Guide to Compound Bow Arrow Rests

You’ve got your first compound bow, and now you’re trying to figure out which arrow rest to put on it.

Looking through a catalog, you’ll undoubtedly notice many different rests in a variety of shapes and configurations.

Let us break them down for you so you can figure out which rest is right for your compound bow.

For starters, understand that a compound bow is meant to be shot using an arrow rest. Shooting off the shelf, like traditional recurve and longbow archers often do, really isn’t an option.


When choosing an arrow rest for your bow, you should think about what you plan to do with your bow. Bowhunters, for example, have slightly different needs than target archers. A bowhunter has to consider all kinds of inclement weather and stalking through arrow-grabbing vegetation. The target archer, on the other hand, is only concerned about maximum accuracy.

Nearly all compound bow arrow rests on the market fall into one of the following basic categories:

1. Launcher Style – These rests have been around for a long time. Some feature a pair of prongs that support the arrow, while others have a single, thin blade. These rests support the arrow constantly through draw and release, until the arrow has left the bow. The prong rests once were the standard for bowhunters – and still are used by many today – while the blade rests have long been favorites among target archers. These rests are popular in both crowds because they are easy to set and have minimal contact with the arrow, which aids in consistency from shot to shot.

Spot Hogg Premiere (prong)

Spot Hogg Premiere (prong)

AAE Freakshow (blade)

AAE Freakshow (blade)

2. Containment Style – The Whisker Biscuit is probably the best-known rest in this category, but there are others like it. These rests feature a full circle of nylon bristles, or up to three individual guides made of varying materials, that fully capture the arrow to hold it in place when the arrow is nocked. Once the arrow is captured, it’s very hard to knock it off the rest. Bowhunters love them because they’re simple, durable and nearly foolproof.


Whisker Biscuit

Whisker Biscuit

3. Drop Away – Drop-away rests have become incredibly popular among both target archers and bowhunters over the past decade. As their name suggests, these rests support the arrow through the draw cycle, then drop out of the way during the shot. After the rest guides the first few inches of arrow upon string release, there is no more contact between arrow and rest after the rest falls away.

Drop-aways come in three basic varieties. There are the limb-driven rests, where a cord is tied from the rest to one of the bow limbs. When the bow is at rest, the cord holds the rest flat against the shelf. As the archer draws and the limb flexes, the rest pops up to support the arrow at full draw. When the string is released, the cord pulls the rest out of the way of the arrow.

Hamskea Hybrid Hunter Pro

Hamskea Hybrid Hunter Pro (limb driven)

Cable-driven rests employ a cord that’s tied to the down-moving cable on a compound. As the archer draws and the cable moves down, the cord pulls the rest up to support the arrow at full draw. When the string is released, the cord slides up and the rest drops down to the shelf.

Tropghy Ridge Level

Trophy Ridge Level (cable driven)

Both limb-driven and cable-driven rests allow the rest to move up and down as an archers draws and relaxes the bow.

Inertia rests employ cords attached to the down cable, but the rests can be “cocked” in the upright position while the bow is at rest. This holds the arrow in place through the draw cycle. And if the archer lets down the bowstring, the rest will stay up. Only when the string is released, and there is a sudden release of energy by the bow, does the inertia rest fall out of the way.

QAD Ultra Rest HDX

QAD Ultra Rest HDX (inertia)

These rests are particularly favored by bowhunters, who can nock an arrow, cock the rest, and then not have to worry about the arrow falling off the rest.

Guide to Olympic Archery Arrow Rests

In this video, LAS TechXpert, and former U.S. national champion archer, Dan Schuller runs through the different types of arrow rests for Olympic recurve bows.

Olympic recurve archery – as the name suggests – is the only archery featured in the Olympic Games. So this is the highest level of competitive archery with a recurve bow in the world. And yet, the arrow rests are surprisingly simple.

Schuller shows a few different models – a bolt-on rest, stick-on rests with wire arms and a stick-on rest with a plastic arm.

Schuller describes the variations among these rests and how they’d be installed, and also suggests why an archer might choose one over the other. All are used by every level of archer, from beginner to Olympic champion.

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.


How to set up a drop-away arrow rest

Nocked and Ready to Rock host John Dudley talks about setting up and adjusting a drop-away arrow rest in this seventh installment of his video series, which walks through the entire process of setting up a bow.

For his setup, Dudley uses a limb-driven Trophy Taker, so that’s the drop-away rest he describes.

He talks about the importance of setting the rest so that the arrow comes off the bow straight, and walks through the steps he takes to make that happen.


How to change the draw cord on QAD HDX Ultra Rest

The Quality Archery Design (QAD) Ultra Rest is a popular arrow rest used by many archers today.

It’s a full-capture, drop-away rest, that’s triggered by a cord tied into, or clamped onto, the bow cable that pulls down as you draw the string.

From time to time, the rest cord can wear out, or you might want to change it to match your bow’s color-scheme or you might need to change it upon moving the rest from one bow to another.

In this video, Lancaster Archery TechXPert P.J. Reilly shows you how to change the cord on the Ultra Rest HDX.

This process would apply to most of the new QAD Ultra Rests. Some older models, as well as the current Hunter and LD Pro series rests, have a slightly different construction, and so this video can help guide you in changing the cord on those rests, but the process is not exactly the same.

Q.A.D. Ultrarest HDX

Lancaster Archery Supply TechXPert Wesley Benoit demonstrates the features and functions of the Quality Archery Designs (QAD) Ultrarest HDX. This is an arrow rest designed specifically for compound bows.

It’s a full-capture rest, which means the arrow is fully contained by the rest when it’s activated. It cannot fall out, no matter how the archer turns the bow. That makes it ideal for bowhunters.

It’s a drop-away rest, which means the rest drops out of the way of the arrow when the string is released. That means there’s no chance of the rest impacting the arrow’s flight.

Wesley walks through the adjustment features of the rest, and explains how it functions on the bow.