking partner?
Rogue: That would the archer threatening you (by keeping his bow trained on you) 1000ft away.

Well, flanking and AoO are a different matter.

However, given your example, I think sniping should be a little easier than it is in 3.5.

Only uber min/maxed halfling rogues have a chance to be effecient ranged sneak attackers (except if you use greater invisibility), with that whopping -20 on hide checks in combat.
Ceterum censeo scrinium puniceum esse delendam
Only uber min/maxed halfling rogues have a chance to be effecient ranged sneak attackers (except if you use greater invisibility), with that whopping -20 on hide checks in combat.

Actually, Rogues have the short end of the stick there, as their primary damaging ability (sneak attack) only applies within 30 ft.

However a mid-level ranger can snipe very effectively. Especially from the 1000 feet mentioned. Remember, you take a -20 to hide, but they take penalties to spot for distance, as well as any concealment or other circumstance modifiers you get.
You simply cannot do this with a ranged weapon unless you're a big fan of wasting ammunition, because you can't really be firing arrows into squares constantly because you only have so many. And that's not mentioning the game balance implications of AoOs at fifty feet.

If you note, I mention in the article you are replying to that a single range increment is permitted: hence 110' for a composite longbow without any associated enchantments nor applicable spells in effect.

Furthermore, please recall this is in the body of six seconds. In that much time any competent archer might be able to fire off several deadly arrows -- none of which would be wasted.

Opponent: You are all alone. Where's your flanking partner?
Rogue: That would the archer threatening you (by keeping his bow trained on you) 1000ft away.

That's 110' away with no concealment nor cover nor shield used by the target. This makes sense.

Actually, Rogues have the short end of the stick there, as their primary damaging ability (sneak attack) only applies within 30 ft.

I think that sneak attacks should in fact apply to under the first range increment. Perhaps RAoO should too.
If you note, I mention in the article you are replying to that a single range increment is permitted: hence 110' for a composite longbow without any associated enchantments nor applicable spells in effect.

Furthermore, please recall this is in the body of six seconds. In that much time any competent archer might be able to fire off several deadly arrows -- none of which would be wasted.

On his action, maybe. But again, filling every square in 110 feet with arrows every moment of the fight is a pretty ridiculous concept. Again, AoOs with ranged weapons do not work, because of what they represent. An AoO is not a 'pounce', it's simply continuing through with a swing you would have normally checked just to keep the foe on his toes. That does not work with ranged weapons unless you carry a couple thousand arrows.

Besides, drawing an arrow is a free action, and you can only take free actions on your turn. Unless you have a magical self-loading bow, you can't draw the arrow in the first place.
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On his action, maybe. But again, filling every square in 110 feet with arrows every moment of the fight is a pretty ridiculous concept.

Every moment of the fight or firing around two to four arrows every six seconds? Keep thinking about this one.

An AoO is not a 'pounce', it's simply continuing through with a swing you would have normally checked just to keep the foe on his toes.

Wrong for this version of "Dungeons and Dragons". An AoO is any attack that advantages itself of an opportunity. Hence the term "attack of opportunity". The rules given in the Player's Handbook would suggest that an attack of opportunity is any attack made on a person who makes themselves vulnerable through action. See page 137 of the 3.5 edition rules.

That does not work with ranged weapons unless you carry a couple thousand arrows.

It sounds like you're referring to a different argument. No it doesn't use up too many arrows. Generally speaking adventuring archers equip themselves with around fourty to sixty arrows and if two to four are fired per round this way, the ammunition can expire usually at ten rounds minimum.

Twenty arrows are usually sold per bundle as per the Player's Handbook. This can vary as per DM, Campaign Setting, or region in a Campaign Setting.

Besides, drawing an arrow is a free action, and you can only take free actions on your turn. Unless you have a magical self-loading bow, you can't draw the arrow in the first place.

Many free actions (such as talking) can be done at any time -- and readying ammunition is a free action and it can be ruled by the DM that it could be done at any time.

The only more advanced rule that occurs to me involves armour being considered cover. This has been used by DMs before in tandem with materials rules in D&D (and in other games that do not have more complete combat rules).
Many free actions (such as talking) can be done at any time -- and readying ammunition is a free action and it can be ruled by the DM that it could be done at any time.

Actually, Salla is correct in that with the exception of a few free actions such as speaking, free actions in general can only be performed during your round. Drawing ammunition does not explicitly state that you may perform it at any time (speaking actually has such a provision), so we should assume that you cannot reload your bow if it is not during your round.
Actually, Salla is correct in that with the exception of a few free actions such as speaking, free actions in general can only be performed during your round. Drawing ammunition does not explicitly state that you may perform it at any time (speaking actually has such a provision), so we should assume that you cannot reload your bow if it is not during your round.

On the contrary, there is no explicit statement one way or the other so we must assume that it's the fiat of each individual DM for their campaign how any given free action would work.

The rule I am suggesting for inclusion in 4e (or in private games) is in essence intended to assist simulation of ranged weapons in D&D. Given the intent and the desired result, it makes all the sense in the world that ammunition can be readied as a free action any time within a six second moment.

To limit an archer to one arrow in a six second moment is admitting that first to fifth level fighters are really just as languid as the lead figurines used to represent them.

On a calm day an ogre feasts on a screaming pony. A halfling grimly puts arrow to bow from fifty paces and fires a single shot. He waits five seconds. He must savor the moment of the ogre's charge. Makes all the sense in the world.

Another example: an array of tower-shielded fighters advance on an array of elven rangers. The elven rangers occasionally espy gaps they might fire through but manuever in elongated circular patterns, slowly progressing two yards every six seconds -- firing a single shot when they feel they might have a true vulnerability...

To be honest, simulated archery has not been the strong point of D&D ever. A multitude of suggestions have surfaced: expend three ammo for every round and attack, assume that the guy throwing the axe recovers it on a miss but must retreat from the target's rage should it hit and hence lose the axe, or even who actually plays D&D anyway.

Ranged weapons are deadly. A trained warrior can swiftly slay a target should that target not have cover, concealment, or a shield. Even the greatest of heroes perish should they be subjected to a flock of arrows.
To be honest, simulated archery has not been the strong point of D&D ever.

That's because this is a game, not a reality simulator. What you want (besides being generally illogical) would be unbalanced if not outright broken. Balance trumps realism.

Back to the ammo thing, the rule in D&D is that if you aren't expressly told you can do something, you cannot. You are expressly told that you can speak on other people's turns; you are not expressly told that you can draw ammo on other turns. Therefore, you cannot.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Actually I've always thought that the express rule was you can do anything if your DM allows it, so talk to your DM.

AoO's at range is tricky because then how do you deal with threatened area and movement, if a Bow can take an AoO whenever a creature moves out of a threatened area, in most cases 110ft encompases every creature on the board, why fight with a sword at all, every time I move I've left the rangers threatened area and he shoots me, better we all fight with bows and no-one ever takes more than a 5' step without dire need
There is no way to make ranged attacks (or anything else ) "right". It will lead to something very complex. For example, ranged should not be linked to DEX, but to "aim". Gymnastic champions make poor shooters, and a marksman do not necesarlly need to be good dodging. The guy that lighted the olimpic torch in Barcelona 92 was a great archer, and was handicaped and could not even walk decently (won the paralimpic archery contest btw)

If you try to make everything completelly "like in RL" you will have a ton of rules that will be unfun AND will not be completelly realistic anyway.
House Rules, everyone uses them. You all have reasons for thinking the way you do, but at the end of the day, did the players have fun or did they waste time figuring out frustrating rules? Its a FANTASY game, not rocket science. It should feel like youre in a fantasy movie, not taking a final exam looking through books and charts and glossaries.
"Realistically", a person would die from one arrow anyway, no need to fire the rest! LOL!
House Rules, everyone uses them.

They sure do. But the point is that we should not have to.

Dnd at least still needs an internally consistent gaming environment. We pay good money for their books so we can play the material straight out of the box based on the assumption that the material has already been pre-playtested and balanced out for us on our behalf. We do not pay for stuff which we still have to spend hours retooling/revising to make work, on top of all the time spent on designing our campaign world.

This is the one thing which dnd has been trying to achieve, yet has remained just out of its grasp...:P
Back to the ammo thing, the rule in D&D is that if you aren't expressly told you can do something, you cannot.

A falsity and foolery. If you are not expressly told you can do something in D&D it is possible depending on the situation as best discussed between DM and player defaulting to DM fiat. False precepts you got there, pardner. Complain to someone else, I am just explaining this idea. I have no compunction to handfeed you nor consolation for you.

if a Bow can take an AoO whenever a creature moves out of a threatened area, in most cases 110ft encompases every creature on the board

Depends on how you play, depends on whether or not creatures can feasibly charge someone one hundred and ten feet away. D&D is not always played in an closed environment (and dungeon adventures amount to a truly minute amount of adventures played) and if a character can exceed 150' in two rounds of movement (through running) then it's only obvious that the playing space need exceed a simulated 110' in unenclosed areas.

Also keep in mind that in enclosed areas lack of lighting presents concealment. One of the corollary restrictions is that no one can get a ranged AoO on a target with concealment nor a target with cover nor a target with a shield.

why fight with a sword at all, every time I move I've left the rangers threatened area and he shoots me, better we all fight with bows and no-one ever takes more than a 5' step without dire need

Think about tactical movement. An archer is only incredibly dangerous if they're not bleeding to death on the ground with their bow in splinters. Now consider a cavalry charge. There is a reason for light cavalry you know.

If you try to make everything completelly "like in RL" you will have a ton of rules that will be unfun AND will not be completelly realistic anyway.

If I was suggesting a rule "like in RL" it would be closer to old Chainmail than D&D at all: one hit, one kill. Hitpoints? Ha, a very experienced fighter dies just as fast from a chest wound as a guy just out of basic training.

This just makes it important for players to manuever their characters, to plan ahead for potential problems. Also, even without this rule, a DM should keep in mind that ranged attacks when used cleverly present interesting challenges and can prove obstacles worse than many a trap.
Okay....I'm super new here, so I don't know how to use quotes and all that good stuff, so bear with me...but in response to the argument about drawing during another combatant's action: Speaking has a specific statement in reference to other people's turns, precisely because the standard assumption is that you can't do anything but AoO during another player's turn, so when something allows you to, it's notable, as in the case of speaking or the use of feather fall. About the most solid case I can make for this? Look up the readied action rules in the PHB. One of the things you can ready is a free action; now wouldn't that be damned silly to ready something that you could have done anyway? Giving players the chance to perform non-AoO actions outside of their turn was the purpose of the immediate action, introduced (if I'm not mistaken) in Complete Adventurer. Interesting bit of trivia: they made feather fall into an immediate action retroactively. So, in summary: all action-types are assumed to take place in the character's own turn (except those which explicitly state otherwise, such as speech and the immediate action), drawing ammunition is a free action without any stated exceptions to standard rules, thus drawing ammunition can only be done on your own turn. ...wow, that whole thing seemed a lot more succinct in my head O.o

*edit: I now realize that there is a convenient little button on everyone's posts that lets you quote it. Please excuse me, I rolled one on my spot check.
If I was suggesting a rule "like in RL" it would be closer to old Chainmail than D&D at all: one hit, one kill. Hitpoints? Ha, a very experienced fighter dies just as fast from a chest wound as a guy just out of basic training..

A quick visit to a military hospital or veterans of war meeting will show you that is perfectly possible to be wounded and survive. The list of military members that got a Medal becouse they were wounded and keep fighting is also a proof that, in short, you are wrong. One hit one K.O. is not realistic either.
A quick visit to a military hospital or veterans of war meeting will show you that is perfectly possible to be wounded and survive.

I'd see kills in the hospital. It is assumed that a "kill" in Chainmail is defacto a crippling wound or worse. It is perfectly possible that modern medicine is a bit more capable of healing those scratched up on the battlefield than medieval medicine.

While the highway of brambles may be more immediate and less avoidable, the old road provided greater assurance of mortality to ones foes.

introduced (if I'm not mistaken) in Complete Adventurer.

The Complete Adventurer is expanded rules that needn't be part and parcel nor even considered by any DM. Furthermore, each and every rule in the entire game is open to discussion and consideration by the DM and players but hopefully not to the deficit of the game.

Furthermore, I suppose I should peruse that book to see if it could be of use. And keep in mind that immediate actions can adjusted? After all, there are senselessly long "move actions" that make no sense given the length of a combat turn in D&D 3.5 edition.
A falsity and foolery. If you are not expressly told you can do something in D&D it is possible depending on the situation as best discussed between DM and player defaulting to DM fiat. False precepts you got there, pardner. Complain to someone else, I am just explaining this idea. I have no compunction to handfeed you nor consolation for you.

Now you are twisting our words and you know it.

When we mean whether something is possible or not, we naturally mean it with regards to the rules as written. DM fiat has not yet entered the picture, nor should it, since this then renders the whole argument moot. Why bother arguing what you can or cannot do if the DM can just rule any way he wishes?

I am not saying that your DM cannot use rule zero. Go ahead by all means, it is your game, not mine. What I am saying is that for all purposes of maintaining a meaningful discussion, all points should reference the RAW as closely as possible.

It is very stupid, IMO, if I, you and Salla were to have a 3 way-disagreement, and evidence to back up our points are "because I rule so in my game". At the end of the day, it still would not resolve anything.
Furthermore, please recall this is in the body of six seconds. In that much time any competent archer might be able to fire off several deadly arrows -- none of which would be wasted.

what are you basing that opinion on? Historical texts show that the average English longbowman fired around 10 arrows per minute while experienced ones were capable of 20 arrows a minute.

Now keep in mind these were not precision shots and were indirect volleys directed towards large masses of troops. Aiming and firing at a specific target takes much more time, especially if they are moving. I think you'd find in a hectic closerange fight that even a good archer would struggle to get off 1 shot every 6 seconds an expect any degree of good accuracy.

It is possible to fire modern bows at a faster rate however the power produced by each shot is seriously reduced and the drawstrength of such bows is far less than their medieval counterparts. It takes a lot of strength and endurance to use a heavy long or composite bow effectively which makes maintaining even a rate of fire of 1-2 arrows every 6 seconds extremely difficult. An untrained archer would likely have a ROF much lower than that.
what are you basing that opinion on? Historical texts show that the average English longbowman fired around 10 arrows per minute while experienced ones were capable of 20 arrows a minute.

Most texts report around 12-15 arrows per minute for the longbow and a few also mention how slow the longbow was in comparison to the composite bow of the East (the Persian horse-archer bow). The French crossbow was superceded in speed by the British longbow however.

Also, the longbow was known for its precision: the archers were not spraying arrows over the battlefield. They were aiming.

One must keep in mind that the bow is hardly the swiftest of ranged weapons -- but we must also keep in mind that it could very well be the bow that brings the fighter up to keel with the spellcaster... and far beyond in some cases.

Keep game balance in mind and you might come to understand the reason for suggested ideas rather than ganging into a cupboard that has no room for lack of consideration.
But bear in mind that foes will likely have tons of hp, and this will be even more true at higher lvs.

Firing 1 arrow each round already seems very fast in real life, but if you consider the hp foes will have, you will need to fire 6-10 arrows each round just to be on par damagewise with the charging fighter. This is a necessity, not a luxury.
Also, the longbow was known for its precision: the archers were not spraying arrows over the battlefield. They were aiming.

Longbows really don't really seem like they were used much for precision work, at least on the battlefield. That's certainly not how they were used against the French at Crecy and Agincourt (and far less successfully in other battles) or against in their battles against the Scots. The standard tactic seemed to be to bombard a certain area with as many arrows as they could in order to slaughter lightly armoured troops and demoralise more heavily armoured ones.

While they weren't spraying arrows around wildly, they weren't targeting individual troops either. They were just mass targeting the same body of troops/area and raining arrows on them. Longbows (and most high drawstrength bows) are actually quite difficult to aim due to the fact it's takes a fair bit of strength to keep them drawn and also because of the length of the arrows themselves. The arrows when fired over distance tend to 'wobble' and thus lose some precision when compared to the shorter and stiffer crossbow bolts. This is another reason why crossbows also generally had better penetration/energy transfer over range.
One must keep in mind that the bow is hardly the swiftest of ranged weapons -- but we must also keep in mind that it could very well be the bow that brings the fighter up to keel with the spellcaster... and far beyond in some cases.

But that not necesarelly imply shooting 5 arrows. Shooting 1 arrow that do 5x the damage do the same trick, without needing to convert each and every archer in a Legolas machine gun. (that is a bad idea too, becouse unless you have a Quiver of endless arrows you are going to be out of ammo soon). Some prestige classes already hinted the idea, giving them the equivalent of sneak attack when they fire just 1 arrow. That's a good step.
But that not necesarelly imply shooting 5 arrows. Shooting 1 arrow that do 5x the damage do the same trick, without needing to convert each and every archer in a Legolas machine gun.

Between a few shots which deal a lot of damage each, and many shots which deal lesser damage each, I am actually in favour of the latter, since I believe that it allows for greater consistency (same mean damage, but lower standard deviation overall).

For example, reworking archery such that your character fires say, only 2-3 shots each combat, but each has the potential to 1-shot the BBEG can easily upset the game.

Does your take offer greater realism? Perhaps. Is it desirable in a fictional fantasy game which does not always share any correlation with real life mechanics? Not necessarily.
For example, reworking archery such that your character fires say, only 2-3 shots each combat, but each has the potential to 1-shot the BBEG can easily upset the game.

Then mages should cast 5-6 minifireballs per turn, each of them doing 1d8+5 instead of 10d6?
Why what works for wizards (ie: a desintegrate spell doing up to 40d6 with a ranged touch attack) would not work for an archer?
There are, I think, a few ways to look at how realisim can apply to the normal attack rules, melee or ranged. For instance when my friends and I go at it with bokens we get in way more than one swing in 6 seconds, out of all those swings though only one or two will have enough umph and be accurate enough to be considered an 'attack' inside the DnD rules.

In the realm of ranged attacks it could apply two ways, either the bowman is fireing multiple arrows and the listed number of attacks is just the one that is a good solid hit, or he's takeing time to line up a good shot, only fireing when he has a solid chance of doing damage.

There is a third way to think of this as well, your damage roll doesn't have to represent a single strike, it could instead represent multiple less damaging strikes. In this case having more attacks per round would represent getting faster as you gain experiance. This way a fighter with four attacks per round may actuailly be hitting 40 times. That might be abit hard to get your head arround but by the time you have a BAB of 16 or higher you're into the realm of characters that are legendary in ability. Rember a first level fighter is a crack troop in normal armies.
Then mages should cast 5-6 minifireballs per turn, each of them doing 1d8+5 instead of 10d6?
Why what works for wizards (ie: a desintegrate spell doing up to 40d6 with a ranged touch attack) would not work for an archer?

Perhaps, if those fireballs did not allow reflex saves, and fire resistance was calculated differently.

Because last time I checked, arrows didn't allow a fort save to reduce its damage to a negligible amount. Nor could a wizard fire 10 disintegrates each round, the same way an archer can shoot 12 arrows/round. Dr is moot because of the force weapon property from MIC.

So at the end of the way, the damage dealt by 12 bane arrows fired from a holy bow (I calculate at least 300 damage) is no less than a single well-placed disintegrate (and that is assuming the foe fails his fort save).
So at the end of the way, the damage dealt by 12 bane arrows fired from a holy bow (I calculate at least 300 damage) is no less than a single well-placed disintegrate (and that is assuming the foe fails his fort save).

Fine, i agree with that. Im not saying that desintegrate is overpowered or something. My point is:

if wizards can have only 2-3 spells in a combat, that have the potential to one-shot the BBEG, and have the problem of higher standard deviation, but it *works*, then the archer can go the same route and still will work.
The assumption is that the average low level fighter would only be able to let loose two to three missile attacks a round on "attack of opportunity". This should be sufficient to make up for their lack of spells that have "sudden death" effects such as the first level sleep spell (when combined with coup-de-gras).

At higher levels this almost amounts to a magical ability but is hardly out of line for what fantasy heroes are capable of in six seconds.

The argument that a spellcaster should section up their spellcasting into minute spells is negligible. At the level that they obtain powerful destructive spells, many of these do not require a "roll to hit" and furthermore around this level spellcasters can provide themselves with magical defense that might negate normal arrows and thrown axes, etc.

Of course should this rule be used in tandem with archaic grenades or "splash weapons" one must keep in mind that most shields and most cover doesn't provide protection against an AoO grenade hit. This is an age old contention. One must remember that AoO isn't a new rule by any means and that rules involving AoO and ranged weapons were initially applied to modern military sim.
That's because this is a game, not a reality simulator. What you want (besides being generally illogical) would be unbalanced if not outright broken. Balance trumps realism.

What he is asking for is not illogical except in the narrow and subjective terms you apparently are using.

If I was armed with a bow, and two creatures broke from cover 50' away from me, I would definitely get a shot at each of them before they closed with me.

The problem is not that the OP is breaking the rules or proposing something foolish, the problem is as is noted, that DnD does not do ranged weapons well. This is (IMHO) because they are not as glorious as hand to hand combat. What fun the Paladin who charges the line of enemy goblins only to be bought down be a flight of arrows launched by peons. Realistic, perhaps. Fun, not so much.

This would indicate then that the problem cannot be realistically fixed within the basic game parameters.

I used to play Pendragon (and still love the game), where all weapons did damage based on your strength + size (typically 3 to 4d6 damage), + or - one dice depending on the style of weapon. Bows were lethal, but only employed by hunters and non-knightly sorts - because it was ignoble to use a bow for fighting.
Man, I'd love to see an archer in real life accurately fire an arrow every two seconds for a full minute. That's faster than Legolas in LOTR, and they had to use CG (computer graphics, not chaotic good) to get the arrows into Orlando Bloom's hand that fast.

Anyway, a first-level fighter can also only stab someone with a rapier once every six seconds, which is way more ludicrous. As a matter of fact, it sounds like in 4e, a 30th-level fighter will only be able to stab someone with a rapier once every six seconds too, unless he takes some special feats. (No more iterative attacks!)
what are you basing that opinion on? Historical texts show that the average English longbowman fired around 10 arrows per minute while experienced ones were capable of 20 arrows a minute.

Which is 2 per round.

Now keep in mind these were not precision shots and were indirect volleys directed towards large masses of troops. Aiming and firing at a specific target takes much more time, especially if they are moving. I think you'd find in a hectic closerange fight that even a good archer would struggle to get off 1 shot every 6 seconds an expect any degree of good accuracy.

whether direct or indirect fire is definitely debatable. There is no reason to suppose that someone trained for 5 years at a range of over 200 yards at a specific target could not then pick his target on a battlefield and aim directly at it.

It takes a lot of strength and endurance to use a heavy long or composite bow effectively which makes maintaining even a rate of fire of 1-2 arrows every 6 seconds extremely difficult. An untrained archer would likely have a ROF much lower than that.

King Henry I passed a law absolving men of murder if they shot someone during archery practice.
King Edward I passed a law prohibiting all sports except archery on Sundays.
King Henry VIII passed a law that stated that no yeoman over the age of 21 would be permitted to practice the longbow at a range of less than 200 yds.

These laws would ensure that there would be a good supply of well trained archers.

It is clear that by the time of "adventuring age" a character who wanted to would be quite a competent archer if based on historical archetypes.

I read on Wikipedia that an archer could hit a person at 165 m (180 yards) "part of the time" and could always hit an army. D&D ranges as far as maximums go are on the long side (250 m historically used for longbow, = 780 ft) but certainly pretty close.

All this being said, I am not sure the game would benefit by have much more realistic archery rules.
Man, I'd love to see an archer in real life accurately fire an arrow every two seconds for a full minute. That's faster than Legolas in LOTR, and they had to use CG (computer graphics, not chaotic good) to get the arrows into Orlando Bloom's hand that fast.

Two seconds is a long, long time. In two seconds, a healthy person can usually sprint around sixty five feet (if they are already sprinting). In three seconds, a healthy person with three years of archery training could probably take an arrow out of a quiver, put it to a bow string and pull the bow string back, take aim at a target and hit... this is with a modern sports bow.

Most composite bows of archaic make are extremely flexible and not difficult to draw back at all. Exceptions are the Hungarian and Mongolian composite bows.

Anyway, a first-level fighter can also only stab someone with a rapier once every six seconds, which is way more ludicrous.

It is assumed that in a melee a first level fighter can stab more than once given an attack of opportunity. It is also assumed that they are attacking more than once -- and not hitting even if they do "damage". Damage to hitpoints does not always reflect actual physical damage.
Most composite bows of archaic make are extremely flexible and not difficult to draw back at all. Exceptions are the Hungarian and Mongolian composite bows.

Or any bow in the game that adds strength to damage? Seeing as that's the point of them...
whether direct or indirect fire is definitely debatable. There is no reason to suppose that someone trained for 5 years at a range of over 200 yards at a specific target could not then pick his target on a battlefield and aim directly at it.

If you read again, you'll note that I am suggesting that only targets within the first range iteration should be subject as targets for AoO. That's 110' maximum.

Also, I should probably mention that it takes a bit less than three seconds to load, draw, and fire a modern bow. My intended meaning was: it is only obvious that a person using a modern bow could fire at least one arrow per three seconds. To include the rest of the intended meaning: with an archaic bow, it can be easier, especially with the older Persian horse-bows (or old fashioned composite bows).

I read on Wikipedia that an archer could hit a person at 165 m (180 yards) "part of the time" and could always hit an army. D&D ranges as far as maximums go are on the long side (250 m historically used for longbow, = 780 ft) but certainly pretty close.

How much chance does a high level fighter stand against a wizard or cleric at a 100' range if their weapons and armour and items have been disenchanted? None.

All this being said, I am not sure the game would benefit by have much more realistic archery rules.

It actually could bear more feasible archery rules. It's a simple consideration: AoO are available in the first range iterance of an attacker with a throwable weapon, loaded crossbow, or readied bow and open quiver with arrows remaining. Triggers for AoO would be those in that range with no shield, no cover, and no concealment.

Or any bow in the game that adds strength to damage? Seeing as that's the point of them...

You are not understanding what I am suggesting. Hungarian and Mongolian stronger horse-bows were for firing arrows to pierce armour. Weaker horse-bows had higher rate of fire and are extremely simple and easy to draw back. Rate of fire would differ and this is a consideration.
You are not understanding what I am suggesting. Hungarian and Mongolian stronger horse-bows were for firing arrows to pierce armour. Weaker horse-bows had higher rate of fire and are extremely simple and easy to draw back. Rate of fire would differ and this is a consideration.

Well, it's not in DnD. You either have Rapid Shot or you don't. Your BAB is either above 6 or it isn't. In DnD you always want bows rated for the highest strength you can draw. All other rate of fire rules assume you're getting bows that heavy, and when you don't, you just lose out.
Well, it's not in DnD. You either have Rapid Shot or you don't.

"Well, it's not in D&D. You either are human and get unlimited level progression or you don't." Hey, smart guy, keep in mind that rule suggestions are rule suggestions. Also keep in mind that game rules are often subject to house rules.

I know you can't really stand to see a good idea suggested by someone that you're not affiliated with and that is in no way interested in you as a person, but it's an idea that might be useful. Face up to it and step out of the way.
I'm not offended by rules suggestions that aren't my own. I am bothered by the idea of making an entirely new timing system for the game. The game's actions and action count per turn is really good. It can cover a large number of situations without problems. A new timing subsystem would be bad. Ranged Attacks don't have rates of fire because they mostly follow the melee attack rules. You get X attacks per round based on BAB and feats, and X is always an integer. DnD has had Rate Of Fire in the past, and it wasn't that great to remember every other round to get +1 attack, or that some of your attacks were at the start of the round and some were at the very end of the round.

Game Rules are also often subject to house rules. If you want to make some rate of fire rules so that number of attacks is based on weapon used for your games, that's great. Such rules probably should not be part of the default game.

I'm not sure what being human or not has to do with unlimited level progression.