UNFORTUNATELY, outsiders are prone to look upon the archer's glove and arm-guard as a sort of affectation. Not a few beginners expect to get along very well without them. Here and there one encounters a horny handed individual who tells that he works with his hands and therefore needs no such protectors. He confidently starts out with his shooting, but very soon is seen to be wincing from the punishment given his forearm by the bowstring. If he is wearing a coat, we see him trying to pull the sleeve down to protect his wrist. And he very soon conceives the idea—by no means an inaccurate one—that the sleeve is interfering with his accuracy. Right there he begins to talk about an arm-guard, and eagerly accepts the first proffer of the loan of one. But his real trouble is yet to come. As he goes blithely along with his shooting, before long he raises blood blisters on the fingers of his string hand. So far as I know, no archer has succeeded in shooting for hours at a stretch and with no protection for the fingers of his string hand without paying this penalty.
Dealers in archery goods offer a large selection of finger tips, as they are called. These were at one time known as knuckle tips. I have never been able to learn where this latter name came from, as they were in fact finger stalls, the term finger tips also being a misnomer. Finger tips are made from good leather, having a fine facing, and are worn on the three used fingers of the string-drawing hand—just good, heavy finger stalls. Get them of good quality and the proper fit, and they protect your fingers just about as well as anything can. Unfortunately, though, it takes quite a little time for the beginner in archery to become accustomed to using them. Some say that they fly off along with the arrow altogether too easily. Naturally they will if too loose. Some archers seem to find it impossible to get a proper fit— are always fuming about their tips. This diffi-culty should quite easily be overcome. In choosing a set, one should pick those which are too tight and thus prevent pushing the fingers in all the way, then place the set in hot water to soak thoroughly, finally stretching them onto the fingers, molding the leather by working it vigorously with the free hand. After manipulating the wet tips until they fit perfectly, remove them carefully and lay them aside to dry where they will not be disturbed. When dry they will retain their shape for a considerable time, and give good satisfaction in shooting.
A glove is just as good; but I never favor the heavy buckskin that is chosen by some. It is a mistake to have the finger tips or the fingers of the glove too thick and cumbersome. Much better get an ordinary kid glove that has been well broken in without damage to the three important fingers, and reinforce the fingers. The reinforcing should cover the fingers on the front and sides; the best material for this is Russian leather. This is smooth, not too hard, nor yet too thick, and is easy to work. Still, it takes a rather neat hand with the needle to apply these facings satisfactorily. Special care must be taken to prevent any pucker coming on the inside surfaces between the first and second finger, which hold the arrow on the string. Nor should the leather be too thick at this place. The archer's fingers must always feel the arrow sufficiently to enable holding it without pinching.
Another form of protection for the fingers of the string hand is called a tab. This is a piece of leather, cut to form a protection for the entire three fingers, and slit to enable holding the arrow on the string. Some archers prefer these tabs, and certainly they insure more delicate holding of the arrow. They are, however, rather clumsy, it seems to me.
The only objection to using a glove is, it encloses the hand and is not comfortable on a warm day. Some archers get around this by cutting away the thumb, palm and part of the back of the glove, leaving only a skeleton with three fingers attached.
The bracer, or arm-guard, although scorned by some archers, nevertheless is desirable equipment. Dealers in archery goods have them in various attractive styles, but practical utility should govern the choice of one. Any good piece of stiff cowhide with a smooth surface, and cut to the proper shape, will do when provided with eyelets for lacing it on, or some other fastening that suits the archer. Whatever form it may be, the fastening must be well on the back of the bow arm, as nothing may be allowed to obstruct the bowstring when the shot is made. It may seem strange, but it nevertheless is a fact that if the string is interfered with a wild shot will be the result. So the arm-guard must fit snugly, and have a smooth surface. It must not reach as low as the wrist, nor come up to the elbow joint. The arm must have freedom.