One of the most important components of any archery setup is the arrow rest. The rest serves not only to guide the arrow, but to hold it before the shot. It is the last point of contact between the arrow and the archer during every shot cycle, and as such, I feel it is the most important factor after the bow itself and the arrow.
Careful thought should be given when choosing an arrow rest, taking into consideration its compatibility with your bow, as well as its features. If we focus primarily on hunting arrow rests, it narrows the discussion, because a majority of hunting rests can now be divided into two types: full-containment rests and fall-away or pull-away rests.
Full-containment arrow rests do what their name implies, capture or contain the arrow at all times before and during the draw and shot. Gone are the days of loose arrows clanging against the bow’s riser, alerting game. They are generally simple, with few if any moving parts to malfunction or freeze up, offering reliability to hunters travelling to remote or extremely cold areas. But they can be slightly noisy during the draw.
This type of rest is exemplified by the original Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit. The Whisker Biscuit holds the arrow securely in place using a full circle of synthetic bristles. At the shot, the arrow’s fletching passes through the bristles without affecting the arrow’s stability. At first, these rests were very tough on fletching, but manufacturers such as Bohning were quick to respond with stiffer fletching, like Blazer vanes, which solved this issue.
Other manufacturers have attempted to compete with the Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit, using designs where the vanes pass around or between brushes or buttons, but in my opinion, the Biscuit shoots far better, because if the fletches of the arrow are not perfectly indexed, or if the archer torques the bow during the shot, one or more vanes may contact a brush button on other full-containment rests, causing the arrow to fly erratically. Also, because all three fletches contact the bristles of the Biscuit at the same time, it can actually help to channel or straighten the arrow’s flight, making up for poor timing or even nock travel caused by the bow’s cam design.
The drop-away rest does just what its name implies: hold the arrow before the shot, then drop away before fletches reach it to allow perfect clearance and often perfect arrow flight. These rests usually offer some if not full-arrow containment. They can further be divided into two types depending on how they are actuated: cable-driven “fall-away” rests, and limb-driven “pull-away” rests.
Cable-driven fall away rests typically attach to the downward moving cable of the bow. When the bow is drawn, the cable moves downward, pulling the actuation chord of the rest tight and raising or cocking the rest. At the shot, the cable travels upward, releasing the tension on the chord and allowing the rest to fall away. These rests are driven downward by some type of spring mechanism.
Limb-driven pull away rests are activated by the motion of the bow’s limbs during the shot cycle. Their actuation chords are attached to one of the bow’s limbs. When the bow is drawn, the limbs flex inward toward the center, causing the actuation chord to go slack, which allows a spring to push the rest up. At the shot, the bow’s limbs quickly return to their static position, pulling the rest down and away.
This limb-driven actuation offers several advantages. Because it pulls away much faster, it tunes more easily on many of today’s faster bow designs. Also, because it isn’t attached to the string or cables, it is isolated from any string stretch or timing issues that can affect the performance of cable-driven rests.
My personal favorite is the Axion Pulse rest. This pull-away rest can be limb or “up-cable” driven, and uses a patented rotary damper, giving it an independent actuation arm. This allows a knowledgeable user to tweak the rest’s timing, keeping it up for arrow guidance as long as possible, while still maintaining fletch clearance. This has the same effect as a longer barrel on a handgun, enhancing downrange accuracy. We have seen a huge difference in our customers’ shooting since I started installing these rests.
With so many choices out there, choosing the best arrow rest for your bow setup can be overwhelming. I recommend you consult with your local archery pro shop to find the best rest for your individual setup this season.