Modern Archery: Not Just Bows and Arrows
Archery is one of the oldest forms of combat, with the first sets of bows and arrows dated back as far as ten thousand years.
14:13 07 June 2021
Perhaps it is the simplicity of the string, bow, and the arrow that make its design so timeless. This doesn’t mean that it is immune to modernization, however, as any compound bow enthusiast will tell you. As a result, the peripherals surrounding archery have changed a bit over the millenia, both in terms of design and the materials used in theri construction. The following are a list the most popular items among these accessories--excluding the bow and arrows themselves--which any archer can use to shift focus toward aiming and releasing without impediment:
- Archery Gloves - Also called shooting and hunting gloves, these protect the fingers and hand from abrasions that can be caused by bowstrings, and increase grip on the bow and arrows. True to archaic form, most archery gloves are made of leather, or a similarly low-resistance synthetic material.
- Archery Quivers - The quiver is a container that holds arrows, worn at the waist or on the back via straps or fasteners. A good quiver should minimize the movement of its arrows, both to stop them from falling out and to keep the arrows accessible for the drawing hand. Modern quivers are fashioned to fit ergonomically on the back without sacrificing the amount of arrows they can hold.
- Archery Thumb Ring - This is a small large ring, usually made of wood or leather, which fits over the drawing hand’s thumb to protect it against the bowstring’s movements. The thumb ring is yet another testament to the simple effectiveness of ancient design.
- Archery Finger Tab - These work the same as the thumb ring, except they protect the index finger, which is the other digit used to clasp the arrow on the drawing hand. Like the thumb ring, finger tabs are also made of leather or wood, and their design hasn’t changed in a thousand years.
- String Keeper - A string keeper is a device planted at the top of a bow to prevent the bowstring from unravelling when the bow is unstrung. This is to maintain proper brace height, the measure of the distance between a bowstring and the deep part of the grip, which in turn maximizes arrow speed and accuracy. It is an essential item for extending the life of your bowstrings.
- Arrow Puller - An arrow puller is a device fastened to an archer’s grip that ensures the arrow remains straight and to avoid bending the arrow in one’s grip. They also make it easier to retrieve arrows that are stuck in hard surfaces, since using your bare hands also risks damaging the shaft. Inexpensive arrow pullers are generally cloths with an abrasive surface opposite the hand, which allows for better grip on the arrow when it's pulled. The more commonly used arrow pullers are solid cylinders with a hole born through the middle where the arrow rests during a shot or when it is pulled from a surface.
- Archery Glasses - Archery can be practiced using your normal prescription glasses, but this is not ideal, since frames can bother proper shooting form by placing an obstacle near the drawing hand’s release. While contact lenses are recommended, there are also shooting glasses which can be fitted with prescription lenses.
- Bow Case - A bow case is an essential item for any archer who travels with their bow and wants a simpler method of transport and protection against wear and tear. Modern cases are made of softer, lighter material than the hard cases of old, without sacrificing material integrity. These are called hunting packs, which have added features like camouflage print, weatherproofing, and additional storage. The storage on these items may include several pockets on the exterior and several more inside the case, with semi-elastic webbing that stretches to fit bulky items.
- Archery Scopes - Another modern invention, archery scopes affix to the bow providing focus and magnification on shots in same fashion as a sniper rifle. Most archery scopes are hollow cylinders with a neon sight on the bottom for low-tech aiming. These are considered the purist’s option, where others are reflex scopes with dual lenses that grant advantages for hunting rather than competition.
- Chest and Arm Guard - The chest guard is a leather apparatus that stops the bowstring from getting caught on clothing and throwing off your aim. Arm guards serve a similar purpose, except for the sleeves. Chest guards are obviously more of a necessity for female archers, but male archers can still benefit from increased aim.
This list isn’t to overwhelm beginners with the amount of items you can purchase outside the bow and arrows, but to inform you of some tools to help improve your handicap. These are for extending the life of your equipment and creating ideal conditions until you’ve mastered the fundamentals. For intermediate players, it can serve as a checklist before that next expedition into the woods or range.