In archery, there is a big list of gear and equipment that always seems to be growing. An often overlooked but very important is a finger sling or wrist sling for your bow. But, what exactly are these slings and why do you need them? Here is your complete guide to everything you need to know about finger slings, wrist slings, and hybrid slings!
What Is A Finger Sling?
A finger sling is a small piece of material or cord that is attached to the forefinger or middle finger and then to the thumb. The purpose of this small but important piece of gear is to keep your bow from falling and hitting the ground after a shot.
The best way to hold your bow while shooting is to have as little contact with it as possible. A finger sling helps to keep the bow from jumping out of your hand and onto the floor while shooting. A simple finger sling will catch the bow as it leaps forward at the shot. This eliminates the need for the shooter to try and catch it with their hand.
This allows a shooter to relax their bow hand, eliminating any potential bow torque or inconsistencies. And of course, the bow never has the chance to leave your hand and drop to the ground. After all the money and time spent on your equipment, the last thing you want is for it to fall and get damaged!
What Is A Wrist Sling?
A wrist sling is similar to a finger sling in the sense that it prevents the bow from falling out of your hand while shooting. Unlike a finger sling, however, a wrist sling is a little larger and completely encompasses your wrist instead of being attached to your fingers.
The wrist sling attaches the bow to your hand so that you can ease your grip on the handle. In fact, with a wrist sling, you can keep your bow hand completely relaxed and open before and during the shot. Without a sling, you are forced to wrap your fingers around the handle or quickly grab the bow at the shot. Both of these will negatively affect your accuracy.
What Is A Hybrid Sling?
Hybrid slings are a mix between finger slings and wrist slings. These can come in a variety of different designs and styles, but most will feature a strap around the wrist with a thinner cord or strap that connects from this wrist strap, around the bow, and back to the wrist. By doing this, you get the security of a finger sling and the reliability of a wrist strap in one package.
Although hybrid slings sound like the best of both worlds, they are only used by a very small portion of the archery community. They are not readily available at archery shops and can be somewhat difficult to locate.
Why You Need A Sling
Regardless of the type of sling you’re using, it’s important that you at least use one whenever you are shooting! In addition to the added security that they provide, they can also allow you to experience a greater degree of accuracy.
Because gripping your bow too tightly can decrease the accuracy, a wrist sling or finger sling can allow you to loosen your grip or open your hand entirely without the fear of dropping the bow. Should it jump forward at the shot, both wrist slings and finger slings will ensure that the bow does not leave your hand.
Finger Slings Vs Wrist Slings
Although finger slings and wrist slings serve the same basic purpose, they are very different and have unique characteristics. Most archers will have their own preferences when it comes to choosing one over the other. In general, you may notice that a majority of archers that shoot recurve bows favor finger slings. While those that shoot a compound opt for wrist slings.
While the physical differences are obvious, there are a few more subtle differences between finger slings and wrist slings that lead to recurve or compound archers favoring one over the other. For example, wrist slings are often attached to a bow at the stabilizer or right below it. This leads to the bow becoming more top-heavy. After a shot, it is much more difficult to let the bow swing forward in order to allow for proper follow-through.
Many serious archers will use a free fall, “swing technique” where they let the bow swing forward after the shot. This allows for good follow-through and increases accuracy. A finger sling will catch the bow higher up on the riser near the grip. This makes a much more balanced bow and one that will swing much less with the follow-through. This is why finger slings are often favored amongst competition recurve shooters.
When it comes to compound archers, they do not tend to use the free fall swing technique that competition shooters use for follow-through after a shot. Because of that, they tend to favor wrist slings. They also use drop-away rests that help eliminates any jerks at the shot. Their bows are heavier as well, which are more comfortable to use with a wrist sling.
To gain a better understanding between finger slings and a wrist slings, here are some pros and cons of each:
- Catches a bow early during the drop.
- Allows a shooter to use the free fall swing technique.
- Easier to control the drop of the bow.
- Harder to use.
- More uncomfortable.
- Restricts your fingers and their movement.
- The bow is essentially leashed to your hand at all times.
- Easy to get used to.
- More comfortable and easy to use.
- Do not restrict your hand or fingers.
- Cannot use the free fall swing technique.
- If the bow falls, it will pull very hard on your wrist.
- Inconsistent bow drop.
Do You Need Finger Slings Or A Wrist Slings?
Many archers wonder if they even need a finger sling or a wrist sling. Dropping your bow is extremely rare. While this does make sense, it can happen and when it does it may result in damage to your equipment. You can avoid this damage and frustration by using a simple sling that is extremely inexpensive but vital to protecting your bow.
In addition to this protection, you get the peace of mind that you will not drop the bow and can work on proper handgrip and placement. This will lead to great accuracy and confidence while shooting, both of which will come with using a simple finger sling or wrist sling with your bow.
So, at the end of the day, you do not need to use a finger sling or a wrist sling in order to have a properly functioning bow. A sling, however, is a great thing to use and a very inexpensive upgrade to your recurve or compound bow.
How to Shoot Without A Bow Sling
At the end of the day, you don’t need to use a bow sling if you do not want to. In fact, most longbow archers don’t use a bow sling in order to keep their bows as minimal as possible. If you opt to not use a bow sling, there are a few things you’ll want to do in order to minimize any hand torque that could occur when shooting.
The biggest factor that contributes to hand torque is using your entire hand and fingers to hold the bow in place. To avoid this, simply hold the bow using the inner part of your hand with only a finger or two wrapped around it. This will help to minimize any torque while still completely holding onto the bow and preventing it from jumping out of your hand at the shot.
You will also want to keep your bow hand as relaxed as possible during the entire shooting process. If you tense up before or during the shot, it can torque the bow and decrease your accuracy. Keeping your hand relaxed during the shooting process will come with a little bit of practice but will make a huge difference.
Which Sling Is Best For Me?
So which sling should you be using, a finger sling or a wrist sling? Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, but which one should you be using?
The answer will come down to the type of bow that you are using and your shooting technique. Do you utilize the free-fall swing technique when you shoot? If you do, then you will most likely want to go with a finger sling. If not, a wrist sling could be a potential option.
The type of bow and what you use it for is also a factor to consider. Recurve shooters will most likely be better suited with a finger sling, while compound shooters will most likely be using a wrist sling. Although both types of slings can be used with both types of bows, each one certainly has its own sling that is most commonly associated with it.
It is also important to note that competition shooters may be subject to certain rules on what gear they can and cannot use. Finally, your own preference will most often play the biggest factor in which type of sling you decide on. Test out different styles to figure out which is most comfortable for you. Taking all of these factors into play, you can decide on what type of sling is best for you and your bow.
It is often the little things that go unnoticed and underappreciated, and a sling for your bow is no exception. Whether it is a finger sling, a wrist sling, or a hybrid sling, there are many advantages to using one in order to improve your accuracy and overall shooting experience!