Finger tabs protect your fingers and help with a smooth release of the string. Like many things in archery, they come in different styles and sizes to suit an individual’s needs.
Your style of finger tab should match the archery discipline you’re shooting. For example, if you’re shooting barebow, you need a three-fingers-under tab or a barebow-specific tab with markings for string walking. If you’re shooting Olympic recurve, you’ll shoot a split-finger tab with a finger spacer, and most people prefer a tab that also has a ledge. Traditional archers shoot either a split-finger or a three-under tab.
Finger tabs come in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes to match your hand size. If you’re buying your first tab, it’s helpful to see the different sizes in person or talk to a customer service representative that can help you choose the right size. The tabs also come in left- and right-hand options; choose whichever matches your dominant hand.
Once you’ve selected the correct type of tab and the right size, you’re ready to start the process of breaking it in and custom fitting it by trimming the leather.
Take your new tab out of the package and assemble it if necessary. Then make several shots until a crease forms in the leather. This crease shows where the string rests, and it will be a reference for trimming.
Tabs come intentionally oversized so that they can be trimmed by the consumer for a custom fit. They’re usually made of two or three layers of leather or rubber. To give yourself a trimming guide, trace your fingers with a Sharpie on the back layer. Make sure you line up the crease you created with the spot on your fingers where you hook the string.
Next, cut all layers in a crescent moon shape using your finger tracing as a guide. See the above video for a visual reference. Then trim a small amount off the layer of the tab that contacts the string. That layer should be about one-sixteenth inch shorter than the other layers. That allows it to be even with the backing layers when you curl your fingers around the string.
Shoot your tab to test it. If you feel contact on your face after the release or the tab hangs up the release, it needs more trimming. While you grasp the bow string, the leather should cover your fingers completely, but without any of it reaching beyond the tips of your fingers.
Most leather tabs need to be broken in to shoot their best. Your tab will become smooth and more pliable the more you shoot it, so the best way to break in your tab is to shoot a lot. Some archers like to apply baby powder to their tabs during this break-in period because it can help a tab become slick. It’s important to remember that if you plan on competing, it’s a good idea to have a backup tab that is trimmed and broken in as well.
Buy a finger tab and if needed, get help at an archery shop to select the proper size and help with trimming. The experts at your local archery shop are an excellent resource for all your archery questions, gear and archery lessons. Click here to find a shop near you.