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What Is A Finger Tab?

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It is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of archery accessories such as a finger tab, arm guard, and many more. However, it is necessary to use them since they protect you and your equipment.

One of the most important pieces of archery equipment is the finger tab and today, I’ll be sharing with you the important information you need to know about this small accessory. What exactly is it? How do you use it? And what is it made of?

Let’s get started.

If you’re new here you can learn about the basics of recurve archery in our Recurve Shot Cycle and Recurve Archery Basics guide. Then, you can learn How To Train for Archery and find specific archery drills and exercises in our Drills & Bow Training Library and Archery Exercises Library. You can also find loads of detailed videos on our Online Archery Academy YouTube Channel. And lastly, if you’re interested in private coaching you can read about our online recurve archery coaching.

What is a finger tab?

A finger tab is a piece of protective archery equipment that is made of leather or synthetic material. It protects your fingers and prevents any injuries while pulling the string. And it also ensures a smooth, consistent release of the string from your fingers.

Besides that, a good tab also gives you a consistent anchor point. Consistency is the key in archery and using one will help you with that.

Olympic recurve tabs usually have an indent between the middle finger and index finger for the nock. Meanwhile, barebow finger tabs are a single slab of leather with no slit in the middle.

You may use a recurve finger tab for barebow shooting. However, you cannot use a barebow tab when shooting Olympic recurve since the technique is quite different and the tab won’t have space for the nock to fit between your middle and index finger.

How to use a finger tab?

Here are the simple steps to use one.

  1. Insert your middle finger into the elastic string or loop.
  2. Tighten the loop and make sure that the tab does not slide out.
  3. Continue with your shot process by nocking the arrow and starting your shot.
  4. Pull the string. Ensure that your finger hook is not too deep or too shallow. 
  5. Set your anchor – depending on your tab, an anchor shelf will help you achieve a more consistent shot.
  6. Continue with the shot process and the string should simply slide off your finger tab as you release the string.

For first-time users, it will feel awkward at first since your fingers are still adjusting to the feel of the leather in front of it. For learning the release, there are some great release drills you can do.

Take your time shooting as much as you can so your finger tab will break in. It will then follow the natural shape of your fingers.

Our in-depth hand position guide will help you utilize and use your finger tab by hooking correctly on the string and positioning your hand correctly. 

What is the proper finger tab size?

There are varying finger tab sizes. It is important to choose the right size to be able to shoot properly and comfortably. The right tab size is like a good pair of shoes, you will know it by the feel. It is best to visit your local archery store and test out different sizes before making a purchase, or try tabs from fellow archers at your club.

If you are unsure, there are sizing guides available online such as this one by Fivics Archery. Other manufacturers have their own size guides as well.

It is also better to go for a smaller size than a larger one since the excess leather of a larger tab will make you shoot worse. And a tab that’s too large will force your hand into an unnatural position. Using an ill-fitted tab affects comfort and the overall anchor too.

Ultimately, the leather should not go past your ring finger. The same goes for the top leather – it should not go past your index finger. A straight line should be formed when your finger is curled.

Finger tab vs Finger gloves: Which one should you use?

Finger tabs and finger gloves are both used to protect the fingers. However, if you want to pursue advanced Olympic recurve archery, then you’ll want to invest in a good finger tab.

Gloves are fine since they cover the entire finger. However, they are uncomfortable to use during longer shooting sessions and aren’t as accurate. Plus you lose some of the fine feeling that you can get with a proper finger tab.

Tabs also offer more modification options such as finger spacers, anchor shelves, palm plates, and pinky hooks. These mods are important if you want to have a more consistent anchor and shooting form.

It is rare to see a top Olympic recurve archer wearing gloves. The majority of recurve archery champions all have modified finger tabs that fit their shooting style.

How to trim a finger tab?

Finger tabs are highly customizable archery equipment. One modification you should do is trim the leather and ensure that it fits your fingers comfortably. This is usually done to finger tabs that are slightly larger than your hand.

All you have to do is to wear tab on your finger, mark the excess tab with a pen, and use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the tab.

Wear it again and measure if the fit is just right.

Once done, grab sandpaper to smooth out any sharp leather edges.

For more information, check out these tips for trimming and modifying your finger tab right here.

Customizing your tab: Pros do it and you should too

Besides trimming the leather, you can also customize the look and feel of your tab. You can do it by adding or removing parts that will help you achieve a consistent anchor.

For instance, an anchor shelf can help you locate under your jaw. The V-shaped base plate is also there if you curl your hands while shooting, but this is normally not required.

Below you can see the tab of one of the world’s best archers, Kim Woo Jin from South Korea.

He uses an AAE metal plate with a trimmed anchor shelf. He is also using a Fivics finger spacer and a bespoke strap. The leather is customized too and is not the default leather from AAE.

We strongly recommend modifying your tab and lots of this will require trial and error to see which enables you to have a consistent hook and consistent anchor position. But it’s definitely worth doing.

The Bottomline

Finger tabs are crucial when it comes to Olympic recurve archery. It is important to note that it will take some practice and familiarization once you start using it.

This piece of equipment is small but plays a huge part in your archery journey. Invest in a good one that will allow you to hook the string properly and it will help you improve much faster.

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