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Loading a bow

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Fyle, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

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    So, I used to write "He loaded an arrow." or "Had her bow loaded." etc...

    Then I read a reviewer say, you don't actually load a bow. You load a gun or a crossbow. I kind of see "load" as putting in ammo and having the weapon ready to fire, so, technically it felt fine to me, but I am not sure because I trust the reviwer as he is a well know blogger (getting more famous everyday : Immerse or Die).

    Thanks!
     
  2. RedWell

    RedWell New Member

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    I would describe it as nocking an arrow. A writer could add details as they see fit. "With shaking hands she nocked a silver feathered arrow to her bow."
     
  3. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

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    There are a few ways to describe it. I am fishing to see if "loaded" is considered wrong.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Poking around, this is what I found.

    When you look up the word load, one of the definitions is "To load a firearm."

    When you look up what a firearm is, it's defined as follows. "a small arms weapon, as a rifle or pistol, from which a projectile is fired by gunpowder."

    Bows don't use gunpowder, so....
     
  5. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I was taught to "load" a bow before trying to loose an arrow... To hold the arrow on the string and have a finger around the arrow at the bow, but with not draw on the bow...
    I will grant that I associate "load" with firearms, but if it was used in the context of to hold a bow ready for use, then I think it works.... Load.... Aim... Loose!
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Scribe

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    Load feels like something you'd do with firearms or crossbows.
     
  7. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    "Load" is definitely not the word I'd use for a bow. Instead of describing the singular action of "loading" the bow, I usually describe it using the stages--nocking, which is fitting the arrow to the bow, drawing, and then shooting. "Firing" a bow is also not the proper term. You fire a gun; you shoot a bow.
     
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Load might fit crossbows, but otherwise I would use some variation of "nocking".
     
  9. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I have a great deal of experience with bows. Have never used the term loading for that, or heard it used for that. I don't think I have ever seen is used as a command in a manual or as a range command.

    I would say "load" does not fit bows.
     
  10. goldhawk

    goldhawk Troubadour

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    I have encountered: Nock, Draw, Loose.
     
  11. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    BronzeOracle, goldhawk and Ireth like this.
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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  13. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    "Nock, draw, loose!" is definitely the best-known phrasing for regular medieval and fantasy readers. And I second that a bow doesn't feel like it would be "loaded," but a crossbow might. (Or even a sling, fitting the stone into the pocket.)

    In passing: it's interesting that the word "fire" caught on so fast and so completely the moment ranged weapons starting using torches and such to trigger them. No matter how far guns moved to self-contained explosions and such, we love using the f-word for a weapon. Because "nothing's cooler than fire." :)
     
  14. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Part of that distinction may be in the very command itself. I mean, as archers on a wall, would you have anyone shouting "loose!"? I'm not sure, actually. In target archery we do because it's a controlled environment where we listen to commands for safety and for timed shoots. And "fire!" just sounds angry.

    When would a person even say "nock, draw, loose" in real life? The only instance I can think of would be a line of archers. I'm not sure what it was like in battles but I'd imagine if anything, the command would simply be "loose" if one wanted all archers to fire at the same time. Ha, see? There I did it. it's just the way we speak now, meaning one thing but saying another. I recall someone took offense to my use of the word fire in the article too. Meh, it's just how we talk, even if we know what we mean. I agree in a historical context it wouldn't make much sense though.
     
    Fyle likes this.
  15. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

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    Ya, good point. I mean in character speech, if someone says to another, "load that bow," who is to say that's not thier word of choice. Not like anyone would respond with, "load that bow? what do you mean?" I doubt anyone in real speech would correct the person and say "oh, you mean, nock that bow?"

    Seems like "load that bow," is 100% understandable meaning wise.

    Of course, we generally are not talking about modern times, still a good point. In narration, I guess the rules can be a bit more strict.
     
  16. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    I'd have to agree that "loading" a bow reads as incorrect for an ancient setting. Arrows aren't "loaded" onto a bow the way that lead balls are loaded into a musket or stones are loaded into a sling--the bow doesn't have a weight of arrows on it.

    I gotta say, dude, why do you post questions if you're not willing to change your writing based on the answers?
     
  17. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    "Load" is a firearm term, coming from the way you have to load the bullet into the chamber. It makes no sense in a standard medieval fantasy world.

    Plus, even if your character uses it in everyday speech, archery-conscious readers are going to be twitching and wincing in pain. I actually put down a book once because the archers used terms such as "load", "fire", and "shoot" when talking about their bows. It drove me crazy.

    Not only would it turn off archery sticklers, it would also make the author look like they didn't know what they were talking about, even if they used "load", etc, intentionally.
     
    Fyle likes this.
  18. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    "I didn't know the bow was loaded. I was cleaning it and it accidentally went off."

    The only way you load a bow is to put it into a wagon along with all your other gear. "He loaded his pack, his quiver, his bow, and his trusty sidekick into the wagon."

    If I was reading a book and the character "loaded his bow," I'd spend the rest of the book thinking that the author had no idea what he was talking about -- about anything, even if he was dead-nuts on with every other technical description. Immersion is a function of subject matter expertise. If you fake it, someone will know and for that reader, the magic is gone.
     
    Fyle likes this.
  19. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

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    I don't think I said I was unwilling to change my writing. And please don't refer to me as "dude."

    What I do is I ask a question and I like to let as many people answer it as possible. I than take those opinions and make a judgment call. I like to refer to it as fishing for an answer. Many times I know the answer and want to create a discussion, this keeps the forums lively and helps people learn how to give advice for future discussions.

    For example, if I post a question like this one and I get this:

    2 people think it is "fine"
    4 think it is "wrong"
    1 person is "undecided"

    I take that information and then make my decision after the thread has matured. Other people who are not involved, but reading can also use the responses as a sample size and come to a conclusion on their own.

    You have zero idea what I do with my writing and how I decide what to change based on forum opinions. These forums are for brainstorming and playing with ideas and gauging the value of opinions. Whilst this particular question has a more definitive answer than most, most questions about writing can be handled from different angles.

    For example, Tom Nimienai just answered, it looks like a good post, so I value it highly in the discussion. As people reading probably will.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  20. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    The impression that I got from your reply to this thread and that one about ellipses, I think, was that both times you responded as though everyone in the thread had agreed with your initial opinion? I'm glad to hear that's not what you're seeing, but it might give a better idea of your decision process if you at least acknowledged criticisms in your replies. It's a little odd when people are giving detailed reasons why you shouldn't use a word, and your response is that it's "100% understandable meaning wise".

    I don't mean to offend, though, and my original reply was poorly thought out. It's certainly an interesting discussion--I've never thought so specifically about the usage of "load" and "fire" for weapons.
     
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