Archery Terms, Phrases & Jargon Explained for Beginners

Archery Terms, Phrases & Jargon Explained for Beginners

Would you like to get into archery but have no idea where to start? Archery is an ancient and exciting practice, but the technical terms can be a little bit intimidating, especially for first-timers. In our article, we will highlight the most basic archery terms, phrases & jargon explained for beginners to help you get started with your journey.

Getting familiar with your bow and arrow will get you ready, but if you want to hit the field, you want to get acquainted with the terms that professional archers use. Keep on reading to find out more about the most famous phrases that you’re likely to encounter as you become a seasoned archer.

Most Used Archery Terms

In this section, we will explain every phrase’s meaning, so you can feel more confident as you hold your bow and aim at your target.

Draw Weight

This refers to the amount of force needed to pull the bowstring to a distance of 28 inches in a recurve bow, and to the maximum point allowed by the cams in case of a compound bow. The draw weight of your bow is measured in pounds.

The draw weight and arrow weight work together to determine the arrow’s speed when the archer releases it. Most traditional bows have a draw weight between 15 and 55 pounds, while compound bows have a draw weight between 40 and 70 pounds.

As a beginner, you should consider choosing a recurve bow with lower draw weight. As you gain more experience, you would be able to increase the draw weight. For hunting, an archer needs a bow with a draw weight of at least 40 pounds.

Peak Draw Weight

When you’re picking the compound bow’s draw weight, you will reach this point as you’re pulling the bowstring. Less effort is needed at the beginning and end of the cycle of the compound bow draw stroke. At the peak draw weight point, you will need more energy. It’s where the draw weight of a compound bow is measured.

Brace Height

This is the distance between the deepest part of the grip or the throat and the string. The average brace height is anything between 5 to 10 inches and is more significant in recurve bows than compound bows. The brace height is measured using a tool called the T-square.

A shorter brace height means that the arrow stays in contact with the bowstring for a more extended period, and will eventually be faster. As a reference, decreasing the brace height by one inch will provide you with 10 feet per second in your arrow’s speed.

Draw Length

This is the length to which you can pull back the string. The draw length is directly related to your height, where taller people should always choose a bow with a higher draw length.

You can measure the optimal draw length for you at a professional store using the draw length indicator shaft. You can also calculate it by yourself by measuring your height in inches and dividing it by 2.5. You should round up to the nearest whole number.

Bow Weight/Mass

The bow’s physical weight can affect your accuracy as you’re likely to experience more fatigue with a heavyweight bow. You can calculate the right bow weight by dividing the bow draw weight by 6.5. Nevertheless, some archers like to keep their bows as lightweight as possible, so they can carry them for longer.


A forgiving bow is one won’t not affected that much with the errors done by the user. The forgiveness of the bow can be achieved through proper fine-tuning. This will allow you to reach the sweet spot of the bow and the performance sweet spot according to your ability.

Your bow will be more forgiving when it’s well set up. It will allow you to get better results, even if your performance isn’t that perfect. Beginners would benefit significantly from a forgiving bow.

A forgiving arrow is the one you can shoot precisely towards the target. The arrow’s forgiveness is determined by several factors, including the drag, spine, response, point weight, and FOC. Changing any of these factors will affect the speed and efficiency of your shot.


The cables and the cams of the compound bow reduce the holding weight at full speed. This is the let-off and is calculated as a percentage of the overall draw weight.

A reasonable let-off rate would be anything between 65% and 85%. This will give you a clear idea of the amount of weight you would actually be holding at full draw. If your bow weight is 70 pounds and it has an 85% let-off, you will be reaching a peak weight of 70 pounds and then end up with only 10.5 pounds of weight.

A good let-off is especially crucial for archers in hunting competitions and extended archery practice sessions because they can hold their bows at full draw and place accurate shots for longer periods.

Axle to Axle (A2A) Length

In a compound bow, each cam operates on an axle. The axle to axle is the length between each axle of a compound bow.

ATA or A2A is either long, short, or somewhere in the middle. Bows with a longer ATA will have a smoother draw cycle, but they will be slower in terms of the speed. A compound bow with 34 inches or longer is said to have a long ATA. Bows with a longer A2A are more prevalent in target shooting practices.

Bows with a shorter A2A are more used by hunters. Their draw cycle might not be as smooth as bows with a longer A2A, but they’re usually more comfortable to carry around and can be easily maneuvered. They’re faster and allow you to hit the target more accurately. Any bow with an A2A length of 31 inches or less, is considered to be with a short A2A.

An A2A range between 32 and 33 inches is said to have a medium A2A and is right in the middle of the road. They have a somewhat decent speed, and their draw cycle is smoother than that of bows with a shorter A2A.

Bow Speed

The speed is measured in feet per second or fps. A bow with a higher number will shoot the arrow faster. Different companies use ATA or IBO ratings to refer to the bow speed. An average bow will have a speed between 290 and 300 fps.

Target Panic

This is a psychological condition that might affect your ability to shoot accurately, although you’re ready. An archer is all set, but instead of sending the arrow towards the target, he or she panics and loses composure in the last second. As a result, the arrow is shot away from the target.

Target panic can cause an archer to shoot an arrow without aiming, or before reaching a full draw. It can be a natural reaction that archers experience as they anticipate the next shot, but it can be controlled.

Anyone can experience target panic, regardless of their level of experience. Nevertheless, this bad habit can be fixed.

  • Practice without shooting any arrows. As you reach a full draw and feel the tension, you will get used to how the bow feels, so you can later aim accurately at your target. Keep the pin on your target for as long as you can.
  • You can buy release aids that are specifically designed to beat target panic. They’re made to stop the archer from punching on the trigger.
  • Blind shooting can also help you overcome this feeling. This practice involves shooting at a large target like a bale of hay, while closing the eyes. This is why it is also called the blank bale shooting. Since there is less weight on aiming, the archer will be able to focus on the proper stance and appropriate back tension.
  • Work with a certified instructor who can help you break this bad habit.

Anchor Point

This is the point where the archer rests the draw hand against their face when they take a full draw. Each archer reaches their preferred anchor point when they learn to take the proper stance. As a result, no 2 anchor points are the same, as they will differ from one archer to another.

After pulling the bowstring to full draw, you will anchor your hand by aligning your arm and shoulder muscles to hold the bow steadily. If you’re unable to find your anchor point consistently, your peep sight might be sitting low or too high.


Tuning the bow right out of the box is not necessary. As the strings stretch, you will probably have to repeat the process a few times after you’ve shot your arrows.

There are three types of tuning.

Paper Tuning

An archer shoots a piece of paper to see how the bow performs by examining the rip.

Yoke Tuning

You will bring your bow to draw as if you’re ready to shoot then examine the string as it’s coming off the idler wheel.

Walk Back Tuning

Using one fixed site pin, you should shoot at the target from multiple distances. This can help determine if the bow’s center is set properly.

Here are some tips to follow while tuning your bow.

  • Start by choosing the right equipment. Pay attention to the quality of the cams on your compound bow and the material and number of strands in the bowstring.
  • The arrow rests should be suitable for the style of shooting you prefer. Your arrow rest should have a vertical spring tension when you’re using a mechanical release. If you’re a finger shooter, you will need a Berger button to balance the horizontal force applied to the arrow.
  • Adjusting the draw length depends on the shooter you’re using. You should make sure that the arrow is pointed away from you or other archers before attempting to change the draw length.
  • It’s recommended that head to a professional shop to time the cam on your bow if you haven’t used it before.
  • Adjust the arrow rest and make sure that you can see between the rest and the fletching.

What is AMO Length?

This stands for the bow length plus 3 inches. The AMO or the Archery Manufacturers Organization created a set of standards, and one of them is related to measuring the bow length.

You can measure the AMO length starting at the string groove, then following the curvature of the limb. Then you should go across the riser area and follow the curvature of the other limb until you reach the other string groove.

What is the Archer’s Paradox?

This is a phenomenon of an arrow traveling in the correct direction at full draw when it seems that the arrow would have to pass through the starting position, where it was pointed to the side of the target.

The wobbling is not visible to the naked eye but will affect the accuracy of the shot. However, as you become more experienced with the bow and arrow, you will be able to adjust the shot accordingly.


An arrow might fishtail because of a sloppy release. Other factors that contribute to fishtailing might be because the spine is too weak, or the bow isn’t tuned properly. If you’re still experiencing fishtailing, you might need to loosen your grip and let the riser rest comfortably between your thumb and index finger.


This is the case when the arrow travels with up and down oscillations. This usually happens when the nock is set too low. However, if the nocking point is set correctly, the porpoising might be due to the choice of an incorrect spined arrow for the bow.

Flemish Twist

There are 2 types of bowstrings available; the endless loop and the Flemish twist. The Flemish twist looks beautiful, thanks to the braided loops on each end. Most traditional archers prefer the Flemish twist because it looks classic.

An endless loop bowstring is a braided string that is made by braiding different materials. Target archers prefer this bowstring due to its precise construction.

Grouping Arrows

This refers to the archer shooting several arrows at a target. A tight grouping indicates accuracy and consistency. There are several factors that can improve grouping.

  • Learn proper hand position to eliminate hand torque.
  • The cams should be in sync with proper timing; otherwise, the arrows would fly off.
  • Examine the fletchings to guarantee better arrow-rest contact.
  • Stick to the recommended arrow spine, as suggested by the manufacturer, for various brow setups.
  • Practice proper release.

Wrap Up

Although there are lots of terms and phrases that you’re not familiar with, they shouldn’t scare you off. Practice makes perfect, and your devotion to archery will eventually pay off.

Studying these terms and understanding how they affect your shot will have a huge effect on how accurate your performance will be. Make sure that you’ve got the right equipment and monitor your progress.

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