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Hunting gear glossary

Archery equipment:

Broadhead – An arrow tip that is designed to cut a large area to efficiently harvest a game animal.

Cocking aid – A string and pulley device that assists in ease of drawing and cocking a crossbow.

Compound bow – By far the most popular bow for hunting and target shooting. Wheels and cams attached to the limbs and bowstring efficiently store energy as the bow is drawn to reduce the holding weight and make it easier to hold at full draw. The resulting benefit of the bow’s design is that it can reduce draw weight by 50 percent or more.

Crossbow – Also known as a horizontal bow, a crossbow has a stock similar to a firearm, and it shoots shorter arrows than conventional archery equipment. Crossbows are easier to shoot than other types of archery equipment.

Long bow – Considered the “traditional” bow, the longbow has long, nearly straight limbs that form an arc when strung. This is the bow used by those interested in traditional shooting with minimal additional equipment.

Recurve bow – Also considered a “traditional” bow, the limbs are shorter than a longbow and curve back away from the belly of the bow, which can provide more power in a shorter bow than the longbow. The recurve also features a “pistol-style” grip that adapts well for use with a bowsight or other accessories. This bow is a popular choice because it’s smooth, quiet and fast-shooting.

Trigger release – A mechanical device that holds a bow string to assist in ease of drawing a bow and helps with accuracy.


Firearm – any barreled hunting device that launches a projectile. Terms for subcategories of firearms include pistol, handgun, revolver, rifle, shotgun and muzzleloader.

Muzzleloader – A firearm into which the projectile and usually the propellant charge is loaded from the muzzle of the gun (i.e., from the forward, open end of the gun's barrel), as opposed to modern breech-loading firearms.

Pistol/handgun – A small firearm designed to be held in one hand.

Revolver – A pistol/handgun with revolving chambers, enabling several shots to be fired without reloading.

Rifle – A firearm, especially one fired from shoulder level, having a long, spirally grooved barrel intended to make a bullet spin and thereby have greater accuracy over long distance.

Shotgun – A firearm for shooting at short range with “shot” or a solid “slug” projectile.


Ammunition – Any bullet or shotgun shell used in a firearm.

Centerfire – An ammunition style that has a primer in the center and is most commonly associated with high-power rifle and pistol/handgun ammunition.

Primer – A component of shotgun, rifle and pistol shells that ignites gunpowder when struck by a firing pin.

Round – Another term for ammunition.

Rimfire – An ammunition style, most commonly used in small game hunting, that has a primer around the edge as opposed to in the center.

Shot – Small BB’s made out of lead, steel or other metallic substance packed together in a shell fired from a shotgun.

Slug – A single, solid projectile packed in a shell fired from a shotgun.

Other hunting gear:

Call – A device that mimics the natural sound of an animal.

Choke – A tapered constriction of a shotgun barrel's bore at the muzzle end, used with modern shotguns to improve performance. Its purpose is to control the spread or pattern of the shot in order to gain better range and accuracy. Full choke, commonly used for turkey hunting, has tight constriction.

Decoy – A plastic or foam animal imitation commonly used in turkey and waterfowl hunting, but also to a lesser extent in deer hunting.

Hunter orange – A brightly colored orange used in material for clothing sold at sporting goods stores, worn for safety when hunting. More information on Michigan’s hunter orange requirements.

Game bag – A bag carried while hunting to put game in after harvesting.

Field-dressing – The process of removing the internal organs of hunted game, a necessary step in preserving meat from animals harvested in the wild.