Often when i start levelling up a new archer, or in the earlygame for that matter, i often find it a bit challenging keeping them alive. That is mostly due to their low ranged defense making them an instant high priority target for all enemy marksmen, and their low level meaning i cant really equip them with too much armor due to fatigue. So “cuddling” them for a while, if you have found a good trait/background bro, is smart.
I go Nine-Lives on the first tier (unless im for some reason leveling an archer who starts out with under 50 in ranged, which i rarely do, but then i would go fast adaption.), I literally cant count who many times my 80+ ranged attack bro on current save has had his nine lives triggered and gotten away. I a duel with and archer it is invaluable for survival. It also affords you one more turn if an orc warrior or something gets in melee with you, for rotation or something (later i get footwork though)
On the second tier i always go Gifted. I know there is some debate on this, but there isnt any in my head. I get max rolls (3-4) on ranged attack, ranged defense and fatigue, what more can a guy ask for?
On the third tier I go anticipation, survivalbility is the priority with my perk selections. When you start getting them up to 70 ranged attack you will be hitting more then you are missing, so its about being able to stick it out and keep harrowing those arrows.
On the fourth tier i go Bow mastery, i have very rarely used crossbow, only after i get a crossbow from and overseer or an heavy crossbow i might consider it.
On the fifth tier i go Footwork. Its freaking great, getting engaged in melee is no longer the hassle it once was. Get a melee bro to surrond the guy, use footwork one tile away fire off a quickshot.
On the sixth tier I go Berserk. More actionpoints, Especially handy when fighting wiedergangers or orc young etc.
On the sixth tier I go Killing frenzy, however this is not a high priority in my book, i usually go back and pick and another perk from tier 5 Overwhelm or Lonewolf.
On my stat level ups. I am quite consistent in picking ranged attack, ranged defense and fatigue. Unless I am going hybrid, then i usually level up melee attack at the expense of fatigue (depending on the base fatigue though, if under ca 110 then i will have to sacrifice some ranged defense). Also if I am going an dodge build i might level up some initiative, this has nice synergy with going overwhelm later in the build.