Archers have their own meanings for words and terms like “punch” and “back tension,” which might be used to describe a violent act and sore back in the non-archery world. They mean something different in archery.
Learning to speak archery’s language not only helps you communicate with other archers, it also helps you learn archery faster. If you enjoy watching competitive archery on TV, knowing these terms will help you understand the analysis and commentary.
Paper targets have concentric circles, with the innermost circle being the smallest in size but most valuable in points. An “inside-out” shot occurs when you shoot an arrow into the center circle without touching the line. This is especially impressive during indoor competitions, where the arrow and the target’s inner circle are about the same size.
If you’re watching archery on TV, you’ll hear coaches and teammates say “strong shot” to encourage archers. Strong shot means to shoot without hesitation and with good form. It’s used as encouragement and positive reinforcement. After a tournament, you might hear archers say their shot felt strong, which means it felt good.
This term gets used a lot, and basically means using muscles in your back to shoot your bow. That’s better than using your arm and shoulder muscles because back muscles form a larger muscle group that offers greater control. By using their back muscles, archers also relax the bicep and forearm, which makes for a better release.
No, this isn’t a term for freshly cleaned archery equipment. “Shooting clean” means to shoot a perfect score. It’s often used in a tournament when someone says an archer is “still clean” or “cleaned the round.” That means they’re working on shooting a perfect score, or they completed a perfect round. It’s much like pitching a perfect game in baseball. That is, shooting clean seldom happens.
If you use a mechanical release aid, you don’t want “punch” to describe your release. A proper release surprises the archer, who should steadily squeeze the trigger until it goes off. A punch describes an archer hitting the trigger with gusto, and usually causes errant shots. It’s the opposite of an ideal release, but it can be identified and fixed by an archery instructor.
When scoring a target, if your arrow touches the line of a higher-value ring, you get the higher score. Liner describes such a shot. During tournaments, archers closely inspect their arrows’ impact points to see if they caught the line. Tournament officials sometimes use a magnifying glass for closer looks.
Things can happen at a shot’s last micro-second. A wind gust or drifting sight pin can make archers react as they shoot. For example, they might try pushing the sight back into the target’s middle as the arrow takes flight. That’s called “English” or “putting English” on a shot. This spontaneous reaction makes archery coaches pull their hair in frustration. It’s not advised and it rarely works.
The target’s innermost circle has an X that, with a little imagination, can look like a spider. Therefore, an arrow that hits the X is called a “spider.” When you shoot a spider, take a picture of it. If you post it to social media, tag Archery 360. We just might share your photo.