Archery is incredibly fun, but can be really painful for some shooters. Some people can do without shooting gloves or finger tabs, but once you’ve shot few dozen arrows and your fingers are raw, you may be looking for some protection. In this guide we will explain not only why you should ideally never do archery without finger tabs, but also which types of archery finger protectors are best suited to which bows.
What are Finger Tabs for Archery?
A finger tab or shooting glove is one of the most important pieces of archery equipment. Finger tabs protect your fingers from the force of the tense string. The first shots without such protection may still be okay, even if you already feel the tension uncomfortably on the skin of your fingers. Once you have shot several times, the unpleasant feeling turns into pure pain.
Over time, your fingers will become numb, start to tingle or even get really sore. Therefore we strongly advise you to use finger protection when using a bow!
But that is not the only reason why you should not do without a finger tab. It also helps you to refine your technique. Over time, the bowstring leaves an imprint in the leather of the shooting glove or finger tab – your personal “shooting imprint”, so to speak. This supports the repeatability of your shot and your technique.
Different Types of Finger Guards
The finger guard for archery is available in two broad types:
- Archery finger gloves
- Archery finger tabs
Both have pros and cons, which we will explain to you in our archery fingerboard guide below.
By the way, longbow shooters who compete must regularly use a shooting glove. So if you are a traditional archer with a longbow, a shooting glove is mandatory.
Best Archery Glove – ARCHERYMAX Leather Three Finger Archery Gloves
For the perfect combination of durability, comfort, and sensitivity to the string you cannot go far wrong with real leather gloves. This glove from ArcheryMax is made from cow hide leather that is soft and thin enough where you need to feel the string, and reinforced at the tips where they will take a beating. Designed to fit either a left or a right hand, this glove comes in 4 sizes from small to extra-large, and the manufacturer provides a detailed size chart to help you choose the perfect glove to fit your hand.
If you want to buy an archery finger guard, the first question is: Finger tabs or shooting gloves?
A Finger tab
- Provides solid protection, but not as high as that of a shooting glove
- Allows you, in contrast to the shooting glove, more freedom of movement
- Doesn’t feel as tight as an archery glove for some shooters
- Offers you, admittedly, less room for movement than a shooting glove
So it is up to you regarding which equipment you choose – if you are not a longbow shooter. If you want to buy a finger guard for archery, you should consider a few more things in addition to those mentioned above:
- The right size is very important because with a sliding or oversized archery finger guard it is not easy to aim
- Try to test different materials and designs at friends or in a shooting club before buying finger protection
- It’s best to always buy two of the kind you can handle best – so you always have a spare in your pocket in case the first one breaks unexpectedly
Finger Guard for Recurve Bow
As a rule, a recurve archer shoots with the Mediterranean grip, unless he or she is using the horseman’s bow. This means that the middle and ring fingers are under the nock of the arrow and the index finger is above it. Therefore finger tabs have a wide lower part and a narrow upper part. In between there is a gap which guarantees freedom of movement when the arrow is curled in.
But there are also so-called anchor tabs, which are particularly suitable for shooters who shoot the nose-chin anchor, i.e. the pulling hand uses its index finger to pull the tendon flush to below the jawbone. The anchor tab helps the shooter to find this anchor point with an anchor plate.
Best Finger Tab – HIDE & DRINK Leather Archery Finger Tab
When it comes to equipment that comes between you and your bow, you want something that will feel as if it is part of you instead of an obstruction or a barrier. This top quality full grain leather finger tab is durable enough to last you a lifetime and mold itself to your exact finger shape over time. Each finger tab is individually cut, stitched and then loose ends are sealed over an open flame to ensure nothing unravels, ever. All you need to maintain it is to wipe away water when it gets wet, and rub it down with leather conditioner every once in a while.
Finger Protection for Blank Sheet Shooting
With a blank sheet, things look different, because blank sheet shooters usually use the “3 Under” technique, also known as an Apache grip or under grip. For this reason, archer tabs for blank bows do without the incision and look more compact.
Best 3 Under Tab- SHATTERPROOF ARCHERY 3 Under tab
Made from real chrome tanned leather in Colorado Springs, this tab is designed for durability and comfort. The tab is shipped in a square state allowing for complete hand-specific customization by the user. Just cut it to the exact shape and size you need. Since this is real leather, the tab will soften and shape itself to your hand over time to the point where you won’t notice that it’s there.
Finger Protection for Compound Bows
The Compound bow is a special case, because the tendon is not tensioned with the bare fingers. The Compound Archer uses a release for tensioning and abrupt release of the string. A release releases the bow string so cleanly that the shooter’s hitting pattern as well as the penetrating power of the arrow are considerably improved. This is the case because the releasing fingers always allow the string to swing a little. This vibration is transferred to the arrow – this is not the case with the release. However, in archery, a release is only allowed for compound bows.
Best Compound Bow Release – SCOTT ARCHERY Shark II Release
Scott Archery have made a name for themselves as producers of top-class releases. The Shark is the top-selling dual caliper release in the business and this version features a new slimmed-down head design. As with all Scott releases this one comes with a usable-life-warranty. Comfortable to wear with a hair trigger, the Shark II is perfect for target shooting and bowhunting alike.
Making Finger Protection or Shooting Gloves Yourself
Often you have to cut a purchased finger tab a little bit to make it really fit like a glove. You should not be afraid of this, even if you have bought an expensive model. This is because only if the fingertip fits correctly will it improve your personal protection and your hit pattern.
DIY professionals make the archery finger guard or shooting glove directly themselves. In principle, this is quite simple:
- Start by drawing a stencil on thick paper or cardboard using a pencil. You can use this to try it out by taking it in your drawing hand and stretching the sheet. Don’t forget the space between your index and middle finger! If the stencil fits, copy it on soft leather.
- Now cut out the leather piece. It is best to use a carpet knife for this so that the leather does not fray immediately. If there are still fringes, you can gently remove them with some sandpaper.
- You still need to attach a sturdy leather strap to your fingertip so that it holds on to your hand. Punch two holes in the lower part and fix the leather band there. To make the finger tab more weatherproof and for maintenance you can grease it.
- If you do not need the archery finger guard after a shot, you can simply turn it on the leather strap on the back of your hand.
Of course, this finger guard is not exactly comparable to a store-purchased, high-quality finger tab, but for archery beginners it is sufficient. If you are a DIY fan, we recommend you take a look at our article Building a bow yourself.
We hope you found our archery finger protection guide helpful, and wish you a lot of fun with archery!