I have read several debates regarding the inherent weakness of archery vs melee combat. I have come to the conclusion that the issue lies not with the Fighter/Archer, the Ranger/Archer, or the Arcane Archer. The training and feats provided are in no way inferior to those provided for the Melee fighter. The issue is that of equipment. The Shortbow has to be the weakest weapon in the game and the longbow is not much better. I generated a spreadsheet calculating various factors for weapons and as best as I can determine - using the standard unenhanced longsword as a baseline - a longbow generates 43% LESS damage than a standard longsword. And while upgrading an longsword also upgrades it’s damaged rating, upgrading a longbow does not. About the best bow available is the Duskwood longbow and is only matches the standard longsword for damage potential. The Coldheart bow does give a slightly better damage rating that the Duskwood longbow but you are limited to one form of elemental damage and that is not tactically feasible. By comparison, perhaps the best blade in the game is the Falling Thunder Storm Katana. It does 114% MORE damage than a standard longsword, and it can be upgraded with enhancement crafting. Obviously this puts the archer at a major disadvantage. While the shortbow and composite longbow are fine for the prelude and Act I, starting Act II I prefer something more competitive with melee weapons.
To this end I designed the Swiftheart longbow. I took the Massive Criticals from the Coldheart bow, and the Permanent Haste from the Swift Flier crossbow, and applied them (using the GFF editor) to a Duskwood longbow. While still not as effective as the Falling Thunder Storm Katana, the resulting weapon comes close to matching the damage potential of the Harbinger Kin +3 or the Gemsword. It actually surpasses the capabilities of the Astral Blade +2 and the Desert Wind +2 when used with arrows that provide +1d6 elemental damage.
Swiftheart Longbow +2
Since I now have a bow comparable to the bladed weapons available in Acts II and III, I find myself using the sword and shield less and less.