What is F.O.C.? And how does it affect my arrows?

F.O.C. is a hot topic in arrow-building discussions today.

What is F.O.C.?

It’s the acronym for “front of center.” What it refers to is the percentage of an arrow’s total weight – including the point – that is concentrated forward of the center of the arrow.

F.O.C. is something that mainly bowhunters are concerned with, and there’s no question that having a solid F.O.C. number is key to getting good arrow penetration on a big game animal.

But some bowhunters think F.O.C. is the only factor they should be concerned with in preparing hunting arrows, and they don’t understand the consequences of simply beefing up the front end of their arrows.

Let’s start with a minimum. Easton Archery recommends arrows have a minimum F.O.C. of 10-15 percent. That’s going to allow an arrow to fly accurately, especially at longer distances. If you go less than 10 percent, the arrow’s trajectory will be flatter, but its flight will be more erratic.

That 10-15 percent is what Easton recommends for target arrows and for hunting arrows. The amount of weight needed up front to hit that range will be sufficient for hunting, according to Easton.

A lot of bowhunters today try to get their F.O.C. to 20 percent and even a little higher. They can do that by adding weight to their inserts. A standard aluminum insert might weigh about 16 grains, where there are brass inserts that can weigh 100 grains. Also, some insert manufacturers allow weights to be screwed into the backs of their inserts, which is another way to add weight to the inserts.

Gold Tip 100-grain brass insert

Bowhunters also can add weight by shooting heavier broadheads. A standard broadhead weighs 100 grains. But there are common options for 125 and 150 grains. And there are special broadheads aimed primarily at the heavy F.O.C. fans that weigh 200 grains.

Strickland’s Archery 200-grain broadhead

So if a bowhunter swaps out that 16-grain aluminum insert for a 100-grain brass insert, and trades a 100-grain broadhead for a 150-grain model, that hunter just increased the front-end weight of that arrow by 134 grains. That’s sure to boost the arrow’s F.O.C. considerably.

No question that arrow now will have improved penetration capabilities. But it also could cause problems for the bowhunter.

For starters, with all that weight added to the front of the arrow, the arrow’s spine is considerably weakened, and accuracy problems are likely. According to Easton’s hunting arrow shaft selection chart, an archer shooting a 29-inch arrow from a 62-pound bow should choose an arrow with a 340 spine while using a 100-grain broadhead. If the archer only increases point weight by 50 grains, that archer should be shooting a 300-spine arrow. The more weight you add to the front of an arrow, the stiffer that arrow needs to be to support that extra weight.

A second issue could be trajectory. When you add weight to an arrow, you slow it down, which adds more curve to its trajectory arc. For the Eastern tree stand hunter who expects most shots to be under 20 yards, that’s probably not an issue. But it could be for the Western hunter who is spotting and stalking and might have to shoot out to 60 yards. With that much weight added, a 2-yard miscalculation in shooting distance could easily result in a miss.

No question there are benefits to boosting an arrow’s F.O.C. to increase its capability of punching through an animal. Some animal hides are notoriously tough, and if the arrow hits a bone, it would be nice if the arrow could punch through that bone.

But as with many things in archery, balance is important. Kinetic energy is the amount of energy a body has in motion. It’s calculated by a formula that relies on the weight and speed of a moving object.

To calculate KE in foot pounds you would take the arrow weight and multiple it by the velocity squared, and divide that number by 450,800. For hunting game animals like antelope and deer, Easton recommends an arrow have KE values of 25-41 foot pounds. For elk, black bear and boar, Easton recommends 42-65 foot pounds.

To illustrate what an arrow build would be to meet those minimums, let’s look at the popular Easton Axis 5mm. A 29-inch, 340-spine arrow weighing 9.5 grains per inch, with a standard insert and fletchings would weigh about 315 grains. Add a 100-grain point and you get a 415-grain arrow. Shoot that arrow from a 70-pound bow drawn to 29 inches, and a speed of about 290 feet-per-second is likely.

The KE value for that arrow is 77 foot pounds. That’s well above Easton’s recommendation for any of those animals. So it’s safe to say that arrow is sufficient for bowhunting all of them.

The F.O.C. for that arrow is 12 percent, which is also within Easton’s recommended range. If I add a bunch of weight to the front of that arrow to try to get to 20 percent F.O.C., I am increasing the penetration capability of an arrow that already is capable to killing a deer, elk or black bear.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But remember to consider arrow spine and performance, along with your hunting expectations as you are building arrows with an eye toward boosting F.O.C.

A simple, inexpensive way to test arrow performance with different F.O.C. values is to get screw-in field points of varying weights. Saunders makes field points as heavy as 250 grains. Shoot several arrows with points of different weights at whatever you consider to be your maximum effective range. By doing this, you should be able to determine what gives you the tightest, most consistent groups.

Saunders 250-grain field point

Don’t just look for the tightest groups. You also want to consider forgiveness. That is, which arrows hit closest to your aiming point when you make a bad shot. If you have an arrow setup that produces 2-inch groups at 50 yards, but a slight bobble on your part throws the arrow off 8 inches, versus an arrow setup that produces 4-inch groups, with imperfect shots only missing by 3 inches, you should consider going with the latter setup.

Know Your Archery Glues

Stick it, for the win!

Archery is a game that requires lots of glue.

We glue points, inserts and nock bushings inside arrow shafts. We glue vanes, feathers and certain nocks onto arrow shafts.

Sometimes you want bonds to be permanent. Sometimes, you want to be able to separate parts later.

To get the right parts to stick the right way, you’ve got to know your archery glues.


This is a family of fast-setting gels and liquid glues commonly used for fletchings, point inserts and sometimes nock bushings and nocks.

You’d use a cyanoacrylate for anything you want to stick permanently and quickly. Let’s say you’re putting a point insert into a hunting arrow to receive screw-in field points and broadheads. You’d use a cyanoacrylate because these inserts typically are intended to be permanent.

Attaching fletchings to arrows is a common use for cyanoacrylates because the glue enables the fletchings to stick where you put them very quickly. Pay attention to the type of cyanoacrylate you choose for fletching. Not all work equally well on both plastic vanes and feathers. Likewise, if you’re working with wood arrows, some of these glues work better on wood than others.


These glues come in stick form. You apply a flame to the glue to melt it into whatever you want to stick to another surface.

Hot melts are great for products you might remove, such as points and nock bushings. Should the time come, you can heat the point or bushing, which will loosen the glue, and that component can then be easily removed.

Understand, however, that you should never subject carbon to high heat, like an open flame. That will cause the carbon to crack.

Another method for softening hot melt that’s already holding components in place is to use hot water. Let’s say you want to remove a point that’s glued in place inside a carbon arrow. Submerge the arrow end into a pot of hot water for a few seconds, and the glue will soften so you can remove the point with a pair of pliers. (Don’t use your hands or you’ll burn them.)

This is a safe way to remove components from carbon arrows without damaging the carbon.


Cold melt glues also come in stick form, and are applied by heating them. They require less heat than hot melts to liquify the glue, however.

Cold melts are great for gluing components where you don’t want to use high heat – such as anything being inserted into a carbon arrow shaft. The lower melting temperature required to liquify these glues minimizes the risk of damaging carbon.

They’re great for nock bushings, since these bushings sit so close to arrow shafts. So let’s say you want to remove a bushing. You’ll have to heat it to liquify the glue holding it in place. Since the bushing is so close to the shaft, if it were held in place with hot melt, the amount of heat required to loosen the glue might be enough to damage the carbon, where the lesser amount of heat required to loosen a cold melt would be safer.


Epoxies used for archery purposes usually require a mix of two liquids at the time the glue is applied. Epoxies don’t set up fast, so you have time to work with your products to get them in position, before they stick. Once an epoxy cures, it usually forms one of the hardest bonds you’ll find. Epoxies are great for hidden inserts that can take some time to position correctly inside arrow shafts, and for bow grips.

EXPLAINED: World Archery 3D Championship Classes

The World Archery 3D Championships features competition in four classes, each with separate divisions for men and women.

In this video, we explain the basic rules that separate the Barebow, Compound, Instinctive and Longbow classes. These classes exist within other organizations, but the World Archery rules for each are unique.

World Archery’s 3D Championships are held every other year in different parts of the world. A competition round features 24 3D animal targets, which archers must shoot two arrows at per round.

What is compound bow let-off?

So you’re standing in an archery shop and you overhear an archer claiming his compound bow features 80-percent let-off.

And you’re thinking, “What the heck does that mean? What’s let-off?”

To begin to answer this question, you first need to understand how compound bows differ from recurves and longbows in the way they function.

Those other bows have a single string, and they draw all of their power from the limbs flexing. As a result, the string gets harder and harder to pull the farther you draw it back.


Compound bows also have limbs, but they’re much shorter than a recurve’s or longbow’s. They also employ cables and wheels, called cams, in generating stored energy that is eventually used to hurl an arrow.


By using cams and cables which aid in the drawing process, a compound bow is able to drastically reduce its draw weight about one half to two-thirds of the way through the draw cycle.

cam let off

Compound bow cam and limb at rest.

When the cams roll over, the draw weight drops, so an archer is holding considerably less weight at full draw than the peak draw weight.

cam draw

Compound bow cam and limb at full draw.

The amount of weight reduction is used to calculate the bow’s let-off.

That is, a bow with a peak draw weight of 70 pounds, that has a full-draw holding weight of 14 pounds, is a bow with 80-percent let-off. Fourteen pounds is 20 percent of the peak draw weight, which means 80 percent of the bow’s peak draw weight has been shed or let off.


Compound bows primarily used for hunting commonly have let-offs of 75, 80 or 85 percent. PSE in 2017 introduced its Evolution Cam, which boasts 90-percent let-off.

In the hunting world, the benefits of high let-off are clear. Heavier draw weights are favored for their ability to drive arrows through game animals. But an archer might have to draw a bow early to avoid being seen by a game animal, and then hold the bowstring at full draw for an extended period while waiting for that animal to present the perfect shot.


Holding just 20 percent of a bow’s peak draw weight at full draw while waiting for that shot makes the task much easier.

Competition archers, on the other hand, don’t always like a huge amount of let-off. They feel they can hold a bow steadier with more weight at full draw, and so target compounds often have let-offs of 60, 65 or 70 percent.

Using a bow with 60-percent let-off, that archer pulling a maximum weight of 70 pounds would hold 28 pounds at full draw.


Remember, a recurve archer with a 28-inch draw length, shooting a 70-pound bow, would hold all 70 pounds at full draw.

3D Archery Explained

Come Feb. 26 in Foley, Alabama, the archery world unofficially will shift gears from indoors to the outdoor 3D season as the Archery Shooters Association kicks off its 2016 slate of tournaments with the Hoyt Archery Alabama Pro/Am.


That got us thinking that now would be a good time to give an overview of 3D archery in the modern world.

What is 3D archery? Well it’s a shooting format in which archers walk a target course in the woods, or through fields – or both.

Think of it like a golf course, where the “holes” are three-dimensional, foam targets that look like various game animals – deer, bears, leopards, antelope, etc. So archers move from station to station, where they shoot at these animal targets at various distances, in varying settings. It started as a way for bowhunters to practice on lifelike targets in places similar to where they hunt.

Unlike golf, an archer only takes one shot to hit each target. Every “hole” on a 3D course is a Par 1. Points are earned by arrows hitting various scoring rings on the targets. And a typical 3D round is 40 targets, versus 18 holes.

There are recreational 3D shoots held by archery clubs, individuals and organizations all over the country. They may or may not be competitive events. Some are held strictly for hunting practice.

The two primary organizations dedicated to competitive 3D shooting are the Archery Shooters Association, commonly referred to as ASA, and the International Bowhunting Organization, commonly called IBO. Each holds sanctioned tournaments from late winter through August. While there are some similarities between the two organizations, each has its own competition divisions and scoring system.


The targets used for 3D tournaments bear scoring rings on the areas of the animal bodies where the vital organs would be. That is, archers try to shoot the targets in the heart-lung areas – just like bowhunters would do on real animals.

For ASA, there will be a large, mostly-circular area framing the vitals zone. Any arrow that lands outside this area is worth 5 points. Inside the large vitals area, there will be a smaller circle, with three even smaller circles inside of it.

One of those smallest of circles will sit dead center inside the next-sized circle, and the two others will be positioned around it. Only IBO uses the dead-center circle, while ASA uses the two circles around it.

For ASA, the two inner circles are worth 12 points, the next-size circle is worth 10 points and any arrow that hits outside the 10 ring, but inside the large vitals ring is worth 8 points.

Sometimes, there will be another 12-ring sized circle in a corner of the 8-point area. Arrows placed in this circle are worth 14 points at tournaments that allow them.

For IBO shoots, the 5, 8, and 10 rings mirror ASA’s. But arrows that hit the small circle in the center of the 10-ring are worth 11 points.


All an arrow has to do is touch the line of a scoring ring to earn the points awarded by that ring.

Depending on the rules of a particular shoot, the distance to the targets might be marked, or they might not. The two 3D tournament styles are “known distance” and “unknown distance.”

At the unknown distance events, you have to judge for yourself how far away the target is from the shooting stake. Rangefinders are not allowed. Being good at judging yardage is critical, because arrows can hit the target high or low of your aiming spot if you judge the distance incorrectly.


Arrow speed can cover up some mistakes in range estimation, since the faster an arrow flies, the flatter its trajectory will be. And many of today’s compound bows are capable of producing arrow speeds well over 300 feet per second. However, the ASA has a maximum speed limit of 290 fps for their tournaments. That top speed is lower for some divisions, but no archer may have a bow-arrow setup faster than 290 fps.

IBO has a speed limit of 260 fps for some youth classes, but then no speed limit for other classes, provided archers shoot arrows that weight at least 5 grains per pound of their bow’s draw weight. For example, an archer shooting a bow set at 70 pounds, must shoot an arrow that weighs no less than 350 grains. If an archer shoots an arrow that weighs 5 grains per pound of draw weight, and the arrow speed is less than 290 fps, then that archer can shoot an arrow that weighs less than 5 grains per pound. However, the lighter arrow’s speed cannot exceed 290 fps.

Currently, there is much debate in the archery world over whether professional tournaments should feature known or unknown distances. Some feel the target distances should be marked because judging distance might be more important than archery skill in unknown distance tournaments. Others believe the unknown distance events are superior because they require another skill besides archery prowess in order to win.


What’s right? That’s up to each archer to decide.

When it comes to archery equipment you’ll see at a 3D tournament, it runs the gamut. There are divisions for archers who shoot different equipment, so you’ll see archers carrying compound bows with long stabilizers and scopes with magnifying lenses; archers with bowhunting setups, featuring short stabilizers and sights with multiple, fixed pins; and archers carrying traditional recurve bows and longbows, among others.


Because they take place outdoors, there are many variables that can affect archers at a 3D event. You’ve got to deal with all the elements of weather, moving shadows, varying light and uneven terrain. It’s definitely different from indoor, target archery.


But that’s what makes it so much fun.


What’s the difference between momentum and kinetic energy?

When it comes to bowhunting, kinetic energy gets all the love. You can find scads of articles extolling its virtues and charts describing its professed impact.

Momentum, by comparison, is the genius, recluse cousin few people talk about, but who has a cult following. It’s punk rock before that brand of music became mainstream.

broadhead momentum

In another blog entry, we explored how kinetic energy relates to bowhunting. Kinetic energy is described as the energy of motion. The faster and heavier an object is, the more KE it carries.

Lots of hunters swear by KE, and they do whatever they can to maximize it with their bowhunting rigs.

But there are others who could care less about KE, and instead focus on boosting their arrow’s momentum. Both account for the weight and speed of a moving object, but they are not the same.

One of the best explanations I’ve heard about how to differentiate KE from momentum comes from the Quality Deer Management Association, which is a true believer in momentum.

QDMA explains that, with KE, speed is emphasized over weight. An arrow’s KE is calculated by the equation: velocity squared times weight divided by the constant 450,240. That results in a unit of energy in foot-pounds. That’s the amount of energy needed to exert a 1-pound force for a distance of 1 foot.

Momentum, QDMA says, emphasizes weight over speed. An arrow’s momentum is calculated by taking weight times velocity and dividing by the constant 225,400. (The constant accounts for the arrow’s weight in grains and factors in the pull of gravity.) This gives you a unit of force measured in slug feet per second. A slug is a unit of mass that accelerates by 1 foot per second per second when acted upon by a 1-pound force.

So my Easton FMJ that weighs 485 grains and flies at 292 feet per second has .63 slug ft./sec. worth of momentum.

(And therein lies the likely reason momentum takes a backseat to KE. Who knows what .63 slug ft./sec. means other than a physicist?)

Momentum is a measurement of the force of the forward movement of an object. KE is a measurement of the energy a moving object possesses, but it has no direction.

Momentum advocates say KE tells you how hard an arrow will hit, but that has nothing to do with penetration. Momentum is what allows an arrow to blast through tissue, hide, bone, etc.

QDMA suggests that momentum is particularly more important than KE when archers are working with low-poundage bows – say, below 60 pounds. Archers can increase their KE by switching to lighter arrows, which will boost the arrow’s speed. But that lighter arrow isn’t going to have the same momentum as a heavier one, and so it takes less resistance to stop its forward progress.

Generally speaking, it’s often recommended that bowhunters using compounds shoot arrows that weigh 6-8 grains per pound of draw weight. That would require a hunter using a 60-pound bow to shoot an arrow weighing 360-480 grains. The bigger the game, the heavier you’ll want to go.

(If you really want to push the momentum envelope, check out the super heavy shafts that weigh more than 9 grains per inch for a 400-spine arrow. The Easton FMJ weighs 10.2 GPI ; Gold Tip Kinetic Hunter weighs 9.5 GPI; and Carbon Express PileDriver weighs 10.4 GPI.)

To keep your arrow’s momentum as high as possible when shooting compounds that draw less than 60 pounds, stick to the high end of the 6-8-grains-per-pound weight range. So if you’re shooting a 40-pound bow, go for an arrow that’s in the neighborhood of 320 grains.

Traditional bowhunters tend to stick to an average of about 10 grains of arrow weight per pound of draw weight in the interest of generating lethal momentum from a bow that produces relatively slow arrow speeds.

(Of course, arrow selection always starts with matching the spine to your bowhunting setup. Don’t deviate from that just to gain arrow weight.)

As QDMA notes, no one apparently has done any tests to devise a chart that suggests how much arrow momentum is needed to punch through various game animals. So there don’t seem to be any definitive recommendations for momentum.

The good news is, modern bow and broadhead designs are making bowhunters more effective at achieving the lethality we owe the animals we pursue. The discussion continues, and our understanding will too.

What is Kinetic Energy and Why does it matter?

What better time for a physics lesson than the start of the fall bowhunting seasons?

If you’ve never heard the term mentioned, you should familiarize yourself with it before you head out into the field with a bow and arrow in pursuit of wild game.

Kinetic energy.

What is it?

According to physicsclassroom.com, kinetic energy is “the energy of motion”  ‑ or, the energy possessed by an object in motion.

The amount of kinetic energy a moving object possesses depends on two factors – its weight and its speed.

The heavier an object is, and the faster it’s moving, the greater its kinetic energy.

In the bowhunting world, archers should be concerned about the amount of kinetic energy (KE) carried by their arrows as they hit game animals.

An arrow needs sufficient KE to punch through hide, tissue and possibly bone. And generally speaking, the bigger the animal, the greater an arrow’s KE needs to be to carry it through the vitals.

KE, incidentally, is measured in foot-pounds.

You can think about KE this way. Let’s say a ping-pong ball and a golf ball both traveling at 30 mph hit you in the head. They’re both about the same size traveling at the same speed, but the golf ball is heavier, and is obviously going to hurt more. Its KE is much higher than the ping-pong ball’s.

To calculate your arrow’s KE, you will need to weigh it as you’d shoot it. That is, weigh your exact hunting arrow, with the broadhead attached.

You want to come up with your arrow’s weight in grains, so adjust your scale accordingly.

Next, shoot your arrow through a chronograph to come up with its speed.

Once you have the weight in grains and the speed you can complete the following equation:

Velocity squared times weight divided by the constant 450,240.

(The constant number is derived from the conversion of grains to pounds, while factoring in the effect of gravity on mass.)

So let’s say you have an arrow that weighs 400 grains that flies at a speed of 290 feet per second.

Your equation would look like this:

290 x 290 x 400 / 450,240 = 74.72 foot-pounds of KE.

What do you need to get the job done in the field?

There are a number of charts that recommend a certain amount of KE for game animals of different size.

Generally, the recommendations are as follows:



What can you do to boost your arrow’s KE?

For starters, you want to make sure you are maximizing the available KE by tuning your bow so your arrows fly straight. A fishtailing arrow won’t fly as fast as it could. And make sure you’re using razor-sharp broadheads. The more energy it takes to push an arrow through an animal, the faster it’s going to slow down.

You can shoot a heavier broadhead. That’s going to slow down your arrow a bit, so you’ve got to repeat the KE calculation to make sure you’re getting a benefit from the switch.

You can switch to a heavier arrow shaft. It’s also going to fly slower, so be sure you recalculate your KE.

And make sure you don’t change the arrow’s spine when you switch to a heavier shaft.

(Click here for a discussion about arrow spine vs. arrow weight.)

Compound bow shooters can increase the draw weight of their bows by turning the limb bolts clockwise, provided they’re not already at the maximum weight limit.

Be sure to turn the top and bottom bolts exactly the same. That is, if you put half a turn into the top bolt, do the same to the bottom.

Recurve archers who shoot takedown bows might want to switch to limbs with a heavier draw weight.

Increasing draw weight increases arrow speed regardless of the bow.

Of course, that can make your bow difficult  – if not impossible – for you to draw, so proceed with caution.

Know your KE before you hit the woods this season. It can mean the difference between success and failure.

Archery Slang: Speak the language

Sports and slang go together “like peas and carrots,” as Forrest Gump would say.

There isn’t a game out there that doesn’t have its own unique phrases and words – and you’re not likely to find the sports meanings in any standard dictionary.

When I played Little League baseball, my neighbor’s father hollered, “Can of corn!” every time someone hit a pop fly. In football, when the punting team wants to limit the other team’s return, the kicker is likely to punt the ball short and low, so it bounces around on the ground. That’s a “pooch” kick.

Well, archery is no different than any other sport when it comes to slang. And to understand what’s going on, you need to speak the language.

Here at Lancaster Archery Supply, we surveyed the company and came up with a list of slang terms and phrases we regularly use on the target range and in the woods.

(This is a family operation, mind you, so we’re only including G-rated slang here.)


Pin wheel – When your arrow hits dead center in a scoring ring.

Spider – When there’s an X in the center of the bull’s-eye, and your arrow hits the center of the X.

Chunk – A bad shot. “Man, I chunked that one.”

T-Rex arms – This is when the archer doesn’t extend his or her arms all the way out while shooting.

Jar-licker – A shot where the arrow just barely touches the line for a higher scoring ring.

Tweener – An arrow that’s between two scoring rings; also, a shot on a 3-D course that’s at a distance that doesn’t end in “0.”

Grip it and rip it – Just pull back the bowstring and shoot. Don’t think about the shot.

Kiss out – When an arrow is deflected into a lower scoring ring by another arrow already in the target.

English – Pushing or pulling your bow arm at the shot to account for some defect in your form, in an attempt to “steer” the arrow into the center. “I had to give that arrow a little English to get it in the 10-ring.”

Tae Kwon Bow; Bow-Jitsu – Exaggerating your body movements at the shot to account for the aiming device sliding off the center of the target just as the arrow is released.

Lincoln logs; Poles; Line cutters – All of these are terms applied to large diameter arrows used in target archery to maximize the chances of hitting higher scoring rings.

Kentucky windage – Aiming off the center of the target, or leaning the bow right or left so the bubble in the level is not in the center, to account for windy conditions.

Too much pinky – When your back tension release goes off faster than normal.

Sandbagger – An archer who intentionally shoots lower scores in order to compete in a division that’s below their true shooting skills.

Training wheels – The cams/wheels of a compound bow. (This is usually a term of derision aimed at compound bows by recurve and longbow archers.)

Gunch – When your mind thinks you shot the arrow, but your body didn’t let it go, and you flinch.

Slammer; Hog; Toad – A trophy-sized animal.

Slick head – A doe.

Stewie – A mature doe.

Snot – Arrow lube.

Sticks – Arrows.

Sled; Ax; Rig – An individual archer’s bow setup.

Robin Hood – When an arrow hits another that’s already in the target and ends up perfectly inside the shaft.

Body stabilizer – The front-weighted midriff of usually older, male compound archers.

Drive-by – Releasing an arrow as the aiming device moves across the center of the target.

Punch – Slapping a trigger or thumb-button release instead of squeezing through the shot.

Bucket hatter – A recurve archer.

Trad – Shortened name for traditional archery.

Inside-out – An arrow that is fully inside the scoring ring. It’s not even touching a line.

Struggle stick – A recurve bow. The term originates from the image of a recurve archer shaking while trying to pull the arrow through a clicker.

Molly-whopped – A perfect shot on a deer, as in, “I Molly-whopped that buck at 20 yards.”

Burn a hole in the yellow – Keep your aiming device locked on the 10-ring until you release the arrow.

Mash the gas – Pushing with your bow arm and pulling with your release hand with equal pressure through the shot.

What is brace height?

Brace height. It’s something every archer should know about, regardless of the bow they shoot, because it affects us all.

But what is brace height? And why should we care about it?

Brace height is the distance between the string and the deepest part of the bow grip.

measure brace height

For modern compound bows, the brace height is going to be set by the manufacturer, and you’ll want to stick to those settings to get peak performance out of your bow.

Manufacturers of recurves and longbows will recommend ideal brace heights for individual models, and it’s then up to the archer to twist or untwist the bowstring to achieve the ideal brace height. You add twists to the string to increase the brace height, and untwist the string to shorten it.

If you aren’t able to find the recommended brace height for your recurve, below is a chart of brace height measurements generally accepted within the industry for bows of the specified lengths.


Brace height is critical in two areas – arrow speed and bow forgiveness.

Generally speaking, a shorter brace height helps a bow generate more arrow speed. Let’s say you took two bows set at 70 pounds, with a 29-inch draw length, and one has a 6-inch brace height and the other 7 inches. If you shot the same arrow from both bows, the bow with the 6-inch brace height should shoot the arrow faster than the other.

brace height bows

Notice the left bow’s short brace height as compared to the one on the right.

The bow with the shorter brace height pushes the arrow longer than the other.

A bow’s forgiveness relates to accuracy. A forgiving bow minimizes an archer’s mistakes, while an unforgiving bow magnifies them.

Bows with shorter brace heights tend to be less forgiving than those with longer brace heights, because the string is in contact with the arrow for a longer period. An archer therefore has to maintain perfect form for a longer stretch, until the arrow is in the air.

Compound target bows intended primarily for precision, bull’s-eye target shooting, for example, rarely have brace heights under 7 inches. Eight-inch and 9-inch brace heights are not uncommon.

brace height long

Conversely, compound bows made for hunting and 3-D target shooting, where arrow speed is more important, typically have brace heights of 5-7 inches.

brace height short

Target bows are slower, but more forgiving, while hunting and 3-D bows are faster, but less forgiving.

And it’s all because of brace height.

Know Your Archery Styles

Once you get into archery, you’re going to hear people throwing out terms such as “Olympic,” “traditional,” “3-D archery,” etc.

They’re talking about the different styles of archery. And if you’re going to get into the game, you’ve got to know your style.

Here at Lancaster Archery Supply, Inc., we promote all types of archery, and we have broken the game down into six basic styles. Our online store, LancasterArchery.com, allows you, the archer, to shop by the style of archery you practice, so you know you’re looking at products compatible with your game. In basic terms, here are the six styles of archery:


As you might have guessed, this style of archery is so named because it’s what you see at the Olympic Games. We’re talking about target recurve bows that have rests, plungers, stabilizers and sights attached.

Olympic recurve

(There’s talk that compound bows might someday be allowed in the Olympics, but currently, they are not.)

Competitors typically shoot from 18-90 meters, which is about the length of a football field. All Olympic recurve bows are going to be takedown bows. That means the limbs can be removed from the riser.


This is a precision-shooting style practiced primarily by compound bow shooters who participate in tournament competitions. They primarily shoot at paper target faces that range in sizes of 20cm to 122cm. The tournaments might be indoors, or they might be outdoors.

compound target

Target compounds tend to be long – 36-40 inches from axle to axle is common – and they usually have brace heights anywhere from 7-9 inches. Both qualities make these bows very forgiving and friendly in an archer’s hands.

Arrows are built solely with stability and accuracy in mind. Indoor arrows tend to have a large diameter and they’re heavy, while outdoor arrows have a smaller diameter and are aerodynamic, for cutting through the wind at long range.

Compound target archers use stabilizers of all lengths, and their sights often feature scopes with magnifying lenses. Tournament classifications dictate what equipment is allowed for some archers.


In 3-D archery, archers shoot at 3-dimensional, foam animal targets. The targets are placed at various distances from the shooting stake, which means archers must shoot at ever-changing yardages over the course of a shoot. Sometimes the distances are marked, but often times, the archers have to judge the yardages for themselves.

3D archery

Archers shoot every kind of bow in 3-D archery, so you’re just as likely to see someone shooting a target compound as you are a traditional longbow on the 3-D range. Arrow speed is an important consideration for 3-D archers, since faster arrows can make up for errors in judging distances.


This is an all-encompassing category that refers to anyone and everyone who participates in archery for the sheer enjoyment of shooting a bow and arrow. Recreational archers shoot all kinds of bows, in all kinds of settings, at all kinds of targets. If you shoot a bow and arrow just because you love it, then you’re a recreational archer.



Bowhunters use compounds, recurves, longbows and crossbows, all with the goal of taking game. Their gear is going to be camouflaged or of neutral color, as compared to the shiny, bright-colored equipment used by target archers.


Bowhunting equipment also tends to be beefier than target gear. Bowhunters have to be concerned about their arrows punching through thick hide and bone, so their bows tend to have heavier draw weights and their arrows generally weigh more than those used in target archery.

In bowhunting, you’ll see bow-mounted arrow quivers, along with various pieces of gear attached to the string and/or limbs aimed at making the bow quieter. Stabilizers and sights tend to be short, compact and sturdy for carrying long distances, often through thick cover.


Traditional archers lean toward the equipment that imitates what was used long before the modern era. They shoot recurve and longbows at all types of targets, including stumps. Many of the recurves are going to be one-piece bows, but takedowns also are acceptable.

Traditional Archer

What separates traditional archery from Olympic recurve is the bows are stripped down. Sights generally aren’t used at all, and stabilizers, if used, are short and simple. Rests and plungers are used by some traditional archers, although many shoot their arrows right off the shelf of the bow.

Traditional archers usually are the only archers who shoot wooden arrows, although they also shoot carbon and aluminum shafts as well.