Archery From A to Z

Glossary of Archery Terms


ANCHOR: The consistent and repeatable placement of the drawing hand against the face.

ARMGUARD: A covering for the inside forearm of the bow arm that protects it from the slap of the bowstring upon release. Armguards are frequently made of leather, plastic, or vinyl.

ARROW: straight slender shafts having plastic or feather fletching at one end for steerage and a point of some type at the other end. The missile propelled from a bow.

ARROW REST: Support for an arrow while it is in the bow


BACK (of bow): The part of a bow facing away from the shooter while drawing the bow.

BELLY (of bow): The part of a bow facing toward the shooter while drawing the bow.

BOW: An arrow propelling device consisting of a handle/riser section and two flexible limbs. A bow is braced for use by means of a string between the two limbs and in operation is held by the handle in one hand while the fingers of the other hand draw, hold, and release the string.

BOW SIGHT: A fixed or movable reference for aiming. Attaches to bow in the sight window.

BOW SQUARE: A "T-square" used to properly align the nock point on the string. Also used to check tiller, brace height, and place peeps and kissers.

BOW STRING: Twisted or braided cord attached to either the cams or limb tips. Used for pulling the bow back prior to shooting.

BOW STRINGER: Used for attaching the string to traditional bows.

BULL'S EYE: The center of the target

BUTT: The backstop upon which the target is placed.


CLICKER: A device mounted on the bow and placed on top of the arrow prior to drawing. When full draw is reached, slight, further pulling causes it to drop off the end of the arrow causing it slap or click. This is the signal to shoot.

COCK FEATHER: First feather (or vane) of a 3-fletch setup. Usually a different than the other two (hen feathers) and used to index the placement of the arrow on the string.

COMPOSITE BOW: Made from more than one material. Ancient composit bows might be made with a wood core and have horn and sinew glued on the front and back for increased strength and to store more energy. An advancement over a self bow which is made of one material only usually wood.

COMPOUND BOW: A modern development where wheels or cams are employed as pulleys in drawing the bow. Compounds offer the advantage of let-off; that is they have a lower holding weight than the force needed to reach full draw. Short and light, these bows store a lot of energy, shoot fast, and are somewhat easier to shoot than a longbow or recurve.

COURSE: Usually refers to a field course. A path or trail along which are set targets at various distances to be shot in succession.

CREEP: Refers to an archer colapsing prior to releasing an arrow. The arrow begins to move forward rather than back while holding and before the release.

CREST: Arrows that are painted with stripes, bands, and distinguishing marks at the nock end. Used to uniquely identify whose arrow is who's.

CROWN DIP: Often accompanied by a crest. A crown dip is when the nock end of an arrow is dipped or painted with an archers color for the first few inches of the arrow. Dips may be of one color or multi-color. Decals in several designs are now available for even more variety in dressing up an arrow.


DRAW: May refer to the draw length, draw weight, or pulling the bow back depending on context.

DRAW LENGTH: How far a bow is drawn or is capable of being draw in order to shoot it.

DRAW WEIGHT: Amount of force measured in pounds required to pull a bow to full draw.


ELEVATION: A setting on the sight for adjusting the up and down impact point of an arrow.

END: The number of arrows shot by a group of archers on the shooting line before thay are retrieved. In ancient times, target butts were place at either end of a practice field and archers would shoot arrows to one end, walk to the other to retrieve their arrows then shoot them back to the other end. That's where the term comes from.


FLETCHING: Feathers or vanes (usually of plastic) attached to end of arrow for stabilizing the flight.

FOLLOW THROUGH: The logical end of the shot. The archer pulls through full draw using back tension and simultaneously releases the arrow.

FULL DRAW: The point at which the archer has pulled the bow back as far as necessary for the shot.


GAP: A means of sight shooting with one or more fixed pins set at various distances. For distances in between the sight settings, the archer must hold one pin above and the next pin below the target to hit the bulls-eye. This is called shooting a gap.

GRIP: Midpoint of the bow riser where it is held.

GROUP: After shooting several arrows, the resulting arrow placement is refered to as a group.


HEN FEATHER: In a three fletch configuration, the odd colored feather (or vane) is the cock feather. The remaining two feathers are the hen feathers.


ILF: Stands for the International Limb Fitting. This standard limb mounting system utilizes a dove-tail mount along with the standard limb bolt to secure limbs. It is used extensively on Olympic recurve bows and a growing number of hunting bow.


KISSER BUTTON: A reference point for aiming with a sight. A button shaped disk that is placed in the corner of the mouth as a reference.


LET DOWN: Rather than loosing an arrow, the archer returns it to

LET-OFF: Reduction in weight from pulling weight to holding weight. Early compounds had between 30 to 50% let-off. More recent bows have 50, 65, 80% or even higher.

LIMB: The working part of a bow. Limbs are attached at the ends of the riser and provide the stored energy necessary to propel an arrow.

LIMB BOLT: On a compond or a take-down recurve, these are used to secure the limbs to the riser section.

LIMB TIP: end of the limbs where the string is attached or on a compound, where the wheels are mounted.

LOOSE: Releasing an arrow. Executing a shot.


MAT: The backing behind the target. Placed on the bale or butt.


NOCK: Derivation of the word "notch". The notched end of the arrow where it attaches to the bow string.

NOCK POINT: Reference point attached to the string used a locator for attaching the arrow nock. May be of string or a brass ferrule crimped on the string.


POINT: The end of the arrow that goes into the target. Points come in a variety of styles and shapes to match the style of shooting. They may be field points, nib points (bullet nosed), target tips, blunts, broadheads (for hunting), or combination points.


QUIVER: A portable carrying case for arrows and accessories. May be carried on the hip, back or in the rear pocket.


RANGE: Place for practice or shooting competition.

RECURVE: A style of limb where the limb is curved away from the bow and flexed backwards. This style stores more energy than straight limb bows.

REFLEX: A riser design where the riser curves away from the string making for a shorter brace height. This makes a bow shoot faster.

RELEASE: A mechanical device hooked on to the string for drawing and releasing the arrow.

ROUND: After the prescribed number of ends has been shot, you have completed a round. Also refers to a tournament as in the American Round, a FITA Round, etc.


SHAFT: Cylindrical tube of aluminum, carbon, wood, or a combination from which an arrow is produced by adding fletchings, nocks, and points.

SPINE: The realative stiffness of an arrow shaft. The spine weight of an arrow must be matched to the pulling weight and lenght of draw for the bow.

STABILIZER: A weighted rod for adding balance and reducing recoil shock in a bow.


TACKLE: Any of the various accessories that archers use.

TORQUE: Usually unwanted force applied to the bow by the holding hand or to the string by the drawing hand.

TOXOPHILITE: One who practices and participates in the sport of archery.

TUNING: Any of various techniques by which a bow is made to shoot more consistently or by which the arrow is made to fly straighter. Also known as arrow tuning and bow tuning.


VANE: Plastic or mylar substitute for feathers used to fletch arrows.

V-BAR: A type of stabilizer used in conjunction with a straight stabilizer for balance side to side.


WARF(ing): Warfing is the recycling of certain compound risers and modifying them to accept recurve limbs. Bob Gordon (aka Warf at was the first to do it as I understand it, but several others have done it using various types of limbs and limb attachment methods. It is also a generic term for nearly any major modification to a metal recurve bow, usually to utilize a different type of limb. The ILF (International Limb Fitting) dove-tail mount seems to be the most popular.

WINDAGE: An adjustment made to a sight to compensate for left/right arrow impact at the target.









This page Copyright 1999/2012 Michael A. Tichenor & DRB, Inc.

Last Revised: 28 Nov 2012