Tag Archives: Arrow Rests

Arrow Rest Basics

A question came in regarding the differences between recurve and compound arrow rests.

I have a different approach regarding arrow rests than some other coaches, which I will explain after some background.

When an arrow is loosed, it flexes. This is because the force acting on the arrow through its nock is not lined up exactly with the axis of the arrow’s shaft. In a finger releases, the string is sliding off of the string fingers toward the archer. This causes the arrow to flex, first into the bow and then back and forth as it flies to the target. The arrow’s fletches damp out most of this flex within the first 20 yards of flight. The flexing of a shot arrow is mostly horizontal when shot with fingers, hence the use of cushion plungers to absorb much of those horizontal forces while the arrow is still on the string. Since the arrow is bowed in toward the bow, as it slides forward on the rest, it pushes up against the arrow rest, which necessarily (action-reaction) pushes back. On modern recurve bows, a cushion plunger as used to absorb some of that force and to control the amount of “push back.” A stiff arrow rest (usually a stiff wire) is used to maintain the elevation of the shaft as it slides forward, very little flex is allowed for in the vertical plane of the bow.

Compound arrows, shot with fingers, behave in the same fashion.

Compound arrows shot using a release aid flex much less and mostly in a vertical plane, making the use of a plunger ineffective and a stiff arrow rest less than effective. Rests designed for compound bows have most of their

The blade of this launcher rest (left) acts just like a diving board at a swimming pool.

The blade of this launcher rest (left) acts just like a diving board at a swimming pool.

flex in a vertical plane. The most popular rests used by compound-release archers are called “launcher rests” which are like diving boards. They allow flex, resisting it gently, in the vertical plane but have little effect in horizontal planes because there is so little flex involved. Common launcher blades are made of spring steel with little notches at the end to keep the arrow from sliding off.


My Approach
I put a simple, screw-in plastic arrow rest on my student’s bows when they buy their first bow, compound or recurve. I do the same for my own bows. (My last new bow was a Hoyt GMX and I fitted it with one of those $2.95 plastic, screw-in rest. With the threads, I can set the centershot fairly closely and the rest has flex built into it. Very simple. (When the bow was shooting well because I had a good basic tune, then I installed a plunger and rest.) With students who are building releatable form, I only recommend a plunger and steel wire rest when they will benefit from it (almost always quite late). Otherwise, a complicated arrow rest is just an added expense that produces no benefit, plus they make the bow heavier and require a lot of adjustment. The same is true for my compound students. I tell them that the first perfect NFAA Field Round was shot by a professional compound-release archer using a springy rest (Terry Ragsdale), a rest that is much like the cheap plastic rest I recommend now. A launcher rest comes much later when there will be a perceived benefit from its use.Springy Rest Montage

Basically my point is why use something that is much more expensive, more complicated, harder to adjust when there is very little chance of that piece of gear allowing an improvement in performance (basically by supplying better feedback to the archer)?

Plastic Arrow Rest

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Q&A Is the “Whisker Biscuit” a Good Choice for Beginning Archers

QandA logoI have been seeing more than a few archers showing up with new bows with a “Whisker Biscuit” arrow rest installed (see photo). This is a novel and good arrow rest, but the question is: are these arrow rests a good choice for beginners. The short answer is “no,” but if you have a student with one on their bow I don’t think you should recommend they change it out unless there is a problem associated with it.Whisker Biscuit rest

The reasons I think the WB isn’t a good rest for beginners are simple: a screw-in plastic rest can be had for $2.95, so WBs are more expensive, and they can get in the way of seeing the arrow point at full draw which makes aiming off the point difficult. The biggest reason is subtle. Since the rest surrounds the arrow, it prevents the arrow from falling off of the rest. This may sound like a good thing but it is not. Our equipment should support shooting good shots. If we do everything right, our equipment shouldn’t get in the way. But if we do something wrong, our equipment should show it. There are many things you can do wrong just before or while drawing the bow: bringing the bow up too fast, twisting the bow top-left, twisting the bow string, and “pinching” the arrow between the top two fingers (when a split-finger “hook” of the string is being used). All of these form flaws cause the arrow to fall off of the rest, thus alerting the archer that they are doing something wrong. The WB prevents this from happening and therefore blocks very useful feedback.

I continue to recommend the simple, inexpensive, plastic screw-in arrow rest for beginning finger shooters. For sight shooting compound/release archers, the Whisker Biscuit is a fine choice for an arrow rest.

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