Writer’s Guide to Archery
Table of Contents
The vocabulary and writing about archery
- Compound bow: modern bow that uses pulleys and lever systems with both a string and a cable to increase efficiency.
- Recurve bows : bows with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. The recurve bow stores more energy and delivers it more efficiently than an equivalent straight-limbed bow, giving more energy and speed to the arrow.
- Longbows: tall bows that are straight at rest and create a “D” shape when strung.
- Limbs : the two symmetrical bending portions of a bow
- Limb tip : extremities of the limbs where two notches are cut into the limbs so that the string is retained.
- Riser : fixed portion at the middle of the bow which contains the bow’s grip.
- Nocking point : small demarcation at the middle of the string so that archers nock the arrow at the same point each time. It is most frequently done by tying a small thread onto the string.
- Arrow shaft : straight stick portion of the arrow.
- Arrowhead : sharp point of the arrow that will hit the target
- Fletching : part of the arrow opposite to the arrowhead, historically made of feathers. It keeps the arrow steady in flight.
- Arrow nock: small notch at the extremity of the arrow that will fit on the bowstring.
Use a bow:
- Bows don’t “fire”, guns do.
You either “shoot” a bow, or you “loose” or “release” an arrow
- Quiver : container for holding arrows. Typically placed across the torso for easy access, it can also be placed at the hip for target archers.
- Anchor point : a place on the face where the archer draws the bow fully back and pauses to aim. Most common anchor points are the mouth, nose or under the chin.
(isn’t mandatory, and you could not need it. But it’s extremely useful, it doesn’t just make a great costume for your character)
- Arm guard (or bracer): a leather or plastic cover of about 5 inches long. It is strapped to the arm that holds the bow and protects it from the bowstring.
Arm guards are often required in modern archery and a lot of archers wear them because the bowstring can seriously hurt your muscle.
However you can learn to shoot without one by slightly bending your arm at the elbow. But don’t forget to do it or you’ll end up with the mother of all bruises!
- Finger tab : three pieces of leather that slide over the middle finger to protect the hand that pulls back the string. Older ones were like short gloves with only the middle three fingers. Finger tabs are really important as archer will still get massive calluses through those three pieces of protective gear.
- Chest protector : a sort of small vest that covers half your chest, on the same side of the bow arm. It keeps the bowstring from catching on clothing or breasts for female archers.
Writing about archery
Here are a few book excerpts containing archery to help you create your own archery scenes.
From “Luck in the Shadows” by Lynn Flewelling
Four archers stood in the road less than two hundred feet away, sending out a volley of arrows. Alec also caught a glimpse of others working their way through the trees in his direction.
The archers kept up their steady attack; arrows sang in the air, nipping off a hail of twigs around him, thudding into the trees he sheltered behind. There was no sign of Seregil except a third track snaking off through the snow into the trees beyond Micum. Left more or less on his own, Alec knew what his next step had to be.
His heart pounded sickeningly as he fitted an arrow to the string and took aim at a man for the first time in his life. A tall archer standing boldly at the edge of the road presented an easy target, but try as he might, Alec couldn’t seem to hold steady.
Startled by a horse’s scream, he released the shaft high and it sped off uselessly into the trees. Micum’s gelding drove itself into a heap just in front of him, a shaft protruding from its throat. Another arrow slammed into the beast’s chest and it gave a final bellowing groan.
“The bastards know their business, killing the horses,” Micum called over to him. “I hope you have a few shafts left—I’m pinned down here!”
Nocking a second arrow, Alec drew the fletching to his ear and tried again.
“O Dalna!” he whispered as his bow arm wavered again. “Let me pull true!”
From “The lord of the Rings : the Two Towers” by JRR Tolkien
The wolf snarled and sprang towards them with a great leap. At that moment there was a sharp twang. Legolas had loosed his bow.
There was a hideous yell, and the leaping shape thudded to the ground; the elvish arrow had pierced its throat.
Éomer’s eyes blazed, and the Men of Rohan murmured angrily, and closed in, advancing their spears.
‘I would cut off your head, beard and all, Master Dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground ‘ said Éomer.
‘He stands not alone,’ said Legolas, bending his bow and fitting an arrow with hands that moved quicker than sight. ‘You would die before your stroke fell.’
Keep reading for the next part about Arrow Wounds and How to treat them !