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Home > Books > The Essentials of Archery > Common Archery Terms
Common Archery Terms

Arms—The two limbs of a bow.

Armguard—A protection against the bowstring's strike, worn on the inside of the left forearm. It is usually of heavy leather padded with felt.

Arrow Case—A box of wood or other material in which arrows are transported. Each arrow is usually held separate from its fellow.

Arrow Plate—A piece of horn, pretty shell or leather just above the handle on the left side of a bow, where the arrow passes as it leaves the bow.

Arrowshaft—The wooden shaft or steel of an arrow.

Arrowsmith—One whose business it was to make metal arrowheads.

Artillery—The old time word for bows and arrows.

Ascham—A tall, narrow cabinet in which bows and arrows are kept.

Back—The outer or flat side of a bow.

Backed Bow—A bow which has been backed with rawhide, wood, fibre or sinew.

Backing—Any substance which is used for backing bows.

Balloon Feather—A feather that has been cut parabolic or curbed.

Barb—A projection on a hunting head which prevents its easily being withdrawn.

Barrelled—A barrelled arrow is heavier in the middle and tapers toward each end.

Bass or bast—The twisted straw back of a target.

Belly—The belly of a bow is the rounded side, held towards you when shooting.

Bend—You bend a bow when you brace or string it.

Bobtailed Arrow—An arrow that is thicker at the pile end. It tapers to the nock.

Bow Stave—The stick, stave or piece of wood from which a bow is made.

Bowyer—A maker of bows.

Brace—To string a bow.

Bracer—Another name for an armguard.

Brash—Wood is called brash when it is brittle.

Broadhead—A large flat hunting head.

Butt—A hillock or mound of earth or sod on which target faces are attached to be shot at.

Carriage Bow—A bow joined under the handle in a ferrule so it comes apart and makes for easy transportation.

Cast—The ability of a bow to throw or cast an arrow.

Chested Arrow—An arrow is chested when it is thickest toward the nock end and tapers to the pile and nock.

Chrysal—or Crisal—A crushed line of fibres running across the grain, usually in the belly of a bow.

Clout—A small white faced target with a black bull's eye used in archery-golf and clout shooting.

Cock Feather—The feather placed at right angles to the nock. Usually of a different color from the other two.

Crest—The decoration on an arrow. Each archer has his own color scheme which identifies his particular arrow.

Crossbow—An old time weapon made with a short steel or horn bow set crosswise on a stock.

Crow Bill—An arrow head of horn, as used in Northern France.

Curl—A curl or swirl in the grain of a bowstave.

Dead Shaft—An arrow that has no life or spine. One that flies sluggishly.

Down Wind—When the wind is on the archer's back.

Draw—Pulling an arrow the proper distance.

Drawing Fingers—The fingers used in pulling a bow—the first three of the drawing hand.

Drift—The drift to either side of a mark caused by a cross wind.

End—Six arrows shot one after the other is an end.

Eye—The loop at one or both ends of a bowstring.

Finger Tips—Leatber stalls or protectors for the three tips of the shooting fingers.

Fistmele—The distance between handle and string when the bow is strung. It is an old Saxon measurement. The distance from the base of the hand when clenched to the tip of the extended thumb.

Fletch—Putting the feathers on an arrow.

Fletcher—An arrowmaker.

Flight Arrow—An arrow used for distance shooting. It is long and light and has very small feathers.

Flight Shooting—Distance shooting; to see how far you can send an arrow.

Flirt—An arrow flirts when it jumps out of its steady line of flight.

Follow the String—When a bow takes a set or bend in the drawing direction, it is said to have a set or to follow the string.

Foot—The piece of hardwood spliced to an arrowshaft.

Footed Arrow—An arrow which has been footed with a piece of hardwood at the head end.

Fret—The same as a crisal.

Grip—The same as a handle of a bow.

Handle—Where the bow is held when being shot.

Head—The tip or head of the arrow.

He! He!—The call of ancient archers. We get our "Hey, Bill" from it. Used the same as "fore" in golf.

High Braced—When the distance between handle and string of a strung bow is over seven inches. It is better to high brace a bow than low brace one.

Holding—The slight pause just before you loose the arrow.

Home—An arrow is home when it is fully drawn and ready to be shot.

Horns—The tips of a bow made of cow, steer or stag horns in which the notches for the string are cut.

Jointed Bou—A carriage or two piece bow.

Kick—A bow is said to kick when a jar is felt after a shot. It is due to unevenly tillered limbs.

Long Bow—Any bow of 5'6" in length or over.

Loose—To let go the string with the shooting fingers; to shoot the arrow.

Nocks—The grooves cut in the wood of the bow itself or in horn, fibre or metal tips, in which the loop of the bowstring fits. The notch in arrows.

Nocking Point—That point on a bowstring where the arrow is nocked or placed when you are ready to shoot.

Overbowed—A bow too strong for its user.

Overshoot—To shoot beyond your mark.

Overstrung—When the string is entirely too short for the bow.

Pair—An archer's pair has come to mean three, i.e., two arrows and a spare is a pair of arrows. Three feathers are called a pair.

Petticoat—The rim of the target. It is outside the last or white ring, and has no value in the count.

Pile—The head of an arrow—its point.

Pin—A small black knot in yew or osage.

Pinch—The same as crisal.

Pin Hole—The exact center of the gold of a target.

Point Blank—The range is said to be point blank when the arrow flies flat to the mark.

Quiver—A receptacle for holding arrows. They are of various shapes, sizes and materials. Some are worn at the waist and some at the shoulder.

Reflexed Bow—A bow with the ends reflexed or curved back in a graceful arc.

Release—To let the arrow and string go; to shoot an arrow.

Round—The number of shots at given distances, as in the American and York Rounds.

Rover—One who indulges in field shooting or rovers.

Roving—The act of shooting over fields and woodland with no particular target-stumps, trees, bunches of leaves, etc., being the marks.

Run—When one of the strands in a bowstring lets go the string is said to have a run.

Sap Wood—The wood right under the bark. It is white in yew, about the same color as the heartwood in both osage and lemonwood.

Self Arrow—An arrow of only one piece of wood.

Self Bow —A bow made of one piece of wood; a single stave.

Serving—Whipping or winding with thread.

Shaft—The arrow.

Shaftment—That portion of the arrow to which the feathers are glued.

Shake—A crack in a bowstave running lengthwise with the grain.

Shooting Glove—A glove so made that the three shooting fingers have protection across the tips.

Spine—That quality in an arrow that permits it to get around the bow and straighten itself efficiently. Spine is not stiffness alone, but some other elusive quality.

Steele—The shaft of an arrow; the body of the arrow.

Tackle—All the equipment of an archer—his bow, arrows, arm-guard, finger guards, quiver, etc.

Tiller—See Plate 7.

Toxophilite—One who loves, studies and practices archery.

Turn—A bow is turned when it has a twist to right or left of the string.

Underbowed—Too weak a bow for the archer.

Upshot—A final round or return end. A reckoning.

Vane—A piece of a feather.

Wand—A stick set up as a mark to shoot at.

Weight—In actual grains, the weight of an arrow. The number of pounds pull a bow has.

Whip Ended—A bow is said to be whip ended when it is too thin or weak at the tips.

Whipping—A wrapping with thread to protect the loop and middle of a bowstring.

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