Grasping the String
By Larry Yien
Bent stick in hand, we grasp the string, and draw the bow back.
What a wonder it is to transfer our energy by bending the
bow and with a simple loose of the string the energy sends
the arrow forth. As archers, we covet the simple
act of taking hold of the bowstring, and we have devised various
ways to take hold. Some archers use their bare fingers,
others use tabs and still others use gloves.
Simply put, a tab or glove provides finger protection from the
countless shots we take. When I first started shooting
I used a glove. It was what my mentor used and I cheerfully
followed suit. A glove should fit snug and secure,
once you put it on it is always there ready for the shot.
While shooting with my friend Dan McMahon, he demonstrated another
advantage of a glove. While we were shooting at the Traditional
Bowhunters of Florida Spring shoot, Dan was stung by a bee on
one of his shooting fingers, as I looked at the pulsating stinger,
it was injecting its venom into his deerskin glove rather than
his finger. We tried to get him to eat the bee, but
he wouldn¹t have any of that. Dan ended up with a
fine score that day instead of a fat finger.
I have tried different materials in gloves and tabs and have
found a preference for the cordovan leather. Many archers
prefer the thinner leathers so they can feel the string more.
I like the cordovan because it is slick and tough. The
cordovan lasts for thousands upon thousands of shot, and it does
not develop a groove to hang up on. Once I get familiar
with a glove or tab, I like it to be with me for a long time.
I currently shoot a tab. My fingertips are exposed with
the tab and it is easier to feel my anchor point with my exposed
finger tips. Having my fingers exposed also gives me a
sense of whether I am pinching the nock or not. I also
like being able to flip the tab on the backside of my hand
so I can use my fingers freely when I am not shooting.
Many of the top IBO traditional archers are shooting gloves.
On the International level traditional archers are about 50/50
between glove and tab.
I have tried a handful of tabs and settled on the Cavalier elite
tab w/ cordovan leather. I trim the leather to fit my fingers.
After you shoot the tab a few outings you will be able to see
where the string is leaving the tab. If it is hard to see,
try some talc. I trim to about 1/8 inch shy of where the
string leaves the leather. The strong point of the cavalier
is it¹s durability. I have a couple that I have been
using for 6-7 years and they are still in great shape.
The aluminum plate acts as an index that I can always set the
string against during a shot. The cavalier comes with a
chain keeper that loops around the finger, I remove the chain
and substitute it for a piece of parachute cord.
The black widow tab is made similar to the cavalier, but it uses
a synthetic leather stiffener and a synthetic they call super
leather for the shooting surface. They sell for about $7
and work well. A while back I shot a widow tab. About
when I was getting used to one, it would start to fall apart.
The new widow tab has been improved, since I last shot them.
The new material they are using for a stiffener appears to be
I have seen some nicely crafted homemade tabs. Tabs are
easy enough to cut out. For those with stitching skills,
you can even pattern them after the commercial versions.
enjoy your shot,