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 more durable.

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,


Stickbow Sponsors who make Tabs and Gloves

American Leathers - Makers of a variety of quality tabs gloves and other leather goods.
Kustom King Traditional Supply - sells tabs, gloves, and other shooting products.

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Perfecting Your Practice
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Shooting on Target
Tabs and Gloves for shooting
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Finessing Your Arrows

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