Glossary of Traditional Archery Terms

A guide to some of the most common terms used in traditional archery.


Accent stripes:

thin colored laminations that run through the riser section (handle area) of the bow.


 put on forearm to protect it while shooting a bow

Arrow plate:

 piece of material put on the side of the sight window to protect it when the arrow is shot

Arrow shaft:

 main body of the arrow which can be made from a variety of materials

Arrow shelf:

 the cut out area of bow directly above the grip section where arrow is placed to be "shot off the shelf"

Back of bow:

 the surface of the bow pointing to the target,  away from you when you hold the bow

Back quiver:

tube shaped quiver worn on ones back

Bare shaft: 

an arrow shaft without anything attached; also  to describe an arrow without fletching

Barreled shaft:

 shaft that is tapered smaller on each end than  the center section of the shaft

Belly of bow:

 side closest to you when you hold the bow


 blunt ended arrow points that are made from various materials; used for small game and practice shooting

Bow glass:

 fiberglass laminations put on the back and belly of a laminated bow, can be either clear (see thru) or colored

Bow quiver:

 a quiver that is attached to the bow's riser or limbs

Bow square:

tool used to determine where to place string nock, also can be used to measure brace height and tiller

Bow string:

string that goes from bow nock to bow nock

Bow stringer:

a tool used to safely  string  the bow


to stringing of a bow

Brace height:

distance generally measured from the bowstring to the deepest part of the grip or some specific point of reference on the bow


an arrow point that has two or more wide blades; used for hunting


the distance a bow an propel an arrow

Cat quiver:

unique back quiver that keeps arrows separated so as to be quiet

Center shot:

when the bow's sight window is cut to the imaginary centerline that runs down the belly of the bow

Cock feather:

odd colored feather, on an arrow which has three feathers


bands of paint used as decoration and identification on an arrow


a lathe used to spin the arrow shaft so that cresting can be applied

Cresting brush:

brush used to apply cresting paint to arrow shaft

Crown dip:

also known as a cap dip it is color (paint or stain) that is applied to the back 8-12" (nock end) of the arrow

Cut off center:

a bow that has a sight window that is not cut to the centerline of the belly of bow; "the bow is an 1/8" off center"

Cut past center:

a bow that has it's sight window cut a certain amount past the imaginary centerline of the bow's belly


a specific  type material used to make bowstring


section of the limb and/or riser that bends toward the bowstring

Draw length:

distance a person draws a bow, generally measured from the string to the back of the fully drawn bow

Draw weight:

actual amount of weight taken to pull a bow a certain distance. The industry standard is to label bow weights measured at 28";   (50lbs @ 28")

elevated rest:

arrow rest that is attached to the sight window to "elevate" the arrow above the shelf

Endless loop:

simple bowstring with a loop on both ends


the very ends of the riser where the riser "fades out" into the limbs

Fast flight:

 relatively new lightweight material that has little stretch and is very strong

Feather, full length:

a tall uncut feather usually with a flat gluing surface on one edge that can be used for making a flu flu arrows or be cut or burned to a particular shape

Feather, die cut:

a feather that has been cut to a particular shape such a parabolic or shield

Field points:

long nosed, pointed arrow head of a weight similar the hunting head which will be used later ; often made from steel used for target practice and small game

Finger pinch:

describes having your finger pinched against the arrow nock by the bow string


see brace height

Flat bow:

a longbow that is short and has a wide limb design

Flemished string:

short for Flemish twist string,  it consist of two or more separate bundles of string hand twisted together


material used to stabilize an arrow in flight generally made either from natural feathers or plastic

Fletching clamp:

clamp that fletching is put into, then clamp is put into fletching jig to apply feather to shaft

Fletching jig:

tool used to apply fletching to arrow shaft

Flipper rest:

simple elevated rest attached the sight window

Flu flu:

 arrow with big feathers to limit the distance in which it flies: commonly used to shoot such things as birds

Grain weight:

refers to the actual weight of an arrow or arrow point in terms of grains;  there are 437.5 grains in one ounce  (125 grain broadhead)


section of the bow riser where you place your hand to shoot the bow

Hand shock

the felt vibration produced by a bow after it has been shot

Hen feather

two feathers of the same color on an arrow which has three feathers

Hip quiver

quiver attached to a belt and worn on the hip; usually keeps arrows divided so as to be quiet

Lamination taper

amount of taper from the butt to the tip of the limb lamination ( example: lamination taper is .003 per inch)


thin strips of material that run the length of a laminated bow, both in the limb and riser section

Limb core

laminations sandwiched between the two layers of bow glass; makes up the "core" of the limbs

Limb taper

: amount that the limb width tapers from the fade outs to the tips (example: limb tapers from 1 3/4" to 3/4")

Limb tips

end of the limbs where the string groves are

limb wedges

wedge shaped piece between the limb laminations at the base of the limbs this term is generally used in reference to a take down bow's limbs


section of the bow that starts at the fadeouts and goes to the end of the bow


a bow that's string does not touch the belly of the limbs when the bow is strung

Nock, arrow

: plastic part glued to back of arrow or grooved end of the arrow that accepts the bowstring

Nock, bow

a term sometimes used to describe the string groves on each end of the bow

Nock, self

grove that is manually cut in the back of primitive arrows to accept the bowstring

Nock, string

various material put on bow string to permanently mark the nocking point

Nocking pliers

used to put on brass string nocks

Nocking point

exact spot on bowstring where the arrow is placed before being shot

Off the shelf

the act of shooting the arrow from a position directly in contact with the arrow shelf 


term used to describe someone using a bow which is too heavy a draw weight and  which they cannot physically control


laminations used in the grip and limb tip areas to beautify and strengthen those areas

Parabolic cut

feather that has a round back

Parallel shaft

shaft that is the same diameter from one end of the shaft to the other

Pocket quiver

small pouch worn inside the back pant's pocket where a few arrows may be carried


device that holds arrows

Recurve bow

has limb tips that bend away from the string and the string touches the belly of the limbs when strung


 section of the limb and/or riser that bends away from the bowstring


the act of releasing the bowstring when shooting


middle section of bow that includes the grip, shelf, sight window and can include misc. screw-in inserts

Self bow

bow that is made from wood and has no glass backing


: material applied to the middle of the bow string, also applied in the loops of an "endless loop" string

Serving jig

small tool used to apply serving to bowstring

Shield cut

feather that has a more or less square back

Shooting glove

glove used to protect finger s while shooting

Sight widow

the cut out area of the bow directly above the arrow shelf


describes the stiffness of an arrow shaft

Spine tester

: tool used to measure  the spine (flex) of an arrow shaft

Spine weight

refers to the spine in terms of poundage or a range of poundage (50#-55# spine)

String grove

groves at the end of the bow limbs: where the bow string is held in place


small piece of material put on the end of fingers to protect them while shooting

Take down bow

: bow that can be taken apart for ease of transportation, bows typically consist of either 2 or 3 pieces
tapered shaft: shaft which has the back 10-12" tapered down to a smaller diameter typically from 23/64" to 5/16"

Throat of grip:

 deepest spot of the grip


the amount that one limb is weakened compared to the other limb in order for the two limbs to be in time

Tip wedge:

wedge shaped piece put between limb lamination in the tip area

Tube quiver:

round "tube" shaped quiver worn on the hip