The Archery Trade Association (ATA) has done the first scientific survey of archers and archery in the U.S. In the past, estimates of how many bowhunters and target archers existed have been based on nebulous data at best and now we have a quality survey about the actual participation of archers. One quick finding is that there are a lot more target archers that anyone had estimated. (The survey only queried adults and the number of target archers exceed the numbers I thought existed, including the kids!)
Here is a link to study. I recommend it to you and I will be posting on what I think we can learn from this data. But I would like for you to have a chance to look at it yourself before being exposed to my ideas/prejudices.
One of my favorite coaches, Sandi Scronce of North Carolina, wrote in with the question: Do you think a somewhat beginner archer shooting only 18# needs a plunger before a clicker? Again, a good question! (Keep those cards and letters coming!)
Simple answer: No
The principle I follow is this: only add a piece of equipment if you think it will foster better performance, and add them in the order of most to least effect. A plunger and fancy rest is one of the last things I would add. A clicker would come before. Now, this is not a “set in stone” principle. If Mom or Dad wanted to buy her a plunger and rest for Christmas, cool! But if there is to be no significant benefit, why pay the price in dollars, setup, fiddling, and confusion?
My most recent recurve was a $1200 bow. I set it up by screwing a $2.95 plastic arrow rest into it and then shot the string in and got a good basic tune that way. When I was satisfied, I attached my $200 rest and plunger combo. I am not particular good at Olympic Recurve, maybe the plastic rest was all I needed. (Rick McKinney won three World Championships using stick on plastic arrow rests (Hoyt Super Rests).)
Those cheap plastic arrow rests serve quite well, certainly for intermediate archers. If investments in equipment are to be made (past armguard, tab, bow, arrows), I order them thus: stabilizer, bow sight, clicker, rest/plunger. This is the order of greatest to least effect. The plunger/rest combo is a fine tuning mechanism that might not even have an effect until your archer is out of the “intermediate ranks.” I often go for bow and arrow upgrades before the first rest/plunger combination.
Hope this helps, Sandi!