It doesn’t matter what type of bow you use, an arrow rest will help with accuracy and consistency. This is definitely the case when shooting a recurve bow and there is a strong selection of different types to understand and choose from.
Starting from beginners right up to Olympic-standard archers, an arrow rest provides the important job of steadying the arrow when it’s drawn and positioning it properly at the moment of launch.
They may be simple with no moving parts or a little more mechanical with some moving parts.
The goal is the same: reliable accuracy.
The arrow rest you choose may be determined by one of a number of factors:
- Type of arrow you use
- Whether you’re shooting indoors or out
- Your experience
- Your budget
We’ll go through a range of arrow rest types to help you understand what is available and which might suit you best.
Types of Arrow Rests Suited to Recurve Bows
Here are some of the most popular traditional arrow rest options easily found and installed on recurve bows.
These are the more traditional type of arrow rest and comprise a shelf piece and a strike plate.
These arrow rests may be made from fur or other types of animal hair or leather and provide the bow’s surfaces with some protection as well as giving the arrow a steady starting point.
The material you choose for these types of rest may vary due to personal preference or even as a way of giving your bow a more traditional look.
They are easy to install and easy to use - equally great for a beginner or more experienced archer.
These rests are ideal for archers who want to try shooting off the shelf rather than with an elevated arrow rest.
Stick-On Arrow Rests
Stick on rests are a simple design that works as the name suggests. The rest sticks on to the riser on the shelf side of the bow.
This type of rest is often just a simple plastic arrow rest that causes minimal interference to the arrow and vanes. They consist of an arm that extends out over the shelf to hold the arrow in place.
These rests are lightweight, easy to install (usually just a peel and stick process) and virtually foolproof because they don’t have any moving parts.
Examples of these types of arrow rests include:
Wrap Around Arrow Rests
Wrap around arrow rests are the type favored by the top-line archers shooting in elite competitions.
The rest bolts to the riser of the bow and the arrow sits on the extended wire arm. The plate of the rest attaches under the collar of the plunger on the mounting side of the bow.
This arm can be adjusted to the height and angle that you require. The aim is to place the contact between the plunger and the arrow right in the middle of the plunger tip.
Because these are the most adjustable, they are the rests that can cause you the most problems, but they can also help you to achieve the greatest accuracy.
Examples of wrap around arrow rests include:
A plunger button takes us into territory that is a little more complicated. While the plunger is not actually an arrow rest, it does provide some (horizontal) support to the arrow to help it fly straight.
The idea of the plunger is to combat a phenomenon known as “Archer’s Paradox”.
This is where the arrow bends when the string is released, potentially causing the arrow to strike the bow riser. Obviously, this can affect accuracy.
The plunger accounts for the arrow motion and moves inwards and outwards on a spring system to adjust for any arrow contact, improving accuracy.
These rests are useful for finger release shooters where movement is more likely going to occur at the moment of release.
Many recurve bows come with a hole in the riser so the plunger can be installed.
An example of a combination of a plunger built into a rest is the Vista Cushion Plunger and Elevated Rest ($32.99).
Magnetic Arrow Rests
Magnetic arrow rests take us into the realm of the professional archer who has the benefit of many years of experience and knows the ins and outs of bow tuning intimately.
A magnetic arrow rest provides the same type of service as other types of rests but uses opposing magnetic polarity to keep the arrow from touching the bow or the rest.
These rests in conjunction with the arrows which have a magnet inserted inside which repels against the magnet in the rest.
As you can imagine, it is important that the two magnets are correctly aligned so that the arrow’s flight is not upset in any way. This is where the importance of properly tuning the bow comes in.
These rests are generally preferred by competition shooters rather than bow hunters.
Important Features of a Recurve Arrow Rest
Not everyone will choose to use an arrow rest to shoot from their recurve bow. There is a significant section of the archery community who prefer to shoot off the shelf, a straightforward, more traditional method.
This is particularly the case for the barebow archery shooters who prefer the most basic set-up possible.
So for those people, the important feature of the arrow rest is…no arrow rest.
For everyone else, here are a few pointers that might help you in deciding what type to choose.
Simple Is Good
There really is no reason to get too complicated with your recurve bow arrow rest.
A simple shelf rest will provide your arrow with the stability necessary to complete a smooth draw and release with plenty of accuracy.
These arrow rests are easy to install, simple to use and are extremely cheap.
Importantly, they provide your bow’s wooden surfaces with some protection from scuffing or scratching as the arrow passes by.
As far as hunters are concerned, the simplest arrow rests won’t necessarily provide the arrow security required for use in the field.
The arrow rests that screw into the riser add a potential extra layer of failure to the system.
Once the rest has been mounted and tightened, it is crucial that it doesn’t work its way loose and begin to move around.
The better quality rests will essentially lock into place and remain there until you choose to loosen the bolt to replace it.
If you go after a highly regarded arrow rest with a history of strong, reliable performance you can be confident that it will remain in place no matter how many shots you take with it.
If you’re using a plunger button rest there will be some tuning to go through before you get it set at the point where it’s providing the right level of horizontal pressure to the arrow.
Most people will start with the button set at medium tension and go from there.
But it may be necessary to set the tension higher or lower and this means fiddling around with the rest settings as you try to get it perfectly set.
The better quality plunger rests will come with easy to access and turn knobs or screws that will allow you to fine tune with a high degree of accuracy.
For a lot of people the cost of archery equipment can be a real thorn in their side.
Because of this, the price of items such as arrow rests can be of particular importance.
When it comes to arrow rests for recurve bows, the price can start as low as a couple of dollars for the straightforward stick on rests. These rests do the job of supporting the arrow very well and could be all you ever need for shooting success.
As you move up into the more mechanical types of rests, the price can start to rise to around a hundred dollars for the top-of-the-line versions.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a great quality arrow rest for your recurve bow.
From beginners to the more experienced archers, an arrow rest is an important piece of equipment to add to your recurve bow.
However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to equip yourself with a good quality rest that is simple and reliable shot after shot.
In fact, it is probably the most logical idea to start off with a simple stick on rest with no moving parts to cause confusion.
As you grow in experience and expertise, you might like to try some of the other rests that may be considered more “high tech”.
To be honest, it is difficult to imagine that you’ll be getting any considerable performance improvement by spending top dollar.
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