Archery has long been a popular sport for both target shooting and hunting. It is a sport that people of all ages enjoy, in all types of weather. Whether you shoot for fun or competitively, you need to take precautions to protect your hands and fingers.
When archers shoot an arrow, they pull back and release the string. The repetitive pressing of the bare fingertip on the bowstring can cause nerve damage, which, if not prevented, could be long-lasting and lead to numbness. Luckily, there are several aids available to protect your hands and fingers.
If you are a beginner archer and are looking for ways to protect your hands, read on. We will discuss five different ways to protect your fingers and hands. Perhaps you will discover the one that will meet your needs.
One of the most popular methods for protecting your fingers while shooting for long periods of time is Finger Tabs (link to Amazon).
These tabs are usually made from several layers of leather. You put the tab between your fingers and the bowstring, and it protects your fingers from the sharp string. The right tab should allow you to shoot 60 to 100 arrows without any pain.
As stated, the tabs are generally made of leather and are available in different quality levels. Basic ones come with a tab cut out for the fingers. More advanced ones can have metal or plastic backings, a thumb rest, and a pinky rest.
They also usually have a string groove that lets you put it on the same spot on the string each time, thereby improving your consistency.
Finger tabs are a good choice for lighter draw bows, but if you are shooting with a heavier draw one, you might need sturdier protection, such as gloves.
Tabs have the benefit of giving the archer a better feel for the string and adjusting their shot. Some archers find tabs to be intrusive and that they interfere with other activities, like pulling arrows and writing scores.
For archers who don’t think that finger tabs offer enough protection, Archery Gloves (link to quality pair on Amazon) are a better alternative.
They provide similar protection as the tab does, but you don’t need to worry about holding onto them since they are fastened to your hands. Archery gloves cover the index, middle, and ring fingers.
Many archers prefer wearing gloves because they make drawing the string intuitive and natural. The gloves cover the fingers completely, leaving nothing exposed.
To ensure you have the best possible performance, make sure that your gloves fit properly. They have more padding than finger tabs, which makes them more protective, but can reduce the fingers’ sensation on the string.
Another downside of using gloves is that it can be hard to get a good grip on the string when you are drawing it back to shoot. If your glove does not fit well, your fingers can slide around inside the glove, and you can lose your hold. However, they are more practical than finger tabs when it comes to retrieving arrows and completing other tasks.
Unlike finger tabs and gloves, which are connected to the hand, the Finger Saver (link to Amazon) is attached to the string. This is a two-part protective piece made of flexible rubber or silicone threaded onto the string.
The two parts are close together, with a gap for you to notch the arrow. Your fingers pull the string with the savers rather than actual the string itself, which is much more comfortable.
Finger savers are more likely to be used by beginners, and archery ranges will attach them to their rental bows. They allow archers to practice drawing the bow without worrying about how to use the tabs or gloves.
By using finger savers, you can focus on learning the proper shooting stance and how to aim properly without thinking about your fingers.
While offering excellent finger protection, the weight of the savers on the string can affect your shots’ accuracy and lead to inconsistent results. Once archers become more serious, they usually make the switch to tabs or gloves.
The finger protections that we talked about above are used most commonly with recurve bows, which are similar to traditional bows. The bow points toward the target, and the string can be pulled back a certain distance to shoot.
Compound bows, on the other hand, are much more complex, don’t require as much strength, and have better accuracy than recurve bows.
Archers that used compound bows commonly use release aids when they shoot. These aids attach to the string, pulling it back and releasing it with a trigger or other method.
The most common release aids are:
- Wrist Strap Index Finger Release: Using this type of release is familiar to those who have used hunting rifles. The index finger release is similar to a trigger on a rifle. The archer can control the shot more precisely, which is ideal when hunting. The wrist strap ensures that the release is available whenever you need it.
- Handheld Thumb Trigger Release: Thumb trigger releases are becoming more popular, especially with archers that practice target shooting. The release hooks over the string attachment, and you pull it back. Push the button with your thumb and shoot the arrow. They can be significantly more expensive than the index finger releases.
- Handheld Hinge Release: This basic and user-friendly release does not have a trigger. It is activated by a slight backward rotation of the release.
- Handheld Resistance/Tension-Type Release: This type of release is similar to the hinge release, but you can draw your string back without fear of shooting accidentally. It does not have a trigger but fires when you pull back through the release.
Your fingers are not the only part of you that can be injured while shooting a bow and arrow. A common injury is when the string hits the inside of the archer’s arm, and wrist after the string is released.
It is common to wear an Arm Guard while shooting to protect against bruising, especially if you are a beginner.
The string is most likely to hit the inside of your arm when you are not standing in the right position. That is why beginners are more likely to experience bruising as they learn the proper way to hold and shoot a bow. Even advanced archers will wear arm guards as a precaution.
Check out my article all about how to Make Your Own Archery Arm Guard for a do it yourself approach.
Avoid Using Tape
It is not unheard of for archers to wrap tape around their fingers to add protection, but this is not encouraged. The tape needs to be consistent in thickness and texture, or it can negatively affect your shot.
If you need to apply it in a pinch, make sure to apply it carefully. However, you will be better off using one of the other protection options we discussed earlier.
Using Protection Allows You To Focus
Archery is a fun sport that increases confidence and lets you get outdoors and meet other enthusiasts. The main reason that people leave the sport after trying it out is because of pain, either in their fingers or on the inside of their arm.
If you are new to the sport or thinking about taking it up, try out the different protections we mentioned to reduce the risk of injury.
Once you have figured out the right finger protection, you can concentrate on learning the sport and having fun. Archery improves focus and concentration, so you should be able to focus on building your skills without worrying about finger pain.