Yes, I strongly agree with you on this one. I remember when I first played the game, I took a boat from new Sorpigal to Mist for something (I can't remember what – it was a long time ago ) and I then wanted to get back to New Sorpigal. I ended up in Bootleg Bay instead, and once I got outside of Harecksburg I found that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I can't remember for certain how I got out of that one, but I think I escaped over the border into Free Haven and found somewhere quiet where my party could rest up and heal.
I found that bows were very useful when I played MM3–mm5 and SoX, but in MM6 I found them to be key. I don't doubt that you could run a bow-free party once you got used to the game, but IMO they're absolutely essential for first-timers who intend to progress very far rather than restarting the game.