The following is a set of notes for a character concept which will appear later, as well as information specific to my own setting. Feel free to borrow what you like!
Like many forms of combat, archery was refined to the art form it has become in the modern age by the elven masters. Wood elf and Eladrin mastery of the bow pushed what was believed possible for any archer, taking it to its new place as a weapon useful at both long and close ranges of combat.
The elven races had already refined swordplay into an elegant, mobile dance of whirling blade and limb. Darting from place to place around the battlefield, leaping, tumbling, twirling, fairly dancing away from foes too quickly for the eye to catch. They had established the power and effectiveness of the longbow as a ranged weapon, utilizing their keen eleven senses to place shots with incredible accuracy over longer distances than were thought possible. However, for all that, long distance archery was generally performed while stationary, and while running along the battlefield and shooting on the move were the next logical steps, it was only a matter of time before someone realized it could be taken further.
One of the masters was struck with an inspiration; combine the best elements of both fighting forms. The mobility and dancing nature of swordplay with the range and power of the longbow. Together with keen elven senses and sharpened natural reflexes, the result was devastating in closer quarters; spinning, tumbling, leaping, and shooting. The practitioner is more difficult to keep track of and return fire, and their mastery of movement enabled them to quickly dart away from any swordsman who came too close. Further, the bow – in all its forms – is particularly deadly at those closer distances, where it’s harder to miss and a single hit can mean instant death.
Through careful training, those heightened elven senses make it simple to pick out and quickly and accurately fire at targets, even from their spins, rolls, and acrobatic maneuvers.
In case the warrior is engaged in too close quarters for the bow, a sword would also be carried as a last resort weapon, though the first goal of such an archer would be to slip quickly away from melee and fire their shots from point-blank range.
Members of other races have been slow to adopt the fighting style because of the high demand it places on natural ability and agility, but it has found limited adoption with some individuals. The style is still practiced by a limited minority of elves, and when it’s used on the battlefield it tends to prove effective – if only because of how stunning it is to watch.
Notes: Hong Kong “Gun-Fu” meets medieval fantasy. I’d love to see it on film, just once, if only with a character using repeating hand-crossbows. Eberron the Movie, anyone?