Glossary of Terms for Archery

This post is intended to be an ongoing project (and is very far from complete at the moment!): a glossary of common archery terms with basic explanations.  If there are any terms you think should be added, let me know.

Parts of the Bow

Back:  the face of the bow that points away from the archer.  

Belly:  the face of the bow that points towards the archer.

Handle/grip: the part of the bow that is held by the hand.

Limb:  the section of the bow that is not the handle.  May consist of bending and non-bending parts.

Nock:  the point on the bow where the string attaches.  May consist of grooves cut into the side of the bow (usually both sides symmetrically but on some historical bows just one side); a groove in the back of the bow (usually on a static recurve) or a protrusion from the tip for the string to fit over, with shoulders to stop the string sliding down (this is sometimes known as a pin nock).  Not to be confused with the nock at the end of an arrow, the action of attaching the arrow to the string or the nocking point on the string.

Rest:  similar to a shelf but consisting of a piece of wood, leather, metal or some other material protruding from (and usually stuck to rather than made from the same piece as) the bow.

Shelf:  a section of the bow, often the bottom of a window, that provides a stable base for the arrow to rest on.

Siyah:  the stiffened tip of a static recurve.  Also known as the ear.

Window/cutout:  a section of the bow at the top of the handle that has been removed.  This serves two major purposes: it makes the bow more centreshot and it provides a shelf.


Strings – Parts and Manufacture

Loops:  the loops at the end of the string, that fit over the end of the bow.

Nocking Point:  the point on the string where the arrow attaches.  It is important to get this position right, for optimum arrow flight and to reduce the risk of the feathers’ cutting the hand.  Nocking point also refers to a marker attached to the string to mark this point.  They often consist of small brass “U” shaped pieces that are clamped around the string but it is better to use a piece of dental floss or similar wrapping (since this is lighter and therefore allows faster string movement, as well as not cutting the drawing fingers as brass can do.

Serving:  any of various types of thread wrapped around the string.  Centre serving is the section of thread wrapped around that part of the string where the arrow will attach.  It allows the string to be built up to a thickness appropriate to the arrow without needing to have the whole string that thick (and therefore heavy and slow).  It also protects the string from friction from the arrow.  End serving, also known as loop serving is the thread wrapped around the loops.  It protects the loops from friction and also ensures that the loops stay closed.


DHA – Home Time

We are not having much luck with the airlines this trip: we arrived at the airport to find that our flight has been delayed by 2 hours.  After a pretty decent meal (paid for by the airline by way of saying sorry), we are now sitting in the airport with Adam and Wojtek.  Not a bad airport, if you’re planning to wait ages…

We had a very relaxed day, with usual post-competition hugs and farewells.  Mats and Mike then very kindly drove us from Rättvik to Stockholm (about 4 hours), including a short stop in Gävle, an old port town where Claire’s great-great-grandfather was born and lived until a great fire destroyed most of the town and orphaned him, at which point he joined a ship and ended up living in Sunderland.

I passed part of the journey reading road signs.  I find Swedish oddly easy to read (much of it is basically German and English written oddly) but almost impossible to understand a word of when spoken.  My favourite moment was spotting a sign to the town of Västerås.  I have picked up enough Swedish pronunciation to work out that this is pronounced “Westeros” (if you don’t watch (and haven’t read) Game of Thrones then you won’t understand this.  Also, you should definitely read and watch it.  But don’t get too attached to any of the characters: the author is a borderline psychopath who delights in killing people just as you get to like them…

I’m not looking forward to the late drive home, except for the fact that it will be the first time I’ve seen darkness for a week: while the sun did dip below the horizon in Rättvik it never actually got properly dark (for those who don’t know, Rättvik is at 60° 53′ North, about level with the southern point of Greenland).

I shall leave you with a few pictures.  This has been a wonderful week that has refreshed my love of horseback archery (saying nothing against the other trips I’ve made, but this had a lovely relaxed atmosphere and is a quite unique experience).  I would like to say a big thank you to Mats and Ylwa and all the helpers who made this an unforgettable week.  I shall certainly be going back.  And I’m reserving the splendid Barcos Fancy Cat as my horse again!









DHA Hunt Cup – Strava Result

As mentioned in a previous post, I did my first run of today’s competition with Strava running.  For those who don’t know, Strava is a running and cycling app that uses GPS in your phone etc to track your route, speed, elevation etc as you go.  You can also connect a heart rate monitor and it will plot that as well.

I’ve not tried sharing Strava results before, but let’s see how this works…

DHA Competition Day – Part 2

The DHA Hunt Cup is over, and what a blast it has been!  Three runs (1 practice and 2 competing) over the 1km course, with 12 targets to shoot at if you can remember to do so and are not too busy just having fun.  I missed one target for exactly that reason and another couple because my boss and I were discussing which of the two paths to take at particular junctions.  Don’t care, having too much fun.

The weather stayed beautiful for almost the entire day, with the cloudburst starting just as the final competitor (Adam) was out on the track.  It’s not clear and we are getting ready for the midsummer feast.

I’m sure that full results will be available on the DHA Facebook page or on very soon, but the one I can remember are:
1. Wojtek Osieki
2. Emil Eriksson
3. Joachim Büchau
4. Frida  Möllerberg (13 years old and this good already!)
5. Me 🙂
6. Claire (might be some time before I hear the end of this)
7. Terese Nilsson
Places 3 to 6 were very close (possibly 7 as well, I’m not sure), with no more than a couple of points between us.

Photos and video will follow when I find the SD adaptor for my tablet.  I also did my first run with a Strava running, so should be able to show speeds, GPS information and my heart rate, which peaked at 179 beats per minute, somewhat faster than my average when cycling and only 4 bpm slower than on my hot 5km run the other day!

This has been a terrific competition, to which I shall definitely come back.  And now we party…

DHA Hunt Cup – Competition Day part 1

I’m sitting at the track, a still point in a sea of activity as the final preparations are made.   Should probably be helping…

All sorts happened yesterday, and we got back far too late from the trotting races for me to update the blog.  I shall tell you about it some other time.

The track fit today looks awesome, if scary on a fast horse (such as, to take an example at random, the one Wojtek and I are riding).  I think I may try riding it with the heart rate monitor, just to see whether the pulse gets as high as on a run.

More later…


DHA Day 3 – Part 2

Rest day today!  We are supposed to be riding out to the hunt track but it’s tipping it down with rain so we are chilling out at home.  I’m taking the opportunity to fletch a few more arrows and (obviously) update the blog.

Yesterday’s trip to the Viking long house was fascinating: a local man and his family built it to the traditional model, using no nails.  Set deep in the pine forest by the lake, it’s a stunning place.  While there we also tasted water from the freshwater spring and player a couple of Viking games.  The first involved a horn with a ring tied to the bottom, the aim being to their the ring up and catch it on the horn, as demonstrated by this authentic Viking chief: 


The second, which led to a certain amount of hilarity, involves stabbing a small metal spike into a tree trunk and then trying to knock it out using a stick held between the legs, while keeping your feet flat on the ground.  Like this:


Or using a sword, like this:


But not like this:


Then came the Midsummer Night’s Dream shoot: a 350m square track with 7 targets, including a long shot, an offside and two each forward and back.  The eighth target did not count for points but won you a box of chocolates if you hit it.  Which Claire did.  There’s prioritising.


My horse, Barcos Fancy Cat (two-time winner of the DHA Hunt Cup) was running preposterously fast (quarter-horse…) for Wojtek, with whom I am sharing him.  I always get nervous before this type of track but by the end I was enjoying it immensely and an now looking forward to the real thing tomorrow. 

And now, back to the fletching…

DHA Day 3 – part 1

Just a quick post at this stage, it being 0130 and technically bedtime.  Today we had free practice on the Hungarian track before a lovely visit to a Viking longhouse in the afternoon.  This evening was the midsummer competition, which was run as a Swedish field track (like a Polish track but forming a circle around a field).  We finished at about midnight.  On any other day this would have been fine, but today it was very murky anyway so the last groups suffered a bit.  Still pretty light though!

I personally struggled with the speed of my horse but am happy with the way it went.  Claire came fourth but was the only person to you the bonus target: a box of chocolate on a stand.  She therefore won a box of chocolates!  Adam came for with his usual inimitable banzai run, somehow hitting the targets as they flash past.  The top two were separated by less than a point, with Emil Eriksson again demonstrating why he is, to my mind, the best in the world at this type of track, pipping Wojtek into second place.

Tomorrow we walk the DHA Hunt Track.  And I may post something a bit fuller…


DHA Hunt Cup Day 2

It turns out that NowTV, the service by which we were going to watch Game of Thrones, is UK only, so we couldn’t watch the season finale.  I am not trying to shield Claire from Facebook spoilers (I’ve read the books, so I know about the big shock this episode).  She reads this so no comments here either!

Last night was spent companionably fletching arrows around a camp fire while we waited for our bows to arrive, which they did at 2330.  All present and correct!  In the meantime we had prepared an experiment in arrow design and impact damage, on which more tomorrow…


Claire passed the time by riding Jeenial, Ylwa’s horse, bareback with just a neck strap.  She seemed to enjoy it…



This morning we had 4 hours of riding, with the emphasis on balance and connection with the horse.  This included cantering while holding a cup of water (which gets harder if your horse is scared of the water drops), throwing an apple up and down while riding and finally cantering along while reading from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which is easier if you know the book like I do!  Probably harder if English isn’t your first language or if, like one poor person, you didn’t put your glasses on!).

We followed that up with a session on the Hungarian track.  My horse was a bit quick so I spent most of the time working on speed target than shooting, but when I did shoot the feedback was very helpful.

After another excellent lunch I went for another run (4.7km in 23 minutes: the 10km required for September’s triathlon keeps edging closer) and now I’m going to go and watch the second group.  Later we apparently have some games.  Our hosts are away and have left Emil on charge.  This could be interesting…



DHA Hunt Cup, day 1

Having utterly failed to keep this blog up to date in Poland, I’m going to try to do it this week.  I’m in Rättvik, Sweden, for the DHA Hunt Cup, hosted by Dalecarlian Horse Adventures.  This is a trip I’ve wanted to make for a couple of years now.  Quite apart from the couple of days of clinics (this year run by Wojtek Osiecki, one of the best horseback archers in the world), the week culminates in the Hunt Cup competition, a 1km unroped track through the Swedish pine forest with targets at various ranges on both sides.  Those who haven’t seen the YouTube video posted last year by Emil Eriksson (two-time champion of this event), I recommend you give it a watch.  It looks like being not only one of the most challenging events in the sport but also one of the most fun.

Yesterday started at 4am for the drive to Gatwick, where Claire and I met up with Adam Snowball, the other Brit on the trip.  We were a bit worried by the staff at the outsized luggage belt: he needed quite a bit of help with the concept that the case contained bows that had been checked in by the airline and just needed to be put on the plane.  Still, we got past him in the end and settled in for a pleasant and on time flight.  On arrival at Stockholm we discovered that the answer to my rhetorical question “how hard can it be to put a plastic case on a plane” is “too hard for that guy”.  The bows were still in London.  Apparently they’ll be delivered later today (in the meantime we’re borrowing bows from the ever-helpful Emil, who also drove us from Stockholm to Rättvik).

After a very fine pizza dinner and a few drinks (we were reunited with soplica, the marvellous polish hazelnut vodka and with salmiakki, a Finnish liquorice vodka), I discovered that if you are tired enough then sleep is easy, even if it’s still broad daylight at 11pm.

This morning the clinics start.  I shall write more later.


The clinics today focused on ground work with the horse.  In the morning we were shown how to connect with the horse using a rope halter a long rope, turning as though working in a round pen but without the pen.  After an excellent lunch we had a go at it ourselves, under the watchful eye of Wojtek.  Many useful things learned and a really peaceful feeling with the horse.



The weather in the morning was bright but cold (after yesterday’s pouring rain) but this afternoon it warmed up just in time for a very pleasant run around the local roads to loosen my legs up after spending yesterday in the plane and the car.  The countryside here is beautiful, with rolling hills and dotted houses, which are all made of wood and painted a distinctive dark red colour.  This paint is locally made and the colour comes from the rich copper deposits (copper mining is a traditional industry here).  The houses are decades or even centuries old, the paint protecting them from the weather.  There is a definite homestead feeling to the area, comparable to that I saw in rural Oregon.

This evening’s plans include eating the dinner whose cooking smell is driving me mad, then fletching arrows until Game of Thrones comes on.  All praise the internet, which will allow us to watch the season finale in English…