This page is a glossary of archery terms.

Anchor: A combination of points to which the bowstring and/or index finger of the drawing hand are drawn to on the face and neck.

Arm guard: A piece of stiff material used to protect the bow arm from the slap of the bowstring upon release, worn on the inside of the bow arm.

Arrow plate: A plate, adjustable or fixed, to which the arrow rest is attached.

Arrow point or pile: Metal point inserted into the end of the arrow shaft. It can also be that the shaft fits inside the point.

Arrow rest: A projection or support on the bow or the arrow plate on which the arrow rests when nocked on the bowstring.

Back: The side of the bow facing the target.

Backing: A material on the back of the bow, usually applied to prevent fracturing.

Barebow: The discipline of shooting without a bow sight, stabilisers and release aid.

Belly: The side of the bow facing the archer.

Billet: In modern usage, a short piece of wood that will be used to make a bow limb, or half a bow spliced at the handle.

Bow hand: The hand that holds the bow.

Bow stringer: Cord with two pockets of dissimilar size or one pocket and one saddle, used to string a bow.

Brace height: How high the bowstring is from the strung bow. Usually measured from the string to the bows back next to the arrow plate.

Butt: Any backstop to which a target face is attached.

Cant: To hold the bow to the left or right while at full draw. The reference to right or left is determined by the position of the top limb.

Cast: How far a bow shoots an arrow.

Center serving: The protective winding on the center of the string where the arrows are nocked.

Check: A crack-like opening in the wood that follows the grain, usually caused by the drying process.

Chrysal: In the old definition, a section of the bows belly showing a number of small and faint compression fractures, usually caused by some error in construction.

Clout: A form of target shooting in which the arrow is shot into the air at a target on the ground.

Cock feather: The feather set at right angles to the slot in the nock.

Composite bow: Bow made of more than one material – not necessarily a laminated bow.

Compression: What happens to the belly of the bow when bent. The belly of a drawn bow is actually shorter, due to compression, than when the bow is unstrung.

Creep: Letting the arrow move slowly forward before release.

Cresting: Coloured bands applied to the arrow shaft used as identifying marks.

Deflex: Any curved or angular bending of the bow limbs towards the belly side.

Diffuse-porous hardwoods: Trees in which the yearly growth rings are sometimes difficult to identify because the wood is more homogenous than the soft/hard layers exhibited in ring-porous trees. Examples are Maple and Poplar.

Drawing hand: Hand that draws the string back to the anchor point.

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 force, in pounds, required to draw a bow a distance.

End: A set number of arrows that are shot before going to the target to score (usually 6).

Finger tab: A piece of smooth material worn on the drawing hand to protect the fingers and to give a smooth release of the bowstring.

Fistmele: An old term for brace height. The fistmele was usually measured from the string to the belly side of the handle and checked by placing a closed fist on the handle and extending the thumb toward the string.

Fletch: Verb – to attach a feather or vane to an arrow shaft. Noun – a feather attached to an arrow shaft to give stability in flight.

Flight shooting: A discipline of archery purely aimed at shooting long distances.

Follow through: Movement of the drawing hand/arm and bow arm after the release.

Fret: In the old definitions, a large chrysal. A fret poses a greater risk of breaking the bow than most smaller chrysals.

Full draw: The position of the archer when the bowstring has been drawn and the drawing hand is at the anchor point.

Grip: To hold the bow – often used in reference to holding to bow too tightly. The handle of the bow held by the archer.

Group: The pattern of an archer’s arrows in the target.

Heartwood: The dark section of interior wood in many trees, lying under the sapwood. In most hardwoods, the heartwood is brown. In Yew it is pink or red. In Osage Orange it is yellow or orange.

Heel: Exert pressure with the heel of the hand on the lower part of the riser during the shot.

Laminated bow: A bow made of several layers of different material adhered together.

Limbs: The energy-storing parts of the bow above and below the riser.

Longbow: Self bow in the tradition of the old English bows.

Mass weight: The actual physical weight of the bow.

Nock: On a bow, the grooves, shoulders or added tips which hold the bowstring to the limb tips. On an arrow, the notch which accepts the bowstring is called the nock.

Nocking point: The specific point where the arrow is to be nocked on the string usually marked with a brass attachment.

Pinching: The squeezing of index and middle fingers against the arrow nock during the draw, causing deflection of the arrow.

Plucking: Pulling the string away from the face in any other direction upon release than that dictated by a correct follow through.

Quiver: Device for holding arrows. Different forms are back, belt, bow and ground quivers.

Rebound: An arrow that bounces off the scoring area of a target.

Reflex: Any curved or angular bending of the bow limbs towards the back side.

Release: To allow the string to leave the fingers.

Ring-porous hardwood: Trees in which each annual ring is composed of a soft porous layer (spring wood) and a harder layer (late wood). These alternating layers are what shows as the rings on the end of a cut log. Examples are Osage Orange, Mulberry, Ash, Elm, Hickory and Oak.

Riser: The center part of the bow exclusive of the limbs.

Round: The shooting of a definite number of arrows at specific target faces from set distances. The shooting an non-specific number of arrows within a set period of time (speed round).

Sapwood: White wood that lies under the inner bark on almost every species of tree.

Self-bow: In the strict old definition, an unbacked wooden bow made from a single piece of wood. Today, self-bow is used to define any unbacked wooden bow, whether made of one or two pieces of wood.

Serving: The protective wrapping of thread around the loops and center of the bowstring to protect it from wear.

Set: Failure of any elastic material to resume its original shape because of being bent or stretched. On a wooden bow, set is deflex caused by compression of the bow’s belly. If the tips of a bows limbs are an inch farther to the belly side than the back of the handle, the bow is said to have an inch of set.

Setback: Natural or manufactured reflex in a modern bow or stave, usually measured by comparing how much farther the limb tips are toward the back side compared to the back of the handle.

Shaft: The arrow excluding the point, nock and fletching.

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

Sinew: Animal tendon.

Snap shooting: Releasing the arrow without pausing to aim carefully.

Softwood: Coniferous, cone-bearing trees with yearly growth rings much like ring-porous hardwoods. The spring growth of conifers, however, generally has more integrity and strength than the spring growth of the ring-porous trees. Examples are Yew, Cedar, Juniper, Pine and Fir.

Spine: The arrows resistance to bending, classified by hanging a 2lb weight at the center of an arrow resting on two supporting points 26″ apart and measuring the amount of bend.

Splice: Joining two halves of a wooden bow at the handle using matching saw cuts and adhesive.

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

Stave: In the modern usage, the long piece of wood used to make a bow.

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

String angle: The angle formed the string at the nocking point when at full draw (also called pinch angle).

String fingers: The fingers used to draw back the bowstring.

String follow: The same as ‘Set’. Often used as “follows the string”.

Take-down bow: A bow which can be taken apart, generally in 3 pieces, for ease of traveling, storage and limb change-over.

Tension: What happens to the back of the bow when bent. the back of the bow is slightly longer or stretched than when the bow is unstrung.

Tiller: Verb – the process of making a wooden bow curve correctly by tapering the limbs in width, thickness or both. Noun – the condition of the curve in the limb of a bent bow.

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

Tune: To adjust the arrow rest, string height and nocking point height to achieve good arrow flight.

White wood: Trees made up mostly of white sapwood, with the resulting bow comprising mostly of white sapwood. White woods include Ash, Birch, Elm, Hickory, Oak and others.

Glossary compiled from:
Archery Association of Australia (1991) Coaching Manual I&S Graphics: South Australia. Pg69-74.
The traditional Bowyer’s Bible: Volume Three (1994) Lyons Press Edition: Canada. Pg333-334.