What’s the Best Archery Glove?
In this post, we'll be talking about GLOVES---specifically, the best archery gloves for shooting. I'll review five gloves that I consider excellent options, and then I'll go over some product review items---what you should look for, variations between glove types, and why gloves are so important. First up:
The Damascus Shooting Glove
The Damascus Shooting Glove is probably one of the most popular gloves you'll find. If you go to any archery range in the United States or Canada (and probably England, Australia, and New Zealand, although I can't vouch for that), you will see this glove. I've purchased a number of these over the years (I tend to lose smaller items---drives my wife crazy!), because they're reliable, relatively long-lasting, and they feel reaaaaaaally good.
The trick with gloves is that they need to be thick enough to give your proper cushioning against the bow string, while at the same time being thin enough so that you have can feel your way through a shot. A really, really thick glove will give you a lot of protection, but you won't be able to tell if you're touching the bow string. That's why I like this glove so much---it provides excellent protection, while also allowing me to feel my way through a draw.
I'm not one of these guys who will only use traditional equipment, but I do appreciate traditional equipment when it comes my way, so I get a kick out of wearing this---it gets the job done, but it looks old-school, like something Robin Hood would use. It's dark brown leather (and it smells like leather, which I love), and the Velcro lining at the wrist (which isn't very traditional, I suppose) that keeps everything in place, so I don't have to re-adjust it a hundred times, which drives me crazy.
It has leather on the inside of the hand, which I prefer (as opposed to the Neet Suede Shooting Glove, which I discuss next---that glove does not have leather on the inside of the hand, and some people prefer that), and it's reversible, so you can use it if you're left-handed or right-handed.
Lastly---this glove is good for bows up to 50 pounds. Anything more than that, and you'll want to use...
The Neet Suede Shooting Glove
The Neet Suede Shooting Glove is another super-popular option, and many people would argue this is the best archery glove you're going to find. So let's take a look.
This glove provides solid protection, but it has much less material than the Damascus. Here's why that's relevant:
As I mentioned in the Damascus write-up, there are generally two types of shooting gloves: gloves that have material (usually leather) on the inside of the palm, and gloves that have no material on the inside of the palm. The Neet glove is one that has no material on the palm, and some people prefer that, because it means your fingers are less likely to sweat inside the glove. If you tend to sweat a lot, and you think perspiration may mess with your shot, a glove with less material may be a good choice for you.
Plus, it's easier to take off your fingers very quickly, if you need to remove the glove in a hurry. Some people hate being tied into a glove if they like to take notes or write things down between ends.
As for draw weight---this is a little bit stronger than the Damascus, so you can safely use a bow up to 60 pounds without experiencing too much wear and tear. The glove is made out of suede, which is technically leather, but it's a lot softer---it has a "shaggy nap." Some people don't like suede, so if you're looking for a similar style glove that only covers the finger tips, you'll probably like the Pellor glove, which I talk about next.
This is also good for righties or lefties, so you don't have to worry about buying for the wrong hand (as a lefty, I've done that PLENTY of times!).
The Pellor Handmade Leather Glove
The Pellor Handmade Leather Glove is very similar to the Neet version, but the main difference is that it's made out of straight-up leather.
The great thing about this glove is that it's adjustable---there's an adjustable wrist strip, so if you've got really large hands, or really small hands, and you can never seem to find something that fits, you can give this a whirl.
If you decide that this is the glove for you, keep in mind that because it's leather, you'll need to break it in. This kind of glove is really, really stiff when you first get it. It's kind of like a baseball glove: you have to wear it for a while, and make it yours. That can be kind of a pain at first, but it's part of what's so great about leather: it's stiff when you first purchase it, but over time it melds to the shape of your hands. Other materials don't do that.
This kind of has a Freddie Krueger look to it, too, which is kind of cool.
The ArcheryMax Handmade Brown Leather Three Finger Archery Glove
I included the ArcheryMax Handmade Glove because I've used a lot of their products, and I've always had good luck with them.
This glove is a little different, in that the pads of the fingertips are reinforced with fabric: that's a nice feature, if you're looking for some extra protection. If you've got very sensitive fingers, or are very worried about getting any of the wear-and-tear injuries that can happen to long-term archers, this can be a good item.
There's a little more fabric to this glove than the other gloves, and that results in a fit that's a little more snug. Some of the lighter gloves can warp around your fingers towards the fingertip, but this glove is a little more dense, and doesn't seem to curl as much. If you're the kind of person who is "highly tactile"---if you're the kind of person who can't stand feeling a wrinkle in your sock or a crease in your clothes---that extra material can be a lifesaver.
This is for bows 50 pounds and below, so if you're got a really heavy bow, this glove isn't for you. You'll want something a little more rugged, like the Neet glove.
The Allen Three Finger Glove
Allen is another good company that I've always liked, and the Allen Three Finger Glove is a nice traditional glove, just like the Damascus. Unlike the Damascus, though, it's bright yellow, so if you want to stand out a little, here's your glove.
The best part about this glove is that it's ready to rock. If you hate waiting around for your gloves to get broken in---if you want to show up to the range with a ready-to-shoot glove---this one may be a good option: it's made from buckskin leather, which softens up much more quickly than other types of leather.
The only issue with these is that you'll want to wash or soak this before your first wear, as the leather bleeds a little bit the first time it gets wet. In other words, if you wear this to the range and sweat in it, you'll get yellow stuff all over hands. Just a heads up!
Also, if you use a very heavy bow, this is not for you---it's best with bows 40 pounds and under, so if you're pulling some serious weight, you'll want to look at something else.
This a very durable, very reliable glove that seems to last forever. It's good to go for righties and lefties, too, so there's no worry about if you're getting the right product.
The Dark Archer Tactical 3 Finger Shooting Archery Glove
The Dark Archer Tactical Glove is as close to a Navy Seal/ninja glove as you're going to find. Plus, the name---"THE DARK ARCHER"---pretty hard core!
For a lot of people who are very sensitive to touch (and I'm one of those people), it's the stitching on the inside of a glove that'll drive you insane. Stitching creates lines in the fabric, and those lines can result in lumpy areas in a glove. For 85% of people, that's no biggie---it's mostly lefties, who get forced into using right-handed gloves---but if the seams on the inside of a glove drive you crazy, check this glove out. I won't say it's the best glove, but it's definitely unique and it has a LOT of fans.
I still use leather gloves, because leather is a great material that allows the arrow a smooth release from my grasp, but I love this sort of glove.
So here are the details: it's a waterproof glove, so if you're going to be in the Great Outdoors and you don't want to be wearing a wet glove all day, the Dark Archer is a good option. It's made out of rubber, but it's covered in a thin cotton that allows the arrow to smoothly release from your fingers. The glove, surprisingly, is reversible, so you can use it if you're a lefty or a righty.
The only problem with this---and it's kind of a bummer if you prefer heavier draw weights---is that it's not a good fit for bows 40 pounds or heavier. If that's you, and prefer heavier bows, you'll want to go with a traditional leather glove.
Other than that, I would definitely suggest you give this a try. It's an interesting alternative to traditional leather gloves, and I'm surprised there aren't more gloves like this on the market.
So, now that we've gone over some time-tested gloves, let's ask the question:
Do I Really Need to Wear a Glove?
I, personally, love wearing archery gloves, but---if you hate them, then, no! You don't have to use them. You can also use a finger tab, or you can use a release aid. Plenty of folks use those, and they love 'em.
I do, however, suggest that you always wear something to protect your fingers--gloves, tabs, whatever. There are some Tough Guys who swear that they never use glovers or finger tabs, and that after a few months, they develop the callouses necessary to go glove-less. And that's great--but the downside of never using gloves is that you will eventually end up with nerve damage. It's happened to a lot of archers, and it can happen to you. You've got to protect your fingers.
(And, also---building up those callouses is extremely painful! I forgot my archery glove once and figured I'd give glove-less a go. After about 30 minutes, I was in absolute agony.)
And, even aside from health aspects of shooting without a glove, the skin of your fingers---which is not meant to be frictionless, and is instead made to be somewhat sticky---robs you of some accuracy.
So, gloves are the way to go---and if not gloves, a finger tab or a release aid.
Thank you, archers! I hope this helps!