Archery Canada Archery Canada


Bows: There are three types of bows recognized by Archery Canada: recurve, compound, and longbow.

  • Recurve Bows, or “Olympic”-style bows, are characterized by a curved tip at either end of the limbs. The string loops directly around the end of each limb.  The limbs maintain their curves whether they’re strung or unstrung.
  • Compound Bows have eccentrics (wheels) at the end of the limbs, and they use cables (as well as a string) to operate.
  • Longbows are completely straight, when unstrung, and have a slight C-shape when strung. Longbows are shot with no aiming or stabilizing features on the bow, and this is called barebow. Recurve bows can also be shot barebow-style.

Arrows: The arrows shot out of the bow towards the target can be made of several different types of material.  There are over 50 different sizes of arrows and this can be confusing to the beginner.  Here are some terms for the components make up an arrow:

  • The shaft is the long, slender “body” of the arrow. Shafts can be made out of wood, fibreglass, aluminium, or carbon, or a combination of materials.
  • The fletching is attached to the shaft of the arrow and helps the arrow stabilise as it flies. Archers will use feathers (made of dyed turkey feathers) or veins (made of plastic), which are glued to the shaft. Fletching comes in a variety of sizes and colours.
  • The nock is made of plastic. It is attached to the top of a shaft or sits on top of a pin that is glued into the nock end of the shaft. The nock connects the arrow to the string.
  • The point is glued or screwed into the opposite end of the shaft from the nock. When an arrow flies towards the target, the point directs the arrow to penetrate the bail, allowing the arrow to stick in and stay there.* Points should not be confused with a broadhead, which is a special point that bowhunters use. Broadheads replace the points and are screwed into the front of the arrow.*

Quiver: Archers use quivers to hold their arrows. Quivers are usually worn with a belt around the archer’s waist. However, some people use “ground quivers” – which is simply a box or tube that sits on the ground. Other archers use traditional back quivers.

Arm guard: The arm guard is worn around the archer’s “bow arm elbow” (the arm he or she uses to hold the bow). For beginners, the arm guard can offer the archer some protection from the string, which might graze the archer’s forearm after he or she releases (this can hurt!). Using the proper grip on the bow can eliminate — or significantly reduce — the chance of getting “the archer’s kiss.”

Tab: Tabs are worn on the string fingers. A tab will protect the fingers from the string. Since the tab actually touches the string, it should have a smooth surface to allow the string to leave the fingers quickly on release with as little oscillation as possible.  It is more efficient than holding the string with bare fingers.  Tabs are generally used for recurve or longbows. Finger shooting in compound archery is typically done using a no-glove, or sleeves on the bowstring to position fingers.

Release aids: This mechanical device is a high-precision release tool that archers use instead of a tab. It touches the string instead of the fingers. In competition, only compound archers use release aids.*

Sights: Most archers aim at targets using sights. The sight is attached to the side of the bow and extends out the back (or “window”) of the bow toward the target when the archer is at full draw. Archers who prefer not to use a sight shoot in the barebow or traditional categories.

Arrow rests: The arrow “rests” on this apparatus, which is attached to the bow.

Butts & bales: Arrows fly and stick into “target buttresses” or “bales.”

Target faces: Target faces are the multi-coloured papers that are taped, glued, or pinned onto bails. Archers shoot on them, and depending on what ring the arrow lands on, archers will receive a score.

Score cards: During competitions, archers record their scores on score cards.


Stabilizers: Once an archer achieves stability through the proper form, or body mechanics, a stabilizer — a bar extending out the front of the bow, with, perhaps, a second bar extending out the rear and to the side, assists the archer in holding the bow steady.

For more information on the basic gear: