What’s the Best Arrow Rest for Recurve Bows?

Garret | |

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

If you are a recurve bow enthusiast or traditionalist, you understand part of the fun of owning a recurve bow is the setup. Choosing from all different styles of bowstrings, limbs, and other features can be fun, but it also allows you the freedom to create a custom feel that is perfect for you, and you alone. 

One important feature of the recurve bow that you will need to decide upon is the arrow rest. The arrow rest is where your arrow sits before and during your draw and it has a big effect on the accuracy and consistency of your shot. This tiny accessory may seem insignificant, but make sure you do not overlook the importance of the arrow rest when assembling your recurve bow setup. 

Arrow rests can be constructed with all different kinds of materials, they can be bolted-on or stuck-on, and they come in different thicknesses to accommodate different arrow weights.

When choosing an arrow rest to install on your recurve bow, consider if you will be hunting or target shooting, what weight arrows you will be shooting, and whether you want to shoot off-the-shelf or have a raised arrow. These questions will help you determine which arrow rest is best for you.

In this article, we will explore all the different types of arrow rests as well as breakdown our top six favorite arrow rests currently on the market. 

Recurve Bow Arrow Rests – Our Top 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

best recurve arrow rest

Does a Recurve Bow Need an Arrow Rest?

Technically, a recurve bow does not need an arrow rest. Many archers and hunters choose not to use an arrow rest for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason many archers do not use an arrow rest is so that they can remain as traditional as possible

If you are already shooting a recurve bow, you may be interested in the traditional aspect of archery and bowhunting. The more equipment you add to your recurve bow, the less traditional it is. However, some hunters and archers who want to be as traditional as possible might opt for a shelf rest made from animal hair. We will get into shelf rests in a moment.

The main purpose of an arrow rest is to protect the bow and the arrows from wear over time. Shooting without an arrow rest, and directly off the shelf, can cause damage to both the bow and your arrows.

The bow is damaged when the arrow slides across the shelf over and over again and marks will begin to develop. Eventually, those marks will become even more worn and turn into grooves.

The arrow is damaged overtime when it slides across the shelf and causes the vanes and feathers to begin to fall off the shaft of the arrow. 

Aside from the damage to your bow and arrows, shooting directly off the shelf also can decrease your accuracy. When an arrow crosses the shelf, the vanes and feathers will hit the shelf and a small but sometimes significant little bump will cause the arrow to fly off the bow at a slight angle. Over great distances, this can cause significant inaccuracies

Traditionalists who choose to shoot directly off the shelf of their recurve bows will adjust their sights on the bow to compensate for this bump. Or, through repetition and practice, they will get used to the bump that occurs and adjust their aim when taking their shots. 

Besides increased accuracy, why else do people use an arrow rest on their recurve bow?

Arrow rests do not only improve your accuracy, but they also protect your bow and arrows from damage over time. Arrow rests also make it much easier to keep the arrow steady while drawing your bow and they create a consistent point of contact for your arrows. All of these factors are considerable advantages to using an arrow rest.

If you do not want to use an arrow rest, you can install a shelf rest instead. The shelf rest, at a minimum, will protect your bow’s shelf from wear and tear over time. Some shelf rests are more than just shelf protectors. You can purchase a raised shelf rest that will provide you with an elevated point of contact for your arrows. Most shelf rests are made from felt, but you may also find animal hair and polished metal shelf rests.

What is the difference between an arrow rest and a shelf rest?

In the simplest terms, arrow rests and shelf rests are both small pieces of protection that you add to your bow, but arrow rests are installed on the vertical portion of the riser while shelf rests are installed on top of the shelf horizontally. Many archers and hunters have both installed on their bows. 

How to Install an Arrow Rest on a Recurve Bow

Installation of an arrow rest on a recurve bow is simple. It does, however, depend on what kind of arrow rest you have, if your bow is set up for screw-in or bolt-on rests, and if you are installing a shelf rest/arrow rest combo or just a shelf rest

The two most common ways to install rests onto your recurve bow are either to screw them into the provided screw holes on your bow or to purchase rests with adhesive backs

For the rests with the adhesive backs, simply trim the rest material to size to fit appropriately onto your bow, remove the backing, and place firmly onto the intended surface. Apply pressure for a few moments of time to make sure the adhesive creates a strong bond between the bow and the rest. 

The screw-in or bolt-on style of rest maybe a little more complicated, but simply place the rest matching up the screw holes from the bow to the rest, insert the screw, and using a screwdriver or a specialized tool, fully tighten the screw. There is a similar process for the bolt-on rest except you may need a different tool to tighten the bolt. 

For a video from Archery Supplies demonstrating the process of installing a screw-in or bolt-on style of arrow rest, check out the video below…

Check below for a video demonstrating the process of installing a shelf rest and arrow strike plate using adhesive-backed products, by Grizzly Jim at Merlin Archery.

What is a Magnetic Arrow Rest?

A magnetic arrow rest serves the same purpose as a plastic, felt, or animal hair arrow rest, but it uses magnetic force to repel the arrow from the bow to reduce friction. Magnets are placed within the arrow and in the arrow rest that has opposite charges to repel one another. The pushing of the magnets against each other reduces friction and minimizes contact between the arrow and the bow. 

Magnetic arrow rests have mixed reviews at best, and they have not really caught on in the amateur archery world. Some archers and hunters claim that the magnets do not always properly line up or they are too difficult to use and not worth the bother. Magnetic arrow rests are much more common among Olympic archers with expert skill levels. 

We recommend only using magnetic arrow rests if you are an expert archer. For beginners, stick with the plastic, felt, or animal hair rests. These type of arrow rests are just as effective as the magnetic arrow rests; however, the plastic rests will need to be replaced more often.

Do Olympic Recurve Archers Use an Arrow Rest?

Arrow rests are a critical component to Olympic-style recurve bows, and they are used by most Olympic archers. Many Olympic archers will use a bolt-on magnetic arrow rest because they last longer, and the archer knows they can shoot confidently that the bolt-on rest will not fall off during competition. 

That being said, you will still see many of the top archers from around the world shooting with a stationary lightweight plastic super rest. Though the magnetic rest with a wire lasts longer, many archers still prefer the plastic rest. Olympic archers will replace their plastic super rests after every 1,000 shots on average.

When it comes to bolt-on versus adhesive arrow rests, you will see a mix of both types used by Olympic archers. The only real issue with adhesive arrow rests is they can lose their adhesiveness in extreme heat and slide off the riser. This is very rare, and it takes sustained temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit to have any effect. 

No matter the type of arrow rest an Olympian uses, bolt-on or stick-on, metal, magnetic, or simple plastic, most Olympic archers use a plunger.

A plunger, also known as a cushion button, is responsible for guiding an arrow down the bow’s centerline during a shot. The plunger stabilizes your arrow’s left to right movement during the draw and once it is released, keeping it as straight and center as possible

The plunger is also responsible for moderating an arrow’s flex once it is released. The plunger screws into the riser above the arrow rest. When an arrow is released, it will vibrate horizontally due to the archer’s hand making contact with the bowstring during the release. The plunger is there to minimize that horizontal vibration and to keep the arrow at center shot. You can adjust the tension of the plunger to find the perfect balance that compliments your shooting mechanics. Overall, the plunger will make your shot more forgiving

For an excellent video describing the different arrow rests Olympic archers use and how a plunger plays into their Olympic recurve setups, check out the video below from our friends at Lancaster Archery Supply. 

Recurve Bow Arrow Rests vs. Compound Bow Arrow Rests

Recurve bows and compound bows both have arrow rests, but compound bows have arrow rests with names like whisker biscuit and drop away, while recurve bows are simply just called arrow rests. 

Are there big differences between arrow rests designed for the recurve bow versus the compound bow? To answer this question first let us identity and breakdown all the different arrow rest types available for both the recurve bow and the compound bow.

Recurve Bow

Shelf Rests: Shelf rests are a simple type of rest that sits firmly on the shelf right above the handle. They can be flat or a little raised and they are typically made of animal hair, feathers, leather, or felt. 

Stick-On Rests: Stick-on rests come with an adhesive back that once you remove the cover, you can stick the arrow rest onto the riser above the shelf. They typically have an arm where you rest your arrow while taking your shot and they can be made from plastic, metal, or magnets.

Screw-In or Bolt-On Rests: Screw-in or bolt-on arrow rests are designed only for recurve bows that are pre-drilled to support these rests. They are the same as the stick-on arrow rests, but they are more securely attached. They also come in the same materials as the stick-on rests and they and have a tiny arm for where you are to rest the arrow during your shot. 

The Rest-Plunger Combo: The rest-plunger combo is most commonly used by Olympic archers and it is only used with bows that have plunger hole mounts above the shelf. The rest uses a wire arm to rest the arrow on while the plunger sits against the arrow to limit its movement from right to left and to ensure a center shot. 

Compound Bow

Since the compound bow is more commonly used in hunting, there are two types of arrow rests designed specifically with the hunter in mind. They are the whisker biscuit and drop away rests.

Whisker Biscuit Rest: Full capture rests like the whisker biscuit is designed with the hunter in mind because first off, they are super quiet when the bow is raised and drawn. Second, they are full capture and designed to steady the arrow even as a hunter points the bow in a number of different angles. A hunter in a deer stand or someone who is bow fishing may need to point their bow straight down and still have the arrow rest secure the arrow in place.  

Drop-Away Rest: Drop-away arrow rests are rests that contain many moving parts. This style of arrow rest may mechanically turn or be pulled downward by tension at the time of release. Because these arrow rests move during the release, the arrow quill flies forward with zero friction or interference. Drop-away arrow rests are well-engineered, and they are nice to have, but they can also cause more issues if not everything is working properly. More moving parts makes for a chance of more complications. 

Prong-Style Launch Rests: A prong-style launch rest can also be called a shoot-thru rest. These types of rests consist of two prongs that are spaced a few centimeters apart that create a cradle for the arrow. The prongs are spring-loaded, and they flex as the arrow passes allowing for less friction and interference. Once the arrow has completely shot through the prong-style arrow rest, the prongs spring back to their original position and they are ready for the next shot.

See our roundup of the best compound arrow rests.

So, what is the difference between arrow rests designed for the recurve bow and arrow rests designed for the compound bow? 

Arrow rests that are designed for the recurve bow and arrow rests designed for the compound bow fill the same function. The main difference between them is that the recurve arrow rests are far simpler than compound rests. 

Compound bow arrow rests have many more parts, are larger, and sometimes even have moving parts that become synched with the rest of the bow through the cam system.  Also, compound bow arrow rests are designed more for the hunter rather than the competitive shooter, even though they function simply fine for either use. 
Arrow rests for the recurve bow usually have maybe one little plastic arm or one metal wire and maybe a plunger. They are much smaller and never have additional mechanical moving parts.

Recurve Arrow Rest Reviews

Bear Archery Shoot Around Arrow Rest

The Bear Archery Shoot Around arrow rest is a reliable arrow rest made by a trusted and well-established brand in the bowhunting industry. This arrow rest is simple, affordable, and will get the job done. Comes in black and is available for right and left-handed bow users. This rest can be used with a plunger.

What we liked:

  • Affordable.
  • Reliable.
  • Comes in both right and left-handed.
  • Can be used with a plunger.
  • Easy self-adhesive backing installation.

What we didn’t:

  • Plastic arrow rests need to be replaced every 1,000 shots.
A video demonstrating how to remove a worn-out rest and properly install a new Bear Archery branded arrow rest

Check the price on Cabelas »

Traditional BearHair Arrow Rest

The Traditional BearHair Arrow Rest is an excellent and smooth arrow rest for those hunters and archers who prefer to shoot off-the-shelf. The BearHair gives your recurve bow a traditional look and makes your shots extremely quiet. This shelf rest comes with a strike plate. Another great affordable option from Bear Archery. Easy adhesive-backed installation.

What we liked:

  • Affordable.
  • Traditional look.
  • Easy to install.
  • Comes with a strike plate.

What we didn’t:

  • Does not have an arm or wire to elevate the arrow off the shelf.

Check the price on Cabelas »

Little Green Change Stick on Arrow Rest

The Little Green Change Stick on Arrow Rest is a durable, dependable, and affordable black plastic arrow rest. This arrow rest is easy to install with the self-adhesive backing. Perfect for beginner and youth hunters and archers. Has an estimated life between 1,000 and 2,000 shots before it needs to be replaced.

What we liked:

  • Affordable.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to install.
  • High-quality plastic.

What we didn’t:

  • Plastic arrow rests need to be changed out regularly.
NUSensei gives a detailed explanation on the difference between hunter arrow rests and super arrow rests

Bear Archery Weather Rest

Another great option from Bear Archery, this heavy-duty plastic arrow rest has a self-adhesive backing and is easy to install. This Bear Archery arrow rest is designed to work best with Bear Archery weathers, feathers, and vanes. Comes at a great price point!

What we liked:

  • Affordable.
  • Durable plastic construction.
  • Easy to install.
  • Compatible with all other Bear Archery products.

What we didn’t:

  • Will need to be replaced after 1,000 shots.

Hoyt Stick On

The Hoyt Stick On arrow rest is extremely popular among target shooters. This durable molded plastic arrow rest is easy to install, makes for a consistent and smooth shot, and is trusted by competitive target shooters around the world. Available for both right and left-handed hunters and archers.

What we liked:

  • Dependable brand.
  • Favored by target shooters.
  • Reliable.
  • Affordable.

What we didn’t:

  • Adhesive is sensitive to extreme heat conditions.

Sharrow Magnetic Rest

The Sharrow Magnetic Rest is our favorite magnetic arrow rest currently on the market. Available in both right and left-handed, this arrow rest will make your shot more consistent and effortless. Constructed from stainless steel and bolts-on for a very long life span.

What we liked:

  • Stainless steel construction.
  • Durable. Dependable.
  • Bolts-on securely.

What we didn’t:

  • We recommend magnetic arrow rests for experts only.

I'm a keen archer and hunting enthusiast. My grandfather taught me to hunt in the wilds of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I used to bow hunt with him on his farm and grew up deer hunting and fishing.

Leave a Comment