Archery Arm Guard – Prevent Injury And Improve Accuracy

Do You Really Need An Archery Arm Guard?

If you have been trying to get started in bow hunting, you may have already experienced the pain of string slap. You won’t be able to ignore string slap because it hurts like the dickens. Beginners can get turned off by this painful event but an arm guard can prevent this from happening.

Another reason to use an archery arm guard is often overlooked but really even more important.
A subtle brush of the string against your sleeve can be easily overlooked.  All you will notice is that you occasionally have some extreme fly away shots and you won’t know why. You may not have even noticed that your bow string lightly kissed your shirt sleeve or jacket and thrown off your shot.

Until you perfect your practice and learn to examine each step of the shot, from grasping the bow until the arrow hits the target, you may miss the string interference and continually miss for no apparent reason.

What is string slap?

People call it a lot of different names; string slap, bow bite, string bite and string burn. It’s all the same. If you hold your bow incorrectly there is a possibility that the bow string could come into contact with your bow holding arm. Beginners with imperfect form often get a not so gentle, reminder to pay closer attention to their shooting form and it can leave a mark.

It is also known as string interference. Sometimes the bow string doesn’t touch you but it touches your clothing. Once in a while, you may be wearing a long sleeved garment that could be loosely cut, like a Jacket in cold weather or a loose camouflage cover garment for hunting. The bow string can slap the extra fabric that billows out from your bow grasping arm. While it may not hurt you and you may not even notice it, it can throw your shot off a lot.

What is an archery arm guard?

The arm guard is usually a plastic, leather, vinyl or fabric protective cover that protects the underside of your bow arm from the possibility of a painful bow bite. Sometimes they slip on like sleeve protector and sometimes they are laced on with leather or string. The most common types are Velcro on or they have straps with a hook and a place to hook it after you wrap it around your arm.

archery arm guard

The simple protective device has been used by archers for centuries to protect their arms. Often they are home made with thick leather and laces to tie them on with.

No matter what kind you decide to use they are pretty handy and if they save the beginner some pain and frustration they are worth the relatively cheap cost.

Who should use an arm guard?


As a beginner I shot a pretty light weight bow. As I got a little bigger and stronger, I stepped up from a twenty-five pound bow to a forty-five pound bow. Not being a really experienced archer I still had a few issues with shooting form. A major flaw was made extremely obvious the first time I got sloppy and suffered a string mishap. I got a doozy of a string burn. I used to be not too bothered by the lighter bow when it slapped me. I would wince and rub it and I was able to keep shooting. The new heavier bow left a mark. Honestly it hurt so bad I went and got Ice to put on it. But the next day I was good to go. For a few shots, anyway. One more chomp on my arm and I had a bow string raspberry for a week. It was tender and hurt like crazy for a while. Today, almost 40 years later, I’m happy to say I haven’t forgotten my arm guard since.


My feeling is that all beginners should use an arm guard mainly for safety’s sake. Anytime your hobby hurts you, you are going to become wary of it and sometimes after enough injuries, you will quit doing it. Archery is tough enough to get good at. Some days it can be down right frustrating. For kids and beginners the excuse to walk away from the sport can be just one minor injury away. An arm guard can be bought for cheap but the safety is worth every penny.


In my opinion, even though experienced bow hunters don’t often get string slapped very often, there is a much more critical reason to wear an archery arm guard. Bow hunters should wear an arm guard but many don’t. They claim they are uncomfortable to wear all day or they can be sweaty and I understand their point.

However, even experienced hunters sometimes find themselves shooting from awkward angles. Sometimes the animal catches you by surprise and you don’t have a chance to turn just right to get into perfect shooting form. That arm guard might be just enough to keep your bowstring from snagging on your sleeve and completely blowing your shot or even worse, moving your shot enough to wound the animal instead of making a clean, humane kill.

As for competitive target archery, most archery ranges won’t even let you practice without an arm guard, much less, let shoot without one. Most competitors understand that a string strike on the arm guard is less likely to throw off your shot, costing you points, than if the string strikes flesh or a shirt sleeve. Point- Arm Guard.

The Proper size.

Beginning archers should buy an arm guard that covers all of the inner forearm from crook of the elbow to the wrist. With weak wrists, too straight of a bow arm and improper grip o the bow, not to mention, loss of focus, errant releases and a myriad of other technical faults, there is no telling just where along the arm a strike might occure.

For Beginners, just measure from the crook of the elbow to the inner wrist and order or build an arm guard that length. More experience archers will learn where they like to fit their arm guard along their forearm and how long they want the arm guard to be. The selection of length usually runs from four inch youth models up to 11+ inches and everything in between.

Some arm guards slip on and they can be a little tight if you have big forearms. Most arm guards have straps or velcro or strings to hold them securely to your forearm. You may have to add a little length to these straps if you have really big forearms but it won’t be an issue for most people.

Which one?

Archery arm guards come in a lot of varieties. Different styles, different lengths and different materials. Hunters may want to consider a camouflage arm guard made of a quiet material that won’t make a lot of noise if it brushed up against their body or bow.

Target Archers might want to match a color on thier team uniform or match their bow colors when choosing an arm guard.

Kids just starting out might have a favorite color they want. There are hundreds of styles out there and can be relatively inexpensive.

If you decide to make an online purchase definitely read the reviews and refund policies. Most places hav3e both. You dont want to be stuck with a junky arm guard so choose the best option for you.

Whether you choose leather, vinyl, fabric mesh, colorful or camouflage, just be sure to get used to wearing it.

Have fun and shoot safely.

Feel free to leave any questions or comments in the comment section below. I’ll be happy to respond.


e-mail sam@warthogenterprises.com



  1. Thanks for the great information. I haven’t shot a bow in years but I have just started looking at getting back into it. I know the pain of string bite, but I never even considered the accuracy component. I feel like I was a competent archer back in the day and I assumed I would pick it up again pretty readily and not need an arm guard. Guess I’ll be adding one to my shopping list now. which material do you feel holds up the best over time?

    • Hi, Mark.

      I’m glad you liked my post. I sure hope it inspired you to pick up archery again. Once you get your form down, string bite is a lot less of an issue but the string hitting your sleeve is still possible. I finally settled on a long guard with elastic straps and hooks. I found it handily kept my jacket or shirt sleeves out of the way of my bow string.

      I like a tough thick vinyl material for my arm guard. They last for years and generally aren’t too expensive. It doesn’t absorb odor and it is easily cleaned up. Leather and woven fabrics tend to absorb sweat and odors and are terrible to take on a hunt when scent control is important.

      Thanks for the nice comments and as always, stay safe and have fun.


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