What’s the Best Archery Thumb Ring?

Garret Jacob | |

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For archers and hunters alike, there are a number of different draw styles to choose from. Draw style meaning the way in which you hold your bowstring while you draw your bow. Each draw type has its own benefit to the shooter and the type of draw you use is mostly a matter of preference. 

For archers or hunters who are looking for a more traditional feel, and maybe are using a traditional longbow, short bow, or recurve bow, the thumb draw maintains and offers that traditional feel. 

The thumb draw was perfected by horseback Mongolian archers and it still is used to this day. In order to properly perform the thumb draw technique, most often it is required to use an archer’s thumb ring. Archer’s thumb rings historically and today are constructed from all different types of materials, come in different shapes, and have different purposes. 

We have examples of different types of thumb rings spanning hundreds of years from stone and antler rings, to emerald encrusted gold rings. But for the modern archer, many questions arise when contemplating the purchase of a thumb ring.

Questions like how does a leather thumb ring differ from a brass ring? What about ivory? Do I want a thinner Turkish style thumb ring or cylindrical Manchu style ring? What is the difference between a thumb ring and a thumb tab?

In this article, we are going to explore the history of thumb rings, their purpose, how they are used during the thumb draw technique as well as identify our five favorite thumb rings currently on the market

Archery thumb rings are crucial for any archer who wishes to practice the thumb draw. It will protect your skin and allow you to shoot arrow after arrow without injury. Thumb rings can be made from different types of materials and there are many to choose from. We have made it simple for you by combing through hundreds of online reviews and doing our own independent research to identify our favorites. We will breakdown our favorites in great detail later in the article, but for now, let us warm you up with a brief introduction to our top five picks of archery thumb rings.

Best Archery Thumb Rings – Our Picks

Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers

What is the Thumb Draw?

When shooting a bow, there are several different draw methods that you can choose from. Each one has its own pros and cons, and it is really up to the preference of the user. The main draw types that are commonly used are the pinch draw, the Mediterranean draw, the Japanese draw, and the focus of this article, the thumb draw

Before we go into great detail about what the thumb draw is and how it is performed, let us just take a quick look at the other draw types. This will help us better understand the thumb draw and why a user might choose it over the other draw types. 

Pinch Draw: The first time someone picks up a bow, the pinch draw is the most instinctive way that person will draw their bow. The pinch draw has an extremely nice friction-free release; however, it can be difficult to draw certain bows with a high draw weight using this type of draw. The user will need tremendous strength and dexterity in their forefinger and thumb to draw a high draw weight bow.

Mediterranean Draw: The Mediterranean draw uses three fingers and causes much less strain on the hand than the pinch draw. The forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger are used to draw the bow. The arrow is placed between the forefinger and middle finger and usually, the arrow then is placed on the opposite side of the bow than the draw hand. For example, a right-handed archer would place the arrow on the left side of the bow and vice versa. The decreased strain on the hand allows the user to use bows with higher draw weights as well as hold their draw for a longer period. This helps create a more consistent and often more accurate shot. 

Japanese Draw: The Japanese draw is a variation of the thumb draw where a special glove is worn by the archer. The archer will grab the bowstring with the thumb and wrap the thumb around the bowstring while the forefinger comes down and presses against the meat of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. The draw then is much longer and can be four to five inches past the archer’s face.

And last, we have the thumb draw which is the focus of this article. 

Thumb Draw: For this draw, a thumb ring is commonly used. The thumb is used to grasp the bowstring and the forefinger and sometimes the middle finger is wrapped around the outside of the thumb. Before release, only the thumb is touching the bowstring as the forefinger and middle finger are removed from being wrapped around the outside of the thumb. Only having the thumb on the bowstring prevents any interference from the other fingers during release. Do not worry. If you are still a little confused, let us take a look at a step by step breakdown of the thumb draw and watch a short video that will explain the thumb draw in more detail.

How to Thumb Draw a Bow

To successfully perform the thumb draw it is advised you wear a thumb ring to prevent injury to your draw hand. 

  • To begin, the bowstring should rest behind the bend of the thumb on the meaty party of the hand between the thumb and the forefinger. 
  • Place the thumb tip into the side of the middle finger’s second knuckle
  • Gently place the index finger on top of the thumb. Do not squeeze the thumb.
  • Keep the back of your hand facing up and your knuckles horizontal.
  • Draw your bow. Remember, the arrow should be on the opposite side of the bow of which the archer is, the thumb side of the bow.  
  • Gently raise your forefinger from your thumb, relax your hand, and release.
  • There should be little to no movement of your release hand once the bowstring has left your thumb draw.

The primary release of the thumb draw requires no movement of the hand after release maintaining the horizontal knuckles and the back of the hand facing up. There is the option of the secondary release where the archer will slowly twist the hand to where the back of the hand is facing the archer after release. 

For an excellent demonstration of the thumb draw that also gives a brief explanation of its history and practicality, check out this video: 

Why Would You Use a Thumb Draw and Why Use A Thumb Ring?

There are several reasons you would use a thumb draw. In modern times, the thumb draw is used primarily for preference, to be traditional, or in horseback archery competitions. 

In historical times, the thumb draw was perfected by the Mongolian archers who rode through Asia and Europe on horseback engaging their enemies as they rode. The thumb draw is a stable draw for the short bow which was the primary weapon of the Mongolian archer. The thumb draw also required the archer to place the arrow on the outside of the bow which allowed them to stabilize the arrow as they rode so they could shoot accurately and at multiple angles. The arrow was stabilized in the grip of the thumb drawn bow by the presence of the forefinger which ensured the arrow rested firmly against the bow

The primary reason for using a thumb ring during the thumb draw is to protect the skin from the bowstring. The thumb ring allows an archer to shoot multiple times and quickly without bother making them more useful during warfare. 

It is important to note that some cultures used the thumb draw without a thumb ring. Most famously the Ishi, the last of the Yahi. 

How Does a Thumb Ring Help?

A thumb ring is designed to protect the skin of the inner pad of an archer’s thumb, the meaty area between the thumb and forefinger above the palm. During the thumb draw, the bowstring rests in the inner pad of the thumb, and if not properly protected, the inner pad will become inflamed and injured only after a few shots. The thumb ring is designed to protect the skin of the archer and they have been used for thousands of years. 

Types of Thumb Ring

Traditionally, archer’s thumb rings have been constructed from stone, horn, wood, bone, ivory, metals, glass, and leather. Modern thumb rings can now even be made of plastic. 

The three most common materials used today for archery thumb rings are leather, plastic, and metal. The material of the thumb ring that is right for you is a matter of preference, however, most archers actually own multiple rings constructed from all different materials and they are then used for their own specific purposes. 

Leather: Durable and comfortable to wear. One of the most common materials used by every skill level of the archer. Can be purchased or homemade. Very economical. 

Plastic: Excellent for bows with a lighter draw weight. They are cheaper. Users should be careful to not use plastic thumb rings with heavy draw weight bows because they will crack or break. 

Metal: Extremely durable. Heavy. An excellent choice for using bows with heavy draw weights. Often made from quality brass. 

Whatever material you choose, the most important thing is that the ring fits properly. The thumb ring should fit snug but still be able to be removed without too much trouble. The ring should not slide off while you are wearing it. 

Also, keep in mind the idea of winter thumb and summer thumb. You may need to purchase two separate rings a half a size apart for this very reason. In the summer, your thumb will swell in size and a larger thumb ring will be necessary where in winter, your thumb will contract where a smaller ring size will be needed.  

For a detailed video explaining the history of thumb rings, their materials, and the different types of thumb rings, check out this video. 

How to Size Your Thumb for a Thumb Ring

When it is time for you to purchase your thumb ring, and if you are looking at models that are not adjustable, it is important that you properly size your thumb. Before you measure, make sure your body is at room temperature and that you measure your thumb at the end of the day when it is the largest. 

Also, when you make your measurement, be sure to measure around the fattest part of your thumb, the thumb knuckle. 

The easiest way to measure your thumb is to use a vernier and to take the measurements and review the sizing chart of the ring manufacturer you wish to purchase from. If you do not have a vernier, as most of us do not, stop in at your local archery pro shop and someone should be able to assist you. 

If you do not have a vernier and you do not plan on going to a pro shop anytime soon before making an online purchase, here is one method you can use to get an accurate thumb measurement without a vernier. 

By using a strip of paper, you can get an accurate thumb measurement without the use of a vernier. 

  • Simply cut a strip of paper long and thin enough to wrap around your thumb. 
  • Wrap the strip of paper around your thumb knuckle so that is snug but not too loose and not too tight. 
  • Take a pen or pencil and mark where the two ends of the paper strip overlap. 
  • Unroll the strip of paper and measure the distance. 

Take the results of your measurement and use a sizing chart from your thumb ring manufacturer and find your ring size. It might be a good idea to purchase two rings within a half size of each other to account for swelling due to temperature changes.

Archery Thumb Ring Reviews

Nachvorn Soft Leather Thumb Ring

Nachvorn Soft Leather Thumb Ring Archery Finger Protector for Mongolian Reurve Bow Finger Guard for Traditional Bow Protector Shooting Glove Black
Click the picture to see more images and user reviews on Amazon

The Nachvorn soft leather thumb ring is a Mongolian style thumb ring that is constructed from soft, durable black leather. The size is adjustable so it will fit almost every thumb. The Nachvorn soft leather thumb ring produces a better release and leaves no thumb pain. This thumb ring is ideal for hunters who use traditional longbows or recurve bow.

What we liked:

  • Adjustable size.
  • Durable.
  • Prevents thumb and hand pain.

What we didn’t:

  • Can shrink if it gets wet.
Video explanation of the benefits of leather thumb protection

Check the price on Amazon »

Huntingdoor Thickened Cowskin Thumb Tab

Huntingdoor Thickened Archery Thumb Guard Finger Tab Protector Soft Cowskin Finger Tip for Left Hand and Right Hand
Click the picture to see more images and user reviews on Amazon

The Huntingdoor thickened cowskin thumb tab is extremely strong and constructed from thickened cow skin. This cowskin thumb tab is designed to fit both the right or left hand and is adjustable to fit almost any thumb. It is lightweight and elastic. Excellent quality and long-lasting.

What we liked:

  • Durable.
  • Versatile.
  • Long-lasting.
  • Provides lasting protection.

What we didn’t:

  • Can shrink if it gets wet.

Check the price on Amazon »

TopArchery Thumb Ring Protector

TOPARCHERY Genuine Cowhide Finger Tabs Thumb Ring Protector Recurve Bow Traditional Bow Hand Adjustable Fit Men Women Youth
Click the picture to see more images and user reviews on Amazon

The TopArchery thumb ring protector is a stylish and durable cowhide protector made of genuine cow leather. This thumb ring protector is worn around the wrist for a secure but adjustable fit. The entire protector measures 5.7 inches long and has multiple bands to tighten or loosen as needed.  Contains a beautiful design with a Native American Chieftain metallic fastener.

What we liked:

  • Stylish design.
  • Durable cowhide construction.
  • Extended wrist protection.
  • Adjustable.

What we didn’t:

  • A little bulky for someone just looking for a thumb ring.

Check the price on Amazon »

Handmade Traditional Brass Thumb Ring

HOMELEX Handmade Traditional Brass Archery Thumb Ring (Pattern #21)
Click the picture to see more images and user reviews on Amazon

This handmade traditional brass thumb ring produced by Homelex is stunning. Made from extremely durable brass, the thumb ring will be sure to last decades. Incredibly strong with an elegant design, this thumb ring will provide excellent protection even with bows with the heaviest draw weights. Comes in a variety of sizes so be sure to properly size your thumb before purchase.

What we liked:

  • Beautiful look and design.
  • Provides great protection.
  • Can be used with heavy draw weight bows.
  • Long-lasting. Incredibly durable.

What we didn’t:

  • More expensive than other material types.
  • Not adjustable. 

Check the price on Amazon »

Vermil Classic Ivory

Vermil Premium Handmade Royal Ivory Thumb Ring for Traditional Archery (17x20)
Click the picture to see more images and user reviews on Amazon

The Vermil Classic Ivory thumb ring is a premium handmade product designed for eastern traditional archery. This ivory thumb ring provides superior protection and is robust and hard to brittle. This thumb ring comes in a variety of different sizes and is protected with a 3-month full guarantee.  

What we liked:

  • Made by a trusted brand name.
  • Handmade.
  • Durable.
  • Covered by a 3-month guarantee.

What we didn’t:

  • Not adjustable.

Check the price on Amazon »

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