Archery Terms and Definitions

If you are like me, you will be quickly overwhelmed by all the archery terms and definitions available on the market of Archery and Hunting bows. It is important to not lose yourself into too much information at the same time. The solution is to identify your needs on which kind of archery gets your attention and to do so you have at least to understand those few terms. We will explain those terms further in a series of post to respect the philosophy of not overloading the flow of information. This first post is inevitable to understand the basic of archery, so please take few minutes to read it!

To make it easier, we will divide this section into sub-categories which will make our next post really easy to understand. Let’s start with;


ARCHERY IN GENERAL (traditional longbow, recurve bow and compound)

  • Anchor Point or Full Draw: The reference point that a person pulls the bow string to before releasing. This point should be the same for each shot and may be the side of the mouth, ear lobe, or another reference point.
  • Arrow: The arrow is the projectile that is shot from the bow. Materials used include wood, aluminum, and carbon. Today, carbon is the most popular choice due to its strength, durability, and spine to weight ratio.
  • Armguard: A piece of stiff material (traditionally leather) attached to the inner side of the lower arm and wrist of the bow arm to protect it from the bowstring when the arrow is released. Also called a bracer.
  • Arrow Shelf: The arrow shelf is located just above the grip and below the sight window. This horizontal “shelf” is machined into the riser and it is the where the arrow rest will be attached.
  • Arrow Rest: The arrow rest is positioned on the arrow shelf, directly under the sight window, and its main purpose is to cradle the arrow during the draw and launch process. Different models include stationary arrow rest and drop away rests. “Drop away” arrow rest are the most popular due to the fact that the launcher arms drop down before the arrow fletching reaches them. This reduces the contact between the fletching and the rest and results in better shooting.
  • Brace Height: The distance from the deepest section of the grip to the bowstring
  • Bow String: The Bow string is where the arrow is attached. On a two cam system is ends at the cams. On a single cam system, the bow string ends at the bottom cam but travels around the top idler wheel. String life can be extended by applying string wax from time to time. 
  • Bow stringer: An aid that helps to prevent limb twist and tip damage while installing the bow string. (Not for Compound)
  • Broadheads & PointsField points are necessary for anything else then hunting. While broadheads are necessary for hunting. Points vary in sizes and weight. Broadheads vary in sizes, weight and in shapes (3 blades, 4 blades, etc..)
  • Clicker: A gadget attached to the back of the bow which clicks when you are at your desired anchor point.
  • Compound Bows: Modern compound bows are known for their widespread use in field and 3D archery, and bowhunting. Many archers also shoot compounds in target archery. Compound bows are a sophisticated light bow that develops a lot of kinetic energy and offers many adjustments that correspond to a variety of archers.
  • D-Loop: The D-Loop attaches to the compound bow string where the arrow is nocked and is used to apply even pressure along the string when a release aid is used to draw the bow back. Materials consist of a short piece of cord fixed firmly to the bow string by tying two knots.
  • Draw Length:  Either the draw length rating on the bow, or the archer’s actual draw length.  A calculation of the distance that the archer must pull the bow to full draw
  • Draw Hand: The side of your Bow. The selection is determined by identifying your eye dominance. Don’t get confused by Hand Dominance which can be different than your Draw Hand Side.
  • Draw Weight:  The rating on the bow that describes the maximum force the archer must put on the string to pull it back.
  • Dry Fire- To release bowstring without the projectile. Can generate permanent damages to any kind of bows.
  • Groupings- (arrow groupings) Group your arrows in the same area with maximum 2-3 inches in-between them.It shows the precision of the shooter but also usually used for tuning.
  • IBO Speed: IBO speed is defined as the initial velocity in feet per second of a 350 grain arrow which has been shot from a bow having a draw length of 30 inches and draw weight of 70 lbs. This excludes the use of a peep sight or d-loop on the string.
  • Limbs: Limbs are flexible, fiberglass planks that attach to the riser and support the cam system of the bow, as well as store and release energy before during and after the shot. Limbs are given specific weight ranges such as 50-60lbs, 60-70lbs, 70-80lbs, etc. The shooter can choose any weight within the limbs specified range. For example, 50-60 lb limbs offer any weight between 50 and 60 lbs. Limbs can also be replaced if these ranges in weight need to be increased or lowered.
  • Recurve Bows: Recurve bows are the only bows the Olympics allow. Many archers also shoot recurve bows in field archery and 3D archery, and when bowhunting with higher poundage bows.
  • Release:  A mechanical device, most often with a trigger, that is used to pull the bowstring back and “release” it
  • Riser: The center section of the bow that holds the limbs in place and has the grip for the archer’s hand
  • Shooting glove: A 3 fingered leather glove used to protect the fingers while shooting bows
  • Sights & Scopes: Archery sights provide the shooter with an aiming point much like that of a firearm. Bow sights attach to the riser, just above the arrow shelf. Many sights contain fiber-optic pins. Some will use cross-hairs or laser dots instead. In addition, bow sights can come in multiple pin (stationary) models, or single-pin (moveable) versions.
  • Stabilizer: The stabilizer is a short or long device which is screwed into the bow on the front of the riser, just below the grip. They are primarily used to soak up vibration and add balance to the bow. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes as well as different materials.
  • Traditional Bows: Archers shoot traditional bows in all major types of archery. You’ll see traditional bows in target archery, field archery, and 3D archery, and some will use them for bow hunting at higher draw weights.
  • Peep Sight: The peep sight is a plastic, circular shaped device that is inserted between the strands of the bowstring giving the shooter a point of alignment. Similar to the front and rear sight of a rifle, the archer will line up his sight pins while looking through the peep sight. Consistent, accurate shooting is more obtainable while using a peep sight.


  • ATA: Axle to Axle The distance between the two axles on the ends of the limbs that hold the cams in place.
  • Let Off: Let-off is the percentage of the bow’s draw weight that is subtracted after reaching full draw. For example, a bow having a let-off of 80% will require the shooter to only hold back 20% of the actual draw weight: 70 pound draw weight – 80% let off = 14 lb full draw holding weight.

Now that you are more familiar with archery terms, let’s see which one will be your choice according to your interest. You can find out how in our next post. Beginning Archery: Hunting or Target Shooting, What to pick?

Thank you for reading us! See you soon in our next post!

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