A glossary of archery terms from A to Z

Armguard – A leather pad worn on the inside of the forearm of the bow hand to protect the arm from the buffeting of the bowstring.

Arrow Plate – An inlay just above the handle on the side of the bow where the arrow passes through as it exits the bow.

Ascharm’ A cupboard in which bows, arrows and archery gear are stored.

Back: The surface of the bow furthest from the archer when the bow is held in the shooting position.

Support: Various materials including: fiberglass, cellulose products, rawhide, etc. glued to the back of the bow to improve its launch.

Backed Boiv: A bow that has had a back attached to it.

Spike: Projection of a hunting head that prevents its easy removal.

Barrel Arrow: An arrow whose shaft tapers from the middle toward each end and which has its greatest cross-sectional area in the middle of the shaft.

Boss or Bast: The twisted, coiled straw back of a target to which the face is attached.

Bow Stave: A billet of wood with which a bow is to be made.

Bowyer: bow maker.

Strap: To string the bow.

Belly: The belly of the bow is the side you see when you hold the bow in the shooting position.

Doubling: The act of reinforcing or placing the rope in the bow nocks.

Cut Arrow: An arrow that has its largest cross section in the stack and tapers toward the nock.

Bodkin: Three-bladed broadheaded arrow.

Broadhead – A flat triangular shaped hunting head made of steel.

Butt: A rear butt to which faces are attached, like bales of straw.

Carriage Bow: A bow that has its two limbs joined under the handle in a splint. It can be disassembled for easy transport. (Shoot down).

Release: The inherent ability of a bow to propel an arrow.

Chest Arrow: An arrow that has its greatest cross section toward the nock and tapers from this point toward the nock and pile.

Chrysal: A compression failure, that is, a fracture of the fibers that usually appears as a line through the belly of the arch.

Influence Target: The standard four foot target magnified twelve times and arranged in a horizontal position on the ground.

Cock Feather: The feather on the arrow that is at right angles to the nock. Usually the feather of strange colors.

Crest: colored bands of variable width and spacing, painted on the arrow for identification purposes.

Crossbow: A short bow set crosswise in a stock, pulled by mechanical means and firing a dart on release of the trigger.

Crosswind: A wind blowing across the target.

Curl: A swirl in the grain of an arc pentagram.

Down Wind: A wind blowing towards the target.

Draw: The act of pulling the bowstring to the full length of the arrow.

Drawing fingers: The first three fingers of the hand used to pull the string.

Draw Weight: The force in pounds required to draw a bow to its full draw.

Drift: The lateral movement of the arrow as it travels towards the target due to a crosswind.

End: A unit number of arrows used in scoring. In the shooting match, six arrows constitute a finish.

Eye-‘ The loop or loops in a bowstring.

Field Captain: The officer in charge of a tournament.

Fingertips – Leather finger posts used to protect the tips of the three firing fingers.

Fistmele: The distance from the base of the closed hand to the tip of the extended thumb. It is used as a measure of the proper distance from the handle to the string when

the bow is reinforced or strung.

Fletch: Placing the feathers on an arrow.

Fletcher: An arrow maker. Arrow maker.

Fletching: The feathers that guide the arrow in flight.

Flight Arrow: A long, light arrow with very small feathers or vanes. Used in distance shooting.

Flirt: A jerking or bouncing movement of an arrow from its theoretical line of flight.

Follow the string – a bow that has taken a permanent set in the direction of the drawing.

Floo Floo: An arrow used to shoot with wings. It is usually feathered with a full whorl. The size of the feathers is such that the flight distance is short.

Shoe: A hardwood butt at the butt end of a wooden shafted arrow.

Gold: Bullseye on the regulation four foot circular target. A circle nine and three-fifths inches in diameter.

Grip: The part of the bow that is held in the shooting hand.

Chicken Feathers: The two feathers, usually of the same color, that are not at right angles to the nock of the arrow.

High Bracing: When the fistmel distance exceeds seven inches, it is better to brace an arch high than low.

Hold: Pause at the full draw position before releasing the arrow.

Home: When the arrow is fully drawn with the pyle even with the back of the bow, it is said to be “home”.

Horns: Bow points made of animal horn into which the bowstring nock is cut.

Articulated Bows: Same as a carriage bow.

Kick: A jolt felt when shooting a bow. Usually due to unevenly tillered bow blades.

Lady Paramount – A lady assistant to the field captain. She in charge of the women’s shooting line or division at a tournament.

Laminate Bow: A bow that is built in layers. It can consist of different types of wood, wood and metal, wood and

fiberglass etc.

End: Half of the arc. From the handle or hilt to the tip Upper and lower limbs.

Loose: The act of shooting. Letting the stretched bowstring slide

of the fingers that shoot.

National Archery Association. (NAA): National Association of Target Archers.

National Field Archery Association. (NFAA): National Field Archers Association.

Nocks: The grooves in the tips of the limbs of a bow into which the bowstring fits, also the groove in the fletched end of an arrow.

Nock Point: The point on the bowstring where the arrow nock rests.

Overbowed: A bow with a higher draw weight than the archer can shoot correctly.

Overdraw – To stretch the bow beyond the arrow length for which the bow is designed.

Overstrung: when the fist is exceeded by the use of a bowstring that is too short.

Pair: Two arrows and one spare, also three feathers.

Pennant: A small flag with the fly longer than the hoist. Placed on the target line on a staff to indicate the direction and speed of the wind at the targets.

Petticoat: The outer edge of the last or white ring of the target has no scoring value.

Pyle: The metal tip attached to the head of the arrow shaft, the arrowhead. Anglo-Saxon (pil) meaning dart, also spelled pile.

Pin: A very small knot in bow woods, especially yew or osage.

Pinch: Crush the arch fibers by compression. See Chrysal.

Pinch: To squeeze the arrow between the drawing fingers.

Pin Hole: The center of the target’s gold, i.e. dead center.

Point Blank: The act of aiming directly at the target.

Aim Point: An object that an archer aims at by looking above the arrowhead.

Quiver: A container for arrows. Shape, size and materials vary, can be worn at the waist, over the shoulder, across the bow or on the bow arm.

Quiver, Earth: In the simplest form, a metal rod about 18 inches long, pointed at one end and a loop formed at right angles to the stem at the other end. Inserted

on the ground, the arrows can be dropped through the loop and drawn one at a time.

Scope: The terrain used in archery competitions. Also called Field Course.

Recurve Bow: A bow that bends back from a straight line at the ends of the limbs.

Reflex Bow: Unstrung and held in a shooting position, the limbs of the bow curve away from the archer.

Release: Same as Loose.

Round: A fixed number of shots at a certain distance or set of distances.

Rover: An archer who is dedicated to field shooting. See Roaming.

Roving: Shoot over fields and forests at natural targets.

Run: When just one of the strands that make up the bowstring frays, stretches, or breaks, the string is said to have a run.

Sap Wood: The wood immediately below the bark.

Self: Used in reference to a bow or arrow made from a single piece of wood, that is, self bow, self arrow.

Service: Winding or coiling the bowstring at the hooking points to protect the bowstring from wear.

Shaft: The main body or section of the arrow. The term “feathered shaft” is frequently used in print to designate an arrow.

Shaft: That section of the shaft to which the feathers are attached.

Shaking: Longitudinal crack in a bow stave.

Shooting Glove – A three-fingered glove used to protect the shooting fingers.

Shooting Tab – A flat piece of leather designed to be worn on the shooting fingers for protection.

Whorl: The curved position where the feathers meet the arrow shaft.

Spine: The springy quality in an arrow that allows it to bend as it passes the bow in flight and then return to its original shape.

Stacked Arch-‘ An arch with an oval cross section. The one in which the thickness of the extremities is little greater than the width.

Steele: Same as the shaft.

Tab: See shooting tab.

Tackle: An archer’s equipment: bow, arrows, quiver, tabs, strings, etc.

Takedown: See Chariot Bow.

Rudder: Shape the bow to the proper curvature. To carve an arc.

Toxophyllite: Archery fan or devotee. It derives from the Greek toxen meaning bow and philos meaning love.

Turn: A term used to describe an arc that has a turn to the right.

or to the left of the string. Underboived: A bow that has very little draw weight for the bow.


Unit: Fourteen targets from an itinerant field course.

Result: The last shot in an archery contest.

Vane: The web or expanded flat part of a feather. Extended plastic flat surfaces attached to a shaft to serve as a feathering.

Wand: A two-inch-wide wooden stick, placed upright on the ground. Six feet tall. It is used as a mark to shoot at.

Weight: The weight in grains of an arrow. See also Drawing Weight.

Whip Ended: A bow that has limbs that are too weak at the tips.

Beat: See Serve.

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