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Archery Terms
Definitions of common archery terms

AMO Speed Rating
The Archery Manufacturer's Organization set this standard for evaluating arrow speed. To discover the AMO Speed a bow is set at 60 pounds, with a 30-inch draw and shooting arrows that weigh 540 grains. For today's compounds, speeds over 240fps are considered fast while anything under 220fps are relatively slow.

You should draw the bow and hold the string in the same location every time--(anchoring) the bowstring. Many people who shoot with fingers use the corner of their mouth as an anchor point.

Archer's Paradox
Describes the movement of the arrow as it bends and flexes around a riser when released.

Placed on the arm that holds the bow, an armguard protects your arm from being slapped by the bow string on release.

Arrow Length
Arrows are cut to a specified length. Measured from bottom of nock to the end of the arrow shaft.

Arrow nock
The notch at the end of the arrow designed to fit around the bowstring and hold the arrow in place on the string.

The axles are the shafts on which a compound bow's cams rotate.

Axle-to-Axle Length
The distance from one axle of a compound bow to the other. This is an important number because it tells you two things: 1) Generally if you want a finger bow, it should have an axle-to-axle length of at least 42 inches to avoid drastic finger-pinch. 2)A really short axle-to-axle length makes the bow more extreme and a little more difficult to shoot but may make it faster.

An arrow tip that is not pointed. Usually used to hunt small game or to stump shoot.

Bow Press
A device used to hold the bow in a bent position so you can work on the bow or remove its string.

Bow Square
Used to measure brace height or to align nocking points.

Brace Height
Is the length of a direct line from the back of the grip to the string of a bow. Generally, the lower the brace height, the faster the bow is. It is faster because the shorter brace height means that the power stroke is longer. But, because a shorter brace height provides a longer power stroke it can be much more difficult to shoot accurately.

Arrow tips meant for hunting big-game. They generally feature at least one-inch of cutting diameter and may be fixed blades or expandables (mechanicals).

Brush Button
For recurves and longbows, these rubber round items are placed on a bowstring to prevent brush from catching between the bowstring and the bow.

Cable Guard
Holds the cables to the side to ensure arrow clearance.

Cable Slide
Fits on the cable guard and helps the cables move smoothly across the cable guard. New Teflon cable slides are said to add speed to your bow because they reduce the friction greatly. Pure Teflon is a clear or milky white color. If the slide is not white, it's not Teflon.

Center Serving
The center portion of the bowstring is wrapped (or served) to protect the bowstring from damage, either from the release aid or from the string hitting the cable guard.

Center Shot
Is the point that places the arrow shaft directly in line with the string grooves on compound eccentrics or the center of the limb tips on recurves or longbows.

The arrow moving away from the wall or your anchor point as you aim or get ready to release.

The colored designs on the end of an arrow shaft. Cresting tools are available.

Design where limbs or riser are angled toward the archer. Deflex designs are generally slower but easier to shoot accurately than reflex designs

Draw Length
The distance at full draw from the nocking point to the back of the grip. The AMO draw length is the distance from the nocking point to a point 1 3/4 inches past the back of the grip.

How to Determine Draw Length
Your Draw Length is used to determine your Actual Peak Bow Weight for Recurve bows, and to select the proper draw length setting for compound bows. To determine your Draw Length, use a lightweight Recurve bow with an extra-long arrow and have someone mark the arrow at the back (far side) of the bow while you are in a comfortable full-draw position. Your Draw Length is the distance from the mark to the bottom of the nock groove.

Draw length

  • A properly sized bow has to fit your arms. But don't get caught short. The longer you can draw back the bow, the more speed you'll get in your arrow.
  • Determining your draw length
    • Make a fist with your bow hand and touch a wall, holding it straight out as if you were shooting a bow
    • Then measure, or have someone else measure , the distance from the wall to the corner of your mouth--measuring parallel along your arm
    • You can also measure your wingspan by spreading your arms out and measuring the distance from fingertip to fingertip
    • Refer to the chart below for your proper draw length. Add or subtract a half-inch for each inch over or above the wingspans listed below.
Choosing Proper Draw Length
Wingspan Draw length
63 24
64 24 1/2
65 25
66 25 1/2
67 26
68 26 1/2
69 27
70 27 1/2
71 28
72 28 1/2
73 29
74 29 1/2
75 30
76 30 1/2
77 31


Draw Weight
The amount of force in pounds required to draw the bow.

How to determine Actual Peak Bow Weight for Recurve
Actual Bow Wight (maximum of "peak" bow weight) of a Recurve or longbow is the force (in pounds) to pull your bow to your full Draw Length. See "Determining Draw Length" information above. Then measure the force required to pull your bow to your Draw Length ( most pro shops have a bow scale). The AMO-standard bow weight is usually marked on the lower limb or handle.

How to determine Actual Peak Bow Weight for Compound Bow
To shoot properly, the maximum draw length of a compound bow must be set to your Draw Length. A compound bow reaches its maximum or peak bow weight before reaching maximum draw length and then "lets off" in draw weight 50 to 80%. This reduced weight at full draw is called the "holding weight." The Actual Peak Bow weight of your compound bow can be determined on a bow scale at your archery pro shop.

The cam or part of the bow that is designed to control the stored energy of the bow.

The amount of kinetic energy of the arrow just as it leaves the bow divided by the potential energy that went into drawing it, multiplied by 100.

The plastic vane or feather that is at the end of the arrow used to stabilize the arrows flight path.

The measure of weight usually used when weighing arrows or arrow tips. 7000 grains make a pound.

refers to the way fletching is laid on an arrow. Rather than straight, helical fletching curves slightly around the arrow shaft.

IBO Speed Rating
The International Bowhunter's Organization has a speed rating that is generally measured with a bow set at 70 pounds, 30-inch draw and shooting a 350-grain arrow. Today's fastest bows will shoot over 310fps using the IBO rating.

the adapter which is placed into a shaft to make a nock or arrow point fit the shaft. Outserts are the opposite, they fit around the shaft. Some people believe outserts make an arrow fly less true, but if all other factors are the same, outserts shouldn't effect an arrow's flight much.

Kinetic Energy
Kinetic Energy = (arrow weight) / 450,800 x (arrow speed). Kinetic energy measures the level of penetration your arrow possesses.

Allows you to anchor consistently by placing the kisser on the bowstring and making sure it touches the same part of your lips each draw.

Nocking loop
Loop placed around nocking point. This protects your string from being damaged by the release aid but the downside is, it reduces speed slightly.

Nocking Point
Location where arrow sits on the bowstring.

Nocking Points
Objects placed on the bowstring used to keep the arrow in place and keep the nocking point consistent.

Peep Sight
used as the rear sight of a gun is used. The peep sight is placed on or in the bowstring and the sight pins and target are viewed through the peep. Sight pins should be centered in the peep. Small peeps help you gain accuracy but don't let a lot of light in. Hunters generally apt for larger diameter peeps.

Holds arrows, the most popular for bowhunting is the bow-quiver which holds arrows on the bow. But some say that makes the bow too heavy and makes it harder to hold the bow steady in the wind. Other options are hip quivers and back-quivers.

a bow design which features limbs that bend away from the archer at the tips.

Reflex Riser
Features a grip which is closer to the archer than the ends of the riser. This results in a short brace height and a longer power stroke. Thus creating a faster bow but generally more difficult to shoot than deflexed risers

The part of the riser that is cut out and where the arrow rests.

Power Stroke
Refers to the motion of the bowstring after it is released. The longer it is, the faster the arrow leaving it. But the longer the power stroke, the longer the archer must hold steady after releasing the string.

Serving Jig
Tool used to wrap center serving.

Shoot-around Rest
Rest which features the arrow shaft sitting on the rest and as it is released it bends around the rest.

Shoot-through Rest
Shooters using release aids use shoot-through rests. These feature two prongs holding the arrow shaft. when the arrow releases, the cock vane fly's through the two prongs.

Refers to the strength of the arrow shat and its ability to resist bending and to recover after bending or experiencing archer's paradox.

is the stiffness of the arrow and its resistance to bending. To determine static spine, the arrow is supported a two points a known distance apart and a force is applied to the center of the distance, usually through a weight. The amount of displacement of the center point, how far it drops, determines the spine. Arrows with a high spine will not sag as much as arrows with a low spine.

The factor which determines the spine is the stiffness of the materials in the shaft and the geometry of the shaft. In multi-layered arrows (carbon, aluminum, etc.) the bonding materials also contribute. The inside diameter, the cross-section shape, the thickness of the material all contributes to the Static Spine.

is how much the arrow does bend when fired. This depends upon stiffness (Static Spine), string force, fletching, nock weights, etc.) "Weak" and "Stiffness" are often used in terms of Dynamic Spine.

It is more difficult to determine Dynamic Spine than Static Spine because all the simple formulas don't work with such a massive force acting down the shaft. Consulting a Machinery's Handbook or other Engineering manual will give beam formulas to determine Static Spine, but when dealing with a large compressive force, "all bets are off."

Placed on a bow for the purpose of reducing torque and shock after releasing the arrow. Also, it helps level out the bow and hold it steady prior to releasing.

To measure the tiller is to measure the perpendicular distance from the bowstring to the points where the riser and limbs meet. The tiller is the difference in these two measurements.

is to turn the bow to one side when aiming or releasing the arrow.

When at full-draw, the area between a compound's wall and the point where the let-off ceases to exist.

Term used to describe the back of the drawing motion of a bow. A solid or hard wall is when the drawing motion comes to a sudden and precise end. If the back of the drawing motion is nondescript, it is called a soft or mushy wall. A solid wall is usually preferred because it makes it easier to anchor consistently. Now, some bow companies offer a draw-stop that helps make the wall more solid.