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.

New shooting style proposal – traditional bowhunter here’s some thoughts

Tree canopy in the autumn

Tree canopy in the autumn

As many of you know I shoot in the NFAS (National Field Archery Society) and each year it offers its members the opportunity to put forward proposals for new rules or ideas.  This year one proposal which has been put forward by members is for a new shooting style, that of “traditional bowhunter”

In essence this is shooting a non compound bow with carbon or metal arrows, off the shelf, with no sights, button, stabiliser, and using feather fletchings .

This differs from the exiting NFAS bare bow class by the stipulation of shooting off the shelf of the bow (not allowed to use a rest or button) and use of feathers for fletchings . Full description of the new class is below, please note that this is an expanded version to that shown in the NFAS magazine as it includes changes and suggestions on wording the prospers have received to date.

“Traditional Bowhunter

A bow of any draw-weight, but not a compound bow or crossbow, may be used.

The bow must be shot from the shelf or hand, No sight, rest, or button of any description can be used.

Only one nocking position is permitted (which may be indicated by nocking points both above and below the arrow). No other knots or attachments in addition to the string serving (excluding silencers), that could be used for sighting or location purposes, are allowed.

One anchor point must be maintained throughout the shoot with the index finger on the nock, be it split finger or 3 under or thumb loose. Face walking and string walking are not permitted. No draw-checks of any kind are permitted.

No external stabilisers are allowed (this does not include bow quivers that attach to the side of the riser, be it by bolts or limb grippers).

If a Bow Quiver is used, arrows must be free from deliberate markings that could be used as a sight. Arrows may be decorated with cresting, but cresting may not extend further than 2 inches in front of the feathers. If crested, when using a bow quiver, arrows must be tip first into the quiver to ensure cresting cannot be used for sighting purposes. No form of release aid is permitted. No deliberate marks can be added to the bow or arrow that can be used for aiming. Arrows shafts must be of non-wooden and non-bamboo materials, fletched with natural feather.

The handle may incorporate a cut-away of any depth to provide an arrow-shelf and the shelf may have a protective cover. Olympic recurves that have been altered to shoot from the shelf are permitted, but all attachments such as clicker screws and additional bolts/screws that are not required MUST be removed.”

Presently archers wishing to shoot this setup in the NFAS have to compete in the bare bow class this being largely dominated by Olympic style recurves with metal risers, buttons, stabiliser etc. Though the use of metal riser is not entirely the case, as some of the best archers in this class actually use wooden risers but all those have adjustable buttons and arrow rests.

This style of setup of bow appears to be very popular at present with a number of archers, both in the UK and overseas. I wonder whether part of the appeal with archers is the simplicity of the set up to that of the Olympic style, while others archers are less keen on shooting wooden arrows so would rather use carbon arrows for their consistency and durability.

Since the proposal was mooted in the last edition of the NFAS magazine I’ve had a few people ask my thoughts and I’ve spoken to several that are both for and against the proposal. The society’s Facebook group along with the members’ only web-forum has been quite active on the topic too.

Some people have asked why a new style is required as people wanting to shoot this set-up can shoot under the existing barebow rules, others have been less friendly saying they see the introduction of this class as simple as medal chasing (a little unfair I feel)

There are 10 shooting styles in the NFAS at present that cover just about all possible set ups from English longbow to compound unlimited (that’s compound bow, with release aid, sites, stabilisers and the kitchen sink, yes that is a joke)

Some archers seem to feel there are enough styles already, with others complaining that at the large shoots / events the prize giving already takes too long with all the awards.

One archer and reader of this site had a word with me at a recent shoot and pondered this  thought.

“I do wonder whether the creation of this class will eventually cause the demise of HT and possibly AFB as new archers are drawn to the ease of shooting with carbons. Could the art of making a good wooden arrow die out? Worth considering maybe?”

I’d like to think there is always going to be an appeal of shooting wooden arrows. Though I do think that newbies will want to shoot carbons as they give a better performance than woods or metals, along with being more durable and comparatively inexpensive, an important factor in an economy where money is scarce.

I wonder whether some of the appeal of the new style is also to do with the restrictions that the NFAS place on some current styles that limit the archers. The AFB or American Flatbow class is one that has been mentioned as under the NFAS to be able to shoot in this class the bow must not have any reflex /deflex; being one continuous curve. Also the shelf must be must short of centre, if cut to centre then it can’t be used in the class. This has resulted in a number of manufactured bows being classed “illegal” in AFB and have to be shot most commonly in Hunting Tackle.

What affect will a new style have? I’m not sure

  • Would it confuse newbies to the hobby? No I don’t think it will confuse them, if introduced carefully and clearly.
  • Will it increase the numbers at shoots? I doubt that as most shoots I attend are limited by the number of available places, and few are ever fully booked out. You might have individuals from other societies being more willing to give NFAS a go.

My personal view point

Ok, so first thing is a little thing really but I’m not a fan of the name “traditional bowhunter”. I see traditional as being wooden arrows not carbon. But in fairness this is entirely personal viewpoint. In fairness to the guys proposing this they did open up a Facebook poll with different name options and Traditional bowhunter was the favourite.

I can see why they’d like a distinction between shooting a bow with button, rest etc. and one shooting off the shelf. I guess you could argue this already exists with the American Flatbow class in the NFAS, which you have to shoot off the hand or the bow shelf and not a rest, but with wooden arrows only.

I find it interesting that there is a section on bow quivers included in the proposal. I can understand why they have included as they are very popular for those shooting in this style and there has been some comments on their use or rather in some case misuse, but I wonder if this statement is better located in the overall shooting rules of the society and not class specific as bow quivers can be used on compounds and recurve bows. Maybe I should write something on the different types of quivers, bow, back, side, Merits and flaws of them? Here is a picture of bow quiver for those not familiar with them.

Jims bow against the tree

Jims bow against the tree, showing his bow quiver

I do also wonder about the comment on arrow cresting and if this would be better located in the general shooting rooms. It also raises a question on  how this can be interpreted with manufacturers branding / logos or even arrow patterns, as these are not arrows cresting in the true sense. I have heard rumours that there has been some concern that archers could use arrow markings as a guide for distance judgement. (NFAS competitions are shot over unmarked distances)

My final observation on this proposal is I think the most important thing to remember. The NFAS is a democratic organisation, run for its members, and its membership can have their say, they may make suggestions and promote different views and ideas. You as an individual may agree or disagree with the idea that is your choice. It is very important that members have the opportunity to voice their ideas and if supported, for these ideas to be voted on etc. This democracy and opportunity is in my view needed for the health of the organisation or it may be seen as stagnating or inflexible for change.

Thanks for reading