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What's the right way to refer to the act of using a bow and an arrow to shoot?

Imagine a situation, in which Jack gave a bow and an arrow to John and asked him to shoot. John did, but since he had no experience in using bows and arrows, he accidentally injured their friend Lily.

Now imagine Jack and John twenty years later visiting Michael in his house (Michael has no knowledge of the incident) and reflecting on their life:

Jack says to John and Michael: "Throughout all these years that we've been friends I have never put you in troubles and never asked you to do anything stupid"

John replies: "Really? You forgot how you asked me to _____________________ while I had no experience in that, and eventually, Lily was almost killed?"

Please, note that the phrase is spoken in Michael's presence. On one hand, Michael has no knowledge of the accident; on the other hand, the phrase must be clear enough for Michael to understand what exactly had happened 20 years ago.

None of the options that I can think of seems to be fine:

1) "... how you asked me to shoot an arrow from a bow while I had no experience ..."

2) "... how you asked me to shoot an arrow with a bow while I had no experience ..."

3) "... how you asked me to shoot an arrow using a bow while I had no experience ..."

4) "... how you asked me to shoot a bow while I had no experience ..."

5) "... how you asked me to shoot an arrow while I had no experience ..."

6) "... how you asked me to shoot from a bow while I had no experience ..."

7) "... how you asked me to shoot an arrow while I had no experience ..."

8) "... how you asked me to send an arrow from a bow while I had no experience ..."

9) "... how you asked me to send an arrow with a bow while I had no experience ..."

10) "... how you asked me to send an arrow using a bow while I had no experience ..."

11) "... how you asked me to shoot a bow arrow while I had no experience ..."

12) "... how you asked me to send a bow arrow while I had no experience ..."

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    #5 looks the best of this dozen. – Lawrence Aug 2 '18 at 2:26
  • I'm not an expert (never actually shot a real bow and arrow), but often descriptions of the action go in several steps -- "nocking" the arrow onto the bowstring, drawing back the bowstring, and releasing. – Hot Licks Aug 2 '18 at 2:37
  • @Lawrence Not without reason. You could expand on that for an answer. – Kris Aug 2 '18 at 7:55
  • You don't need to mention bow at all, because you can only shoot an arrow with a bow and no way else anyway. So "to shoot an arrow" says enough and says everything. – Kris Aug 2 '18 at 7:58
  • Trivia: You can even "fire an arrow" go figure! – Kris Aug 2 '18 at 8:00
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There's the simple:

 . . . how you asked me to use a bow and arrow . . .

However, assuming that there was an object that had been shot at (lets assume it was a tree), I think it would more naturally be:

 . . . how you asked me to shoot that tree with a bow and arrow . . .


To expand on this, you say that you shoot a gun or shoot something with a gun but you don't (normally) say that you shoot a bullet (from a gun) or shoot something with a bullet (from a gun).

As far as phrasing goes, bow and arrow is used in the same type of way as gun.


Update: As per a comment, these would be more the more common phrases used in the absence of each weapon's direct object:

I was taught how to fire a gun.
I was taught how to shoot a bow and arrow.

  • What do you think about "...how you asked me to shoot an arrow..."? – brilliant Aug 2 '18 at 3:23
  • @brilliant I personally don't think it sounds natural—although I think it's the most natural from those choices . . . – Jason Bassford Aug 2 '18 at 3:27
  • I agree with your very first statement. However, we do say: You asked me to shoot an arrow at that tree. And that option is not provided by the OP. – Lambie Aug 2 '18 at 13:03
  • @Lambie It can be said, but I would find it unnatural. I'm used to more often hearing, You asked me to shoot at that tree (with a bow and arrow). – Jason Bassford Aug 2 '18 at 13:06
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    @Lambie Okay, I've updated my answer to mention that more explicitly. – Jason Bassford Aug 2 '18 at 13:46
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According to the british magazine Archery World the correct term is shoot the bow (as opposed to shooting the arrow). However this is probably only used by serious archers and may not be used at all in other countries.

The main term to avoid, though, is "firing an arrow" which is often heard but is very much incorrect since neither gunpowder nor fire is used to propel an arrow from a bow. You can shoot a gun, shoot a bullet, shoot a bow or shoot an arrow; what you can't do is fire an arrow.

  • One could argue that since "firing an arrow" is often heard it is indeed correct. – aslum Aug 2 '18 at 18:46
  • @aslum I suppose you could, but only by accepting that "to fire" has become an exact synonym of "to shoot". This would be to accept the removal of a valuable distinction between the verbs. I, personally, claim that it is impossible to "fire" an air rifle since no fire is involved, although I will admit that that is, possibly, a bit over-pedantic. – BoldBen Aug 3 '18 at 23:35
  • Also then you couldn't fire a laser pistol or atomic rifle or death Ray either. – aslum Aug 4 '18 at 20:15
  • @aslum Possibly not, although those weapons all use heat as to cause damage to the target. Arrows, air rifle pellets, bb gun balls, paint balls and stones from catapults and slings use kinetic energy to do the damage and that kinetic energy is provided without using fire or explosives. – BoldBen Aug 6 '18 at 8:42
  • But you don't "air" and Airsoft or paintball gun... You fire it, but there's no fire invovled. That's like saying using a microwave isn't cooking or using skype on your phone isn't calling someone. – aslum Aug 6 '18 at 12:57

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