Guide to Traditional Archery Arrow Rests

Traditional archers are known for their simplicity. Everything about their gear is uncomplicated.

The rests they choose for their bows are no different. They’re simple, but functional.


Before you start to pick a rest, take a look at your bow’s riser. If it’s bare above the shelf, with no holes in it, your rest choices are more limited than if it is drilled and tapped.

Here’s your guide to traditional archery rests.

SHELF RESTS – These are perhaps the simplest of the traditional bow rests, and are widely favored by traditional bowhunters. They are designed for archers who shoot their arrows off the shelf. That is, their arrows simply rest on the riser shelf, above the handle.

Shelf rests commonly are made of felt, leather, feathers or hair. Some are flat pieces of material that simply cover the shelf wood, while others are slightly raised to hold the arrow a little above the shelf.


Shelf rests are intended for archers who shoot arrows fletched with feathers. The down feather folds flat as the arrow slides across the shelf rest. A plastic vane would jump when it hits the shelf, causing erratic arrow flight.

STICK-ON RESTS – Any traditional bow can receive these rests. Like their name implies, they stick to the riser above the shelf, usually by way of double-sided tape.


These rests will have an arm built into them, which is meant to support the arrow. Arrows bearing vanes or feathers can be shot from these rests.

SCREW-IN RESTS – These rests are limited to those bows drilled and tapped to accept them. They have arms to support arrows, and they bolt into place through the riser mount. They function just like the stick-on rests, but they are more secure.


REST-PLUNGER COMBO – This is the most advanced of the traditional rests, and it’s not as widely used as the others. It’s primarily favored by traditional archers who shoot competitively. It can only be used with bows that have the threaded plunger hole mounts above the shelf on the riser.

The rest employs a wire arm, and it’s used in concert with a cushion plunger, which sits against the arrow. The plunger cushions the flexing of an arrow as it leaves the bow to promote consistent arrow flight.


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