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Archery Terminology

Updated on May 1, 2024
Photo by Aron Cody
Photo by Aron Cody

Archery is the use of the bow and arrow for hunting and warfare was widespread and dates from very early times. It gave man a means of striking game from a distance and was an important contribution to his survival.

Its use continues for this basic purpose in South America, Central Africa, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific islands, but in all continents the bow is now an instrument of sport and recreation.

The  most  simple  bow is  made  from  a  length  of wood, split from the trunk, or large bough, of a tree. This is called a self bow and achieved greatest fame as the old English longbow, introduced for military purposes by Edward I and used with the greatest effect for over 200 years.

The use of the longbow declined with the introduction of firearms and it was finally abandoned as a military weapon at the end of the 16th century. There was a great revival of archery in Britain in the mid-18th century for sport, health and exercise, resulting in a growing number of societies being formed. The longbow still has a strong following in spite of more efficient, modern designs being introduced; it was based on the composite bow that originated in Central Asia and was carried by invading waves of horse archers from 2500 BC onward, including the Huns, Parthians, Scythians, Mongols and Turks. This bow was made on a thin wooden core, which provided the frame and final shape; it was faced with horn to take compression, and was backed with shredded smew to take tension. It was more powerful and efficient than the simple wooden bow.

The modern composite is made with a thin, wide wooden core, sandwiched between two layers of glass-reinforced plastic.

Anchor point
The position on the face where the drawing hand rests while holding and aiming.
A device worn on the inner side of the bow arm to protect the arm from the slap of the bowstring.
Bare Bow Shooting
Shooting with bows lacking any mark or sighting device.
Bow Hand or Arm
The hand or arm that holds the bow in shooting.
Bow Weight
The number of pounds of pull required to draw the string a specified distance.
A cord fastened between the nocks at the ends of a bow to force it into a bent and stressed condition. It draws the bow and drives the arrow forward on the release.
Bracing the Bow
Readying the bow for shooting by bending its limbs to attach the bowstring.
The backstop that holds the target face. It consists of straw, excelsior, or earth.
Cock Feather
The odd-colored vane that makes up part of the fetching.
To pull the bowstring to the anchor point on the face.
Field Arrow
An arrow with a spike-tipped point used in field archery. It usually is more rugged than a target-type arrow.
Finger Tab
A device to protect the three string-pulling fingers, slotted for the arrow nock.
The vanes on an arrow, consisting of a cock feather and two hen feathers.
Flight Arrow
A thin, light arrow for distance shooting, with small plastic vanes and a small point.
Full Draw
The complete and consistent length a bowstring is pulled.
Hen Feathers
The two vanes of the fletching of the same color, to distinguish them from the cock feather.
Hunting Arrow
A blunt-tipped arrow for small game; also, an arrow with a broadhead for ducks, predators, and big game. Instinctive Shooting.—Shooting without use of point-of-aim, bowsight, or other mechanical means. It also is called bare bow shooting.
A bow of 5 feet or more in length; also, the medieval English bow.
The groove in the end of an arrow into which the bowstring fits. Also, the notch at either end of the bow that holds the end loops of the bowstring.
Nocking Point
The place on the serving of the bowstring where the arrow is fitted.
The condition of using a bow too heavy, or strong, for the archer; the opposite of underbowed.
An arrowhead without cutting edges. It is usually cylindrical or conoidal and may be either pointed or blunt.
A receptacle to hold arrows for shooting. Quivers are hung on the back, worn in the hip pocket, or fastened at the belt or on the bow. Ground or floor quivers rest on the ground.
The additional string around the center of a bowstring that protects it from wear by the fingers or the arrow nock.
String Hand
The hand that draws the bowstring.
One of the feathers on an arrow.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Bits-n-Pieces


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