The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Books > Mason > North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers > Vocabulary - Part 2
Vocabulary of Archery
Part 2 of 2

HORNS, the ends of a bow called also ears.

LIMBS, the parts of a bow above and below the handle or grip.

NOCK, properly the notch in the horn of the bow, but applied also to the whole of that part on which the string is fastened. Upper nock, the one held upward in bracing; lower nock, the one on the ground in bracing; also the notched part in the end of an arrow.

NOCKING, placing the arrow on the string preparatory to shooting.

NOCKING POINT, that place on a bowstring where the nock of the arrow is to be fitted, often whipped with silk. NOOSE, the end of a string which occupies the lower horn of a bow.

OVER ARROWS, those shot over the center of the mark and beyond the target.

OVERHAND, shooting overhand is to shoot at the mark over the bow hand, when the head of the arrow is drawn inside of the bow.

PACKING, of leather, fish skin, or other soft substance used in binding the nocks and the grip of bows.

PILE, the head of an archery arrow; any arrowhead may bear the same name, in which case we have a one-pile, two-pile, three-pile arrow, etc.

PITCHING TOOL, or knapping tool, a column of antler or other hard substance, used between the hammer and the core in knocking off flakes of stone.

QUIVER. A case for holding the weapons of the archer-bow, arrows, fire-bag, etc.

REINFORCEMENTS, splints of a rigid material build into a compound or sinew-backed bow.

RELEASE, letting go the bowstring in shooting.

Prof. E. S. Morse characterizes the various releases as follows:

  1. Primary release, thumb and first joint of forefinger pinching the arrow nock.

  2. Secondary, thumb and second joint of forefinger, middle finger also on string.

  3. Tertiary, thumb, and three fingers on the string.

  4. Mediterranean, fore and middle fingers on the string.

  5. Mongolian, thumb on string, with or without thumb ring.

RETRIEVING ARROW, one with a barbed head designed for retrieving fish or burrowing game.

RIBAND, a term applied to the stripes painted on arrow shafts, generally around the shaftment. These ribands have been called clan marks, owner marks, game tallies, etc.

SEFIN. (See Thumb ring.)

SELF BOW (simple), made of a single piece of wood or other material.

SHAFT, anciently an arrow, but strictly the portion behind the head, and in a foreshafted arrow the lighter portion behind the foreshaft.

SHAFT GROOVES, furrow cuts along an arrow shaft from the head backward; they have been called blood grooves and lightning grooves, but these names are objectionable as involving theories of function little understood.

SHAFTMENT, the part of an arrow on which the feathering is laid. SHANK, the part of an arrowhead corresponding to the tang of the sword blade.

SHORT ARROWS, those which fall short of the mark.

SIDES of an arrowhead, the sharpened portions between the apex and the base, also called the edges.

SINEW-BACKED now, one whose elasticity is increased by the use of sinew along the back, either in a cable, as among the Eskimo, or laid on solid by means of glue, as in the western United States. Wedges, bridges and splints are also used.

SLEIGHT, the facility with which an archer releases his bowstring.

SPALL, a large flake of stone knocked off in blocking out arrow heads.

STELE (stale, shaft), the wooden part of an arrow, an arrow without feather or head.

STRINGER, a maker of bowstrings.

TARGET, a disk of straw covered with canvas, on which are painted concentric rings, used in archery as a mark in lieu of the ancient butt.

THUMB RING, a ring worn on the thumb in archery by those peoples that use the Mongolian release; called sefin by the Persians.

TIP, a term applied to the sharp apex of an arrowhead.

TRAJECTORY, the curve which an arrow describes in space, may be flat, high, etc.

VENEER, a thin strip of tough, elastic substance, glued to the back of a bow.

WEIGHT of a bow, the number of pounds required to draw a bow until the arrow may stand between the string and the belly, ascertained by suspending the bow at its grip and drawing with a spring scale.

WHIPPING (seizing, serving), wrapping any part of a bow or arrow with cord or sinew regularly laid on.

WIDE ARROWS, those shot to the right or left of the mark.

Most of the words contained in this vocabulary stand for characteristics which are important in the study of bows and arrows according to natural history methods. By means of these terms any number of bows and arrows may be laid out so as to become types for all sub sequent accessions and classifications. False information is thus eliminated, slowly, but the most scrupulous curator is not able to get rid of all that at once.

In all times the bow and the arrow have been the basis of much art and metaphor. Not only is this true in higher culture, as in the Bible, the Homeric poems, or the "arrow-head" writing of the Mesopotamians, but even among the North American Indians. The charming Ute ditty,

The doughty ant marched over the hill
With but one arrow in his quiver.

could easily be matched in other tongues. The Indians of the South west fasten an arrow dipped in blood on the bodies of their stone fetiches and call them the lightning. And Mr. Frank Gushing sug gests that the positions of the elements in cuneiform writing are those of arrows dropped from the hand in divination.