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Glossary of Archery Terms

For the novice archer, archery terminology can be mind blowing. Hopefully the following glossary will explain many terms. However, if you come across a term that's not below, let us know at stsebastianarchers@gmail.com and we'll try and answer you and update the list for the future.

 A​

  • Aluminium: A popular choice of metal that is used in the making of modern arrows.

  • Aim: A focused attempt to direct the arrow toward its goal.

  • Anchor: A stable spot of the bowstring arm (under the jaw/cheek) during the aim. Also known as 'anchor point.'

  • Archer: Archer is an individual who is well-versed in shooting using a bow and arrow.

  • Archer's Paradox: The reaction that is being produced by the bending of an arrow as it departs from the bow.

  • Archery: The method of shooting arrows by making use of a bow.

  • Arm guard: A strap on the bow arm that is used for protection against the impact of the bowstring during release.

  • Arrows: The projectile shot using a bow. Most typically, it would be a linear, slender rod.

  • Arrowhead: This is generally a distinctive piece that is sealed to an arrow shaft. This is the hitting end of an arrow. Also see point, nib and pile.

  • Arrow Nock: A notch at the edge of an arrow for accepting the bowstring. Also just simply called the nock.

  • Arrow Rest: A tool on the arrow shelf that is used for holding the arrow until the release.

  • Arrow Shaft: A rod from which the arrow is made. This is the arrow before it is cut, feathered and pointed.

  • Arrow Shelf: This is where the arrow sits and is above the bow's handle/grip.

  • Arrowsmith: This term is widely used for denoting the person who makes an arrow, although originally, Arrowsmith was used to denote the person who makes arrowheads.

B

  • Banana Fletch: A feathering design that has the highest part of the arc at the centre. Both ends will be tapered equally.

  • Barebow: The process of shooting a recurve bow without any stabiliser rods, bow sight or release aids.

  • Barrelled Arrow: An arrow design in which it is heavier at the centre and tapered towards both ends. ACE and X10 arrows are barrelled

  • Bodkin: An arrow design of the Middle Ages in which the arrowhead is conical-shaped with 3 to 4 sides. Used for penetrating chain mail armour.

  • Bolt: An arrow that is released using a crossbow.

  • Boss: The target, made from straw, foam or similar material designed to stop the shot arrow. A target face will be pinned to it. Sometimes called a target butt.

  • Bouncer: An arrow that has hit the target and bounced or fallen out on the ground.

  • Bow: A vehicle that is used to propel the arrow. Most typically, it will be longer. In addition, there will be a string for connecting the ends.

  • Bowyer: A person involved in crafting, building, and making bows.

  • Bow Scale:  Device used to measure the draw-weight of a bow

  • Bow Sling: A strap attached to the bow/shooter's hand to prevent the bow from dropping onto the ground while shooting.

  • Bow Sight: A machine that is adhered to the bow, which the shooter will use for aiming at the target.

  • Bow Square: Device used to measure bracing height, tiller and nocking-point position. Also called a T-square or L-square (depending upon design).

  • Bow String: A multi-stranded cord coiled to the bow's notches. Used for drawing the bow.

  • Brace Height: The distance between the string and the intense part of the bow's handle or button.

  • Broadhead: A large arrowhead with sharper razor-like edges. This is primarily used in bowhunting.

  • Bull's Eye: The nucleus of the target or the point with the highest score points.

  • Butt: Historically a pile of earth on which the targets were placed. In present times, refers to the target. Also see Boss.

  • Button:  Spring-loaded button. Used to absorb some of the sideways force of the arrow after release. See also pressure button or plunger.

C

  • Cables: Plastic-covered steel materials fastened to the bowstrings of a compound bow. They serve along with cams during the process of draw and execution of the fire.

  • Cam: An elliptical-shaped pulley at the end of the limb in a compound bow which is used to provide power.

  • Cant: To lean the bow to the right/left while drawing the arrow at full force. The top limb's position will determine the direction of tilt.

  • Cast: The maximum distance that a bow can shoot an arrow.

  • Centre Shot:  The centre shot relates to the perfect alignment of the arrow rest to the bowstring's nocking point. A poorly aligned centre shot will cause an arrow to fish-tail as it is launched from the bowstring.

  • Centreline: A linear line running through the centre of the bow's handle and extending through the middle of the limbs to the limbs' tips.

  • Centre Serving: A protective covering at the middle of the string wound where the arrow is nocked.

  • Chest Guard:  Protective clothing used to prevent string catching on clothes or body.

  • Clicker: Equipment used for pointing out the optimal draw length of the shooter.

  • Clout Archery: The practice of archery in which the shooters will aim the arrow toward a clout (a flag) from longer distances.

  • Cock Feather: The feather that is placed at the right angle to notch and is differently coloured than the other two.

  • Come Down: To release the tension after fully drawing without having the arrow released. Also called let down

  • Compound Bow: A modern type of bow using a set of cords and pulleys to gain leverage. This type would decrease the holding draw weights.

  • Core: The material that has been used at the nucleus of the bounded bow. Also refers the centre of the body. Archery will help increase body strength (core body strength).

  • Creeping: To let the arrow to move forward before its delivery, during which full draw length will not be maintained.

  • Crossbow: A weapon of ancient times that has been produced with steel and set diagonally over the stock. This will be smaller and stronger, held and fired like a rifle.

  • Crossbow Bolt: A projectile that has been shot using a crossbow.

D

  • Director of Shooting: The personnel who is commanding the shooting tournament. Also called 'Field Captain.'

  • Dished Grip: A hollow grip on the bow for facilitating the recurrent hand placements over the bow.

  • Draw Check: An appliance attached to a compound bow to facilitate the shooter in maintaining a constant draw length.

  • Draw or Drawing: To pull the bowstring that is fastened to the bow.

  • Drawing Fingers: The fingers that are employed while dragging a bow. Most typically, the first three fingers of the hand that is drawing.

  • Draw Length: The distance between the front of the riser and the bowstring in the shooter's fingers while at full draw.

  • Draw Weight: The amount of force applied on the bowstring while drawing a particular distance. Usually, this will be calculated at a draw length of 28 inches.

  • Dry Fire: To release the bowstring at full draw without having an arrow connected to it.

E

  • End: A set of arrows that are shot at the target at each visit to the shooting line. Most typically, three, five, or six arrows at a time.

  • Eye: An opening at either end of the bowstring which fit to the end of the bow limbs.

F

  • Face: The bow's side that is closest to the bowstring. Also known as 'Belly.' Also refers to the target sheet which fits on the target.

  • Face Walking: In shooting barebow, using a different anchor point for different distances, which does not have to be on the face. 

  • FAST!: The warning cry if any person at the range sees or believes that safety is at risk. At fast, all archers should cease shooting, return arrows to the quiver and retire to the waiting (safety) line. A loud STOP! or multiple whistles has the same meaning. The field captain is responsible for ensuring the field is safe and that shooting can re-commence.

  • Feather: A feather as a whole or its part being used on the arrow for direction.

  • Feet per Second: The calculation of the speed of an arrow that is released from the bow.

  • Field Captain: The designated person who is in charge of the shooting field.

  • Finger Pinch: A condition in which the archer's finger will be pinched against the arrow by a bowstring while dragging it back. Also called “pinching the arrow”.

  • Finger Tab: A leather instrument that will be put on the surface of fingers to avoid the burning sensation.

  • Fishtailing: A rapid crisscross movement of an arrow during transit, indicating a poor clearance. Also called winnowing

  • F.I.T.A:  Federation Internationale de Tir a L’Arc. International Target Archery Federation.

  • Five Zone Scoring: The scoring system generally used for imperial rounds whereby the complete centre gold scores 9 with subsequent colours moving outwards scoring 7,5,3,1 

  • Flatbow: A straight bow that has a flattened, wider limb and arrow shelf. Sometimes called an American Longbow.

  • Flemish String: A spirally wound string consisting of two distinctive bundles of string. These bundles will be differently coloured and hand-twisted with one another.

  • Fletch: Act of pasting or binding feathers or plastic vanes to the arrow shaft.

  • Fletcher: An individual who is involved in making arrows.

  • Fletching: The feathers/vanes utilized to stabilize an arrow during flight.

  • Fletching Clamp: A segment of fletching jig that would fasten the fletching while it is being adhered or pasted to the arrow shaft.

  • Fletching Jig: An appliance used for holding the arrow shaft in position and locating and aligning the fletching application.

  • Flex: The amount of curve that is provided by the arrow shaft

  • Flight Arrow: A longer and lighter arrow that has little feathers. A flight arrow is typically used for distance shooting.

  • Flight Bow: A stronger bow whose draw weight would surpass hundred pounds. This is specifically designed for flight shooting.

  • Flight Shooting: Act of shooting to check how far the archer can shoot an arrow. Also called 'distance shooting.'

  • Flinching: To move the bow's arm or drawing hand just before its release.

  • Fluffy: Brightly coloured feather attachment to the arrow to aid visibility.

  • Follow-Through: To hold the release position until the arrow has hit the target.

  • Foot Markers: The devices denote the shooter's foot positions at the shooting line. This is for ensuring the constant foot position.

  • Freeze: Incapable of moving the vision to the desired spot or incapable of releasing the arrow. Also called target panic.

  • F.O.C.:  Front of centre – the balance point of the arrow when the point is fitted.

G

  • Gap Shooting:  Using the distance between the arrow and the target as an elevation gauge when aiming.

  • Glove: Also known as 'shooting glove,' which is a three-fingered one for protecting the fingers of the shooting hand. Normally made of leather.

  • Gold:  Centre of the target (it is often coloured yellow). The highest scoring coloured circle.

  • Grain: The standard units of measurement used when weighing the arrow and its parts.

  • Grip: The shooter clutches the central portion of the bow handle.

  • Ground Quiver: A metallic device that will be pressed into the ground for holding arrows.

  • Group:  Several arrows shot close together.

H

  • Handle: The central part of the bow. The limbs of the bow will be attached to it. This is the non-working part of the bow. More commonly known as the riser

  • Hand Shock: The tremor felt in the bow hand while releasing an arrow from the bow.

  • Hanging Arrow: The arrow that is not penetrating the target but droops from its spot.

  • Heel: The process of applying pressure using the heel of the bow hand on the lower end of the grip while shooting.

  • Hen Feathers/Fletchings: The feathers on an arrow that are of the same colour. In a 3-feathered arrow, these are the two feathers/fletchings projecting inwards when the arrow is being nocked.

  • Hinged Bow: A bow in which a hinge is fixed at the back for facilitating easy transportation.

  • Hit: An arrow that penetrates itself into one of the scoring regions on the target's face.

  • Holding: To maintain the bow and arrow constantly during full draw just before the release.

  • Horse Archer: an archer who shoots from horseback.

I

  • International Limb Fitting (ILF): type of recurve limbs and risers which incorporate a slot fitting for limbs into the riser.

  • Idler Wheel: In a single cam compound bow, the idler wheel will substitute the top cam with a wheel that would contact the bowstring alone but not the cords.

  • Index Feather/Fletching: A feather/fletching at right angles to the cut of the notch and is differently coloured than the others. Also called the cock feather/fletching.

  • Insert: A hollow stringed aluminium segment incorporated in the front part of the arrow, thereby enabling points to be fastened into it.

  • Instinctive Shooting: To utilize hand-eye conformation for sending an arrow where the shooter is viewing. A method of aiming when sights are not uses.

K

  • Kiss Button: A communication point on the bowstring for the shooter's lips to touch. This is to assure the stability and precision of the anchor point.

L

  • Lamination: A layer of the laminated bow limb in which fine layers of materials are glued together.

  • Level: A spirit level fitted to the bow sight for indication purposes when the bow is held in a vertical position. A level is used in compound bows only.

  • Let Off: On a compound bow when at full draw, let off is the reduction in draw weight while maintaining the power in the shot. For example a 50lb bow with 70% let off, the archer will only need to hold around 15lb at full draw while still providing the full 50lb in the shot.

  • Let Down: To release the tension after fully drawing without having the arrow released.

  • Limb: The parts of a bow that stretch from the riser to the tips. This is the working section of the bow.

  • Limb Dampeners: A rubber unit is attached to bow limbs to reduce the vibration felt in the limb after releasing the arrow. This is usually of a 'mushroom' shape.

  • Limb Pocket: Applicable to international limb fitting (ILF) and is a suspended slot at the upper and lower ends of the riser perfectly shaped for fitting the ends of the limbs and maintaining the right limb alignment.

  • Line Etiquette: This refers to an archers behaviour and respect towards other archers while shooting and is aimed at not causing a distraction to other archers. Aspects of etiquette can be found in the club's "Do's & Don'ts"

  • Longbow: Any perfectly straight or approximately straight bow in which the bowstring is not touching the limb while it is being braced. Generally, this would be five feet and longer.

  • Long Rod: A rod fitted to the bow to decrease vibrations' intensity.

  • Loop: A U-shaped cord around the nock of the bowstring so that a release aid could be attached while shooting. Also called a “D” loop.

  • Loose: To release the arrow from a bow that is fully drawn. Also known as 'Release’.

  • L-Square: An "L" shaped tool used for measuring brace height and locating the nocking point on the string. Also called a bow square.

M

N

  • Nib:  The tip end of an arrow that sticks into the target. Also called the point or pile.

  • Nock: A notch at the back of the arrow that enables the arrow to be held at the bowstring while keeping it in position for shooting. Usually made of plastic which fits either in or over the arrow shaft.

  • Nocking: The procedure of settling the arrow on bowstrings while preparing for a shoot.

  • Nocking Point: A point or points on the bowstring where the archers would constantly nock the arrows. Usually tied cotton or serving material or can be brass crimped collar(s).

  • Nocking Pliers: Pliers being used for installing and/or removing brass nocks.

  • Nock Piece: A fine bit of material (wood, horn, and so on) pasted alongside in self-nock for the purpose of reinforcing it.

O

  • Olympic Style Recurve: A recurve bow which includes a sight, stabilisers and the use of a clicker.

  • Overbowed: A condition in which the shooter is making use of a bow that is very powerful.

  • Overdraw:  The use of a device or a specialty arrow rest that sits farther back behind the grip on the bow. This allows for shooting an arrow that is shorter than the draw of the bow. It is usually used in order to achieve long distances with a lighter-weight arrow.

  • Overspine: An arrow that is too stiff for the bow from which it is released.

  • Overshoot: The act of shooting past the mark.

  • Overshoot Line: A line positioned parallel to the shooting line positioned at the
    required distance behind the targets and extending to the width of the side safety areas.

P

Q

  • Quill: The shaft of the feather that is grounded flat to fit on an arrow.

  • Quiver: A container that would hold the arrows comfortably during the shooting process.

R

  • Range: The zone that is being assigned for archery.

  • Recurve bow: A bow design in which the limbs would form a curving arc between the riser and the limb tips and the string when you brace the recurve bow.

  • Release: To shoot the arrow from the bow at full draw.

  • Release Aid: A mechanical tool for pulling the bowstring, enabling a better release. Also called a mechanical release.

  • Rest: A tool for holding the arrow against the bow handle until the release.

  • Riser: The central part of the bow separates the limbs. This is the part that will not bend when you pull the string. Sometimes called the handle.

  • Robin Hood: The act of an arrow hitting the back of an arrow already in the target and lodging in the other arrow.

  • Round: Shooting a fixed number of ends over set distance and target face size. All arrows scored depending upon type of round.

S

  • Safety Arrow: An arrow in which the tip is wider or padded. Utilized in re-enactments.

  • Safety Line: A line at least 5 yds behind the shooting line. Also called the waiting line.

  • Serving: The wrapped section at the loop ends of the string and also the central portion of the string for accepting the nock.

  • Serving Jig: A tool for holding the serving cord which would help maintain constant tension while wrapping the thread around the bowstring.

  • Shaft:  The body of an arrow.

  • Shooting Line: The line to which the archer stands over while shooting.

  • Shot Cycle: The steps taken by the archer from approaching the shooting line through to the follow through once releasing the arrows in an aim to develop a consistency.

  • Silencer: Layers of material attached to the bowstring to stop it from vibrating after the arrow release, thereby preventing the string noise.

  • Sight:  The equipment which fits to the riser and the archery will use to aim at the target, used with Olympic recurve and compound bows.

  • Sight Pin:  The centre marker of the sight hole which the archer will line up with the centre of the target when at full draw.

  • Sighters:  Before a round or competition commences, the archers are invited to shoot, usually 6 arrows, to allow the archer to make adjustment to the bow sight or aim.

  • Sight Window:  Recessed area of riser above the grip.

  • Spine: The rigidity of an arrow shaft in contrast to the flex.

  • Speed Nock: On a compound bow, small weights fitted to the bowstring to reduce the vibration in the string on arrow release.

  • Split Finger Draw: The archer will come to full draw with the index finger above the arrow and the second and third finger below the arrow. This is the usual draw for Olympic recurve archers. Sometimes called the Mediterranean draw.

  • Stabilizer: A set of rods being utilized for providing stability to the bow.

  • Stacking: Rapid increase in the draw weight of the bow, not in direct relation to the draw length.

  • String Picture: At full draw, visualisation and positioning of the bow string to a reference point on the bow to maintain the centre shot.

  • String Walking: Used by bare bow archers. Fingers moved up and down string according to target distance.

  • Stringer: Device used to bend the limbs of a bow to allow the string to be attached.

T

  • Tab:  Protector for string-fingers to prevent chafing.

  • Tackle: A set of equipment being used by the shooter.

  • Target Panic: Incapable of moving the vision to the desired spot or incapable of releasing the arrow. Also called target freeze.

  • Ten Zone Score: The scoring system generally used for metric rounds whereby the centre gold ring scores 10 with subsequent rings moving outwards scoring 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 

  • Tent Line: A line at least 10 yds behind the shooting line. Also sometimes called the equipment line. Spectators are not allowed in front of the tent line unless permitted by a judge.

  • Three Under Draw: The archer will come to full draw with the index finger, second and third finger below the arrow. This is often used by barebow and longbow archers when string walking. 

  • Throat: The tapered part of the grip where the thumb and index fingers would hold the grip.

  • Tiller:  The difference in distance between where the top and bottom limbs, respectively, meet the riser and bowstring. The top and bottom tillers differ slightly because you do not pull on the bowstring's exact centre when drawing the bow.

  • Toxophilite: A student or lover of archery.

  • T-Square: A "T" shaped tool used for measuring brace height and locating the nocking point on the string. Also called a bow square.

  • Tune: The act of getting the bow to fire an arrow straight and quietly.

U

V

  • V-Bar: A small extender attached between the riser and stabilizer. Allows the inclusion of two small side stabilizers being added as a counter support.

  • Vibration Arrester: A physical rubber stop on a compound bow which stops the vibration of the bowstring on arrow release 

W

Y

  • Yarn Tassel: A bunch of yarn being used for wiping the dirt from the arrow. Mainly used in longbow and clout archery. Tassel awards are given for achievement in Clout archery.

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