ARROW REST. In the center of the bow, this is a little shelf where the arrow sits so it does not scrape along your hand when you release. On a takedown bow, this arrow rest is in the middle of the riser.
BACK. This is counter to logic – but it’s the flat side of the bow that faces the target, away from the string.
BELLY. The flat side of the bow that faces you when you draw, on the same side as the string, and closest to your own belly.
BOW SIGHT. Typically found on competition bows, takedown bows, and compound bows. It is an attachment to the middle of the riser which allows you to aim more accurately, as you would if using a rifle. It is used in conjunction with a small tube-piece on the string to line up the target center.
BRACE HEIGHT. When the bow is strung, this is the distance between the string and the deepest part of the hand grip. Traditionally, it is in the range of about seven inches.
COCK FEATHER. This is the odd colored feather on an arrow, among the hen feathers (usually two). The cock feather points away from the bow when the arrow is on the string ready to be drawn back.
FACE PIN. Plastic or wood skewers which hold the target to the bale.
GRIP. The section of the bow which you hold in your gripping hand or your bow hand. For comfort, grips are sometimes wrapped in leather.
LIMBS. This usually refers the the top and bottom lengths on a takedown bow, because the center is the riser (defined below). On a one piece bow, you could refer to “limbs,” however there really are not limbs on a one piece bow, except figuratively.
NOCK. There are two types of nocks. One is the grooved part at the back of the arrow where the string slips into place. Usually these are made of plastic and attached to the back of the arrow. In ancient times, a nock was a slot cut into the wood at the back of the arrow. The second type of nock is the bow nock. This is a V-shaped groove at the top and bottom of the bow where the loops of the string will lock in place as the bow is strung.
NOCKING POINT. This is the location in the center of the string where you place the arrow when drawing it back before shooting. A little brass bead is usually attached right above it so you can slip the arrow in place quickly and consistently.
RISER. This refers to a takedown bow’s center section. Attached to the top and bottom of the riser are the two limbs. These limbs bolt on using big knurled screws. The grip is in the middle of the riser. Some risers allow attachment of a bow sight or bowfishing reel.
SERVING. This is a tightly coiled string, about the thickness of heavy button thread, wound around the center of the bow string to prevent wear from constantly setting the arrow in the same place on the string.
SHELF. Also called an arrow rest. See above.
STRING. This is a very strong cord which attaches to the top and bottom of the bow by means of a loop at each end of the string. The most popular type of string is called a Flemish string which is often made by hand by twisting together thinner strings. The string needs to be waxed to preserve it. Drawing back the string with an arrow nocked on it, then releasing the arrow transfers the potential energy in the bow to the arrow as kinetic energy.
SLING. This is a special strap which some archers like to wear on the bow hand so the bow does not slip out of their hand when they release the arrow. The strap goes around the wrist and around the bow. These archers hold the bow very loosely, just allowing the back pressure from the bow to hold it against their hand when drawing.
TAB or FINGER TAB. A small leather piece which protects the fingers from chafing against the bowstring when drawing back the string and releasing.