As you begin in archery you may think that the only pieces of equipment you need are a bow and arrow which is not so far off but you certainly need a few more things that you may not have considered to start on the right foot and safely practice your new hobby.
Indeed archery for beginners requires a few more accessories partly responsible for a successful introduction into this wonderful sport. Items such as an armguard, a quiver and a finger tab, glove or release aid are quite important archery gear but depending on the type of game you are into and the type of bow you are shooting with, you may also have to consider a sight, an arrow rest, and a stabilizer.
If you are into traditional archery though, you won't need many accessories since one of the primary criteria for shooting trad is not having accessories on the bow itself. Still, wearing some protection gear with specific styling matters.
If you have not stopped your choice on a specific type of bow yet or even on a type of archery for that matter, I would invite you to read further about beginning in archery which would teach you the very first steps to undergo in order to be able to determine your first bow and which will also lead you to choosing the optimal arrows for your setup.
Finger Tab, Glove or Release
If you have already looked at a recurve archery tournament, then, you have seen archers wearing tabs.
The finger tab must be worn on the release hand; it serves to draw the bowstring back to the anchor point so it protects your fingers. Shooting 2 or 3 arrows in a row won't do any harm but if you shoot hundreds of them in a day, you will soon conclude that you need one. Plus, as you gain experience, you will raise up the draw weight which will require more strength to pull the string back, therefore, more pressure on fingers.
Finger tabs are available in different sizes, materials, and quality...and prices obviously. As you start, you can definitely get a good one between 10$ and 15$ range. Prices can go above 80$ for higher end tabs.
Other things about tabs should be taken into consideration;
- Cushioning must be adequate, some are very thin and will wear faster.
- It is good to have a space between the index and the middle fingers if you decide to shoot split-finger, this would prevent you from pinching the nock of the arrow and influence flight.
- A finger spacer on the outside of the tab which sticks out between the index and middle fingers gives a firmer hold at anchor position.
Mostly use by traditional archers, the archery gloves fulfill the same purpose as the tab which is protecting your fingers. It got a nice look and you will most likely see trad shooters wear them in movies such as in Hunger Games.
Usually, competitive target shooters would go for finger tabs because it does not cover the entire hand and the fact that gloves wear faster. Although, as shown above, there are some glove models that do not cover the hand as much and mostly cover the finger tips.
If you are shooting a compound bow, then, a release is what you should get. A release can be triggered or not and usually hooks to a d-loop attached to the string of the bow. It allows you to draw, hold and release the bowstring with more efficiency than your fingers. You have several choices as for the type you can use.
You can pick an index-finger release which must be triggered by the index to release the arrow and which is also strapped to the wrist. A buckle strap is often to be preferred as you can wear it the same way every time you put it on to get more consistency. This type of release is popular among bowhunters since the wrist strap helps to pull the weight when drawing back the bowstring, as draw weights for bowhunting are usually much higher than for target archery. Bowhunters also feel they have a lot of control over the moment the shot occurs. The downside is that many users tend to punch the trigger which often results in less accurate shots.
The thumb trigger release is, you guessed it, triggered by the thumb to release the arrow. This handheld release is quite popular among target archers as well as bowhunters. It is easy to anchor to the same spot every time because of the high surface of contact between the hand and the side of the face. Squeezing the shoulder blades together (back tension technique) can be efficiently achieved to make the release of the arrow happen instead of punching the trigger with the thumb.
The hinge release, also known as the back tension release, is a type that can't be triggered other than applying the technique of using the back muscles so it releases the arrow from the hook caused by a slightly circular movement in the process. The release of the arrow comes as a surprise which is the reason why this release type is popular among target archers. It is known to help in solving the "target panic" issue, a condition where a triggered release would only accentuate the problem.
You can read more about the best compound bow releases. It explains the different types of releases with more details.
Armguards / Bracers
An easy accessory to forget but also an easy one to remember once you get you first bruise caused by the string slapping onto your bow arm. The armguard is one of the cheap must-have accessories you need to wear, you can get one for around 10$ for a basic one that will keep you protected but you can also opt for a nice traditional looking one for about 20$, 30$ or more.
Slapping your arm with the bowstring might seem easy to avoid but don't let this thought fool you because it will happen from time to time, either because you arm stands too close to the string or because your release hand goes slightly off when letting go of the bowstring which would make it go sideways and hit your arm in the process.
It is definitely nice to have a bow and arrow but you need something to put your arrows in. This where the quiver comes into play. You got several quiver types to choose from; a belt quiver, a back quiver or a bow quiver, essentially.
Belt quivers are certainly the most popular type and are divided into two categories; the hip quiver and the field quiver. The hip quiver is mostly seen in target archery with the essential function being the easy access to arrows [pointing forward] in a static position while the field quiver provides better comfort while moving around such as for hunting, for field archery or for 3D archery. Arrows are placed in a way so it does not get stuck in bushes, branches, and trees.
The back quiver is strapped to the archer's back and is oriented towards the drawing hand for quicker access to arrows over the shoulder for efficient reloading. This type of quiver is popular among traditional archers.
Generally associated with compound bows and very popular among bowhunters, the bow quiver attaches to the bow itself to avoid encumbering the archer. This type of quiver often features a quick attach/detach functionality to allow the archer to easily use the bow with or without the bow quiver.
A lot of different types of arrow rests exist out there but they all serve the same purpose, holding the arrow before the shot. A good arrow rest should have minimal contact with the arrow so it does not affect the flight. While traditional archers would essentially shoot off the shelf of the bow or simply use a rug rest (fixed directly on the shelf) to shoot arrows, target archers would opt for very delicate and drop away rests (get out of the way once the arrow is launch)
While traditional archers would essentially shoot off the shelf of the bow or simply use a rug rest (fixed directly on the shelf) to shoot arrows, target archers would opt for very delicate rests with easy-to-tune precision adjustments. As for bowhunters, position and angle of shooting vary widely which often requires a good containment to avoid the arrow to fall off. Full-containment rests are, therefore, popular choices for hunting purposes. Though, skilled bowhunters would often opt for drop away rests for optimal precision and speed or a combination of both; full containment drop-away rests.
Unless you choose to shoot traditional, you will most likely use a sight which will greatly improve accuracy. A good sight must have a leveling feature so you can know that you are optimally positioned in a straight stance the perform the shot. There are different types of sight depending on the activity you are practicing. For instance, if you are hunting with a compound bow, you would opt for a pin sight to aim from different yardages. If you are into target archery, you will most probably use a sight as shown in the picture above which can be adjusted and tuned for optimal results at a fixed distance.
For compound bows, you don't just need a sight, you also need a peep sight. The peep sight is placed on the bowstring and stands right in front of the eye once at full draw. With your eye, you look into the peep sight and align the front sight with the target. Simply put, the peep sight acts like a rear sight on a rifle.
Stabilizers are available in different forms and sizes, again for different purposes, to allow for more stability as you may have guessed. Steadiness will contribute to achieving better accuracy. Compact stabilizers are favored by bowhunters so they can move freely without being encumbered while target archers do not need to move a whole lot, yet they need more steadiness, so they can use long and wide stabilizers to spread and balance even more weight to reach further levels of accuracy.
With all the accessories we have been through, you are off to a good start. Still, you can add some more items as you go, such as a plunger and a clicker.
A plunger is seen on all recurve bows of serious target archers and is installed through the riser above the shelf. It is positioned against the arrow sitting on the rest and serves to absorb the flex of the arrow once released and maximize the accuracy of the shots.
A clicker is used to give the archer consistency. When adjusted properly with a proper arrow size, the clicker will go off (clicking sound) once at full draw as a signal that the anchor point was reached so you can release the arrow.
Tuning your Bow
You may also want to tune your recurve bow properly and to do so, a couple more accessories might be needed; a bow stringer, brass nocks, a nocking plier, and a bow square would be quite basic tuning tools to have around.
A bow stringer, although some use other techniques, is the proper accessory to have in your hands when comes the time to install the string on your bow in a safe and efficient way. This allows you to easily curve the bow and carefully place the string in the notches of the top and the bottom limbs.
A brass nock is placed on the bow string about 1/8" to 1/4" higher than the level of your arrow rest and serves to nock the arrow at the same spot every single time without sliding on the string which would greatly affect your accuracy.
A bow square would be a useful accessory to help you place your brass nock precisely on the bow string at the recommended position.
A nocking plier will perform a perfect rounded installation of you brass nock point on the bowstring without irregularities.
With all of that being said, you can start archery with very basic stuff, at least the protection equipment and tuning tools if you can, then, move to adding accessories for better performance if it is your desire.
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