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This is a listing of traditional archery terminology. Some of the terms are to the point of almost being considered archaic, but I have listed them here for historic importance. I very often come across many of these terms in the old books I like to read. As you may know, a current Webster's dictionary will not have many of these terms listed. I have, however, not listed terms related to the modern craze in high tech machinery.

* Many of these terms and their definitions were pulled from Dr. Robert Elmer's Archery, 1926 *

Allow: To aim an arrow windward to compensate for the drift.

Allowance: The change of aim to compensate for windage.

Angular bow: A short bow with a peculiar angular shape at the handle. Most, if not all, were probably made by joining two staves at the handle with a severe backward angle to make stringing the bow easier and allow for a longer arrow. These bows were known to be used by the ancient Assyrians.

Arbalest: See Arbalist.

Arbalist: A crossbow.

Archer: A person who shoots a bow.

Archer's rood: A measure of seven and one-half yards.

Archery: 1. The use of the bow and arrow; 2) The practice, art, or skill of archers; 3) Archers collectively

Armguard: A piece of leather or other material attached to the forearm of the arm holding the bow. The armguard protects the forearm from the slap of the string. Also called a bracer.

Arming: Now more commonly called the handle wrap. The material wrapped around a bow handle.

Arrow: The missile that is shot from a bow.

Arrow-guide: Now, more commonly called an overdraw. A material or setup fastened to the bow near the top of the handle or to the wrist, traditionally, to guide a short arrow that is drawn past the bow and the bow hand.

Arrowhead: It now commonly refers to the flint, obsidian, or other natural material heads used by native American groups. Traditionally, it meant the tip or pile of an arrow.

Arrow-horn: Anock insert traditionally made of horn, ivory, or other natural material.

Arrow hound: 1) The shooter that collects the arrows from the target; 2) A shooter that is especially good at finding lost arrows.

Arrow mark: A mark on an arrow to indicate ownership.

Arrow plate: Traditionally, a thin piece of hard material set in a bow where the arrow crosses to prevent wear to the bow. Leather is more commonly used now. Also called a strike plate.

Arrow rest: A small projection at the top of the bow handle area on which to rest the arrow.

Arrowsmith: A maker of arrowheads or broadheads. This term is commonly misused to mean a fletcher.

Arrow stand: A vase or support on the ground for holding arrows. Compare to ground quiver.

Arrow stave: A slender rod of wood ready for further shaping to form an arrow shaft (stele).

Artillery: 1) Bows and arrows; 2) All projectiles and machines for shooting.

Ascham: 1) A tall, narrow cabinet for bows, arrows, and associated tackle; 2) A portable case for bows, arrows, and associated tackle.

At home: An arrow is said to be at home when it falls upon, or not short of, the mark.

Back: 1) (n) The side of the bow that is away from you when you shoot; 2) (v) To Glue an elastic material on the back of the bow in order to make a stronger, safer, water resistant, or more decorative bow. See backing.

Backing: A material put on the back of a bow to increase its strength, protect it from possible breakage, make it more water resistant, or make it more decorative. Hickory, sinew, rawhide, snakeskins, birch bark, cherry bark, bamboo, and fiberglass are commonly used.

Balloon fletching: 1) Fletching in the shape of an arc, not as stretched as parablic; 2) Parabolic fletching.

Barbed arrow: A hunting arrow with a barbed broadhead.

Barbs: 1) The points projecting back from an arrowhead or broadhead. They were designed to prevent an arrow from easily coming out of a point of entry so that continued damage could be done. It is illegal in most areas to use these heads for hunting purposes, but collectors like them. 2) The thin, obliquely set plates which, collectively, form a vane in a feather.

Barrelled (adj): Used to describe the shaft of an arrow that is larger in diameter in the middle than at the ends. It was thought that these arrows would be more aerodynamic. It was also done to reduce the physical weight of the arrow without reducing the spine weight.

Battle bow: A powerful bow used for military purposes. "Out of him came forth the battle bow." - Zechariah 10: 4.

Bearded arrow: An arrow with a barbed broadhead.

Bearing arrow: 1) An arrow which possesses a steady flight; 2) An arrow carried as a badge of authority.

Belly: The part of the bow that faces you when you shoot. Also called the face.

Bend: 1) (n) The space between the bent bow and its string; 2) (v) To string a bow, not to draw it.

Bending: The lower loop of the bowstring.

Benn: A pink silk sash given as the chief prize at the Papingo Shooting at Kilwinning, Scotland.

Billets: Two sections of wood used to make a bow. The sections are connected by way of a splice or by using some sort of takedown system.

Black: 1) A hit in the black ring, counting three; 2) The fourth ring of the target, even if it is not colored as in clout shooting; 3) A dark spot seen and used as a mark in roving.

Blazon: A square target formerly used in Flanders. It is divided into fifty squares, the middle one counting 26 and the next in value being in the corners. Beside each number is a square that counts nothing.

Blazonry: The shooting of a blazon.

Blue: 1) A hit in the blue ring, counting five; 2) The third ring of the target, even if it is not colored as in clout shooting.

Bobtailed arrow: An arrow that increases in diameter from the point to the nock.

Bolt: The arrow used in a crossbow.

Bonarro: A word coined in 1924 by the California By-Products Company of San Francisco, CA to denote a roving game of their invention.

Bone: The hard, resinous layer of coniferous trees.

Bought: A twist or turn in the grain of wood. "In knots and many boughtes." - Spencer, Faerie Queen

Bow: 1) A weapon consisting of a strong strip of elastic wood, or other material, with a string stretched between its ends used for shooting arrows. With this definition, one can certainly eliminate other things commonly referred to as bows; 2) A measure of six feet, used principally in clout shooting and roving.

Bow arm: The arm that supports the bow during shooting.

Bow-boy: A young bowman. "Alas, poor Romeo! he is already dead; stabbed with a white wench's black eye; shot through the ear with a love song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft."-Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 4.

Bow cord: Bowstring

Bow hand: The hand that holds the bow by the handle during shooting.

Bowman: an archer.

Bow ribbon: A loop of ribbon (or thread) fastening the eye of the string to the top bow horn or through the hole in the top tip when the bow is unstrung.

Bowshot: The distance a bow will shoot an arrow.

Bowstaff: Bowstave.

Bowstave: A split section of a log to be used to make a bow. Also called a stave, staff, or bowstaff.

Bowstring: The cord joining the two ends of the bow in a taught position.

Bow tire: Loss of cast in a bow due to it having been drawn and held too long or having been strung too long.

Bowyer: A maker of bows.

Brace: To string a bow.

Bracer: Armguard.

Brash: Brittle

Break: An open fracture in a wooden bow, as opposed to a chrysal.

Breast: The part of the arrow at about the same distance from the nock as the string is from the bow.

Breasted arrow: Properly, an arrow heaviest at the breast. Often used synonymously with barrelled arrow.

Broad arrow: 1) An arrow with a wide flat head and large barbs used for hunting or warfare; 2) A heraldic design stamped on the clothing of English convicts and used in blazonry, somewhat resembling an arrowhead.

Broadhead: A sharp metallic arrow point used in hunting.

Bullet arrow: An arrow with a cavity in the end for throwing a bullet or small stone. It is often tied to the bow with a string and is used for very small game animals.

Bull's eye: 1) The gold; 2) The center of the target at which you shoot.

Butt: 1) An embankment of dirt, straw, fiber, or other material used in back of a target (especially in field archery) to stop stray arrows; 2) Such an embankment used as the taget itself.

Butt-arrow: An arrow used in shooting at short targets, the same as a target arrow.

Butt-mark: A four-inch disc of paper pinned to a butt as a target.

Butt-shaft: Butt-arrow.

Butt-shooter: An archer who shoots at the butts (targets).

Butt-shooting: Shooting at butt-marks or pricks placed on butts (targets).

Butty: An archer's shooting companion. It may be the original of the "buddy" of World War I.

Carriage bow: A jointed or hinged bow.

Carry the shot: Win the cast.

Cast: 1) The ability and efficiency of a bow in shooting an arrow; 2) The coefficients of resilience of a bow; 3) Any lateral warping in a bow or an arrow; 4) The right of shooting first by winning the last shot; 5) A tilt in the back of a bow out of the perpendicular to the plane passing through the string and the longitudinal center of the bow.

Cement: A gluing compound used to attach points and heads to arrow shafts.

Check: 1) Shake; 2) Gizzen

Chest guard: A garment worn by women to prevent the left breast on a right-handed shooter from obstructing the release of an arrow and to protect the breast from string slap.

Composite bow: A bow made from more than one type of material. Horn bows made from horn, wood, and sinew are most commonly thought of as composite bows. Fiberglass and wood laminated bows are, technically, composite bows.

Compound bow: 1) A bow made from more than one piece of the same type of material. A bow with a bamboo backing over bamboo laminations would be a compound bow; 2) This term has been used to mean composite bow; 3) No, nothing else!

Core: The middle section of a composite bow (or other) to which other materials are glued.

Cylindrical arrow: An arrow made with a parallel shaft.

Distance-of-jump: The short distance after release of an arrow in which the arrow straightens itself.

Face: belly

Flight-test: An arrow whose flight has been tested prior to sale.

Flirting: The erratic flight of an arrow to the left caused by insufficient spine.

Footed arrow: An arrow with a main body of a lighter wood like cedar and a footing or foreshaft of a heavier denser wood spliced to the front.

Footing: The forward section of an arrow that has been spliced to the lighter main section and to which the point or head is glued.

Foreshaft: See footing.

Gadding: The erratic flight of an arrow to the left caused by insufficient spine.

Gizzen: 1) (n) A longitudinal crack in wood; 2) (v) To crack, or check, longitudinally in the seasoning of wood.

Ground quiver: A wood, aluminum, or metal stake with a ring on it pushed into the ground to hold arrows during shooting. Compare to arrow stand.

Group: The concentrated location of a shooter's arrows in the target.

Hinged bow: A take-down bow utilizing a hinge mechanism at the handle area that allows the limbs to fold down when not strung, thereby allowing for more compact transport of the bow.

Honing: A process of using a round object such as a bone or a section of an arrow shaft to compress the wood fibers of a wooden bow in order to give it a nice sheen and to aid in water resistance; also known as boning.

Jointed bow: A take-down bow joined by a socket, sleeve, hinge, or other method.

Laminated bow: A bow made from strips of material glued together, modern wood and fiberglass recurves and longbows are commonly referred to as laminated bows.

Lamination: A thin strip of wood glued to one or more others to form the core of a bow limb.

Lam: Lamination.

Lemonwood: Also called Degame, a species of wood commonly used for lower-priced longbows prior to the Cuban Embargo.

Loading: The reinforcement of the front of an arrow with a heavier rod, wire nail, or such in an effort to bring the balancing point of the arrow forward or to simply add weight to an arrow.

Nock insert - A piece of bone, horn, wood, fiber, or other material spliced into the nock section of an arrow in an effort to reinforce the nock or to add to the asthetic value of the arrow.

Osage: Osage orange, Maclura pomifera, bois d' arc in French, hedge in the Midwest,

Overdraw: 1) (v) To draw a bow farther than it was meant to be drawn or can safely be drawn; 2) (n) a specialized armguard or arrowshelf that allows a short arrow to be drawn past the back and belly of the bow. This was commonly used in flight competitions with composite bows.

Parallel shaft: An arrow shaft that has no taper.

Pile: Arrow point.

Prima donna: An arrow with uniquely bad flight characteristics.

Rankling: A long arrow point, often seen on Asiatic arrows.

Resin: 1) Free gum of woods; 2) A well defined layer of grain.

Self arrow: An arrow made from a single stick of wood. Compare to footed arrow.

Selfbow: A bow made from a single piece of wood.

Shaf: A section of wood used to make an arrow, dowel.

Shake: A longitudinal crack in wood.

Shelf: A shelf cut out of the riser above the handle area of the bow on which arrows are placed if an arrow rest is not used.

Sinew: Dried tendon commonly used as backing on bows, reinforcing self arrow nocks and mounting arrowheads and homemade broadheads.

Staff: Stave.

Stave: A split section of a log to be used to make a bow. Also called a bowstave.


Strike plate: Traditionally, a thin piece of hard material set in a bow where the arrow crosses to prevent wear to the bow. Leather is more commonly used now. Also called an arrow plate.

String: (n) The cord joining the two ends of the bow in a taught position; (v) to flex the bow and slip the bowstring into the string grooves in preparation of shooting; also called to brace;

Stringer: A section of cordage with leather caps at either end used in the safe stringing of longbows and recurves. Stringers allow the limbs to be bent evenly during the stringing process, thereby avoiding damage to the limbs that can happen by stringing a bow without one.

Take-down bow: A bow whose construction allows for it to be taken apart into more than one piece, thereby allowing for more compact transport.

Tillering board: A tool (commonly a 2 X 4) used to hold a bow while its arms are checked for even bending.

Tiplik: A piece of wood with a rouded side and a flat side used with sections of cordage in the initial process of stringing a composite horn bow.

Win the cast: 1) Win the shot at roving; 2) Have the honor of shooting first at the next mark because of winning the last one.

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