In action role-playing games, the role of space and distance in combat is a determinant of what a character can and cannot do. The good thing about ranged characters is that they can avoid damage better while delivering damage, although not in the same intensity as a melee character that can do so while facing relatively greater peril. Path of Exile has a character build that takes ranged combat and transforms it into something flashier and more exciting.
It may be the best of both worlds as far as ranged combat is concerned, but some may think that it's excessive to have two modes of attack in relatively the same distances. However, it's the unique concept behind the Arcane Archer build that truly makes it worth trying out. This build doesn't really make use of the Ranger though, but the Witch, so it's more of a magic character that uses a bow than an archer that just so happens to use magic.
What makes this build great is that you deal pure chaos damage, which guarantees that you faces a lot less enemies with resistances against what you have to dish out. Since chaos damage ignores shields and reduces life directly, there would be less enemies that can stand against you. It can also not be reflected, so you won't have to worry about coming up against something with that ability and fear being fed what you usually serve.
The core of this build is the Voltaxic Rift unique bow, which converts 100% of lightning damage into chaos damage while still being able to shock, so you can use gems like Arc to shock and deal chaos damage to multiple enemies in front of you. You may use other skills as well if you wish, but it's the efficacy and consistency of Arc that gives this the much needed punch it needs and deserves. But while Voltaxic Rift is such a powerful unique weapon that can carry the day, it should not work alone in this build.
Since chaos damage doesn't get reflected, you can forgo mitigation options like elemental flasks and totems and just concentrate on piling on the power with outright damage and critical strikes. The thing though is that the bow will need your character to have a substantial amount of Dexterity, but that's where the other items come in to help with that. If you're feeling daring though, you can wear Tabula Rasa and put the Arc gem there, then put Herald of Thunder on the bow.
As for the bow itself, there are Assassin's Mark, Warlord's Mark, Life Leech, Curse on Hit, and Arctic Armour to go with Arc. As you can see, another trick up this build's sleeve is the ability to curse. In fact, it can dual curse automatically whenever a shocked enemy is killed and can even cast Frost Walls right in front of enemies so that you can really handle massive numbers against you.
This is one of those build that really try to be unique in both concept and practicality at the same time. To think that you can play a spellcaster like a ranger and do well with it, that's not usual in other games. But in Path of Exile, such possibilities are not far from reality at all.