Talking about the finger tab and the glove in archery, you may wonder which one offers you the most protection for the sport. You want to at least wear some form of protection because it serves as a barrier between your hands and the bowstring. In fact, it prevents nerve damage and not being able to feel your fingers—whatever you choose, you need some kind of protection for your hands. Never shoot without finger protection. Let’s compare the finger tab versus the glove so that you can make your own decisions.
Finger Tab vs Glove: Accuracy
Most archers like the finger tab because it uses a thinner material than the glove to allow you to adjust your shots. You can achieve better accuracy with the tab. While finger tabs may feel like a simple piece of leather, you will enjoy straighter shooting. With archery gloves, you can buy one that has an equal level of accuracy, but not all archery gloves were created equal. Some will do better than others.
Generally speaking, the finger tab outperforms the glove when it comes to accuracy. You can still shoot a glove well, but the thing that holds it back here comes from the greater thickness of the leather, making for less protection.
Finger Tab vs Glove: Who Gives Better Finger Protection?
Without a question, the glove will offer better finger protection than the finger tab. In many cases, you may even feel the bowstring through the finger tab.
Expert Tip: You may want to only protect your fingers well enough to keep from hurting them on the bowstring. If it hurts to shoot, you don’t have enough protection. Most finger tabs will offer thin protection, and even your best finger tabs pale in comparison to the protection of a glove.
Without a doubt, we would say that the glove offers much better protection here.
If you’d like to learn more about protection for your fingers, check out this article that I wrote here, “Do You Need Gloves for Archery?”
Release: Who Wins? Glove or Finger Tab…
The archery glove experiences a few issues with the release. The leather catches on the string slightly, which can throw off your shots. The problem comes from the thicker padding. Wearing a thick glove, the bowstring creates a groove in the leather, which makes for a less-than-perfect shot. You don’t experience this with a tab as much because of the thinner leather piece. Also, the lower surface of friction allows for easier release.
Good protection will keep your fingers safe when drawing back the bow and at the release point. Finger tabs and gloves both fail in this category, but the glove does worse. Who performs best here? If you want the smoothest release, we would advise that you choose a trigger release. Trigger releases have a special advantage for bowhunters. You do have one danger with the mechanical release in that it gives you one more piece of equipment that can fail at that opportune moment.
The tabs will give a better release than the glove, but you have a big exception here. You need to have good form for a good release.
Tabs vs Gloves: What Archery Style Will You Pursue?
When it comes to the tabs vs gloves debate, we would say that it largely depends on the archery style that you plan to pursue. Gloves offer an advantage over traditional bows because of superb protection near the fingertips. Gloves also help against heavier draw weight where you need the thicker padding. While some people may think of archery gloves as more medieval, in fact, tabs were around longer than archery gloves.
The archery glove, in its modern form, was first invented in 1936 to 1937. Finger tabs, in comparison, go back to the medieval ages and further. If you’d like to learn more about medieval archers and the finger protection that they used across multiple civilizations like Egypt, China, Mongolia and the inhabitants of North America, check out my article, “Did Ancient Archers Use Finger Tabs?“
The tabs may make more sense in cases where you need the utmost accuracy. You can’t afford to be off by a few centimeters. That’s where it comes in handy. For example, the Olympics and competitive archery tend to use finger tabs more because of the greater accuracy. No two archers are alike, however, and you may see some who use the glove, but by and large, they prefer the tabs for a reason.
Which One is Better for Beginners?
Because of the additional protection for the hands, the glove gives you the better choice for a beginner. Those just starting will especially have a danger of nerve damage because their fingers will be more susceptible. Still, you always need finger protection of some type even when experienced because your fingers can’t take the impact with the bowstring forever. Eventually, it will cause a loss of feeling in the fingers. The number of archers who have had this happen temporarily is staggering. Don’t risk it.
Also, your accuracy at the beginning of archery won’t be that great anyhow. You might as well learn how to shoot with a glove.
The Cost: Finger Tab vs Glove
Finger tabs will range in cost anywhere from $3 to $55, depending on the tab. The more expensive tab will have more intricacy and detail to it, but it will mostly only differ in terms of style. The key to watch for is how thickly padded it will be. Does it provide you with enough protection? Some archers may want less padding but enough not to feel the bowstring hurting their fingers.
On the other hand, the glove ranges in cost from $9 to $80. Keep in mind with both the finger tab and the archery glove, most of the products will sit between the $10 to $25 range. The ones over that usually offer a little extra. Gloves do cost a little more on the higher end because of the extra material, but you can find many tabs and gloves costing about the same.
Let’s say that you planned to bowhunt with your glove. Then you may want to buy a higher end one made for hunting because it can withstand the elements better. The Sitka Gear Unisex-Adult Esw Glove uses a synthetic leather palm to withstand the abuse from the outdoor elements. At the same time, you receive comfort for the long hours spent out in the treestand.
Who Wins the Comfort Category?
Comfort particularly matters in cases where you will spend long hours out hunting or for some other occasion. Most people say that they find the gloves more comfortable than the tabs. The extra padding will feel more comfortable when shooting, and it usually fits snugly over the hand. How does a tab compare in terms of comfort? Archery tabs feel comfortable, but you probably wouldn’t call them as comfortable as a glove.
The material of the tabs will also play a big role. For example, suede leather or a double-layer leather feels more comfortable than other choices. Out in the boat for bowfishing, I prefer the glove because it feels more comfortable for shooting over the night.
Learning Curve: Tabs vs Gloves
Finger tabs will take more time learning how to shoot with them than a glove. With a glove, everything is fairly straightforward. You pull back and shoot, but tabs require a little more understanding of shooting to do it well. You can learn it like anything, but it takes more time.
Tabs will also need to be broken in whereas, you can start shooting right away with gloves. It may take time learning how to shoot with gloves, but it doesn’t require as much time.
One Advantage of Tabs over Gloves
With tabs, you can trim down the leather piece to eliminate the excess material. To give you an example, let’s say that you have a hand size in between the sizes. You chose the larger tab size. You can trim down the tab to make it fit better. People trim away the excess with either a sharp knife or a scissors.
Part of It Comes down to Personal Preference
Some archers will prefer the glove while others will prefer the tabs. Every shooter will have his own preference and neither is right or wrong. You might alternate what you use depending on the type of shooting. For example, a lot of people find the glove more convenient when hunting, but they like the better accuracy of the tabs when doing competitions.
Which One Lasts Longer: Tabs vs Gloves
Tabs last forever, and the low cost makes them attractive to the budget archer. On the other hand, archery gloves may last a while depending on the brand, but just because you paid a big price for a glove doesn’t mean that it will last forever. Heavy shooters can wear out gloves in six months to a year, which may make tabs a more worthwhile investment.
At the same time, the simplicity of tabs have made it popular. Once you understand how they work, you can make them yourself for free. However, some people may choose to buy archery tabs because they can get a more intricate design.
What to Choose for Heavier Draw Weight
In truth, you’d be fine with either, but a glove works better for heavier draw weight because of the thicker padding. If you have a heavier draw weight and you notice it hurting your fingers with the tabs, you may need thicker padding for it. In most cases, you can resolve this easily enough.
Is a finger tab necessary for archery? With three options available, you don’t need a finger tab. You can choose to use finger tabs, an archery glove or a release aid. What you choose hinges mostly on personal preference and what you find the easiest to shoot with.
Can archers wear gloves? In fact, archers use a form of finger protection known as an archery glove. This prevents nerve damage to the fingers. You don’t want to use a bow repeatedly without some form of protection for the fingers. When archers wear gloves, they do this to protect the hands.
What is an archers glove called? Fred Bears filed the patent for the archers glove under the name “Archers Glove” in 1937. For that reason, you could simply call the archers glove an archers glove because that was what it was originally called when it was invented. You don’t have any tricky language for what it is called.
We won’t tell you to choose the tabs or the archer’s glove. Instead, we would like to highlight the differences between the two to make it easier to make a decision. Each shooter will have their own preference for one or the other. In some cases, they may like one for hunting and like the second for other purposes. Figuring out which one you want to shoot with, pick out the pros and cons of each to decide which you like best.