Bow quivers are the handiest place to store your arrows. They are always close at hand.
In an ideal world, you would not shoot your bow with a quiver full of arrows hanging to one side. But from a practical standpoint, it is the best way to carry your arrows when hunting on foot or when toting them to and from your stand. When you have to belly-crawl through buck brush and sage or climb through mountain laurels or thick stands of sumac there is only one place where your arrows won’t make my life miserable: on my bow.
As noted bowhunter and world class archer Randy Ulmer was able to prove, a bow quiver full of arrows does not have a large affect on your accuracy, but you do need to take a few special precautions if you plan to hunt with a bow quiver.
The Issue of Accuracy
To set up an accurate test, Randy gathered three friends for some formal trials. These were not run-of-the-mill archers by any standard. They were very good competitive shooters who are also bowhunters. By choosing only great shooters, Randy was able to remove the human element as much as possible. He couldn’t have asked for a better test.
Where to carry your arrows so they are at hand but don’t affect your accuracy is a debate. Top archers have shown that adding a quiver full of arrows only affects impact point by about two inches at 40 yards. Of course, if you sight in with the full quiver on your bow, it won’t affect your accuracy at all.
First, they each shot five arrows at 40 yards with their quivers full of arrows. Then they removed one arrow and shot groups again. They repeated this process until they were shooting groups with no arrows in the quiver. They didn’t compensate in any way; they just aimed dead-on. They shot 36 five-arrow groups – 180 total shots. Then they carefully measured the size of each group and its center point. Group size did not change measurably (which was an important point) and the centers moved very little. At 40 yards, the groups these great archers shot with full quivers were less than two inches from those that they shot with empty quivers.
This amount of accuracy loss is totally insignificant for two reasons. First, if you have the quiver and arrows on the bow when practicing and sighting-in you will notice no difference in accuracy when you remove just one arrow and put it on the string. Second, even if you practice all summer without a bow quiver and don’t ever change your sights to compensate you will experience only a small change in impact at normal bowhunting ranges when you add a full quiver to the bow.
Additionally, most bowhunters carry four to six arrows – not eight. With fewer arrows, the change in your bow’s balance will be less and the amount your impact point changes will also be less – insignificant for all practical purposes.
Regarding accuracy: depending on how you prepare, the bow-mounted quiver has only a very small affect - or no affect at all. The key to making the affect negligible is to practice with the quiver on the bow for at least a week prior to the season and make any minor sight adjustments that might be required.
Most tree stand hunters use detachable quivers that they can remove when they get to the tree to cut down on bow weight and improve bow balance, not to mention improve their aim on windy days.
When taking shots in windy conditions, consider taking your bow quiver off the bow to reduce the amount of surface area the wind can push against as you aim.
Wind is Another Matter
When the wind blows hard, a bow-mounted quiver will have a noticeable affect on your accuracy, but there are ways to get around it. The arrows in the quiver have the affect of increasing the amount of surface area the wind can push against and in that way the quiver (and the arrows) will have an adverse affect. It is very hard to test this assertion, but if you simply apply physics, it stands to reason that the more surface area you have the harder the wind can push against it and farther it will blow your pin off the mark when it gusts even slightly.
Regardless of whether you shoot with a bow quiver or without one, you still have to wait for a lull in the gusts to make the shot. For that reason, the full quiver may be an inconvenience only. However, on days when the wind never lets up even for a few seconds, the arrows on the bow have a negative affect on your ability to aim steady.
If you want to eliminate these affects on windy days, you can simply take the quiver off when a shot is near at hand. If the quiver is not detachable, you can remove the arrows and lay them beside you on the ground. This precaution will stabilize your sight pin slightly while aiming.
Many bowhunters who hunt from tree stands use detachable bow quivers to transport their bows to and from the stand. While hunting, they take the quiver off and hang it in the tree within easy reach. This is what I do when hunting tree stands. You get the best of both worlds: the arrows are very easily and conveniently transported and they don’t have any affect on accuracy even on windy days.
Be sure that your quiver is adjustable so that you can move it up to keep your nocks from overlapping the end of the bow where they can fill with dirt.
The Best Bow Quivers
The perfect bow quiver must have tight arrow grippers. And, if you are going to use mechanical broadheads it is best to have a second row of arrow grippers just below the hood to hold the shafts securely. Avoid quivers with loose parts that can vibrate during the shot. The previous generation of quiver designs often made a bow noisier because of vibration in the hood and body and rattling of loosely held arrows. However, many of today’s rugged and flexible designs actually make a bow quieter because they add mass and soak up vibration.
Today’s bows are short. Make sure the quiver is adjustable enough that you can move it up as required to keep the arrow nocks from extending past the bottom cam where they can easily fill with dirt when you set the bow down.
Back Quivers and Hip Quivers
Two other quiver styles will also keep your arrows off your bow. Hip quivers attach to your belt and hang along your leg at your hip. You can use a cord to tie most of them down so they don’t flop around. They are fine if you are not hunting in thick cover that can easily snag the arrows as your slip through. It is also hard to crawl while wearing a hip quiver without fighting to keep your arrows out of the brush.
Back quivers eliminate the worry of snagging in brush while stalking in thick cover and are much easier to manage when crawling. There are many serious bowhunters who love their back quivers for ground hunting and it hard to argue with them. The back quiver only becomes a liability when you also try to wear a backpack while hunting. A few of these models have attached packs, but most do not have the capacity to carry lots of gear.
When crawling, having your arrows in a bow quiver or on your back is the most convenient place. Hip quivers can create a problem with snagging in brush.
Bow quivers allow you to move freely, quickly and quietly when hunting on foot without worrying about snagging or loosing arrows. This is also the perfect way to transport arrows to and from a tree stand. You can, and should, remove it once you settle into your ambush. However, if you are trying to get your arrows off the bow, a good back quiver is hard to beat.