Why you should protect your fingers while doing archery
A lot of new archers have this idea where shooting with bare fingers is ok.
If you are shooting a single shot it’s not that bad. If you are using a light kid bow, it’s ok. But if you are doing any serious archery with a real bow then you must protect your fingers.
The minimum damage is just the blisters and numb feeling in your fingers. But the long-term damage can potentially kill your nerves. You will experience episodes of very sharp pain. That will completely stop you from doing archery as well as other day to day activities.
Imagine yourself pulling up a filled suitcase using a thin wire, only with your fingers. Ouch, only thinking about it sounds painful.
You can’t overlook finger protection.
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Types of finger protection
If you are completely new to the archery, you will recognize glove very easily. Gloves are, well, gloves. Plain and simple.
However, archery gloves are a bit specially designed with better padding and for protection of fingers that you generally use in archery.
Many forms of traditional archery make use of the glove.
Modern shooting gloves have a streamlined design that cover the essentials. Gloves come in variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials.
Most gloves designed for the modern archery feature protection of the 3 fingers you use to shoot (index, middle and ring fingers).
You can get gloves that are designed for thumb release as well.
Using the glove is very intuitive. The fingers get over the string, you draw, anchor and release, and it feels very natural.
They are more commonly used these days but they will feel odd to the people who are new to the archery.
Tabs vary based on the design and price. Cheap tabs are simple piece or leather with holes cut out for fingers. Some more advanced have plastic spaces cut out to avoid pinching the arrow. Some have plastic or metal backing. Some come with thumb rest, pinky rest etc. There are lots of variations in finger tabs depending on need and usage.
More advanced tabs have more customizations.
Using the tab is also easy. The tab goes over the string, providing a protective surface. The fingers hook around the string, and you do your shot process.
Finger savers – no glove finger guards
These are usually made of rubber or plastic and are placed on the string itself.
These work really great and provide superb protection, and they are a great option if you are beginner. But these add weight to your string, thus, slowing it down. These are still ok to shoot at close distances, but they affect your performance at long distances, and if you are into precision and accuracy, they can be a variable that you want to remove.
We won’t be discussing finger savers further simply because they are not most reliable protection. Furthermore, using them can lead to inconsistent results, which we are trying to avoid.
Which one should I choose – glove or tab?
There are various criteria to consider when you are making this choice. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both of them to answer this question more reasonably.
Shooting will hurt your fingers, especially when you do it very frequently and for long periods of time.
So you want to give your fingers enough padding so that it doesn’t hurt while you are shooting.
Most finger tabs are relatively thin. Generally speaking, even the more protective, multi layered high end tabs provide less protection/padding compared to a glove.
It’s not bad, but you may feel that thin layer on finger tab is not enough to protect your finger. Especially when you are using heavier draw weights.
Gloves on the other hand fully encase your fingers, leaving no part of it exposed. It limits any and all contact your fingers may make with the string.
The important thing on the gloves to keep in mind is that it should fit correctly. If it fits right, then your fingers feel fully protected.
Tips of the gloves have extra material to provide better padding. When you hook your fingers around the string, you’ll realize that they are not scrapping or straining too much.
So, even after hours of shooting you won’t get that strain and numbness that you may get with a finger tab.
Gloves win over finger tabs in protection.
This is opposite to protection. Sensitivity is the feel on your fingers.
It matters because if you’ll be able to feel the string on your fingers, you’ll be able to better judge the shot. Without sensitivity it will all be a guesswork.
Because finger tabs are generally thinner, you get more feedback while using it.
You can have a better feel of where your fingers are on the string, and how they are coming off while releasing a shot.
It also allows you to have better contact with your face for your anchor point. This is due to the fact skin on skin touching allows much more sensitivity in doing that.
This allows you to reflect on your release, and fine tune it with a lot more finesse.
Glove, on the other hand, is a more crude, brute force way of doing things.
Thick padding gives you lot of protection and confidence that you won’t have finger strain. However, you are not able to feel the release and string properly on your fingers.
You also lose that precise feeling at your anchor point. The glove, instead of your fingers and hand, is touching your face so you don’t get the exact feel of exactly where it is.
Finger tab wins over glove in this department.
One of the reasons why shooting with bare fingers is a bad thing apart from pain and discomfort is that your fingers are rough, uneven surfaces.
Smoothness refers to ease and comfort of drawing a bow, while keeping the usability intact. That is, how easily you can pull the string, without compromising with consistency.
A lot of tabs have string grove. It allows consistency, it allows you to put the tab at the same spot on the string every single time.
Finger tabs also provide deeper hook, thus making it a more natural feeling of release.
Finger tab has a flat smooth surface. This is the reason why finger tabs generally give you a more consistent release.
All these factors help the string roll smoothly off your fingers when you use a finger tab.
With a glove, you get a lot of protection but you don’t necessarily get a smooth, low friction surface.
It is hard to get a deep hook with gloves. Gloves don’t adhere to any particular shape, and with their padding, they obstruct your fingers to wrap around the string cozily.
Fingers can also move inside the glove. This is going to affects your release. You don’t want to have a glove that is so tight that it cuts off circulation, but you don’t want to have too loose that it is flopping around on you.
Thus, you may find that you are not able to hook that deep as you can with tab or with bare fingers for that matter.
Finger tabs win over glove on smoothness.
Practicality may mean different things to different people. Let’s look at some of them.
Finger tab is obtrusive and you might have to remove them every time and put it at a safe place if you want to do something with your hand or fingers.
They are not easy to use with any other activity. It is really hard to use with basic activities. Like pulling arrows, writing your scores and things like that.
Especially true for tabs that have hard plastic or metal backing to them.
You can flip it to the back of your finger, but that doesn’t mean that it will be totally non-obtrusive. And in certain cases, you have to remove the tab altogether in order to get the job done.
If you are shooting on a range, it may not matter that much, however it becomes a big hassle when you have to put them on and off multiple times like during hunting.
Easy to misplace
it’s easy to drop and misplace your tab. They are small, thus increasing their chances to get dropped and getting misplaced.
You can have a very bad hunting experience if you lose your finger tab and have no spare ones at your disposal.
Finger tabs are not ambidextrous. Meaning, you will not be able to use the same tab with your left and right hand. Tabs come for a specific hand.
You cannot use one single tab for variety of shooting. In case you are a type that experiments or changes their shooting style often, then you will find that tabs are not that versatile.
You can’t use a tab for 3 under for split finger shooting. Split finger tabs are also not that great of an experience for split finger shooting.
Main advantage of the glove is you don’t have to take it off. You can use your hand while still wearing glove.
This is a very convenient factor. If you are in a setting where you may require to handle many things with your hand, it is good to have a flexibility of shooting and doing other things at the same time.
No need to take them off, thus not easily misplaced
Many of the gloves come with open palm and only fingers are covered (like this).
Even if you need your hand’s full functionality, you don’t need to take the glove off and put it away. You can just slide out your fingers from the groves and your hand is magically free to whatever you need it too.
You also don’t need to take off the entire glove, it still stays on your wrist, thus you don’t have to put it away and lose it while doing so.
You can use the glove on either hand. They are designed that way. This gives you certain freedom in some cases, as well as protection in case you need it for both your hands while hunting.
You can use the same glove for split and 3 under. Gloves keeps your fingers free to adapt to any kind of situation you may need them for. Your fingers are free to mold in any shape or form as they naturally can do.
Gloves win this one over finger tabs.
It means how much you can personalize them. After gaining experience in a field, people do develop their preferences and they may want to tweak their gear to suit their needs.
They are easily customizable. You can grind them down, and change them to whatever you want.
They come as they come.
You have lots of options out there for gloves, but you can’t tweak them as you want. You can’t cut them, grind them, change their shape and size in any way.
Gloves work best if they are perfect fit, but it is pretty hard to get a “perfect” fitting glove.
Finger tabs win this round over gloves.
So, there is no clear answer which is better.
Both gloves and finger tabs provide protection to your fingers.
However, choosing which to go with depends on various factors.
Finger tabs are easily customizable, provide better feedback and sensitivity, and are smoother to use.
Gloves on the other hand are much more practical while providing better protection.
If you are shooting on a range with a single style of shooting, like Olympics style archery, finger tabs will serve you well.
Gloves are go-to finger protection for hunting.
Ultimately, whichever you chose depends on your needs and preferences. But choosing a method for protection is vital for your fingers’ safety. The consequences can be quite dire of not doing so.
Hi, I’m Vineet. Creator of DivinioWorld. I am an outdoor enthusiast and absolutely love researching, learning, and applying skills and knowledge in the real world. I started DivinioWorld to share everything I know so that even a beginner can follow the ropes and master the subtle art of outdoors adventure and survival.