Let’s talk about quivers

Jims bow against the tree

Jims bow against the tree

While I was writing the article on the traditional bowhunters style proposal in the NFAS recently, I got thinking about the different types of quivers that we use. This got me thinking about writing an article on the different types of quivers being used in archery.

There is almost as much variety in quivers as there are in bows, back quivers, bow quivers, field quivers and more. So what’s the appeal of one over another?  We know they come in all shapes and sizes and I got wondering as to what people use and why? To answer this or rather to get more insight I thought I’d turn to the great internet for help and specifically a Facebook group I belong to “Fellowship of the bow” which is mainly for traditional archers and it has a few thousand members. On the site I posted a simple poll and invited members contributions and thoughts on there. The feedback and response was awesome for which I’m very grateful.

The results from the poll are shown below and it is interesting in the sheer diversity of styles . The three most popular are in descending order, back, hip and then field quivers, though bow quivers were also very popular too. I’m also going to mention a mate of mine who has a quiver mounted on a walking stick, which offers both a method of carrying arrows and a useful aid when walking some field courses.

  • Back quivers 62
  • Hip 50
  • Field 47
  • Bow 37
  • Other 9
  • Target 6
  • Arrowbag 4
  • Native style 2
  • Historical 1
  • Walking stick 1
  • Personal caddy 1
  • Mongolian 1

What is very clear is the choice of quiver can be as personal as the choice of bows, some people love back quivers while others hate them and prefer the convenience of the bow quivers.

Often quivers are one of the first things that archers buy when they start shooting. When I first started I made a simple leather quiver, just enough to carry three or four of the arrows I owned.

Shortly after I got more seriously into the hobby I bought a leather field quiver out of a bargain basket at a local archery shop, when I really got hooked and I’ve been using it ever since. It is fairly standard as quivers of that kind go, with four tubes allowing you to carry 10-12 arrows if you ram them in, along with a couple of pockets for spare string, pens etc. and a belt loop. A while back I covered what I carry on a shoot (here is the link to it). Though it can carry more I tend to only carry 3 or 4 arrows in the quiver with the rest being kept in an arrow tube on my back. I have tried using a couple of back quivers, but never found one that has worked for me.

So lets’ have a brief look at the different types of quivers out there, some of the positives and negatives. I’ve drawn on my own experiences, along with feedback from the poll and comments from archers. So in no particular order lets’ start.

Bow quivers – these are quivers which are fitted direct to the bow, hence the name bow quiver and usually house 2-6 arrows.

The appeal of these tends to be associated with the convenience of having everything to hand on the bow, resulting in less to carry. The other thing that many commented on was the lack of noise with this form, with none of the rattling of arrows as you walk round the wood. I have to say that they can look good. What is interesting is that some people seem to use these in conjunction with a field or back quiver to carry spare arrows.

I find it interesting that some people commented on how they add a bit of stability to the bow, while others say it makes no difference. I know that this has been debated on a number of occasions but having never used one I can’t say one way or another.  My only point of concern is the positioning of the quivers. You need to ensure they don’t impede the flex of the limbs.

As I’ve said I’ve never used a bow quiver but I can see the appeal for the convenience, they can look very cool too on the right bow.  Though I wouldn’t fit one on my flat bow I think I would put one on my recurve.

Back quiver – so these are worn on the back, though you might have guessed this by the name, it does kind of give it away. I’m going to group back quivers with those that are small backpacks with integral quivers here too. These small back packs are a bit like camel packs that house arrows along with a few other bits.

The appeal of back quivers appears to be a mix of practicality and looks. As one person said it’s quite a romantic look.  A few people commented on the fact they prefer back quivers as they don’t like stuff hitting their leg or around their waste.

I’ve tried using a couple of different back quivers and never got on with the ones I have used, as they always seemed to move too much on my shoulder. I’d struggle to stop the arrows falling out when I bent over, or catch them on the tree branches.

The big advantage of this style can be it leaves your hands free and all the weight is on your shoulders rather than your waist.

From comments and my own experience 3 point connection seems to work best for comfort, practicality wise too, as comments imply they rest better on the shoulders.

One design feature that was mentioned was having a back quiver made from a material that is sufficiently flexible so when you bend over the material, say leather, flexes holding the arrows so they don’t fall out when you bend. Makes a lot of sense as this is something that puts a lot of people off using them, including myself.

One interesting thing that was mentioned, and I have seen, are some back quivers which have a slit in the side which you draw arrows from, rather than drawing them from over your shoulder.

Target quivers – tend be a little smaller than other quivers and not necessarily designed to accommodate the large numbers of arrows or larger diameter arrow like 11/32 wooden shafts that you tend to use in field archery.

Field quivers  – these allow you to carry a few more bits and pieces, mine has a couple of pouches where I carry spare string, pens, string wax, whistle etc. check out my article on what I carry on a field shoot for more details.

The downside of field quivers tends to be there size and potential weight on one side of your body. This was something that was raised by a couple of people on the poll, along with disliking the way they hit your leg as you are walking. I know for me I tend to have my hand on my quiver when walking to stop it knocking my leg.

I’ve stuck with a field quiver for most of my archery life so far, though I have modified mine slightly by replacing the belt I use and using a Bohning Rigid Shooters Belt for more comfort.

Choice of types of quivers is just one thing, you then have the materials they are constructed from. Though in essence we have traditional leather verse modern materials, its worth remembering other materials have been used for quivers, including cloth ones. But I think that is another area of discussion, some people like the modern materials, others like what they see as the more traditional look and feel of leather.

Many modern material quivers, especially the backpack style offer effective weather proofing and are waterproof. This is really important to remember as I know on a couple of shoots in poor weather where I’ve literally turned my quiver upside down to empty the water out. I also had to empty all the contents of the pouches to let it dry out completely. It’s worth remembering that your quiver encounters the same weather conditions as you, so remember to waterproof them.

Another advantage to modern fabric quivers are they tend to be lighter, something to consider if you are carrying all day around a field course.

One problem you can have with selecting the right quiver is in some ways the same as with bows, i.e. the price. The cost can vary as widely as the designs. Of course you can pick up quivers for a few pounds from most archery shops or the internet, but likewise quivers can be quite expensive, especially if you go for custom leather ones.

For me I think I’ll stick with my field quiver on my belt for now and my arrow tube on my back. It works for me. Much as I would like to have a back quiver, I can’t seem to find one that works for me.

Me at the wood

The choice is such a personal thing, but at the end of the day find something that works for you, so long as it can carry your arrows, does it matter if it’s on your bow, back or attached to your belt.

Thanks for reading.

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