Merida's shortbow is first seen when King Fergus presented it to her as a birthday present, much to Queen Elinor's disapproval. Merida, while being instructed by her father, tries firing arrows with her new bow (missing every shot) until the last arrow she fires is shot into the forest. Disheartened that she could not hit the target, her mother Elinor requests for Merida to go and retrieve the lost arrow.
Ten years later, when Merida is out riding Angus on one of her free days, she can be seen with her bow and quiver. She uses her bow to fire arrows at targets she has set up along the trail in the forest. Unlike the previous time we see her shoot arrows, she manages to hit them all with ease
On the day the sutiors are presented to the princess, Merida comes up with the plan to compete for her own hand in the games. Merida takes her bow and arrows into the games with her and hides them behind her throne, unbeknownst to the king and queen. As the suitors shoot at their respective targets, she chats with Fergus about each of them until Wee Dingwall wins by accident, striking a bullseye. When the final suitor has fires his arrow, Merida sneaks off to the field to place the Dunbroch crest in the ground, and prove her capability at archery, as well as her intolerance of the situation. Despite Elinor’s objections, she hits the bullseye of every target, even splitting Wee’s arrow already sitting in the centre of the target clean in half. Elinor, in her anger and disappointment drags Merida to the tapestry room to properly argue with her the devistation of the princess’ actions. Merida then attempts to rebel further by drawing her sword down and through the tapestry between the figures of herself and her mother, effectively slicing it in half and creating a metaphorical rift between them. In a fit of rage, Elinor then throws Merida's bow into the fireplace. Heartbroken, Merida tearfully flees the scene (and later revealed away from the castle) as Elinor realises her mistake and tries to fish the bow from the fire, feeling horribly guilty when it is unsalvageable.