|Bow Builders Glossary|
- Actionwood A limb core material made
from laminated layers of domestic hardwood; laminations run perpendicular to the limb face
and back; produced by the Old Master Crafters.
- Alignment The position of the
bowstring relative to the center line of both limbs. When the limbs are aligned,
the bowstring follows the center line of both limbs from tip to tip.
- Back The
bow surface facing away from the shooting archer; the bow side opposite the
- Backing The
material covering the outer layer of the bow back; fiberglass on modern
- Backset A
longbow design where unbraced limbs angle backward, away from the shooter, in a
reflexed position, and the limb tips set backward of the riser; designed to put
preload, or stress, into the braced limbs.
- Bamboo A
tropical grass used as a bow corewood. Dried and fashioned into limb
laminations for making composite bows, mostly longbows.
- Belly The
bow surface facing the shooting archer; same side as the bowstring.
Tip Overlay Material
laminated to the belly of the limb tips, to provide
extra material for fashioning the string groove and for strengthening the tip
to reduce the possibility of limb twist.
- Billet A
half bow-length piece of wood used in making self-wood bows. Billets are
commonly split from a side by side position in the same log to obtain similar
limb performance characteristics, and spliced in the handle section of a bow.
- Black Locust A native North
American hardwood used for making bow risers and corewood laminations. Durable
and resilient, also used for making self-wood bows.
Form/Former A wooden or metal form used to press
laminated bow components into a specific shape; a bow form commonly represents
the shape of the bow back and is part of a bow press.
- Bo-Tuf Gordon Composite fiberglass face + backing
Length The length of a bow, commonly measured form string groove to string groove along the back.
Press A device used for pressing bow composites to conform to
the shape of the bow form.
Stringer Usually a cord with a small leather limb tip
cup tied on each end used to aid in the stringing and unstringing of a bow.
- Bow Weight The
drawing force, measured in pounds, required to draw a bowstring a specified
braced distance, commonly 28 inches.
- Bowyer A
person who crafts, builds, or makes bows. A traditional bowyer crafts, builds,
or makes recurves or longbows.
- Brace To
string a bow. A bow may be braced only slightly or to its recommended brace
Height The measured perpendicular distance from the
braced bowstring to the low point of the belly of the grip. It may be adjusted
up or down by twisting or untwisting the bowstring to slightly alter a bow’s
- Bubinga An
African hardwood used in making bow handles.
End The thicker end of a lamination butted against another
lamination (often paired) on the riser section. The end where pairs of laminations are
Overlay Backing material laminated over the butt end
of a take-down limb where the limb attaches to the handle section.
- Capping Material overlaid on the back or belly of the handle for decorative and/or
Shot A sight widow cut to the depth of the bow’s center line
so the arrow rests at or near the center line of the bow. A center shot bow
minimizes the effects of the archer’s paradox.
- Center Line A
straight line from the center of the bow handle to the center of both tips,
along the back or belly which divide the bow lengthwise into halves.
- Chrysal A
hairline compression fracture of the wood fiber in the belly of a self-wood
Calfskin A processed calfskin used for backing
self-wood bows, commonly applied to protect the sapwood layer.
- Cocobolo A
dark, dense South American hardwood used in making bow handles.
- Composites The
distinct components used in laminating a composite bow; commonly fiberglass facing
and backing, corewood laminations, and a riser section.
Thickness The thickness of a laminated limb’s core
materials; commonly measured at the butt end, between the facing and backing
- Corewood Wood used in making limb cores on composite bows; commonly fashioned into a
- Crowned The
peaked or rounded profile of an arrow shelf with a high point designed to
enhance arrow flight.
- Dacron Trademark for a synthetic polyester textile fiber used for making bowstrings.
- Deep-Cored A
limb design with a relative core thickness greater than a flat limb design;
commonly refers to a longbow with a thick limb core and “D” shaped cross
- Deflex A
bow design where the limbs, at the fadeouts, angle toward the belly. Designed
to increase a bow’s stability and decrease its hand shock.
or Reflex-Deflex A bow design where the unbraced limbs deflex
forward toward the shooter then reverse attitude, reflexing backward away from
the shooter. Reflexing replaces the braced limb stress lost by deflexing; a
common longbow design.
- Delamination The
failure and separation of a glue joint in a laminated bow, sometimes caused by lack of glue, excessive heat or moisture.
bow grip concave along the belly; commonly fashioned on longbows to provide
consistent hand placement.
Weight The pounds of pull exerted on the bowstring
when drawn a specified braced distance; commonly measured at 28 inches of draw
Position A braced bow in a partially or fully drawn
- Epoxied To
glue together with epoxy.
- Epoxy Any
of the various thermosetting, or heat set, resins capable of forming tight bonds
characterized by toughness, strong adhesion, and a high corrosion and chemical
- Exotics Imported woods not indigenous to North America.
- Face The
bow surface on the same side as the bowstring and facing the shooting archer;
also known as the belly.
- Facing The
material covering the bow face; fiberglass on modern composite bows.
- Fadeout The
tapered end of the riser enveloped by the limp components and separates the limb
components into back and belly laminations.
Wedge The fadeout portion of the limb of a take-down bow; also
known as a fadeout block.
Flight Trademark name of a non-stretching bowstring
material used for making bowstring. A Fast Flight bowstring shoots an arrow
from a traditional bow approximately seven feet per second faster than a Dacron
bowstring. (Now a term used for all modern bowstring material.)
- Featherout The
thin feathered end of the fadeout.
- Fiberglass A
composite material made of spun unidirectional glass fibers bonded in a high
tensile strength, flexible epoxy matrix; approximately sixty-eight percent
glass fibers by weight.
- Fistmele A
traditional word for brace height.
- Flatbow A
straight-limbed bow with thin-cored, relatively flat limbs. A design styled
after the Plains Indian flatbows.
Bowstring Bowstring made by hand with 2 or 3 bundles
with designated loops.
Cut When bowstring nocks are cut to a depth that holds the
string flush with the edges or back of the limb.
The String When a self-wood bow develops a bend in the
limbs in the direction of the braced position. Lemonwood and hickory longbows
are noted for following the string.
- Forgiving Jargon for a bow that minimizes shooter inconsistencies.
- FPS Feet per second; refers to arrow velocity.
Cut The part of the sight window cut deepest into the riser.
- Glass A
common slang word used to describe fiberglass lamination material.
Creep The inter-molecular slippage of a laminated glue joint.
- Glue-Up The process of applying glue
to the bow composites of a laminated bow.
Alves An exotic hardwood used in making bow handles.
- Grip The
middle part of bow handle griped by shooter; on longbows, often covered with
Riser The middle grip section of a bow to which the limbs
are attached. The middle section of a three-piece take-down bow.
limb that has a distinct bend rather than a smooth continuous curve.
- Hue Shade or tint of color; a particular gradation.
- Lamination One
of the layers of a laminated bow limb; either corewood or fiberglass.
- Lay-Up The
process of arranging the glued bow composites in a bow form.
Length, Working The measurement from the end of the fadeout
to the string nock along the back. The bending portion of the limb that does
the work in propelling the arrow.
Thickness The measurement from the limb face to the
Twist The sideways bending of the recurve portion of a limb
out of alignment. Some twisted limbs can be corrected. Contact your bowyer for
Width The measurement across the limb face or back.
- Micarta A
dense, fiber impregnated resin.
- Mike Jargon for measuring with a micrometer.
- Myrtlewood A native wood used for
making bow risers.
- Osage Orange A native North American wood historically popular for making self-wood bows. Also used for risers and corewoods in
laminated bows. Known for its resiliency and toughness.
- Overlay Material that is laminated to the belly, back, or side of a bow, usually on the tips or handle section.
Laminations Two corewood laminations cut consecutively
from the same board to obtain similar grain and performance characteristics.
Using paired laminations in opposing bow limbs helps achieve balanced limb characteristics.
- Parallel Laminations A corewood lamination uniform in thickness from the butt end to the tip end.
- Phenolic A crystalline resin derived from phenol, impregnated with cloth-based material
and used in some facets of bowmaking such as tip overlays and fadeout wedges.
- Polyurethane A
flexible resin coating used as a bow finish.
- Preload A
limb design feature measured by the amount of string tension at braced
- PSI Pounds per square inch at atmospheric pressure.
- Recurve A
limb design in which the unbraced limb tips bend toward the back of the bow,
and the braced bowstring lays against the belly of the tip.
- Reflex A
limb design in which the unbraced bow limbs angle toward the back of the bow,
and the braced bowstring does not touch the belly of the tip. The opposite of
Handle A handle design in which the bow handle sets
flush with the bow belly and extends toward or even past the back of the bow.
- Riser Handle The grip section of a one-piece composite
bow, measured between the ends of the fadeouts.
- Riser Width The measurement between the sides the rise, narrowing though the sight window.
- Sapwood Soft, outer layers of newly formed wood between the bark and the heartwood of a tree. It is the vascular system of the tree. This softer, usually lighter colored sapwood is used as the natural backing on some self-wood bows such as Yew.
- Shedua A brown exotic hardwood known as African cherry, used in bow making.
- Shelf The ledge at the base of the sight window where the arrow rests. Also known as the arrow shelf.
- Sight Window The cut out portion of the riser above the arrow shelf.
It allows the arrow to pass near the bow center line reducing the effects of the
- Sinew The
fibrous tendon material from an animal leg or loin. It is used as a backing
material on self-wood and primitive bows.
- Skived A trimmed narrow edge, such as the edge on leather lacing.
- Stacking Describes a bow that gains more than average weight per inch at the back of the draw.
Position A bow in the braced position but not drawn.
Stave A full–length, single piece of wood used for making a self-wood bow.
Pad (Plate) The material covering the sight window where
the arrow makes contact; commonly leather or animal fur on traditional bows.
- String Groove A shallow groove in the belly of a recurve limb where the bowstring contacts the limb. It helps keep the string and limb in
- Tamboti An
exotic African hardwood used for making bow risers.
Lamination A lamination that tapers form the butt end to the tip
end. A common lamination taper is .001", .002”, or .003" per inch.
Brevifolia The genius and species of yew wood used for making self-wood
Strength The resistance of a material to force.
The narrowest portion of the grip where the thumb and index finger encircle the
Radius Recurve A recurve limb exhibiting a pronounced and
in-creased recurve in the outer half of the recurve.
- Tiller The
difference between the upper limb and lower limbs measurements from the
bowstring to the belly at the fadeout. Bows are traditionally tillered to
produce a stiffer lower limb; i.e., the bowstring to belly measurement on the
lower limb is less than the same measurement on the upper limb.
Board A wall-mounted board used to visually inspect the
bending of a bow’s limbs in dynamic positions. Predominantly used by self-wood
- Tillering The
adjustment of tiller by removing material from a bow limb or limbs. Most bows
are tillered to approximately ¼” positive measurement on the upper limb.
- Tip The
very end of a bow limb past the string nock.
Overlays Material laminated to the back of the limb tip, usually
to strengthen the tips and to provide additional material for fashioning the
Wedge A thin tapered piece of wood or fiberglass laminated in
the outer portion of the limb tip for strength and rigidity; used mostly in
- Torque, Bow The unintentional twisting of the bow in the hand
during shooting. Torqueing the bow can cause inconsistent arrow flight.
Cross Section A bow limb with a cross section in the shape
of a trapezoid; commonly narrower on the belly side.
- Unbraced A
bow that is not strung.
Ended Limb A bow limb that bends predominantly at the
tip end, like a whip.