The Arrow Rest – Which and Why?


by Adam Miller

This article explains what is an arrow rest, why do we need it and why are there so many options to choose from? We hope that, after reading this, it will be easier for you to decide what rest is best for you, your bow and your style of archery.

Arrow rests usually attach to the side of your bow and help to keep the arrow placement consistent. In some cases, the rest has adjustments: up, down, left and right to help you fine tune your perfect setup. The rest can also help to keep the arrow in place when you draw back the bow; this is especially useful for beginners, shooting in the wind or if you’re shooting extreme angles like in field archery. The price and style can vary greatly – so choosing the correct one can be a little daunting. The first question to ask when choosing your arrow rest is what style of archery do you do?

1. Recurve Arrow Rests

For recurve archery, there are 3 main style of rest you can choose from: there is the basic plastic stick on rest, the more advanced stick on rest with a metal arm and the wrap around rest with a metal arm. So why choose one style over another?

101177 The Arrow Rest - Which and Why?

Plastic Stick On Recurve Arrow Rests The basic plastic rest like the Hoyt – Super Arrow Rest is the kind you would usually find supplied with your bow. They are a great little rest, easy to replace and reliable enough for any skill level. There are even some Olympic archers that still use this style of rest. The downside, the little arm that holds the arrow is quite fragile and can easily broke, so having lots of spares is definitely a good idea. It’s a cheap rest, but you will need to replace it often. At the higher price point you will find the Beiter – Recurve Arrow Rest, this gives you the option of replacement arms for different thickness of arrow. It’s a very well engineered rest with micro tuning features, it can be a little tricky to setup, but once it is – it’s reliable and easy to adjust. It’s a great option if you want something that will last longer than the basic rest.

Metal Stick On Recuve Rests The next style of stick on rest has a metal arm to rest the arrow on, instead of a little plastic one. This has the advantage of being a lot stronger and should last longer. Most of these rests include a magnetic feature, so the rest will fold away to help with arrow clearance. Rests like the Decut – Nisa Magnetic Arrow Rest are quite cheap to buy, the downside being there are no replacement parts – so when something breaks, you’ll have to replace the whole rest. At the higher end of the range you will find rests like the Shibuya – Ultima Magnetic Arrow Rest. For this option you can replace the metal arm and you can also get replacement glue pads, so if you change bows you can remove the rest and place it on your new bow. You also have the ability to adjust the height distance form the bow so you can micro tune for any thickness of arrow you want to shoot. The added bonus with this rest is that it comes in many different colours – and who doesn’t like that?

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101209 The Arrow Rest - Which and Why?Wrap Around Recurve Arrow Rests The third style of rest is a wrap around magnetic metal rest. This fits to the bow using the spare pressure button hole found on most modern bows. The rest is held in place with a screw, the main body of the rest is located at the back of the riser with a metal arm extending to fit under the pressure button. The Cartel – CR 301 Hunter Arrow Rest is a great example and a good budget rest. But for the ultimate in adjustability and when the price is not an issue, the Spigarelli – Z/T Spigua Arrow Rest is probably the most adjustable recurve arrow rest on the market. With micro adjustment screws, arrow placement is easy to adjust when tuning your individual setup.

There are many different types of rests, the ones recommended above are just some of the most popular ones. Depending on your budget, appearance and features there are quite a few options to choose from, so its always worth having a look to see what’s available. Have a look at our extensive range of Recurve Arrow Rests to choose one that suits you best.

2. Compound Arrow Rests

Compound rests have changed a lot though the years. There are 4 main styles of rests available for the compound bow, so let’s see why you might choose one style over another.

107352 The Arrow Rest - Which and Why?Full Capture Compound Arrow Rests If you’re new to this style, or plan to use our bow for hunting, the best starter rest would be on of these. Some of them are referred to as whisker biscuits or CONTAINMENT ARROW RESTS, as they are silent and hold the arrow in place. They’re a good starting rest, as it’s easier to keep the arrow on the rest as you learn draw back the bow. This might not be the best option if you’re looking at more competitive target archery, but it’s a good starting option. It’s also one of the best options if you are interested in hunting, as it’s much quieter than the other styles of rest, and will allow you to move around more easily while tracking a target.

Prong Compound Arrow Rests These are sometimes called “shoot through” arrows rests. They usually have 2 metal prongs, with the arrow sitting between them. This style of rests is also good for the inexperienced archer, as it can help to keep the arrow in place as you draw back the bow. These are still popular with hunters, but are not often seen on target bows as other options have increased in popularity.

117249 The Arrow Rest - Which and Why?Fall-Away Compound Arrow Rests As it’s name suggests, this rest has an arm that effectively drops away as you release the arrow. This is good if you are planning on using very large vanes and most are triggered by having a cable attached to the bows limb, cable slide or bus cable. Some are even triggered by the bow’s forward movement. These rests are again popular with hunters as it gives you a good secure position for your arrow, to help keep it in place as you draw the bow. They do require more tuning than the other styles of rest but are popular with hunters and target archers as you don’t have to worry about arrow clearance.

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Blade Compound Arrow Rests This is the most popular style of rest in target archery. This style of rest uses a metal blade, usually shaped like a forked tongue. The metal blade comes in different widths and thickness, so you might need to change it depending on the of type of arrow you’re shooting. For a good starting rest, the Decut – Suntec X1 Compound Arrow Rest cold be a good entry level version, and might make a good rest to use if you’re unsure if the blade is right for you. The one issue most people have with the blade style is the arrow jumping off the rest while drawing back the bow. This happens as the blade is quite flexible and causes the arrow to jump up and down as you pull back the bow. With time this issue will resolve itself, you just need to learn how to draw back as smoothly as possible. More expensive blades like the Beiter – Compound Arrow Rest have a guidance plate added to help stop the arrow jumping, and being made by Beiter you can be sure that it will be reliable and fully adjustable. Rests like the AAE Arizona – Freak Show QD Compound Arrow Rest have a quick release section which enables you to remove the blade section from the bow without removing the whole rest. This has a few uses. Firstly you can remove the rest when you’re putting your bow back in its box, as the blades on the rest can be sharp and can catch on material as you put your bow away. The second use is so you have the option of getting a second rest setup for different arrows, or even use the same rest on multiple bows. At the highest price point you have the Mathews – QAD Ultrarest TRi Compound Arrow Rest. This rest is probably the most adjustable and most secure you can buy. It is built around the Integrate™ System featured on Mathews’ new models, so if you have a Mathews bow and want the best money can buy, this is the choice for you. It’s also featuring quick release, micro tuning and blade cover, for when you’re transporting your bow. A great little addition – the adjustable metal pin – is designed to help you have a clear reference point on your rest to enable you to quickly remove and replace the main body of the rest for transportation.

There are many, many different blade rest to choose from, some you might choose for the main features, or just because you have colour options. Another consideration is price, and the best advice is to buy the best you can afford to get. If you’re just starting out, you might want to consider a lower priced one, if you more competitive, or plan to shoot in tournaments, then a higher priced rest would be the preferred option, as it will be more reliable and will be easier to adjust. Have a look at our extensive range of Compound Arrow Rests to choose one that suits you best.

3. Traditional Arrow Rests

For traditional archery, there are many different styles of bow, so the arrow rest you buy will depend on the style of bow you use.

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Some wooden bows will have a shelf designed for arrow placement. In that case, you might want to protect the bow and help the arrow leave the bow with as little friction as possible. A good option is the Bear – Traditional Hair Rest and Plate.

If you want a more modern style rest, then a good choice might be Bear Archery – Traditional Weather Rests. Remember to buy a spare, though, as the little plastic arm can break, so having a replacement is essential. If your bow does come with a hole for a pressure button then the NAP – Centerest Arrow Rest could be your best choice, and again a spare rest is a good idea as well, for this one you would buy NAP – Replacement Centerest Arrow Rest. This is a handy replacement as you can quickly replace it with very little effort.

If your traditional bow is a newer takedown style bow, then you might want to consider the Zniper – Wrap Around Arrow Rest.

Have a look at our Traditional Arrow Rests page to choose your favourite.

4. Barebow archery

Just about all of the recurve rests would work well for barebow archers. The one additional suggestion would be the Zniper – Wrap Around Arrow Rest. This rest has been specifically designed with barebow archers in mind and most of the top barebow archers in the world now use this rest. If this is outside of your budget, then the main thing to consider would be a magnetic rest that will find away after release. It needs to be a metal arm style, as the extreme angles used due to sting walking can place a lot of pressure on the arrow rest. Therefore you can consider going for the strongest you can – it’ll save money in the long run as some of the cheaper ones might easily break.


As you can see, there are lots of different options available for every style of archery you might like to try. Choosing a rest could be as simple as buying the one you like the look of. But always make sure the one you buy is correct for your style of archery. The arrow rest is an essential part of equipment that you might not think too much about, but it can help you tune your bow and with care can last for a long time. Just remember to always check your rest before you shoot to make sure none of the settings have changed, or that the rest isn’t damaged. If you shoot recurve/barebow always fit a new rest with the pressure button already installed, that way if you’re using a glue on rest you can be sure your placement is correct. The last thing you need is to glue on a new rest for it to pop off as soon as you screw in your button because it was covering the hole! And yes this has happened to a lot of archers in the past.

I hope this helps you to choose your next arrow rest, but as with everything else in archery, talk to other people in your club and see what they use.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>