1 Samuzshura

Arrow 4 X 11 Descriptive Essay

Archery is really popular right now. Pop culture is full of archers–Merida, Legolas, Haweye, the Green Arrow, and Katniss Everdeen. If you’re a fantasy writer, odds are you probably have an archer in your story.

If you’ve never shot a bow or don’t know much about archery, this is the guide for you! Details are the key to making your story vivid, so it’s important to get them right. That’s why you need to learn all you can about archery to avoid making embarrassing mistakes readers might catch.

I’ve been practicing archery for several years now and have also done quite a bit of research for my current novel-in-progress, so I thought I would share some of my knowledge with my fellow writers 😉

(Also, if you have archery in your story I’m betting there’s a good chance you probably have horses too. You can check out my writer’s guide to horses here).

Ready for an archery lesson? Let’s begin!

Archery Terms

Anchor point–a point on the face where the archer draws the bow fully back and pauses to aim. Common anchor points are the mouth, nose, or chin (I use the corner of my eye, it doesn’t really matter what you use as long as you’re consistent).

Arrow rest–a device that holds the arrow against the bow until it is released. On modern bows only, traditional archers used their fingers as arrow rests (see above photo).

Limb–the upper and lower ends of a bow

Nock— 1) The act of placing an arrow on the bow. 2) The notch at the end of an arrow where it attaches to the bowstring. 3) The notches on the ends of the bow’s limbs where the bowstring is attached (on traditional bows only).

Draw weight–the amount of pounds of force needed to pull back a bow string to full draw.

Fletching–the feathers at the end of an arrow that stabilize it in flight.

Shaft–the main body of the arrow, the wooden part

Loose–releasing an arrow from the bow.

Quiver–a container that holds the arrows, made of leather and worn on the back or at the hip.

What Writers Need to Know About Archery

(Why yes, this is me shooting my bow while wearing a dress. Because I’m a badass like that).

1. You can only hold a draw for so long with a traditional bow. I think people forget about this because many archers nowadays use modern compound bows (like the one I’m using above). These types of bows use a gear and pulley system, and are designed to hold the weight for you when you’re at full draw. That means you can hold your draw for ages without tiring.

However, with traditional bows you’re holding that weight all on your own. If you have an English longbow with a 120lb draw weight, that means you are pulling back 120lbs and holding it there.

It’s not going to take long for your arm to start to tire and shake! Shaking is not good for aiming, so archers won’t draw their bow until they’re ready to shoot and won’t take long to aim. So don’t have your character start a lengthy dialogue with her bow drawn!

2. Archery takes practice and strength. Consider your character. What is your character’s age, size and strength? What sort of bow are they using? How long have they been practicing archery? These are all important questions to answer.

A small character with little archery experience won’t be able to shoot a 120lb war bow. But they might be able to handle a recurve or smaller hunting bow with a lighter draw weight. It takes many years to get good at archery, so if your character is a skilled archer make sure he didn’t just pick up a bow yesterday!

3. Don’t have your characters “fire” their bow. In medieval times, the word “loose” or “release” was used when commanding archers. The term “fire” is more modern and relates more to guns and cannons.

So the commands for archers in battle would go: Nock, draw, loose! Also, going back to #1, make sure your generals aren’t having their archers holding their draw for extended periods of time!

4. Shooting a bow is tiring. Especially if you’re firing one arrow after another after another. Of course, if your character is a practiced archer he will have good strength and stamina. But if he is pushed beyond what he is used to, say in a battle, for example, he will grow tired and/or sore. Especially if he has a bow with a heavy draw weight.

Also, pulling back a bowstring with a heavy draw weight continuously will begin to hurt your fingers. Your character may build up callouses over time, but most archers wear a glove to protect their hand if they’re going to be shooting for long periods of time. My bow is only 20lbs, but when I’m out practicing for a long time I’ll wear a glove because I know the string will begin to hurt my fingers.

5. Bows do not creak. When you draw a bow back, it is silent. The creaking you hear in movies is a sound effect invented by Hollywood. So don’t describe it in your story!

6. Arrows do not whistle. This is another sound effect invented by Hollywood, so steer clear of it in your descriptions! To hear the difference between what it sounds like when a bow is shot in a movie vs. real life, watch this scene from the Hunger Games (listen very carefully for the creak when she draws, it’s muted by the arrow scraping against the metal bow) and then watch this video of an English longbow demonstration. Then, watch this video and pay attention to the sounds you DO hear.

7. Arm guards are important. An arm guard (also called a bracer) is a protective piece of leather worn on the forearm of the hand that is holding the bow. Why? Because when you shoot an arrow, the string can slap your arm.

And it hurts. The higher pound draw weight you have, the worse it will hurt, and it can leave a welt or bruise. Bows used for war or hunting have a higher draw weight in order to be effective in killing, so a character using this type of bow would likely wear an arm guard.

You’ll notice above that I am not wearing an arm guard. That is because I was taught to shoot without one by bending my bow arm very slightly at the elbow. Also, my draw weight is only 20lbs. A couple times in the beginning I forgot to bend my elbow and got slapped and it did hurt, but it wasn’t too bad. Now, if I was using a higher poundage bow I would definitely wear an arm guard! Getting slapped by a string at 120lb would NOT be fun!

8. Traditional bows are unstrung when not in use. Again, I think modern archery has made writers/moviemakers forget that back in the day bows were only strung before they were about to be used. Today’s compound bows remain strung even after use, there’s no fiddling with taking the string on and off. Also, medieval archers always carried an extra bowstring on them in case theirs snapped (which can happen!).

9. You can only keep so many arrows in a quiver. It’s really important to keep in mind how many arrows your character has in her quiver as you’re writing fight scenes. Unless her quiver is magic with a limitless supply of arrows, she’s eventually going to run out. About 25 arrows for a large quiver is a good number, 12 for a smaller quiver.

So what happens when your character runs out of arrows? Well, she’ll have to recollect the ones she fired, grab enemy arrows that might be around her, or resort to another weapon. She should at the very least have a dagger on her in case she is caught in a fight without arrows!

Also consider where she gets her arrows from after she runs out. Was she able to collect her own or other arrows after the fight? Does she make more herself? Does she buy them?

10. Bow types and shooting techniques vary among cultures. You will need to consider your character’s culture when you decide to give them a bow. A Mongolian horse bow is very different from an English longbow. Make sure you know the specific type of bow they’re using.

Also, the archer’s draw varies among cultures. In Western cultures, the Mediterranean draw is the most common, with one finger over the arrow and two fingers under. In Eastern cultures, pinched draws and Mongolian draws are common. (To see what these draws look like, click here).

Eastern archers also use thumb rings to protect their fingers while shooting, as a Western archer would use a glove. Additionally, Western archers place their arrows on the left side of the bow, while Eastern archers place their arrows on the right side.

Now, at first glance you may have assumed that the bow in the picture at the very top of this post is an English longbow. Though it is long, it is actually a Japanese yumi hankyū (half bow). The yumi daikyū (great bow) is the longer version and is 7-9 ft. long vs. the 5-6 ft. of the half bow.

So how could I tell it was a Japanese yumi, since it looks really similar to an English long bow? Well, first the ends of the bows limbs are slightly curved. English longbows have no curve at the ends of the limbs. But the main way I could tell was by the way the archer is shooting.

Notice how the arrow is on the right side of the bow, and she is using a pinched draw–Eastern style. If you look at the picture of me shooting, you will see that the arrow is on the left and I am using a Mediterranean draw–Western style.

So, be sure you pay attention to the culture and the type of bow your character is using!

11. Is your character right or left handed? A right-handed person will shoot a right-handed bow. This means that they draw back the arrow with their right hand and use their left to hold the bow. BUT if your character is left-handed, he will draw shoot a left-handed bow, drawing it back with his left hand. Also, right-handed archers place their arrows on the left side of the bow, while left-handed archers place the arrow on the right. So if you are describing a scene be careful with your rights and lefts!

Getting into Archery

Not only is archery fun, but it’s a great stress reliever! (And I’m not gonna lie, it makes you feel pretty epic). I love it because it’s a combination of physical and mental effort.

Archery is easy to learn (though it takes practice to get good!) and relatively inexpensive. You don’t really need lessons–you learn by practicing, and once you have someone teach you the correct way to shoot you can practice on your own. So all you’ll have to pay for is the equipment.

I bought my bow from a local archery store, where they taught me how to shoot correctly. I would search for archery shops in your area, and when you buy one ask them if they can show you how to shoot it.

If you don’t have any archery stores near you, I would buy a bow off Amazon. Then search for archery clubs in your area, and take a class or two until you know how to shoot correctly. After that you should be good to practice on your own. If you don’t have any archery clubs in your area, search for videos online that teach you proper form. It’s really pretty simple!

I would highly recommend the Gensis bow, which I am using in the photo above. It’s a great beginner’s bow to get your feet wet and start learning archery (and it comes in a bunch of different colors). I’ve had a great experience with mine!

I know traditional bows look really cool, but with a compound you don’t have to mess with learning how to string/unstring it. Traditional bows also come at a higher draw weight (I believe the lowest is 35lb), and since the Genesis has a draw weight of 20lb it’s good for beginners.

Once you build up your confidence (and strength!) you can move up to a traditional bow. I’m hoping to get a traditional bow this year–I think I’m ready to tackle learning how string it, which intimidated me as a beginner.

Helpful Videos on Medieval Archery

And now, for your researching pleasure, a plethora of extra sources just for you 😉

(Also, the guy in the videos below also covers all sort of medieval weaponry, including swords. Check out his channel, he has tons of great info! Plus, he’s British.)

1. What Hollywood gets wrong about bows

2. A point about how bows work

3. Medieval war arrows vs. hunting arrows

4. All about longbows


Additional Links for Your Research

Yes, a couple of these sources link to Wikipedia. Don’t judge–it can be a helpful starting point for research. Look through the sources at the bottom of the article for books or websites to check out.

Want more research help? Don’t forget to check out my writer’s guide for horses here.

Do you have archers in your story? Do you practice archery or want to start learning? If you have any questions about archery (for your story or for you) or about buying a bow comment below or give me a shout on social media, I’d be happy to help!


Course Description


CTY’s online English language development courses are challenging, above-grade-level courses designed for students in grades 3 and up who seek to enhance their English writing skills with the emphasis on building strong grammar and vocabulary. These courses advance each student’s English academic content language in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math for academic writing in those areas.

Vocabulary, Grammar, and Writing Using STEM, Advanced is designed for both native and non-native English speakers. This course is open to students who have either successfully completed  Vocabulary, Grammar, and Writing Using STEM, Intermediate II, or have approximately seven to ten years of exposure to the English Language. In this course, students will improve and augment their STEM essay writing skills and advance their general and STEM vocabulary and grammar through a focus on writing effective paragraphs.

The interactive lessons will give students the opportunity to take risks and have fun while working on improving English grammar, speaking, listening, reading, and composition skills. The virtual classroom includes live audio and video interaction with the instructor and online classmates, interactive whiteboard, multimedia learning materials including games, and other features to enhance online learning.

In this course, students will:

  • Read upper level informational texts in English and practice related vocabulary in multiple facets.
  • Continue to develop linguistic proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Further develop skills for formal academic English writing including different types of essay writing. Students will use these skills to complete writings in 4 domain-specific areas: descriptive, comparison, cause and effect, and classification.
  • Learn CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) and STEM academic content vocabulary and how to apply terms in various written applications.
  • Acquire better level-specific English abilities by practicing tasks through all language domains.
  • Be able to write effective essays in four domains of writing: descriptive, comparison, cause and effect, and classification.

By the end of this course, students will acquire more STEM concepts, knowledge, and vocabulary. This course will prepare eligible students to take CTY’s online science, engineering, and math courses, as well as  Crafting the Essay for English Language Learners. Review course prerequisites carefully prior to enrolling.

In order to determine the placement level for this course, an ELD placement test can be requested from ctyonline@jhu.edu

Materials Required

Students must purchase a headset with a microphone. A microphone with an on/off switch is recommended.

In addition, the following textbooks are required for this course:

  • Great Writing 3: From Great Paragraphs to Great Essays
    by  Keith S. Folse; Elena Vestri Solomon; David Clabeaux
    ISBN-13: 9781424062102
  • An English Dictionary of your choice or Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
    Pearson Longman, Fifth Edition, 2009.
    ISBN: 978-1408215333
  • Vocabulary Cartoons: SAT Word Power
    by Sam Burchers
    ISBN-13: 978-0965242233

Optional Workbook (NOT Required):

  • Writers Express: A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers, and Learners
    by Dave Kemper, Ruth Nathan, and Patrick Sebranek. 1995.
    ISBN: 0-669-38632-4

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

This course will focus on improving essay writing and understanding the differences between different types of essays.

Students will:

  • Explore the distinct features of a well written essay
  • Acquire new vocabulary that can be used in writing (essay-specific vocabulary)
WeekLessonSTEM TopicGrammar Topic
11The Scientific MethodIntroductions
Course Overview and Tour 
Five Elements of Good Writing
Peer Editing
2The Scientific MethodMain Features of Paragraphs Vs. Essays, Different Types of Paragraphs and Essays, Building Better Vocabulary, Phrasal Verbs
21Water BiomesFive-Paragraph Essay Blueprint, Understanding the Writing Process: The Seven Steps, Introduction to Descriptive Essays
2Water BiomesThe Hook, Using Quotations and Citing Ideas to Avoid Plagiarism, Descriptive Essay Outline
31Animal DiversityLanguage Focus: Describing with the Five Senses, Reading a Diagram, Steps to Writing a Descriptive Essay
2Animal DiversityLanguage Focus: Prepositions of Place, Two Ways to Organize Descriptive Essays, Descriptive Essay Drafts
41The Plant KingdomConnectors and Transitions, Adverbs of Degree, Organization of a Comparison Essay
2The Plant KingdomForming the Comparative and Superlative of Adjectives and Adverbs,  Parallel Structure, Comparison Essay Outline
51Food Chains and Food WebsPrefixes, Variety of Outlines, Working with Language in a Comparison Essay
2Food Chains and Food WebsSentence Types, Features of a Concluding Sentence, Transitions with Concluding Sentences, Comparison Essay Draft
61STEM Midterm ReviewMidterm Review
2STEM Midterm ReviewMidterm Review
71Heat TransferWays of Expressing Past Actions, Clear Pronoun Reference, Organization of a Cause-Effect Essay
2Heat TransferSuffixes, Connectors and Transitions, Proofreading Strategies, Cause and Effect Outline
81Newton’s Laws of MotionPreposition Combinations with Nouns, Titles for Your Work, Working with Language in a Cause-Effect Essay
2Newton’s Laws of MotionSuffixes, Use of the Pronoun in Academic Writing, Cause and Effect Final Draft
91Cell Structure and FunctionsClassifying information, The Passive Voice, Organization of a Classification Essay
2Cell Structure and FunctionsIntegrating Information, Classification Essay Outline
101Cell Structure and FunctionsAdjective Clauses, Working with Language in a Classification Essay
2Cell Structure and FunctionsLooking for Patterns, Capitalization and Punctuation Activities, Classification Essay Draft
111Mixtures and SolutionsWorking on Final Essay of Choice
Review 1st 4 Weeks of STEM Topics
2Mixtures and SolutionsWorking on Final Essay of Choice
Review 2nd 4 Weeks of STEM Topics
121Final Review of All STEM Topics CoveredGrammar Review for Final Exam Part 1 & 2


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Time Required

Students should expect to spend about 5-7 hours per week on this course.

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course uses an online virtual classroom for discussions with the instructor. The classroom works on standard computers with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin, and also tablets or handhelds that support the Adobe Connect Mobile app. Students who are unable to attend live sessions will need a computer with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin installed to watch recorded meetings. The Adobe Connect Add-in, Adobe Flash plugin, and Adobe Connect Mobile app are available for free download. Students who do not have the Flash plug-in installed or enabled on their browsers will be prompted to download and install the Adobe Connect add-in when accessing the virtual classroom.

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