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Learn Your Archery Terms For Better Understanding Of Archery


Below you will find archery terms to help you better understand what archery is all about. By learning these archery definitions you will be more confident in the sport of archery.

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Adapter - An arrow part that allows for screw in points on wooden shafts or for glue on points for aluminum shafts.

Aim - Any method used to point The arrow in the direction you want it to go.

Aluminum - Used in modern archery for making arrows; Also in the production of wheels and cams as well as the risers on some modern compound bows.

AMO (org.) - The Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization (now known as the ATA)

AMO Length (measurement) - A standardized length for measuring bow strings.

Anchor Point - Consistent placement of the drawing hand to a position on the face, mouth or jaw.

Archer - One who practices Archery (a.k.a. bowman)

Archer's Paradox - The effect produced by an arrow flexing as it leaves the bow.

Archery - The practice of using a bow to shoot arrows.

Arm Guard - A piece of stiff material, usually leather, used to protect the bow arm from the slap of the bowstring upon release. It is worn on the inside of the forearm of the bow arm.

Arrow - The projectile in Archery.

Arrow Plate - A piece of material that is glued to he side of hte the bow at he point where the arrown contacts it. I provides protection for the bow form the friction of the arrow.

Arrow Rest - The horizontal projection on the bow upon which the arrow rests.

Arrow Shaft - The part of the arrow without a nock, fletching, or point installed. Can be made of wood, aluminum or carbon, or a combination of two such as aluminum and carbon, in a carbon/alloy arrow.

Arrow Shelf - In traditional archery it is a notch in the riser or the top of the archer's hand, where the arrow sits.

Arrow Straighter - A tool used to straighten arrow shafts.

Arrowhead - The point or tip of an arrow, particularly when fashioned for hunting.

ASA (org.)- Archery Shooters Association

ATA (org.) - The Archery Trade Association (formerly known as the AMO).

A.T.A (measurement) - An acronym for "Axle-To-Axle", the length between the two pivotal axles which hold the cams or wheels onto the limbs on a compound bow.



Back - The side of the bow away from the bow string.

Backed Bow - A bow with a strip of other material glued to its back to give it greater strength or cast.

Barbed Arrow - An arrow with barbs designed for hunting and fishing so it will not come out. Illegal for hunting game birds or animals in Washington State, but may be used for bow fishing for carp.

Barbs - The sharp points of an arrowhead that project backward.

Barebow - A style of shooting - without a bow site, stabilizers and release aid.

Bare Shaft - An arrow shaft without fletching, used to tune a bow.

Barreled Arrow - An arrow that is larger in the middle than at he ends.

Belly or Face - The side of the bow toward the archer, or the side of the bow that faces the bow string; Today it is called the 'face'.

Blunt (tip) - An unsharpened arrowhead used for targets and small game. Designed not to let the arrow penetrate a target, but rather bounce off. Made from steel, aluminum, rubber, or brass.

Bolt - A crossbow projectile; also called a quarrel.

Boss - A target, usually made from tightly compacted foam or straw.

Bow - A device made of a piece of flexible material with a string connecting to two ends, used to propel an arrow.

Bow Arm - The arm that holds the bow while shooting

Bow Case - A box or special case to carry a bow in.

Bow Hand - The hand that holds the bow.

Bow Reel - A reel attached to the bow for bow fishing.

Bow Sight - A mechanical device placed on the bow which the archer uses for aiming at the target.

Bow Sling - A leather or nylon strap, fastened to either the bow or the archer's hand, used to prevent the bow from falling to the ground when the archer shoots without gripping the bow.

Bow Square - T-shaped device used to measure brace height and for placing nock locations and tiller.

Bow Stave - A piece of wood used to make a bow.

Bow String - String of a bow. A multi stranded string of either Dacron, Kevlar or Fastflight looped to the bow nocks or teardrops

Bow Stringer - A device used to string a bow safely. Made of cord with two leather pockets that are different sizes, used to string a recurve bow.

Bowfishing - The use of archery equipment for catching fish.

Bowhunting - The practice of taking game using archery.

Bowyer - A maker of bows.

Brace Height - The distance from the pivot point to the string when a bow is strung. Also called string height, once called the Fistmele.

Bracer - Usually used to describe the leather arm guard used in traditional archery.

Broadhead - A sharp, razor bladed arrow point used for hunting.

Butt or Matt - Any backstop to which a target face is attached. Usually made of straw, cedar tow or sod.



Cables - The plastic covered steel cables or Fastflight string material that connect the string via the cams or wheels to the opposite limb of a compound bow.

Cam - The pulley on the end of compound bow's limb used to provide let-off and power. They are elliptical shaped.

Cant - To hold the bow to the right or left while at full draw. Right or left cant is determined by the position of the top limb.

Carbon Fiber - Used in modern archery for the production of arrows and in some cases bow limbs.

Cast - The ability of a bow to propel an arrow a given distance.

Center Serving - The material in the center of the bow string where the arrow is nocked. Protects the string from wear.

Centershot Bow - A bow with the riser cut out past the bow's center line.

Clicker - A device used to indicate an archer is at their optimum draw length.

Clout - A white object such as a cloth placed on a stake as a mark for long-range shooting.

Clout Shoot - An archery game where arrows are shot at an arc toward a 15 meter diameter target laid out flat on the ground at distances of up to 180 meters.

Cock Feather - A differently-colored fletch that indicates proper arrow alignment; commonly referred to as an Index feather or Index vein.

Composite Bow - A bow made from laminating multiple layers of varying materials together.



Dacron - A synthetic material used to make bowstrings.

Dead Release - A release where the drawing hand remains at the anchor point after releasing the bow string; No follow through of the drawing hand.

Director of Shooting - The official in charge of an archery tournament.

Draw - To pull the bow string back. Also the distance the bowstring is pulled back.

Draw Check - A device fitted to a compound bow so the archer can maintain a consistent draw length.

Draw Length - The distance, measured in inches, from the pivot point of the bow to the slot in the arrow nock when at full draw.

Draw Weight - The number of pounds of force required to draw a bow twenty-eight 28" inches in traditional archery; The maximum number or pounds of force required, often adjustable, to draw a modern compound bow before it lets-off.

Drawing - The act of pulling an arrow and bow string in preparation of shooting.

Drawing Arm - The arm that draws the bow string.

Drawing Hand - The hand that draws the bow string back to the anchor point.

Drift - Natural deflection of an arrow from its normal path due to outside factors such as wind


End - A set number of arrows that are shot before going to the target to score and retrieve them.

End Loop - The part of the string fitting over the bow nock.

English Longbow - A powerful medieval bow; also known as the Welsh longbow.



Face or Belly - The side of the bow that faces the archer or bowstring. Historically it was called the belly.

FastFlight - A synthetic material used to make bowstrings.Breaking strain = 95 lbs./strand. Minimal stretch ensures consistency. It is a slippery material that requires specific serving to be used in conjunction with it.

FastFlight S4 - A composite of Polyester 'Spectra' (FastFlight) and 'Vectran' materials used to make bowstrings. Breaking strain = 160 lbs./strand. Due to its strength, less strands are required to make a bowstring, making it lighter and faster.

Fiberglass - Used in modern archery equipment for the production of both bows and arrows.

Field Archery - Shooting arrows at targets at varying distances over different types of terrain, usually in woods or courses similar to golf courses. Targets may be bulls-eyes and/or animal types.

Field Arrow - A heavy duty arrow adaptable for hunting.

Field Captain - The official in charge of an archery tournament.

Field Tip - A practice head for targets or small game hunting.

Finger Pinch - When your finger is pinched against the nock or arrow by the bowstring when pulling the string back.

Finger Tab - A flat piece of smooth material which protects the archer's fingers of the drawing hand. Also called a Tab.

Fistmele - An old English term that measured the distance between bowstring and bow handle when strung, but not shown. Today's term is String Height.

Flatbow - A non-recurve bow with a rectangular cross section.

Flax-linen - A natural material bowstring, used in medieval times and now used on re-enactment longbows.

Flemish String - A twisted string that consists of two separate bundles of string, normally two different colors, hand twisted together.

Fletch - To attach feather, plastic or rubber vanes to an arrow.

Fletching - The stabilizing fins, vanes or other devices attached to the nock end of the arrow shaft, stabilizing the flight of the arrow. Made of feathers, plastic or rubber. Each fin or vane is called a fletch.

Fletching Jig - A device used to hold the arrow shaft in place and correctly locate and align the application of the fletching.

Fletching Clamp - The part of a fletching jig that clamps the fletch as it is being attached or glued to the arrow shaft.

Fletcher - The person that makes and attaches fletching for arrows.

Fletch-tite - A clear glue used to apply fletching and nocks to the arrow shaft. It sets quickly and remains slightly elastic (not brittle) to resist repeated shock and vibration.

Flex - The amount of "bend" an arrow shaft provides; contrasted with Spine.

Flight Arrow - An arrow used in Flight Shooting. Usually very light and very stiff and fitted with very small fletching to reduce wind drag.

Flight Bow - A very strong bow specifically made for flight shooting. Draw weight can exceed 100 lbs

Flight Shooting - A form of archery designed around attaining the longest distance able to be shot with a bow.

Flight Shot - A shot for distance.

Flinching - Moving the bow arm and/or drawing hand just before the release.

Flipper Rest - An elevated rest attached to the riser of the bow. It flips out of the way of the fletching when the arrow moves forward after being released.

Flu-Flu Arrow - An arrow with large untrimmed feathers or very large fletching, which restricts the distance it will travel. Used for shooting aerial targets.

Follow through - Maintaining the motion of the upper body muscles after releasing the string.

Footed Arrow - An arrow with a shaft made of two types of wood.

Foot Markers - Lines, golf tees, stacks or other devices that indicate the archer's foot positions at the shooting line.

Free Style - A method of shooting using a bow sight; a tournament classification allowing the use of a bow sight.

Freeze - Inability to move the sight to the desired position while at full draw, or inability to release.

Full Draw - The position of the archer when the bow string has been drawn and the drawing hand is at the anchor point.



Glove - Protective gear for an archer's fingers, often referred to as a shooting glove.

Grip - To hold the bow, used in reference to holding the bow, too tightly; The handle of the bow held by the archer.

Ground Quiver - A device, generally metal, pushed into the ground to hold arrows and/or bow.

Group - To shoot arrows in a pattern, or the pattern of the arrows in the target.

Grouping - A close clustering of arrows on the target.

Gungdo - The Korean art of archery.


Handle - The center part of the bow, not including the limbs.

Hankyu - A short Japanese bow.

Heel - Exerting pressure with the heel of the bow hand on the lower part of the grip during the shot.

Hen Feather - One of two like-colored vanes on an arrow, they are not the index feather.

Horse Archer - An archer mounted on a horse.



Index Fletch - A differently-colored fletch used for proper arrow alignment. Should be upright or away from the bow when the arrow is nocked. Commonly referred to as a Cock fletch or Cock feather.

Insert - An arrow part that accepts the screw in point or the nock.

IBO (org.) - International Bowhunting Organization. Former name of the ATA (The Archery Trade Association).


Judo Points - A target and small-game head equipped with spring wires for easy location.


Kevlar - As an archery term is a synthetic material used to make bowstrings. Very strong and light material but has no stretch, which causes more shock to the limb tips. Some bows cannot use Kevlar bowstrings. Limited life span of this material when used for bowstrings, as it will break due to repeated bending.

Kisser - A button used to aid in locating your anchor point,giving the archer a consistent vertical distance when drawing a bow. Almost always used with the lips, and also called a kisser button.

Kyudo - The Japanese art of archery.

Kyudo Arrows - Traditional arrows used in Kyudo Archery. These arrows are over 1 meter, 40" inches, in length and fletched with traditional feathers.

Kyudo Bow - A Japanese longbow, approx. 2 meters, 79" inches, in length. The "grip" is about one third the distance from the bottom tip of the bow. The bowstring is drawn using a shooting glove fitted with a thumb groove for the string to sit in. The drawing hand is pulled back until over the rear shoulder and the bowstring is released by relaxing the thumb, allowing the bowstring to slip out of the groove.



Laminated Bow - A bow made of several layers of material glued together, usually two layers of fiberglass and a hardwood core.

Launcher Rest - A style of arrow rest used on compound bows. Can be a one-piece flat metal prong with a "v" groove for the arrow to rest in or can be two round metal prongs set apart to accommodate the size of the arrow.

Left-handed archer - An archer who holds the bow in the right hand and draws with the left hand to bring the arrow back to the left dominant eye.

Left-handed bow - A bow with the sight window cut out on the right hand side when viewed from the string side, face, of the bow.

Let-off - The reduction in draw weight of a compound bow, when pulled to full draw.

Let Down - Returning from full draw to he undrawn position with control and not releasing the string.

Level - A small level, usually located in the bow sights, to indicate when the bow is being held vertical.

Limb - The energy storing, bending or flexing, parts of the bow above and below the riser.

Limb Dampener - A "mushroom" shaped rubber form attached to the limbs of a bow to reduce the vibrations in the limbs after the release.

Limb Pocket - A recessed slot in the top and bottom of the riser, shaped to fit the ends of the bow limbs and maintain correct limb alignment.

Limb Stacking - Limb stacking occurs when the bow string is pulled past the designed draw length of a particular bow. Continual stacking will cause limb failure, resulting in possible injury.

Limb Twist - A failure in the bow limb where the bow tip turns away from aligning with the bowstring.

Longbow - A tall bow without a significant recurve. Considered to be the true Traditional archery bow.

Loop - The woven or served looped ends of the bowstring that fit in the bow nocks or teardrops when the bow is strung.

Loose - The act of shooting an arrow from a bow. Commonly called Release.



Mass Weight - The actual weight of the bow.

Matt or Butt - Any backstop to which a target face is attached. Usually made of straw, cedar tow or sod.

Mechanical Broadhead - A broadhead arrow with two or more blades that open on impact, usually used for hunting.

Mechanical Release - An aid used to grip the string and then release it. Often called a Release aid or simply Release.

Mounted Archer - An archer mounted on a horse.

Mongolian Draw - Drawing a bow with one's thumb. Also called a Mongolian release.


Nock - The notch or attachment at the rear end of an arrow, when place on bowstring it holds the arrow onto the string; The act of setting an arrow in to the bow, "to nock an arrow".

Nock Locator - The mark or device that indicates where the arrow is to be placed on the string.

Nocking Pliers - Special pliers used to install or remove brass string nock sets.

Nocking Point - The point on a bowstring where the arrow is nocked.

Nock Set - A small brass attachment added to the string to mark the nocking point.



Overdrawn - As an archery term is a condition in which a bowstring is too short for the bow; Fistmele is exceeded.


Parabolic Fletch - A feather or vane that has a rounded shape to the back, nock, end.

Peak Weight - The maximum draw weight of a compound bow. Adjustable on modern compound bows.

Peep Sight - Also known as string peep. An aperture in a small round piece of plastic or metal which is set between the strands of the string above the nocking point to sight through in line with the bow sight for aiming a compound bow.

Pivot Point - Normally the physical center of the bow.

Pluck - Pulling the string away from the face in any other direction upon release, an incorrect follow-through. "plucking the string".

Plunger Button - A device used to correct an arrow's flex at the point of release.

Point - The front end of an arrow; also known as the arrowhead, head or tip.



Quarrel - A crossbow projectile; also called a bolt.

Quiver - A container for arrows. It may be attached to the bow, placed on a belt, or carried on your shoulder or back as well as placed on the ground.


Recurve Bow - A form of bow in which the unstrung tips curve away from the archer.

Reflex Bow - A form of bow in which the entire length of the handle and limbs curve away from the archer.

Release - The act of firing an arrow from a bow; Letting go of the string. Sometimes called Loose.

Release Aid - A mechanical device for releasing an arrow.

Rest - A device used to hold the arrow against the handle until it is released; An Arrow rest.

Right-handed archer - An archer who holds the bow in the left hand and draws with the right hand to bring the arrow to the right dominant eye.

Right-handed bow - A bow with the sight window cut out on the left hand side when viewed from the string side, face, of the bow.

Riser - The handle section of a Bow.

Robin Hood - An archer of legend who lived in Sherwood Forest; A term given to two arrows shot end to end, the second arrow embedded into the rear of the first. Happens rarely, so the arrows are usually kept as a trophy.

Round - The shooting of a definite number of arrows at specified target faces from set distances.



Safety Arrow - Arrow with Wide tip or padded head , used for reenactments.

Scope Sight - A bow sight with a magnifying lens.

Self Bow - A bow made from a single piece of material, normally wood, and homemade.

Serving - The wrapping of extra thread around the loops and center of the bow string to protect it from wear.

Serving Jig - A device that holds the serving thread and maintains consistent tension as the thread is wrapped around the bowstring.

Shaft - The main structural element of an arrow. Can be made of wood, aluminum, carbon or a combination.

Shooting Glove - Protective gear for an archer's fingers.

Shooting Line - A line parallel to and a specific distance away from the targets from which all archers shoot.

Sight Block - The movable part of the sight which holds the sight pin, aperture or scope.

Sight Window - The cut out section of the bow above the grip.

Sling - Strap fastened to either the bow or the archer's wrist or index finger and thumb, to prevent the bow from falling when shooting with a relaxed bow hand.

Snap Shooting - Releasing the arrow without pausing to aim carefully. Common for Instinctive Shooting.

Spine - The stiffness or amount an arrow bends, determined by hanging a 2-lb weight from the center of the arrow and measuring the bend.

Stabilizer - A weighted rod or set of rods attached to the handle riser that is used to provide balance to a bow. Also absorbs the vibrations of the bow when the sting is released.

Stacking - A characteristic of bow performance where the force/draw curve rises more rapidly over the final part of the draw. See Limb Stacking

Stance - The position of the feet and body when addressing the target.

Stave - A strip of wood that a bow may be made from.

String - A cord used to shoot a bow; To put the bow string on a bow in the proper position for shooting.

String Jig - An adjustable frame used to make bowstrings.

Stringer - A device used to aid in the stringing of a bow.

String Alignment - The placement of the string when at full draw in relation to the bow sight or the bow.

String Angle - The angle formed by the string at the nocking point when at full draw. also called pinch angle.

String Fingers - The fingers used to draw back the bow string.

String Hand - Drawing hand, the hand used to pull the bowstring.

String Height - Brace height or fistmele.



Tab - A small leather patch to protect the archer's fingers. Often called a Finger tab.

Tackle - An inclusive term for archery equipment.

Tackle Line - A line, set behind the shooting line, behind which is placed all such equipment which is not used during shooting. also called an equipment line.

Take-down Bow - A bow which can be taken apart, the limbs can be detached from the riser, for ease of traveling, storage and limb replacement.

Taper Tool - A tool used to taper wooden shafts for the nock and point.

Target - General term for the intended destination of a shot arrow.

Target Archery - Shooting at non-moving targets placed varying distances.

Target Captain - The person who decides who is to call the value of each arrow, record the scores and draw the arrows from the target.

Target Face - The paper which is attached to the butt and indicates the scoring areas.

Target Panic - A mental condition causing a loss of control in shooting form. Symptoms can include; aim freezing, snap shooting, flinching and trigger punching.

Target Point - Bullet-shaped practice head for targets. Also called a target tip.

Target Shooting - Competitive event or practice that tests the archer's proficiency.

Thumb Ring - Protective ring for an archer's thumb. Common in Asian archery.

Tiller - To shape the limbs of an unfinished bow for even bending. The reaction of the limbs whereby the nock ends propel the arrow in a straight line by moving an equal distance in equal time to return to brace height by means of the various stresses in the top and bottom limbs with compensation for the bowhand pressure below and the arrow axis/center line above the center of gravity of the bow.

Tip -The front end of an arrow; also known as the arrowhead or point.

Torque - Any rotation or twisting motion of the bow in the horizontal plane.

Toxophilite - A devotee of archery.

Trigger - The mechanism in a crossbow to release the bowstring. To release the bowstring using a release aid.

Tune - To adjust the variables in the bow and arrow system to achieve the best arrow flight and arrow groups.



Vane - Any fletch made of a material other that feathers, usually plastic or rubber. The stabilizing fin of an arrow.

V-bar - A short extender fitted between the riser and long stabilizer that allows two short stabilizers to be added as a counter balance to the long stabilizer. Helps resist twisting reactions from the bow hand.


Wand Shoot - An archery event in which arrows are shot at a slat of soft wood that is typically 6' tall and 2" wide.

Welsh Longbow - A powerful medieval bow; also known as the English longbow.

Windage - The adjustment of the bow sight or the pin on the bow sight to allow for the wind deflecting the arrow.

Windlass - A medieval device to pull the bowstring back on a crossbow.

Wood - The earliest material used for the construction of bows and arrows.



Yabusame - A type of mounted archery practiced in Japan.

Yew - A type of wood,European evergreen tree, traditionally used to make bows.

Yumi - An asymmetric Japanese bow; includes both long and short varieties (daikyu and hankyu).

Yarn Tassel - Commonly known as the Archer's Tassel. A large tuft of yarn that is used to wipe mud and dirt from arrows stray arrows. Made of varying colors to distinguish clubs.




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