As someone who likes to find out what works out best for my own shooting, which is solely traditional, mostly 3D and often competitive, I am always looking out for something that suits me better, gives me an edge and increases my accuracy.
String/arrow release is absolutely critical and one of the biggest things that gets into my head is my release. Sometimes it gets bad! So I have worked on a few things in the last 12 months……. including finger placement/anchors and aiming systems, but more on that another time but for now I will see if I can’t explain what’s been going on my fingers recently based on shooting mostly longbow with some recurve and shooting split fingers most of the time but have recently converted to 3under………confused? I hope to clarify!
A basic overview when it comes to glove vs tabs debates, in my opinion, is that gloves give you convenience whereas the tab will give a sweeter release. I get that and believe it to be true. Olympians use a tab as do many of the world class competitive traditional shooters and record holders so there has to be something in that….right?
Gloves look cool for sure and many amazing archers, both past and present shoot using a glove……Hill, Ferguson, Bear, LeClair…… the list goes on, again, there must be something in that…..right?
Shooting styles, ambitions and needs aside, for me it’s purely down to preference. Again this can change, sometimes frequently!
So here is what I’ve been using and a brief overview of each where enough time was spent with it.
I do like gloves for their convenience but I feel for me that they are often flawed. Let me explain…..
You get a new glove and you break it in and it feels right then in no time its past it’s best so you start the cycle again, so, the window where they are at their best is a short one. The argument about string feel is probably a valid one but that too depends on what your needs are and indeed of you need that “string feel” at all. With most of the gloves I have used you get that feel but to me all that does is hinder your release as the string is into your fingers and not able to just pass off it, if that makes sense?
I have found that string feel gives you a way better feeling at anchor whereas the tab takes some getting used to, particularly when anchoring on the face, I also favour a deep hook and I often struggle to maintain that with a glove without fear of it “hanging up” up a little when the glove is still approaching or is past it’s best.
But….. a few weeks ago I was shooting a tab at a 3D shoot when the bowbirds came out to be shot with Fluflus, it was great but the speed shots and the flexibility needed to get the shots off quickly made me want my glove back……. granted this is exceptional and beyond normal circumstances but still………horses for courses!
Glove I have used (and approve of) –
The Bearpaw (Bodnik) Speed glove
“The beautiful and robust structured buffalo leather is especially durable and weather resistant. The finger tips are reinforced with X8 textile and are particularly forgivable of any release errors on the bow string. Even at high humidity or heavy rain this glove guarantees you high comfort and very good string sensation.”
This is apparently the first choice of Henry Bodnik, owner of Bearpaw Products and a traditional archer of note so it must be up to it!
I like this glove, I have owned and shot out two of them now and for the longest time was all the glove I could ever see myself needing. Katie has shot with one until it disintegrated and other friends have done also.
It looks good and performs well, the finger stalls of the “X8″ give a sweet release whilst giving that string feel that some crave. Slightly large fitting though, I have BIG hands and this guy is on the cusp of being too big from the off and even when broken in, gives a lot of room inside.
Coming from the UK and shooting there for a few years, I can say that it performs admirably in the wet! At the other end of the spectrum, we now live in semi-arid Kamloops BC and here it can hit 40 degrees celsius. So shooting in that heat, as well as the -25 and below winters we get, I can’t really say that much negative about this glove. My own shooting evolution has moved me on from this glove, nothing else, They do wear on the fingers causing some fraying which I just trimmed but with no real loss of effectiveness, protection or release.
Bearpaw Deerskin Glove
My back up glove and never really been tested that hard!
A really nicely fitting and well made glove, the soft deer hide does make it very comfortable. It stretches well and accommodates hand expansion….so much so that I think you would be good if thought it was a little small….. I would be OK with it stretching to suit
Decent finger protection whilst retaining some feel. Looks good too!
Moving onto mine and Mrs B’s current favourite……
American Leathers Big Shot (Elk)
Marketing Blurb from 3 Rivers:
“The Big-Shot Glove is a unique innovation from American Leathers. Each one is handcrafted from top-grain Elk hide with neoprene on the knuckles for total comfort. Nylon webbing overlays and neoprene inserts on the finger stalls create the ultimate clean release in a shooting glove. Over-knuckle design for more air circulation during hot days.”
The Nylon webbing tip overlays decrease grooving and abrasion, resulting in smoother and faster releases than other archery shooting gloves can offer. The Big-Shot is top of the line and a proven performer. Try one today. ”
Takes a little while to get used to with the thicker stalls on the fingers and a little breaking in but it’s a fine and very comfortable glove…….. fits like…er…a glove too!
VERY well made and without a doubt the sweetest release I have found in a glove, looks the business too and suspect the longevity of the product as well as the performance goes a long way to justifying the hefty price it commands which is over double what any other glove I have owned has cost! Recommended.
I am increasingly drawn to shooting with a tab for the reasons mentioned above, I appreciate the longevity & consistency of something that is working well, therefore I need not to concern myself about it, that “wearing-needing replacing-breaking in a new” cycle. My experience is also that release, and therefore accuracy, is greatly improved.
To get the best out of any tab I have owned, I use it for a while and inevitably it will need to be modified which usually means trimming and excess leather/textile to suit yourself.
When shooting split/Mediterranean Loose, I used a few different tabs.
Very decent, cheap no-nonsense tab which requires little breaking in and just a little trimming to get sorted………an excellent first tab or handy back-up to live in the quiver “just in case” for under 10bucks.
I have used the calf hair/split fingered version and Katie has used the 3 under for some time.
Again, not too many frills here…….
Adjustable velcro loop for the finger and individual tabs for the fingers as well as inbetween the arrow, requires little mods and gives good results and protection……. slightly more “string feel” than my other tabs if that is important to you.
A good choice if string feel and no spacer is what you are looking for.
Martin Super Archery Mitt (S.A.M.)
Official blurb from 3 Rivers online:
“Also known as “SAM” Tabs. Made of genuine leather that is hand finished. Dual layer construction for strength, and is water resistant. Instructions included.
Designed to give you maximum comfort, accuracy, and speed with the hands-on feeling that only finger shooting provides. Uses finger loops to hold in place for one of the most securely fit shooting tabs on the market.
Available in Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large in Right and Left handed. Please specify.
- Water Resistant
- Made from sturdy leather that is hand finished
- Finger holders keep the SAM securely in place”
This is my favourite all-round choice when shooting split. Hands down.
The downside was the time it took to break in and work out where the mods needed to happen but when I did it has been good for me, also drawing arrows from the quiver and nocking them can be a little awkward
Some little-and-often trims to get it right for size & shape and some hard use in all conditions has seen it morph into something beyond what I first bought! But I have no doubts that this will be a “laster”!
Two leather loops hold it firmly onto the fingers and a leather lanyard around the wrist gives additional security and flexibility. The ability to just flick it off the fingers whilst not losing it is quite good when you’re out shooting and need your hand!
When you get it where you want, the SAM gives you a super release, which makes it well worth the perseverance!
I have just made the switch to a 3-under release so I am currently trying some specific tabs for this release, one piece covering all 3 fingers as per the rules in the “instinctive” class here.
I have just taken delivery of the Bateman 3 under tab which is highly regarded but I have not even begun the process of breaking it in and using it properly, which will happen after hunting season.
I have 2 of the “Safari Tuff” Rod Jenkins tabs on back order which are the tab of choice of so many world class shooters which I am excited about those showing up. This will be an interesting development I am sure and I will continue this article when I have used and formed an opinion on these.
<<STOP PRESS! These have just come in but I haven’t used them yet due to an injury. I look forward to trying them out! In the meantime, here’s a few photos>>
One last bit on arm protection/bracers….
I have seen it said so many times on forums that “if you have perfect form you won’t need an armguard” which, in theory may be correct. But in my opinion anyone who says this, particularly to novice archers is an idiot. Let me explain…..
Sure, if you have perfect form and you can maintain that and your concentration levels through every shot you take then “have at ‘er”! but in reality this is stupid and strings slapping your arm HURTS! Factor in body mechanics, different shapes and sizes of shooters, even uneven ground, tiredness etc,etc.etc
So why risk it? Why let that get in your head through the shot process when there is a simple solution?
Take a look at the Olympians – more perfect shooting form you will not see! Note what is on the arm of Hill, Ferguson, LeClair, Bodnik et al…….. If it’s good enough for those guys……
Yes, it’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine which stops folks getting the most out of their shooting……..besides, mine looks cool! They are mostly very cheap too!
I like a heavy duty traditional leather arm guard for looks and protection as I am prone to concentration drops and I have big, chunky arms which have seen their fair share of bruising from strings over the years!
Mine is currently a Bearpaw “Henry Bodnik” signature model which I have had for years now and will be around for year more I am sure! Nice looking, solid traditional looking bracer with elastic loops over antler buttons which looks good too.
I often also wear an arm sock too to keep clothing out of the way of my string too like this “team realtree” branded offering which is a boon in the colder months.
These are my opinions and findings based on my use shooting recurves and longbows, shooting split & 3 Under, hunting and target. There is no perfect solution as everyone and their needs are different but I hope these ramblings can help!
All of the above are available at Outsyder Archery!