ARCHERY TERMINOLOGIES: A concise list of terminologies of archery. You will find 100s of archery terms and definitions used by archers and officials, all listed from A to Z.
Archers and competition referees can use this vocabulary of archery terminology. The titles and common match rulings will also help spectators and sports fans.
The official archery rules and regulations is a good place to start if you are learning to play.
These key archery words cover the advanced lingo and sports terms related to the game.
Shoot through to the most common archery terminology by clicking the alphabetic facility below. Or, take a timeout and sharpen your knowledge and understanding of the game.
This comprehensive list of archery terms and definitions continues to grow. Check in often for more information associated to archery playing techniques and match-winning strategies.
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A – Adapter
An adapter is known as the arrow part that allows for screw in points on wooden shafts or for glue on points for aluminum shafts.
Used in modern archery terminology for making arrows; also in the production of wheels and cams as well as the risers on some modern compound bows.
Definite spot on the archer’s body, normally the face, on which string and index finger come to rest. This should be the same point for each shot.
The Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization (now known as the ATA)
AMO Length (measurement)
A standardized length for measuring bow strings.
One who practices Archery (a.k.a. bowman) and one of the most common terms used in archery.
The effect produced by an arrow flexing as it leaves the bow.
The practice of using a bow to shoot arrows.
Archery GB is the governing body for the sport of archery rules and regulations in Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The ‘arms’ are two limbs of a bow and one of the common terms used in archery.
A protective strap or sheath for an archer’s forearm. A protection against the bowstring’s strike, worn on the inside of the left forearm. It is usually of heavy leather padded with felt.
The name of the projectile in Archery terminology.
A box of wood or other material in which arrows are transported. Each arrow is usually held separate from its fellow.
The arrowhead is one of the common archery words referring to the front end of an arrow; also known as the head, point or tip.
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.
A device used to hold the arrow against the handle or riser until it is released.
The part of the arrow without a nock, fletching, or point installed. Can be made of wood, aluminum or carbon, or a combination of two such as aluminum and carbon, in a carbon/alloy arrow.
In traditional archery terminology it is a notch in the riser or the top of the archer’s hand, where the arrow sits.
In bow and arrow terminology an arrowsmith refers to the one whose business it was to make metal arrowheads.
A tool used to straighten arrow shafts.
The old time word for bows and arrows.
Archery Shooters Association
A tall, narrow cabinet in which bows and arrows are kept.
The Archery Trade Association (formerly known as the AMO).
An acronym for “Axle-To-Axle”, the length between the two pivotal axles which hold the cams or wheels onto the limbs on a compound bow.
B – Back
The side of the bow that faces away from the bowstring.
A bow which has been backed with rawhide, wood, fiber or sinew.
Any substance which is used for backing bows.
A feather that has been cut parabolic or curbed.
A projection on a hunting head which prevents its easily being withdrawn.
Shooting without a bow sight, stabilizers and release aid.
An arrow shaft without fletching, used to tune a bow.
A barrelled arrow is heavier in the middle and tapers toward each end.
The twisted straw back of a target.
The side of the bow that faces the bow string; Today it is called the ‘face’. The belly of a bow is the rounded side, held towards you when shooting.
You bend a bow when you brace or string it.
An unsharpened arrowhead used for targets and small game. Designed not to let the arrow penetrate a target, but rather bounce off. Made from steel, aluminum, rubber, or brass.
An arrow that is thicker at the pile end. It tapers to the nock.
A crossbow projectile; also called a quarrel.
A target, usually made from tightly compacted foam or straw.
In bow and arrow terminology the ‘bow arm’ is the one that grips the bow.
The hand that holds the bow.
The use of archery bow and arrow equipment for catching fish.
The practice of taking game using archery.
A mechanical device attached to the bow that an archer uses to aim at the target.
A leather or nylon strap, fastened to either the bow or the archer’s hand, used to prevent the bow from falling to the ground when the archer shoots without gripping the bow.
The stick, stave or piece of wood from which a bow is made.
A multi stranded string of either Dacron, Kevlar or Fastflight looped to the bow nocks or teardrops.
Cord with two leather pockets that are different sizes used to string a recurve bow.
A piece of wood used to make a bow.
T-Shaped device used to measure brace height, nocking point location and tiller.
Someone who makes bows.
To string a bow.
Shortest distance from the string to the pivot point of the bow when strung; in traditional archery terminology called Fistmele.
Usually used to describe the leather arm guard used in traditional archery glossary.
Wood is called brash when it is brittle.
A large, flat, sharp-bladed hunting head.
A hillock or mound of earth or sod on which target faces are attached to be shot at.
C – Cables
The plastic covered steel cables or fastflight string material that connect the string via the cams or wheels to the opposite limb of a compound bow.
The pulley on the end of compound bow’s limb used to provide let-off and power. They are elliptical shaped.
To hold the bow to the right or left while at full draw. Right or left cant is determined by the position of the top limb.
Used in modern archery for the production of arrows and in some cases bow limbs.
A bow joined under the handle in a ferrule so it comes apart and makes for easy transportation.
The distance a bow can project an arrow. The ability of a bow to throw or cast an arrow.
The protective winding on the center of the string where the arrows are nocked.
A bow with the riser cut out past the bow’s center line.
An arrow is chested when it is thickest toward the nock end and tapers to the pile and nock.
A crushed line of fibers running across the grain, usually in the belly of a bow.
A device used to indicate an archer is at their optimum draw length.
A small white faced target with a black bull’s eye used in archery-golf and clout shooting.
An archery game where arrows are shot at an arc toward a 15 meter diameter target laid out flat on the ground at distances of up to 180 meters.
A differently-colored fletch that indicates proper arrow alignment; also referred to as an Index feather. The feather placed at right angles to the nock. Usually of a different color from the other two.
A bow made from laminating multiple layers of varying materials together.
A modern bow that uses a system of cables and pulleys to gain leverage and reduce holding draw weight.
Letting the arrow move slightly forward before the release; not maintaining full draw. Usually caused by the loss of shoulder and/or back muscle tension.
Markings on an arrow used for identification or design. The decoration on an arrow. Each archer has his own color scheme which identifies his particular arrow.
A color applied to the nock end of an arrow shaft, usually about 12 inches long, by dipping to which the cresting is applied.
A bow mounted on a stock, resembling a rifle, which shoots bolts or Quarrels. An old time weapon made with a short steel or horn bow set crosswise on a stock.
An arrow head of horn, as used in Northern France.
A curl or swirl in the grain of a bowstave.
D – Dacron
A synthetic material used to make bowstrings.
A Japanese longbow.
A release where the drawing hand remains at the anchor point after releasing the bow string; No follow through by the drawing hand.
An arrow that has no life or spine. One that flies sluggishly.
A bow where the unstrung tips curve toward the archer.
A form of bow in which the entire length of the handle and arms curve toward the archer.
Die Cut Feather
A feather that has been cut to a particular shape using a cutting dye.
Director of Shooting
The official in charge who officiates archery rules during a tournament.
When the wind is on the archer’s back.
A device fitted to a compound bow so the archer can maintain a consistent 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.
The number of pounds of force required to draw a bow twenty-eight 28″ inches in traditional archery terminology; the maximum number or pounds of force required, often adjustable, to draw a modern compound bow before it lets-off.
In archery terms, drawing is the act of pulling an arrow and bow string in preparation of shooting.
The fingers used in pulling a bow—the first three of the drawing hand.
The hand that draws the bow string back to the anchor point.
The drift to either side of a mark caused by a cross wind.
E – End
A round of arrows shot during an archery event, usually 3 to 6 arrows. Six arrows shot one after the other is an end.
A powerful medieval bow; also known as the Welsh longbow.
The loop at one or both ends of a bowstring.
F – Face
The side of the bow that faces the bow string. Historically it was called the belly.
A synthetic material used to make bowstrings. Breaking strain = 95 lbs./strand. Minimal stretch ensures consistency. It is a slippery material that requires specific serving to be used in conjunction with it.
A composite of Polyester ‘Spectra’ (FastFlight) and ‘Vectran’ materials used to make bowstrings. Breaking strain = 160 lbs./strand. Due to its strength, less strands are required to make a bowstring, so it is lighter and faster.
Used in modern archery equipment for the production of both bows and arrows.
Shooting at targets of unmarked distances in an open field.
The official in charge of an archery tournament.
A practice head for targets or small game hunting.
When your finger is pinched against the nock or arrow by the bow string when pulling the string back.
A small leather patch to protect the archer’s fingers. Also called a Tab.
Leather stalls or protectors for the three tips of the shooting fingers.
The proper distance between the handle of a bow and the bow 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.
A non-recurved bow with a rectangular cross section.
A natural material bowstring, used in medieval times and now used on re-enactment longbows.
A twisted string that consists of two separate bundles of string, normally two different colors, hand twisted together.
Putting the feathers on an arrow.
The stabilizing fins or vanes of an arrow, each individual fin is called a fletch.
A device used to hold the arrow shaft in place and correctly locate and align the application of the fletching.
The part of a fletching jig that clamps to the fletch as it is being attached or glued to the arrow shaft.
The person that makes and attaches fletching for arrows. An arrow maker.
A clear glue used to apply fletching and nocks to the arrow shaft. It sets quickly and remains slightly elastic (not brittle) to resist repeated shock and vibration.
In archery terms, flex refers to the amount of “bend” an arrow shaft provides; contrasted with Spine.
An arrow used in Flight Shooting. Usually very light and very stiff and fitted with very small fletching to reduce wind drag.
A very strong bow specifically made for flight shooting. Draw weight can exceed 100 lbs. An arrow used for distance shooting. It is long and light and has very small feathers.
A form of archery designed around attaining the longest distance able to be shot with a bow or to see how far you can send an arrow.
Moving the bow arm and/or drawing hand just before the release.
An elevated rest attached to the riser of the bow. It flips out of the way of the fletching when the arrow moves forward after being released.
An arrow flirts when it jumps out of its steady line of flight.
A specially designed short-range arrow. Usually has very large fletching.
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.
Movement, or lack of movement, of the drawing hand/arm and bow arm after the release.
The piece of hardwood spliced to an arrow shaft.
An arrow with a shaft made of two types of wood. An arrow which has been footed with a piece of hardwood at the head end.
Lines, golf tees, stacks or other devices that indicate the archer’s foot positions at the shooting line.
A method of shooting using a bow-sight to aid the archer in aiming.
Inability to move the sight to the desired position while at full draw, or inability to release.
The same as a crisal.
The position of the archer when the bow string has been drawn and the drawing hand is at the anchor point.
G – Glove
Protective gear for an archer’s fingers, often referred to as a shooting glove.
To hold the bow, used in reference to holding the bow, too tightly; the handle of the bow held by the archer.
A device, generally metal, pushed into the ground to hold arrows and/or bow.
The pattern of arrows in the target.
The name given to the Korean art of the sport in archery terminology.
H – Handle
The center part of the bow, not including the limbs. Where the bow is held when being shot.
A short Japanese bow.
The tip or head of the arrow.
Exerting pressure with the heel of the bow hand on the lower part of the grip during the shot.
The call of ancient archers. We get our “Hey, Bill” from it. Used the same as “fore” in golf.
One of two like-colored vanes on an arrow, they are not the index feather.
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.
The slight pause just before you let loose the arrow.
An arrow is home when it is fully drawn and ready to be shot.
The tips of a bow made of cow, steer or stag horns in which the notches for the string are cut.
An archer mounted on a horse.
I – Index Fletch
A differently-colored fletch used for proper arrow alignment. Commonly referred to as a Cock fletch or Cock feather.
An arrow part that accepts the screw in point or the nock.
International Bowhunting Organization. Former name of the ATA (The Archery Trade Association).
J – Jointed Bou
A carriage or two piece bow.
A target and small-game head equipped with spring wires for easy location.
K – Kevlar
As an archery term Kevlar is a synthetic material used to make bowstrings. Very strong and light material, but has no stretch, which causes more shock to the limb tips. Some bows cannot use Kevlar bowstrings. Limited life-span of this material when used for bowstrings as it will break due to repeated bending.
A bow is said to kick when a jar is felt after a shot. It is due to unevenly tillered limbs.
A button used to aid in locating your anchor point, giving the archer a consistent vertical distance when drawing a bow. Almost always used with the lips, and also called a kisser button.
The Japanese art of archery.
Traditional arrows used in Kyudo Archery. These arrows are over 1 meter, 40″ inches, in length and fletched with traditional feathers.
A Japanese longbow, approx. 2 meters, 79″ inches, in length. The “grip” is about one third the distance from the bottom tip of the bow. The bowstring is drawn using a shooting glove fitted with a thumb groove for the string to sit in. The drawing hand is pulled back until over the rear shoulder and the bowstring is released by relaxing the thumb, allowing the bowstring to slip out of the groove.
L – Laminated Bow
A bow made of several layers of different material glued together, usually two layers of fiberglass with a hardwood core.
A style of arrow rest used on compound bows. Can be a one-piece flat metal prong with a “v” groove for the arrow to rest in or can be two round metal prongs set apart to accommodate the size of the arrow.
An archer who holds the bow in the right hand and draws with the left hand to bring the arrow back to the left dominant eye.
A bow with the sight window cut out on the right hand side when viewed from the string side, face, of the bow.
The reduction in draw weight of a compound bow, when pulled to full draw.
A small level, usually located in the bow sights, to indicate when the bow is being held vertical.
The energy storing, bending or flexing, parts of the bow above and below the riser.
A “mushroom” shaped rubber form attached to the limbs of a bow to reduce the vibrations in the limbs after the release.
A recessed slot in the top and bottom of the riser, shaped to fit the ends of the bow limbs and maintain correct limb alignment.
A failure in the bow limb where the bow tip turns away from aligning with the bowstring.
A tall bow without a significant recurve. Considered to be the true Traditional archery bow. Any bow of 5’6″ in length or over.
The woven or served looped ends of the bowstring that fit in the bow nocks or teardrops when the bow is strung.
The act of shooting an arrow from a bow. It is commonly called Release. To let go the string with the shooting fingers; to shoot the arrow.
M – Mass Weight
The actual weight of the bow.
A broadhead with two or more blades, which open on impact, usually used for hunting.
An aid used to grip the string and then release it. Often called a Release aid or simply Release.
An archer mounted on a horse
Drawing a bow with one’s thumb. Also called a Mongolian release.
N – National Field Archey Society
The NFAS fosters and promotes Field Archery as a sport. Their courses are unmarked (unknown distances) and often situated in woodland. NFAS targets are predominantly 3D or paper animal faces.
Note: All National Field Archery Society members have a responsibility to use equipment that complies with current NFAS Official Archery Rules.
A nock is part of an arrow and one of the necessary items in archery equipment. The notch at the rear end of an arrow; the act of setting an arrow in to the bow, “to nock an arrow”. The grooves cut in the wood of the bow itself or in horn, fiber or metal tips, in which the loop of the bowstring fits. The notch in arrows.
Special pliers used to install or remove brass string nock sets.
The point on a bow string where the arrow is nocked or placed when you are ready to shoot.
A small brass attachment added to the string to mark the nocking point.
O – Overbowed
A bow too strong for its user.
As an archery term is a condition in which a bow string is too short for the bow; fistmele is exceeded.
To shoot beyond your mark.
When the string is entirely too short for the bow.
P – 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.
A feather or vane that has a rounded shape to the back, nock, end.
The maximum draw weight of a compound bow. Adjustable on modern compound bows.
Also known as string peep. An aperture in a small round piece of plastic or metal which is set between the strands of the string above the nocking point to sight through in line with the bow sight for aiming a compound bow.
The rim of the target. It is outside the last or white ring, and has no value in the count.
The head of an arrow – its point.
A small black knot in yew or osage.
The same as crisal.
The exact center of the gold of a target.
In archery glossary the pivot point is normally the physical center of the bow.
Pulling the string away from the face in any other direction upon release, an incorrect follow-through – ‘Plucking the string’.
A device used to correct an arrow’s flex at the point of release.
The front end of an arrow; also known as the arrowhead, head or tip.
The range is said to be point blank when the arrow flies flat to the mark.
Q – Quarrel
In archery terms, a quarrel is a crossbow projectile; also called a bolt.
A container for arrows. It may be attached to the bow, placed on a belt, or carried on your shoulder or back as well as placed on the ground. A receptacle for holding arrows.
They are of various shapes, sizes and materials. Some are worn at the waist and some at the shoulder.
R – Recurve Bow
A form of bow in which the unstrung tips curve away from the archer.
A form of bow in which the entire length of the handle and limbs curve away from the archer.
The act of firing an arrow from a bow; Letting go of the string. Sometimes called ‘loose’ and one of the common terms used in archery.
When used in bow and arrow terminology, the release aid is a mechanical device for releasing an arrow.
A device used to hold the arrow against the handle until it is released; An Arrow rest.
An archer who holds the bow in the left hand and draws with the right hand to bring the arrow to the right dominant eye.
A bow with the sight window cut out on the left hand side when viewed from the string side, face, of the bow.
In archery vocabulary the ‘riser’ is the handle section of a Bow.
An archer of legend who lived in Sherwood Forest; A term given to two arrows shot end to end, the second arrow embedded into the rear of the first. Happens rarely, so the arrows are usually kept as a trophy.
The shooting of a definite number of arrows at specified target faces from set distances.
One who indulges in field shooting or rovers.
The act of shooting over fields and woodland with no particular target-stumps, trees, bunches of leaves, etc., being the marks.
When one of the strands in a bowstring lets go the string is said to have a run.
S – Safety Arrow
Arrow with wide tip or padded head used for reenactments.
The wood right under the bark. It is white in yew, about the same color as the heartwood in both osage and lemonwood.
A bow sight with a magnifying lens.
An arrow of only one piece of wood.
A bow made from a single piece of material, normally wood, and homemade. A single stave.
Extra thread wound around a bow string in order to support the main fiber. Usually in the center of the string, where it will be gripped, and also at the loop ends. Whipping or winding with thread.
A device that holds the serving thread and maintains consistent tension as the thread is wrapped around the bowstring.
A shaft is one of the common archery words relating to the main structural element of an arrow. Can be made of wood, aluminum, carbon or a combination.
That portion of the arrow to which the feathers are glued.
A crack in a bowstave running lengthwise with the grain.
Protective gear for an archer’s fingers and allowed in archery rules and regulations. A glove so made that the three shooting fingers have protection across the tips.
A line parallel to and a specific distance away from the targets from which all archers shoot.
The movable part of the sight which holds the sight pin, aperture or scope.
The cut out section of the bow above the grip.
When used in archery vocabulary a ‘sling’ is a strap fastened to either the bow or the archer’s wrist or index finger and thumb. The aim is to prevent the bow from falling when shooting with a relaxed bow hand.
Releasing the arrow without pausing to aim carefully. Common for Instinctive shooting.
The stiffness of an arrow shaft; contrasted with Flex. Must be matched to the archer’s set-up. 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.
A weighted rod or set of rods used to provide balance to a bow.
A characteristic of bow performance where the force/draw curve rises more rapidly over the final part of the draw.
The position of the feet and body when addressing the target.
A strip of wood that a bow may be made from.
The shaft of an arrow; the body of the arrow.
A cord used to shoot a bow; to put the bow string on a bow in the proper position for shooting.
An adjustable frame used to make bowstrings.
When used in the traditional archery glossary of words, the stringer is a device used to aid in the stringing of a bow.
The placement of the string when at full draw in relation to the bow sight or the bow.
The angle formed by the string at the nocking point when at full draw – also called pinch angle.
The fingers used to draw back the bow string.
Drawing hand, the hand used to pull the bowstring.
Brace height or fistmele.
T – Tab
A small leather patch to protect the archer’s fingers. Often called a Finger tab.
An inclusive term for items in an archery equipment list. All the equipment of an archer—his bow, arrows, arm-guard, finger guards, quiver, etc.
A line, set behind the shooting line, behind which is placed all such equipment which is not used during shooting – also called an equipment line.
A bow which can be taken apart, the limbs can be detached from the riser, for ease of traveling, storage and limb replacement.
A tool used to taper wooden shafts for the nock and point.
General term for the intended destination of a shot arrow.
Shooting at non-moving targets placed varying distances.
The person who decides who is to call the value of each arrow, record the scores and draw the arrows from the target.
The paper which is attached to the butt and indicates the scoring areas.
A mental condition causing a loss of control in shooting form. Symptoms can include; aim freezing, snap shooting, flinching and trigger punching.
Bullet-shaped practice head for targets. Also called a target tip.
Competitive event or practice that tests the archer’s proficiency.
Protective ring for an archer’s thumb. Common in Asian archery.
To shape the limbs of an unfinished bow for even bending. The reaction of the limbs whereby the nock ends propel the arrow in a straight line by moving an equal distance in equal time to return to brace height by means of the various stresses in the top and bottom limbs with compensation for the bowhand pressure below and the arrow axis/center line above the center of gravity of the bow.
The front end of an arrow; also known as the arrowhead or point.
Any rotation or twisting motion of the bow in the horizontal plane.
A devotee of archery. One who loves, studies and practices archery.
The mechanism in a crossbow to release the bowstring. To release the bowstring using a release aid.
To adjust the arrow rest, pressure button, string height and nocking point height to achieve good arrow flight out of the bow.
A bow is turned when it has a twist to right or left of the string.
U – Ultralite
A model of aluminum arrow made by “Easton”.
Too weak a bow for the archer.
A final round or return end. A reckoning.
V – Vane
The stabilizing fin of an arrow. Usually referring to a plastic fletch. A piece of a feather.
A short extender fitted between the riser and long stabilizer that allows two short stabilizers to be added as a counter balance to the long stabilizer. Helps resist twisting reactions from the bow hand.
W – Wand
A wand is a stick which is set up as a mark to shoot at.
An archery event in which arrows are shot at a slat of soft wood that is typically 6′ tall and 2″ wide.
In actual grains, the weight of an arrow. The number of pounds pull a bow has.
A powerful medieval bow; also known as the English longbow.
A bow is said to be whip ended when it is too thin or weak at the tips.
Whipping is a wrapping with thread to protect the loop and the middle section of a bowstring.
The adjustment of the bow sight or the pin on the bow sight to allow for the wind deflecting the arrow.
A medieval device to pull the bowstring back on a crossbow.
The earliest material used for the construction of bows and arrows.
X – X7
A model of aluminum arrow made by “Easton”.
A model of aluminum arrow made by “Easton”.
A model of aluminum/carbon arrow made by “Easton”.
Y – Yabusame
A type of mounted archery practiced in Japan.
A type of wood, European evergreen tree, traditionally used to make bows.
An asymmetric Japanese bow; includes both long and short varieties (daikyu and hankyu).
A large tuft of yarn that is used to wipe mud and dirt from arrows.
Z – Zone
Archery Zone is a shop selling new and used bows, accessories, custom strings, new and used Stihl products, Stihl parts and accessories.
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