The Ultimate Guide to Archery Finger Tabs

Jul 11, 2022Archery Equipment

Whether you are a beginner archer or a seasoned veteran, you will most likely need one vital piece of equipment: a finger tab. Archery finger tabs aid you in shooting your bow and help to protect your fingers. You can also use shooting aids such as shooting gloves and mechanical release aids but finger tabs have always been one of the most popular.

What Is A Finger Tab?

Finger tabs are a simple piece of leather or fabric that goes between your draw-hand fingers and the bowstring. The main purpose of a finger tab is to protect the archer’s fingers while shooting. As the shooter pulls back on the bowstring, a finger tab helps to prevent it from digging into the fingers and causing any pain. Archery finger tabs are especially useful if you intend to do a lot of shooting in a short amount of time.

Finger Tab Anatomy

Finger tabs come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as simple as a single piece of leather or fabric, although many will have some additional components. While not all finger tabs have these parts, here are a few of the most common additions that you will see:


The first is called the backing. This is additional material on the tab itself that provides a little extra cushion between your fingers and the bowstring.


A spacer is used between the index and middle fingers in order to help prevent any nock pinching if the archer is using a split-finger grip.


Also known as a ledge, the shelf is found on a finger tab’s top edge and will give the archer better contact when they are anchoring under their chin.

Attachment Material

Some finger tabs will have elastic or other materials that help hold the tab onto your draw hand’s fingers and help to avoid it slipping off.

The Different Types of Archery Finger Tabs

There are many different types of archery finger tabs. Although each one performs a similar function, they can be made with different materials or have different designs. The first and most basic is the standard finger tab that covers all three of your draw fingers. As we mentioned before, these usually include some kind of attachment material to go over your middle finger to hold it in place.

There are also basic thumb tabs. These are primarily used by those practicing the Mongolian draw style that requires thumb protection. Those that use a longbow or other bare bow archery styles will generally use a three-finger-under tab. This is a simple type of finger tab that not only protects all three fingers but usually has a retainer loop on the back. Even if you let down your draw, this will ensure that the finger tab stays in place on your hand.

Lastly, there are many complex styles of finger tabs that have a split. This allows you to split your fingers around the nock and place one finger above and two below. All of these could have other additions such as spacers, ledges, and a variety of attachment methods. These allow you to fully customize your specific finger tab to your preferences.

How Should a Finger Tab Fit?

Getting the right size of finger tab is vital to ensuring the proper fit. You want your finger tab to cover the full width of your finger span, from the outside of your index finger down to the inside of your ring finger. If your finger tab does not properly fit, you run the risk of hurting your fingers.

When you are testing out different finger tabs, you should think about the width of your hand and fingers. It is important to also think about your specific shooting style and expertise level. Remember that shooting tabs tend to run a little big, so if you normally wear a large-sized glove start with a medium-sized finger tab.

Finger Tab Vs Finger Gloves

Shooting gloves are often confused with finger tabs, although the two are very different. Finger gloves are similar to tabs in that they help to protect your fingers from the bowstring. A glove will fit over your fingers and are usually made out of leather. Although they serve the same purpose as finger tabs, they are not generally used in the same situations.

A general rule of thumb on deciding between the two (besides personal preference) is where you anchor and your aiming method. If you anchor below your chin and use a sight on your bow, a finger tab is the better option. If you anchor on your cheek and do not use a sight on the bow, a finger glove might be better suited. This is why you will see Olympic archers using finger tabs, while traditional archers will tend to favor a finger glove.

How to Trim and Break In Your Tab

After you have tested out and selected the finger tab that is right for you, now is the time to properly break it in. You will also custom-fit the tab by trimming the leather. After taking the tab out of its packaging and assembling it, try to take a few test shots in order to form creases in the leather. This will show you where the string rests, and you can use this as a reference point when trimming.

Finger tabs generally come a little oversized in order to allow you to trim and customize it. After you have given your tab a little bit of a break-in, use a marker to trace your fingers. Ensure that you line up the crease in the tab with the spot on your fingers where you hook onto the string.

Next, take a sharp pair of scissors and cut all the layers of the tab in a crescent shape. Use your finger tracing as a guide as you go. You will then trim a very small amount off the top layer of the tab that contacts the string. This will allow it to be even with the backing layers when you curl your fingers around the bowstring. Make sure to consistently test your finger tab as you go in order to fully customize the fit to your preference.

How to Use a Finger Tab

  1. Put your middle finger through the loop or attachment material on your finger tab. Tighten this loop and place the fabric of the tab against the bottom of your three shooting fingers.
  2. Nock your arrow on the bowstring and hold the bow in your hand. Place your index finger above the nock of the arrow and the middle and ring finger below it. Use the empty slot on the finger tab in order to properly position all of your fingers on the bowstring.
  3. Slowly draw back the bowstring by pushing out against the handle of the bow while pulling the string to your anchor point. The corner of the mouth or specific point on the jaw are two common anchor points when using a finger tab.
  4. Hold the string at your anchor points as you aim the bow. When you are ready to fire, slowly push all three of your shooting fingers into a straight position. This will release the string and fire the arrow. Simply relaxing the hand allows the string to slide off. This avoids “plucking” the string, which can lead to inconsistent accuracy.
  5. Follow through with your shot by letting the bow lean forward. Evaluate your shot and readjust your finger tab position or release as necessary.

The Best Archery Finger Tabs

There are plenty of great options out there for archery finger tabs. It is important to test out a few different styles and materials to get a feel for what works best for you. Here are some of the most popular and high-quality archery finger tabs to help get you started:

Hide and Drink Leather Archery Finger Guard

If you want a stylish yet functional finger tab that even includes a warranty, then the Hide and Drink finger guard is a great choice. With a simple design, this finger tab is cut and handcrafted with full-grain leather. This means high quality that will last you for years to come. These finger tabs are so well made, that the company also offers a 100-year warranty. Should you ever run into any problems, they will work tirelessly to make it right!

Bicaster Archery Finger Tab

The Bicaster archery finger tab uses a combination of traditional leather and lightweight aluminum. This creates a modern take on the finger tab. The finger spacer, thumb rest, and little finger rest are all adjustable in order to customize this finger tab for the perfect fit. This is a very high-quality finger tab that can be used for serious competitions or casual shooting in your backyard.

CyberDyer Cow Leather Archery Finger Tab

Built with recurve bow shooters in mind, the CyberDyer finger tab is of course made of high-quality cow leather. It features a comfortable corded attachment point on the back for connecting to your middle finger. The leather is easy to mold and cut to fully customize the size and appearance to your preference. If you are looking for a finger tab that is comfortable and that won’t break the bank, this is a great choice.

SAS Elite Aluminum Suede and Leather Finger Tab

Similar to the Bicaster finger tab, the SAS Elite finger tab is a combination of aluminum, suede, and leather. Everything from the finger strap, ledge, and little finger support are fully customizable. Double layers of leather ensure you get plenty of protection from the bowstring. Available in small, medium, and large sizes, you can find one that best fits your hand.

Allen Premium No Pinch Finger Shooting Tab

If you want a basic, no-frills option for finger tabs then the Allen Premium No Pinch tab is a perfect choice. This finger tab is very simple and has no extra features or attachments that you don’t need. The split style design is easy to use and will be broken in with very little shooting. This is also the most economical option on the market, and will not break your bank account.

Finding the Right Finger Tab for You

Like other archery equipment, finger tabs come in a variety of different styles, brands, and sizes to choose from. It can be a little challenging for a new archer to know how to find and choose the right finger tab. To begin, archers should find comfortable leather that feels good in their hand. This should provide the best connection with the bowstring and be easy to use.

Archery finger tabs come in small, medium, and large sizes. In addition to size, you will want to test out as many different styles as you can to figure out what best suits you. The best place to do this is at an archery store. Not only will you be able to see and feel different finger tabs, but you may even get to test them out by shooting with them.

Final Thoughts

Finger tabs are an important part of your archery equipment that can make a huge difference in your comfort and accuracy. Although they are simple in design, they play a big part in the shooting process and great care should be taken to find the right finger tab. While not everyone will opt to use a finger tab, they are a great and fun way to shoot your bow. Hopefully, this guide has now helped you when it comes to archery finger tabs!

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