Why you need a wrist strap for archery

If you buy a new bow at an archery shop for the first time, the salesclerk will always advise you to buy a wrist strap (or finger sling). The device connects your wrist to the bow and is also often called a wrist sling or bow sling. If you ever borrowed a bow from a club, you might notice that they don’t have a wrist strap. Therefore, you might wonder whether it’s really necessary to use a wrist strap.

Let’s answer this question real quick. Yes, you should use a wrist strap. The wrist strap makes sure that you don’t have to grip the bow tightly which is one of the most common technique mistakes. Using a wrist strap allows you to open your hand without the fear of dropping the bow on the ground.

Keep reading if you want to know more about how the grip affects your accuracy and how you use a wrist strap. I will also discuss a common misconception that compound archers don’t need a wrist strap. At the end of this article, I will also discuss the finger sling, an alternative to the wrist strap, and give some tips.

Why you need a wrist strap

One of the most common mistakes for new archers is to grip the bow tightly. This is often jokingly called the ‘’death grip’’ within archery because it can kill your accuracy. It is a natural reaction of your body, so almost all new archers make this mistake.

It also seems quite logical to new archers that you want a firm grip on the bow to control it. This is counterproductive, however, because all vibration and shocks from your body are then transferred into the bow and thus the arrow. Therefore, archers want to have a loose grip on the bow, to make sure that they don’t affect the flight pattern of the arrow. Recurve archers often completely drop the bow to make sure that they don’t grip the bow. You can see how this looks in the video below.

Both the finger sling and the wrist strap have the same purpose - catching the bow when it falls out of your hand.

This is quite an advanced technique, however, which I wouldn’t recommend for new archers. This technique requires a different device called ‘’the finger sling’’ and is more difficult to use. But even for new archers, it’s a best practice to keep a loose grip on the bow.

You might think now, how do you make sure that you don’t drop the bow on the ground? That’s exactly why almost all archers recommend new archers to use a wrist strap. The wrist strap is the last resort, if you couldn’t catch the bow after your shot, the wrist strap will. Just like the wrist strap on a camera or a Wii remote.

Why compound archers should also use a wrist strap

Since most compound archers use a shoot-through arrow rest, interference as mentioned earlier is less of a problem. Especially with drop away arrow rests, the bow is a lot more forgiving for errors of the archer. Therefore, compound archers tend to have a firmer grip than most recurve archers. The free-fall swing technique is also barely used within the compound discipline. Read this article if you want to know why.

Since compound archers can grip the bow more tightly, some archers believe that a wrist strap is not necessary for these bows. I have to disagree, however. Although you can indeed have a tighter grip on the bow, you still should avoid a death grip. Additionally, even with a firm grip, you could always drop the bow. In most cases, this causes severe damage and can even completely disable your bow.

Why I am not using a wrist strap currently

There are a lot of best practices, like: wear arm protection, do a warming up and use a wrist sling. Although I think that these bits of advice are great for beginning archers, if you are more experienced you can make your own choices.

While writing this article, I am currently not using a wrist strap on my compound bow, for the following reasons:

  • I have never dropped the bow ever!
  • I shoot on the field (in the worst case the bow falls on the grass)
  • I have an old inexpensive bow
  • I often forgot to use the wrist strap on my recurve bow
  • I currently don’t have a wrist strap available

If you are new to archery, however, I do recommend using a wrist strap. Some people will never drop their bow in their life, while others drop it the first time they shoot. You only know whether you need a wrist strap when the bow is already on the ground.

Wrist strap vs finger sling

I already briefly discussed the finger sling. This device is attached to your index finger and thumb and allows you to completely drop the bow. The technique of completely dropping the bow is called the free-fall swing technique. This technique is mostly used by recurve archers to make sure that you don’t grip the bow.

When you use a finger sling, you don’t necessarily have to drop the bow. In fact, most archers that use the finger sling don’t even use the technique. In general, the wrist strap tends to be more comfortable and easier to use, but some archers prefer to use the finger sling. In the article listed below, we discuss why so many archers use a finger sling and whether it’s a better option than the wrist sling:

Are finger slings better than wrist slings

Some tips for using a wrist strap

Although it might seem like a relatively simple device, I still want to give a few tips. I have learned most of these tips the hard way.

Use the option which feels most comfortable to you

Most recurve archers shoot with a finger sling; therefore, a lot of people feel that this is the better option. It only depends on your personal preference, so choose what feels most comfortable to you!

Make sure that the wrist sling is not tight around your wrist

When the wrist sling is configured tightly around your wrist it will affect the flight pattern of the arrow. Therefore, the sling should not be tight when you shoot. You only use the wrist sling as a last resort when the bow drops!

How the wrist strap should be configured - loosely around the wrist
What you should avoid - the wrist strap is tight around the wrist

Make sure that the wrist sling is not damaging your bow

It might seem obvious that the wrist sling shouldn’t damage the bow. The entire idea of the wrist sling is to avoid damage. Sadly, due to the way how some wrist slings are designed they actually do damage the bow. The old sling I was using had a metal buckle that damaged the coating of my bow. By replacing it with a piece of paracord you can avoid damage from the metal on metal abrasion.

The buckle of the wrist strap scratched the coating of my bow.
I replaced the original strap with a piece of paracord.

Make sure to use the wrist sling!

It might again be obvious, but you shouldn’t forget to use the sling. You will only have to consciously do it for the first few times. After a while, you will do it automatically, like buckling in your seat belt when driving your car.

Final words

You might think that it’s hypocritical that I recommend using a wrist sling while I don’t use one on my compound bow. In general, in all cases, including mine, using a wrist sling is a good idea. But if you have more experience you can judge for yourself whether you want to take the risk. It’s just like a case or screen protector for your phone.

If you are a careful person, using a wrist sling might give you some peace of mind. Which allows you to shoot with your hand open without gripping the bow tightly. When you are more experienced, you tend to be more relaxed and comfortable with your grip anyway.

If you have any experiences, comments, or questions, please leave them down below. I will respond to your question as soon as possible and send you an email with my reply!

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