A Glossary of Archery Terms

3m Line

A line used in competition, parallel and in front of the shooting line, that marks the difference between a dropped arrow versus an arrow that is officially judged to have been shot. An arrow dropped near to the archer can be ignored as far as scoring is concerned, but an arrow that falls past the 3m line counts as a 'Miss'.

Allan Key

A steel tool with a hexagonal cross-section, usually in the shape of a capital letter L. They are used in various sizes for all sorts of adjustments, from limbs to sights.


Archery GB is the 'trading name' of the Grand National Archery Society (GNAS) who are the regulatory body for Target Archery in the UK.


The style and place where the string hand is placed immediately before releasing / "loosing" the arrow. This needs to be consistently repeatable for a good shot. The style of anchor will depend mainly on the style of bow being shot - Barebow will generally differ from Olympic Recurve, and from Compound.

AMO Method - Arrow Length

Specification for how the length of an arrow should be measured. Specifically, it is the distance from the groove of the nock (so that the length of the nock doesn't matter) to the end of the cut shaft, so not including the point.

AMO Method - Draw Length

Specification for how draw-length should be measured. Specifically, it is the distance (when at full-draw) from the groove of the nock to the pressure button, or to the point of contact of the rest, plus 1 ¾ inches in either case. This should be approximately the same as the distance to the 'back' of the bow, (i.e. the face furthest away from the archer, the face that the archer cannot see) but will vary slightly depending on the specific riser.
This specification is intended to directly give a figure for optimum arrow length, but is far from being universally accepted.It can also cause confusion, since many people will measure draw-length to the button, but others will automatically add the extra, or measure to the 'back' of the bow, potentially giving three different figures!

Archer's Paradox

A term used to describe a situation, (particularly noted with Longbows), whereby the arrow starts off pointing to the left before release, but then 'bends' round behind the bow to impact straight ahead or even to the right of the bow. It is caused by the Archers fingers imparting a sideways force on the string as it slips off them, which initially bends the arrow to the left (for a right-handed archer), altering its flight.


'Pointy Thing' that you shoot from the bow - the majority are made from a simple aluminium tube, but can be made from carbon fibre or from carbon fibre wrapped around a (thinner) aluminium tube. It has four parts: the fletches and the nock at the rear, the point/pile at the tip, and the longest part which is the shaft.

Arrow Rest

An attachment on the bow, which the arrow shaft sits on/slides along. The cheapest ones are made of moulded plastic, while more expensive models use a steel wire. The latter fall into two basic categories - stick-on rests that are very compact; and 'wrap-around' rests that bolt on to the other side of the riser, and usually feature a much thicker, longer wire.

Arrow Tube

A plastic tube for carrying arrows, often an integral part of a rucksack. Most arrow tubes can have their length adjusted, with a slight twist, so that they will fit any length of arrow. Be careful when putting arrows in though, as if you slide them across the lip of the tube, you are likely to strip your fletches off!

Back Tension

All of the strength used to pull a bow should come not from the arm, or even the shoulder, but from the much larger muscles in your back.
Coaches will therefore often talk about getting the right "Back Tension" meaning pulling with these back muscles rather than with the elbow and shoulder.


Higher-powered bows (in particular) tend to suffer from "pass throughs" particularly on older bosses.
To prevent this problem, additional layers of rubber sheet, nylon weave (target nappies) or similar "Backing Material" are used.
It is quite common for Competition entry forms to suggest that archers provide their own backing, if they are worried about pass-throughs.

Bare Shaft

1. An arrow shaft as you might buy it from a shop, that has not yet been 'made up', so has no point, nock, cresting or fletchings.
2. An arrow shaft that is otherwise complete apart from having no fletchings. The intention is that it should be identical to every other arrow in a set, but the lack of fletchings makes it more sensitive to a poor setup, so will help in the tuning process.
Because a bare-shaft is a miniscule amount lighter, and more importantly has significantly less drag, it will fly slightly faster than a 'normal' arrow, and consequently should impact a fraction higher on the target.


A particular style of arrow-point characterised by a long, very thin tip. Designed to pierce armour, they are generally not allowed for target archery.


What the target faces are pinned to - usually made out of tightly coiled straw but can also be made of thick, solid foam, or this strips of layered foam.


An arrow that hit the target face during a competition, but didn't 'stick'. If an arrow hits a non-scoring part of the face, boss or framework, then it is not technically 'A Bouncer'. Depending on the round being shot, the archer will either shoot a spare arrow under direction of the Judges, or if Marked Faces are being used, the Judges will attempt to identify what the arrow would have scored if it had remained in the face.


What you use to shoot your arrows with - generally comes in three parts: a handle/riser and two detachable limbs, though 'traditional' bow-styles are usually made in a single piece.

Bow Arm

The arm to which the bracer is attached, and lifts the bow - the same side as the bow hand.


The hand you hold (and push) the bow itself with - the left hand for most people.
The other hand, used to pull the string with, is known by a number of names, including string- arrow- anchor- and tab-hand.

Bow Press

A device used by Compound archers to pull their limbs together for maintenance, such as twisting the peep-sight, or adjusting the cams. Similar in theory to the stringer used by Recurve archers.

Bracer / Arm Guard

Fits on the fore-arm that you hold the bow with, just above your wrist, to protect it from the string.
Repeated 'slaps' from your string will leave a bruise, and just one full-on strike from your string will raise an 'egg' and/or an instant bruise. At some point, every archer steps up to the line without one on, and thinks it won't matter for just one end. Very few will do so a second time&ellip;
The bracer also goes some way towards preventing the string snagging on your clothing. Particularly outdoors, it is common to supplement this with a length of tubi-grip or similar.

Bracing Height

(Measured with the bow held horizontally,) this is the distance between the string (at rest/no tension) and the throat of the riser. Archers should keep a note of their own brace-height, and check it periodically, as it is a useful indicator of issues such as the string streching.


A particular style of arrow-point characterised by a wide, and (usually) barbed tip.
Designed for hunting, they are generally not allowed for target archery, as they are designed to do damage to the target, and to be hard to pull out, and targets are surprisingly expensive.


In the plural, this means the general area where targets are placed - "the butts". Used in the singular, it means the place where an individual target stand and boss sits - "a row of butts".


See: pressure button


Alternative name for the string set of a compound bow. (Typically a compound bow has three strings in total.)


The pulley at each end of a Compound Bow has what is technically known as an eccentric shape, which means that the distance from the centre to the edge varies according to angle, and is therefore often described as a cam.

Casting/Cast (riser)

There are several ways to make a metal riser. The cheapest way is to 'cast' it, which means pouring molten/liquid metal into a mould, which can sometimes lead to air-bubbles which can cause weakness. A 'Forged Riser' is slightly more expensive, but far more reliable - a bar of solid metal is heated until it is soft, then stamped into a mould. This gives a better 'grain' than casting. The most expensive method is to take a solid bar of (cold) metal and use a milling machine to cut out the required shape. This is slightly more versatile than casting or forging, but is very wasteful of material, and very slow.

Centre Shot

A slightly misleading term used to describe part of the set-up of a Recurve Bow. For various reasons, the pressure button should be set so that the arrow is NOT pointing perfectly straight, this is done by "adjusting the centre shot" of the bow, which actually means altering how far through the riser the pressure button goes.

For Compound Archers, things are a lot simpler - the limb alignment is generally not adjustable, so the only requirement is to get the launcher exactly in-line with the string, if using a release-aid. If the archer chooses to shoot without a release-aid, then the same issues apply as for a Recurve, regarding sideways flex.

Chest Guard

A special outer layer of protective clothing (worn by both men and women) that both protects the archer and prevents the string snagging. Some are made from nylon mesh, while others are made from leather.


A small device that is fitted to recurve bows, and adjusted so that an audible click is made when the arrow is drawn back to full draw. The click is used to help the archer ensure a consistant draw-length for every shot.

Compound Bow

A type of bow which uses pulleys or cams at either end to gain a draw weight that varies as the bow is drawn, resulting in a much faster bow, for any given weight 'on the fingers'.


A command given by an instructor/coach, when they want you to bring the bow back to its undrawn point. Let your hand ease the string forward slowly - do NOT release the string in the normal way. See also the FAST command, which is one reason for needing to 'come down'.

Contact Point

Also known as the anchor point or reference point - this is where the fingers holding the string contact the chin/jaw.


Some archers who shoot Traditional bows or Barebow style choose not to use 'the Mediterranean Style' and instead move their fingers up and down the string to adjust elevation/distance (known as 'String Walking'). The amount the fingers are moved is known as a crawl, or the 'crawl amount' / 'crawl distance'.


Patterning applied to the rear end of an arrow, either painted on or applied with sticky tape. In the latter case, the cresting is often individually customised, and/or has the archer's name or initials, to comply with competition regulations regarding arrow marking.


A fault that sometimes occurs to the limbs of a bow, or any other piece that is made of layers. The flexing of any limb depends on one side stretching, while the other side is being compressed, so it is common to use different materials for the two sides. De-lamination is the technical term for these layers separating, which drastically reduces the effectiveness of the limb, meaning that it must be replaced. Repair is not usually possible.


A rubber device fitted to a long-rod to absorb vibration. A trademark, but commonly used to describe any such item, regardless of manufacturer.


The act / process of pulling the bow string.

Draw Length

The distance the string is pulled back until the anchor point is reached. Your arrows need to be slightly longer than this measurement, but see also AMO measurement.


Letting go of the bow string without shooting an arrow, either because the archer forgot to load, or because an arrow-nock broke. This may damage the bow, and commonly results in the string striking the archer's arm, which can be very painful.


Every shoot is split up into individual 'Ends'. Originally, archery fields would have targets set up at both ends, and the archers would shoot in both directions (alternately of course!), so first one 'End' then the other.Target Archery Competition rounds are made up of a set number of ends, though the number of arrows shot in each end varies - typically three arrow ends indoors, six arrow ends outdoors, but sometimes four or five arrow ends.

End Weight

A small, but heavy item that can be attached/dettached from the end of a a long-rod or side-rods of a stabiliser set. Often they can be 'stacked' in a set, to make it easy to adjust the total weight to match an individual archers needs.

Equipment Line

A line used during competition to mark the edge of the 'equipment-zone' - Archers must keep their bows and other equipment behind this line. It is behind the shooting line but in front of the seating area.


A very short rod (usually three to six inches long) made in the same style and fittings as a stabiliser or side-rods. The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the main purpose of an extender is to provide clearance between the riser and the V-Bar where necessary - the extra length is merely a side-effect.

Eye Dominance

Most people (even those who are left-handed) will find that their right eye controls what they see when vision is partially obscured, rather than the left. For some though, neither eye is dominant all of the time (known as cross-dominance), which can cause issues with aiming. Being left-eye dominant does NOT mean that you have to shoot left-handed, (or vice-versa) as it is easy to shut or cover the dominant eye.


Shouted so that EVERYONE can hear, FAST is a signal that shooting MUST stop immediately - something has happened or been seen which makes it unsafe to continue shooting. All archers should repeat the call, partly to indicate that they are aware, and partly to ensure that the call can be heard by everyone.


'Target Archery' is usually shot in a hall or an open field. 'Field Archery' (often abbreviated to just 'Field') on the other hand is normally shot on a woodland course.


Now known as World Archery (WA), FITA stands for Federation Internationale de Tir a L′Arc, and is the highest governing body for Target Archery.


A pair of devices at either end of a compound bow-press, which directly contact the limbs, applying pressure to take the tension of the cables.


During outdoor competitions, a small square flag is usually placed above each boss, as an indicator of the strength and direction of the wind. (There is always some wind.) To be fully compliant with the "Rules of Shooting" these flags must alternate between red and yellow colour.


Also known as flights or vanes, three or (occasionally four) are attached to each arrow shaft to help control flight - usually made from plastic or (real) feathers. When made from feathers, there is a slight difference between 'right wing' and 'left wing' so don't mix the two.

Fletching Tape

A particular type of very narrow sticky-tape designed to attach certain types of fletch (particularly spin-wings), instead of gluing them on. It is applied as two seperate strips, one each at the tip and back of the fletches, going right round the shaft and all fletches. Often used in conjunction with arrow-wraps.

Forging/Forged (riser)

There are several ways to make a metal riser. The cheapest way is to 'cast' it, which means pouring molten/liquid metal into a mould, which can sometimes lead to air-bubbles which can cause weakness. A 'Forged Riser' is slightly more expensive, but far more reliable - a bar of solid metal is heated until it is soft, then stamped into a mould. This gives a better 'grain' than casting. The most expensive method is to take a solid bar of (cold) metal and use a milling machine to cut out the required shape. This is slightly more versatile than casting or forging, but is very wasteful of material, and very slow.

Friar Tuck

Similar to a "Robin Hood", this is a slang term for when one arrow splits another, but from the side, rather than from the end.
This usually only happens when the first arrow is left dangling from the target face, held only by the paper.


A quick, relatively easy Outdoor Round / competition, often shot as a Club competition, for example as a New Year's shoot. The short duration ironically tends to ensure that no-one has time to get too cold, even in places like Penicuik and Lasswade.
Not an 'officially recognised' round, it is usually shot at 30m on 80cm faces.

Glasses / Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an essential piece of kit for all outdoor archers. For those who have vision problems, the right pair of spectacles is essential. In either case, it is important to get a pair that has a low-profile 'bridge', so that it doesn't obscure the archers vision. (Whether shooting left- or right-handed, the archer's dominant eye is always the one towards the rear, meaning that you must look around your own nose.)
Some archers have trouble with cross-dominance, or indeed choose to shoot with their non-dominant eye. This can be helped by having a glasses with a clouded lense, or with a drop-down patch. Very occasionally you may also see glasses where the 'main' lense has been deliberately twisted so that it is perpendicular to the actual line of sight when shooting, to avoid aberration.


The point where you hold the bow in your bow hand - also known as the throat. With most risers, the grip is an extra part, and can be replaced with one that is a better fit for your own hand and style.


After a bunch of arrows have been shot, the result as seen on the target face is known as a 'Group'. Analysis of the size and especially the shape of a group is useful in understanding form and assisting with bow tuning.

Guy Lines

Ropes used to tie straw or foam bosses down, when used outdoors. For straw bosses, the guy lines are attached with "Galvies" - steel pins typically a couple of inches long, while for foam bosses they are typically attached with a small carabiner or similar.

High Draw

A style of shooting where the archer lifts the bow relatively high, before drawing the bow, and then dropping down into the final position. If the arrow fails to remain parallel with the ground once the draw has started, then this style would be deemed illegal, as it could lead to an arrow flying further and higher than the range is designed for. For clarity, compare with the description of an 'overhead draw'.


The shape that a hand makes, and the action of holding a string at the anchor-point.

Hot Melt

A particular type of glue, that is applied by melting, either with an electric gun, or with a candle flame or similar. It is particularly used for sticking arrow points into the shaft, because heating the point will re-melt the glue, allowing easy removal. Similarly useful for some types of nock (taper-fit nocks) for the same reason.

'Hunter' Rest

A particular type of stick-on arrow rest, usually made of plastic, which makes them cheap and robust, but non-adjustable. Most such rests have a small flexible tab, intended to provide the same cushioning as a pressure button. If you already have a pressure button, then you should carefully cut off the tab with a craft knife.


International Limb Fitting - the style of recurve limb that clips into place, as opposed to 'bolt-on limbs' which are more typically found on a beginners bow. This generally means that risers that take ILF limbs can have the draw-weight adjusted slightly (usually two to four pounds) which can be useful for tuning as well as to accommodate the strengthening of a novice's muscles.

Insert - front

Usually made of steel, an insert has a thread matching that of 'screw-in points' that make it very quick to alter the weight of point fitted to the arrow, which alters the apparent spine of the arrow. As with permanent points, the insert itself is glued into the arrow, usually with hot-melt glue.

Insert - tail

A metal collar fitted to the nock end of the arrow, that acts as an adaptor between the actual nock (usually plastic) and the arrow shaft. Having a narrow, angled nock (rather than a larger one) reduces the chances of arrow damage from a 'Robin Hood' event (where a subsequent arrow hits the tail of an arrow that is already in the boss.)


Archery is a highly mental sport. When things aren't going well in a competition, one of the best, proven strategies is to watch a video of kittens - it will make ANYONE feek better, so make sure you've got some good ones saved to your phone, in case you can't get a signal. Seriously, go do it now.


The kind of arrow rest used on a Compound Bow.


Flexible arms fitted to the handle of the bow, to which the string is attached, and which provide the energy to propel the arrow. For recurve bows, the majority are either bolt-on or ILF (clip-in) though there are also proprietary types that only fit one make of riser.

Limb Gauges

Simple devices that temporarily clip onto the inside of the limbs of a recurve bow. Markings on these guides make it easy to see when the limbs are in line with the limbs, and adjust the limbs when necessary.


The process/act of releasing the string, i.e. actually shooting the bow. In combat, this is also the order to shoot - not 'Fire' as you often hear in the movies - that command was only introduced when gunpowder came along!

Lord / Lady Paramount

Officially, the person in charge of a competition, though in reality usually just a ceremonial position - the person who hands out the prizes, rather than the official organiser, and not part of the judging team either.

(Arrow) Lube

A special wax-like grease that should be applied to the front of an arrow. In theory, it makes arrows easier to pull out of the target boss, though also makes them likely to penetrate further in the first place.


A special device intended to provide repeatable measurements. Jigs can be found for making strings; for fletching arrows; for serving a string, and other similar tasks.

Marked Face

Occasionally, an arrow will hit the target face, but not stick in it, either gently falling out, or more often rebounding some distance. This still counts as a hit, so one of two different methods will be used to deal with it, depending on the competition - it is part of the Judges spiel at the start of the competition to make it clear which method is used. In the first case, the archer will shoot a spare arrow, but more frequently the Judges will examine the face for a hole with no arrow in it. To facilitate this, every arrow hole that is made must be marked as soon as the arrows have been scored, so that they can be discounted. The competition entry form will usually state that it will use 'Marked Faces' for this method.

Mediterranean Style

The standard method of holding the string of a Recurve bow is known as Mediterranean Style, or sometimes as 'split-finger'. One finger (the index finger) is placed immediately above the nocking points, and one or two fingers (the middle/third finger) are placed immediately below the nocking points, so that the arrow splits the hand in half. In contrast, Barebow and Longbow archers will often place all of their fingers below the nock, to lower the angle of flight.

Milling/Milled (riser)

There are several ways to make a metal riser. The cheapest way is to 'cast' it, which means pouring molten/liquid metal into a mould and waiting for it to cool, but this can sometimes lead to air-bubbles which can cause weakness. A 'Forged Riser' is slightly more expensive, but far more reliable - a bar of solid metal is heated until it is soft, then stamped into a mould. This gives a better 'grain' than casting. The most expensive method is to take a solid bar of (cold) metal and use a milling machine to cut out the required shape. This is slightly more versatile than casting or forging, but is very wasteful of material, requires complicated machinery, and is very slow.

Nock (1)

The piece of the arrow which clips on to the string and which prevents the arrow falling off the bow.


Older targets tend get soft with age, and arrows penetrate further and further, so a "Target Nappy" or other forms of 'backing' can be attached behind the boss itself to prevent arrows passing right through. Typically, they are made from similar materials to "Stop Nets' / 'Arrow Curtains' i.e. a strong plastic weave such as nylon or Kevlar.

Nock (2)

The pair of grooves for the string loops at the extreme ends of the limbs, which keeps the string in place on the bow.

Nocking Point - Singular

The position on the string where the arrow attaches, identified by a pair of brass or fibre markers.

Nocking Points - Plural

The pair of markers, either side of the 'Nocking Point'. Sometimes made of brass, which is easy to adjust, but more commonly made of cotton thread or dental-floss. Many archers are snobbish about brass nocks, usually because they (incorrectly) believe they are much heavier than 'tied nocks'.

Nock Height

The height of the nocking point(s) above a point perpendicular to the arrow rest or the button. It doesn't matter whether this is measured from the rest, from the centre of the button, or from the top of the button, so long as the same method is used consistently. There are a number of tests that can be carried out to find the perfect height for a particular setup, most noticeably 'The Paper Tear Test'. This value will be different for every Archer's own setup, hence the choice of reference point doesn't matter, and comparison with another archer is of limited use at best.


Due to the relatively low physical impact of Archery, proper nutrition is often overlooked. Since Archery is primarily a mental discipline, good control of blood-sugar levels (and subsequent control of mood) can be very important.

"On The Fingers" (OTF)

Every set of limbs has a "sticker weight" (or usually two - one for a standard length riser, and one for a short riser) but this is an approximation, and depends on the actual draw length of the archer, and how much pre-tension has been applied by 'winding up' the limb bolts. When choosing limbs, this is usually fine - if you want two more pounds of draw-force, then buy limbs that are rated two pounds heavier - but is not much use for choosing arrows, unless the archer happens to be exactly average size. Instead, you need to use a draw-weight gauge, to measure the actual draw-force of the individual, which is then known as the "on the fingers" draw weight (even for compound archer.)

Overhead Draw

A style of shooting where the archer lifts the bow relatively high, before drawing the bow, and then dropping down into the final position. As long as the arrow remains parallel with the ground, this style is legal, but compare with the description of a 'high draw'.

Paper Tear

One of a suite of tests that help to tune your setup. A piece of thin paper is hung from a frame a small distance in front of the archer, with a suitable boss beyond it. A set of arrows are then shot, with slightly different aiming points, so that each one leaves a distinct mark. The front and back end of the arrow leave different marks, showing at what angle the arrow went through.

Peep (Peep-sight)

A small aperture / lense that is attached to a split in the cable of a compound bow. It complements the main sight, by ensuring consistent bow alignment. Fitting a peep-sight can be a tricky process, so get help before trying it yourself.


The front tip of the arrow - which can be either inserted into, or fitted over the tip of the arrow-shaft, and is much sturdier than the shaft itself. Generally made of steel, but sometimes tungsten, and in a variety of shapes.


There are three main types of pin used in archery:

  1. Target Pins - small plastic pins used to attach paper faces to the boss itself. These in turn come in two main types - a flat-headed pin that is easy to push in, but designed to have the head snap off if hit by an arrow, and larger tab-headed pins that are easier to pull out of foam bosses.
  2. Stand Pins - steel pins used to prevent stands moving when used on grass.
  3. "Galvies" - smaller metal pins (often based on galvanised steel nails, such as roofing nails with a washer added) that are used to attach ropes to the side of straw bosses, so that the boss itself can be staked directly to the ground with a large steel pin.


An issue that happens when the fingers are pushed together during drawing so that they accidentally grip the arrow which may make it come off the arrow rest.


Vertical, up and down motion of an arrow in flight, reminiscent of a dolphin/porpoise dipping in and out of the sea. It is mainly caused by an incorrect nocking-point position, but cannot usually be completely eliminated for string-walkers.


One of the commonest archery rounds in the UK, for indoor shoots. Most traditional / "Imperial" rounds are named after cities in England, unlike the "Metric" rounds which have boringly descriptive names such as "WA720" meaning a World Archery round with a max score of 720 points.

Pressure Button / Plunger

A small spring in an adjustable holder that acts as a shock-absorber for the arrow, fitted as close as possible to the Arrow rest. The body of a Pressure Button is designed so that the tension of the spring can be adjusted, to match the exact spine of your arrow. If you have more than one set of arrows, you should probably buy a button for each.
It is always a good idea to have a spare pressure button in your bag. To make sure that it is set up correctly, put your new one tip to tip with your old one, and press slowly - if they are set up the same then they will compress evenly, if not then you will be able to see one of them pushing in faster than the other. This is true even if they are different makes/types/springs.


Usually made of synthetic rubber, a puller makes it easier to grip an arrow, when pulling it from the Boss. Some types become ineffective when wet, so if you are going to shoot outdoors then check with others about the best style to buy. Hint: smooth rubber isn't great - like a car tyre, you need some tread!


The original / proper name for a Crossbow-bolt / arrow.


A tube-like device, worn either on the back or on the hip, and used to temporarily hold arrows while shooting. The simplest will have a single tube or pocket, while others will have several tubes, so that arrows can be segregated into sets; spares or damaged arrows kept seperate. A Ground Quiver does a similar job outdoors, but is basically just a wire loop that is 'planted' in the grass instead of being worn.


The building, sports-field or similar, where archery takes place. In some cases there may, technically, be several ranges in one place, in which case it refers to the area where the targets are, the waiting area, the overshoot area, and two side safety areas. In the UK, all ranges must be approved by an AGB assessor, and re-registered every three years.

Recurve Bow

This is the type of bow that most beginners learn to shoot with, and the most popular type of bow generally, in the UK. They are so named because the tips of the limbs curve forwards, in the opposite direction to the main curve of the bow, unlike an English longbow which has a single curve, though this pattern is seen on some other 'traditional' bow stykes. This is currently the only style of bow that can be used at the Olympics, so is often known as "Olympic Recurve", particularly to distinguish it from Compounds, Longbows or Barebows styles.


The handle section of the bow which the limbs fit on to, along with various other accessories, such as stabilisers; a sight and possibly a 'clicker'.

Robin Hood

There are many theories regarding where and how, the legend of Robin Hood began, and whether he was a real person or not.
Despite this, his name is now used to denote a situation where one arrow strikes the tail of another (already in the boss) and splits it. This often destroys both arrows, so while it is always celebrated as a great achievement, it is generally not welcomed by the archer(s) involved.

Rotator Cuff

Unlike most of the other items listed here, the Rotator Cuff is actually part of you! Specifically, it is part of your shoulder, and is a common source of injury, usually due to poor technique. Take care of it, and if you feel any pain, talk to a good coach and/or a physiotherapist as soon as possible.


This is the definition of a particular competition, such as the number of ends shot, at what distance and what Target Face. In the UK they normally have names such asPortsmouth, Balmoral,Vegas,Rosyth,York etc.

Serving (Serving Thread)

Thread which is wound round the string to make and strengthen the end loops and the centre section where the arrow fits. Serving helps to turn the multiple strands of a string (typically from ten to twenty individual strands) into a single cord.
'Serving' also refers to those sections of the string that have been wrapped with serving-thread, hence 'end serving' and 'centre serving'.

Serving Jig

Typically a spool of thread in a small frame that tensions and guides the serving material as it is wound onto the main part of the string, when making a string from scratch, or repairing an existing one.


Since ancient times, it has been known that the side of a bow that faces the archer gets compressed, while the other side gets stretched. In most cases, two (or more) different materials get laminated (glued) together to make the limbs, or the entire bow. However, English longbows are usually made from a single piece of timber, cut so that it includes both inner and outer wood (from just under the bark) which provides the necessary properties "all by itself", and is therefore known as a "self bow".


The main, and most important part of the arrow - usually a tube of aluminium, carbon-fibre weave, (or a mixture,) or of wood. See also: Bare Shaft

Shot Sequence / Shot Cycle

A list of items that an archer needs to concentrate on for each shot. Often written down as a series of very short notes, going through this in your head will help to achieve a consistent shot. Each archer will have a unique sequence, so talk to a good coach to understand what you need to put on yours, but as a hint, most of them start with careful placement of the feet.

Shooting Line

This is the position from where Target Archers shoot - with one foot either side. Field Archers typically use a wooden peg in the ground for the same purpose. It must only be crossed when the range is clear and safe to do so - after the whistle or voice command has been given.

Short-rod (V-Bar)

Usually found in pairs (though Compounders often only fit one rod). It is known as a short-rod because it does the same basic job as a long-rod but is much shorter (6 to 10 inches), and is fitted to point outwards and rearwards, instead of directly forwards. As with a long-rod, a V-Bar is usually fitted with a relatively heavy end-weight, partly to counter-balance the long-rod, and partly to provide lateral stability.

Sight-mark (Recurve / Compound)

A note of the numbers that indicate where a sight should be aligned - all sights come with a simple numerical scale for this purpose. This changes for different distances/conditions, so needs to be recorded on paper.

Sight-mark (Barebow / Longbow)

A note of the relevant alignment details, such as 'crawl distance'; aiming point; offset etc. that indicate how an archer aims for different distances/conditions. This generally needs to be recorded on paper.


A particular type of fletching that is deliberately fitted at an angle, in order to make the arrow spin around its axis. This gives the arrow more drag than a straight fletch, and therefore slows it down faster, and reduces its range. The suggestion is that this spin makes the arrow more stable, but scientific analysis suggests that the effect is minimal at best.


The definition of how flexible an arrow is for a specific length - the larger the number, the softer and 'whippier' the arrow will be; conversely a small number means a stiff arrow. Generally speaking, the longer your arrows are, the stiffer they need to be, and the more powerful your bow is, the stiffer they need to be.


When a bow is drawn a small amount, the weight 'on the fingers' will increase fairly linearly, however at more extreme draw lengths, the weight will start to increase faster, making them more sensitive to getting the same draw every time. This phenomena is known as stacking, probably from the way that a leaf-spring (a 'stack' of springs that is slightly reminiscent of a bow) is designed to get stiffer with increasing pressure.


A face is attached to some sort of straw or foam boss, which in turn sits on a stand. H-frame stands look (from the front) like a squared-off capital letter A, with a square shape behind the boss, and four legs. In contrast, an A-frame stand looks like a classical capital letter A, from all angles. It only has three legs, loosely joined at the top, which tends to make it less stable than an H-frame, and puts the two front legs close to the centre of the boss, which can cause issues when an arrow passes through the boss. (Arrows shot with more than about 30# draw-weight WILL pass through any boss, at least slightly.)


This is usually made of multiple strands, attaches to the limbs and propels the arrow from the bow. Materials vary, from linen for some traditional bows, to various types of plastic for modern bows.

String Jig

A wooden or metal device, with a pair of pegs at each end. The length is adjustable, and the pegs at each end rotate between transverse and in-line positions, so that archers can make their own strings.


Usually made from a length of nylon webbing, this simple device applies tension to a recurve or traditional bow to allow the actual string to be fitted/removed.


Brand name for a particularly useful type of moldable rubber. Available in small packets, it is ideal for making adjustments to the shape of the grip of a bow, for altering the shape of the finger spacer of a tab, and other similar tasks. Sugru can survive outdoor conditions well, but can be easily carved with a knife, either to re-shape it or to remove it entirely.


A device (usually primarily made of synthetic leather) that takes the pressure off an archers fingers, preventing blisters and callouses. Tabs come in many different styles, to suit the archer's specific style. Barebow archers sometimes use a tab that has a single piece of leather, whereas Recurve archers use a tab that has a split between the first and second fingers, to accommodate the arrow nock. Beginners often use a very plain tab, but more experienced archers will want a shelf to help with a consistant anchor, and/or a finger-divider, to help avoid arrow-pinching. Alost all tabs come with some sort of loop on the outside, to go around the second finger. This loop doesn't need to be tight, just snug enough to prevent the tab flying away during the loose.


Arrows need to stay on the string until loosed, but come off easily then. The 'Tap Test' consists of placing each arrow on the string, holding the bow so that the arrow hangs straight down, and then tapping the string firmly with a finger. Every arrow should behave the same, or else the nock needs to be replaced. If you need to hit the string really hard, then either the nock or the centre serving needs to be replaced; if it falls off with only a slight tap, then either replace the serving with a thicker thread, or simply wrap a strand of sewing cotton around the string to build it up to the required thickness. Get advice from an experienced archer before trying this test, or making any subsequent adjustments.

Target Face

Normally these are coloured, concentric circles that Archers aim at - there are different sizes for different events, usually made from specially reinforced paper, and for outdoors occasionally from waterproof paper. The exact details vary according to the rules of the specific shoot. Some clubs will run "Fun Shoots" using Festive Faces

Target Panic

The precise definition of Target Panic varies wildly, but refers to sub-conscious mental issues resulting in a sub-optimal loose. Ironically, this affects experienced archers more than novices, as it is caused by the archers 'instinctive brain' / sub-consciousness deciding that a particular 'sight picture' is good enough, and loosing the arrow, while the 'top level' conscious brain knows that the aim is NOT good enough. This can be extremely frustrating, and needs the services of a good coach to mitigate.


The portion near the centre of a recurve or compound bow that is narrowed and shaped to accommodate the hand grip.


(Sometimes actually L-shaped) this is basically a two-dimensional ruler with a pair of clips on a perpendicular strut that allows it to be clipped to the string, to measure the Nocking Height


A measure of the difference in setting of the top versus the bottom limb. Specifically, the distance between each limb (where it meets the riser) and the string. If both measurements are the same, the bow is said to have 'neutral tiller'.


Latin word meaning 'the study/practice of Archery'. Those who take part are therefore 'Toxophilites'.


The process of adjusting one or all of the parts of your bow (including the arrows) so that they all match with each other, and with you. This is normally an evolutionary process, not least because every adjustment depends on everything else. See also: Tuning Frame, Bare Shaft & Walk-Back.

Tuning Frame

A wooden (usually) framework that suspends a large piece of paper a metre or two in front of an archer, in front of a normal target boss. Shooting arrows through the paper shows whether the arrows are flying straight or not, as the two ends of the arrow leave different marks.


Apart from the medicinal uses, i.e. to support joints and muscles, tubular bandages are also very useful for keeping loose clothing in check on the bow arm.


Most bow-strings are twisted while they are being made, which makes the individual strands act more like a single cable. 'Adding' more twists will shorten the string slightly, which in turn increases the bracing height of the bow, altering its performance.
Be careful when de-stringing your bow, to avoid the string un-twisting itself, and thereby altering your setup unpredictably. (You should make a note of your bracing height too, with a T-Gauge) and check it occasionally as it will change if your string streches.)


Alternative name for a fletch, though particularly for the small plastic variety - not normally used to describe feathers. Most vanes are flat and straight, but some types are deliberately curled or twisted.

V-Bar (Short-rod)

Usually found in pairs (though Compound often only fit one bar). Also known as a short-rod, since it does the same basic job as a long-rod but is much shorter (6 to 10 inches), and is fitted to point outwards and rearwards, instead of directly forwards. As with a long-rod, a V-Bar is usually fitted with a relatively heavy end-weight, partly to counter-balance the long-rod, and partly to provide lateral stability.


A small block, usually steel, that is attached to the bow between the riser and the long-rod, which also provides attachment points for a pair of V-Bars (short-rods). Most models have a fixed angle, but others allow for adjustment of the angle, though most Archers find this to be unnecessary.

Waiting Line

A line that marks the edge of the 'safe-zone' - Archers waiting to shoot or collect their arrow must stay behind this line - it is usually 5m behind the shooting line and should be kept as clear as possible.

Walk-Back Test

One of a suite of tests that help to tune your setup. A boss, (or preferably two, one above the other) is set up, with an aiming point marked on it. The archer then shoots one arrow from ten metres away, then another at fifteen metres; twenty metres ... This should create a nice vertical straight line, but the actual pattern helps to indicate issues with centre-shot and/or pressure button setup.


Used to waterproof and lubricate strings. Wax intended for archery is softer than a candle, but otherwise fairly firm, usually provided in a form similar to a lipstick. Modern strings are made of man-made materials similar to nylon, which generally absorb much less water than natural materials. Excess wax will slow strings down marginally, so don't over-use it.

William Tell

Legend has it that on 18th November 1307 William Tell was forced to shoot an apple off the top of the head of his son, Robert. This feat was allegedly achieved with a crossbow, but is still used as inspiration for Recurve and Compound archery competitions and trick-shots.


World Archery (WA), is the modern name for F.I.T.A. (which stands for Federation Internationale de Tir a L′Arc), which is the highest / international governing body for Target Archery.

Wrap-Round Rest

A style of arrow rest used on recurve bows, that mounts on the same side as the button, with a longer wire than stick-on rests, giving maximum arrow clearance.

Yawing (fish-tailing)

Horizontal, side to side motion of an arrow in flight, caused by some combination of sideways pressure from the loose; the arrow spine; and pressure button effect. Also known as fish-tailing because the flight of the arrow is reminiscent of the way a fish waves its tail from side to side.

YouTube (etc.)

Watching video of yourself and of others can be a really useful tool, if done in conjunction with the advice of a coach. On the other hand, it can cause loads of problems for novice archers, if watched in isolation.