Arrow rests are like other archery accessories: there are plenty of new products every year and there is more than a little confusion about how they work, if they work and for whom they work. This article is intended to compare the basic function of two hot trends in rest design with products that have proven themselves in the field for nearly 30 years.
Some drop-away rests are very simple in design. Essentially, they are little more than conventional rests with the spring reversed and a cord to pull them up as the string is drawn. A number of archers build good homemade drop-away rests this way.
Drop-away rests aren’t new. In fact, this is at least their second time around the block with an earlier trip courtesy of Keith Barner in the 1980’s. With the proliferation in designs hitting the market right now (at last count there were 15 companies making drop-away rests), it would seem that this category has finally come of age.
Of course, drop away rests are designed to snap downward out of the path of the fletching within a controlled amount of time after the string is released. Bowhunters tend to be most interested in this rest style as a way to beat fletching contact with the rest – one of archery’s most common tuning problems. They work great in this capacity, making it possible to shoot very aggressive helical fletching with small diameter carbon arrows without fear of contact between the fletching and rest.
The pros: Because the launcher drops before the fletching has any opportunity to collide, these rests make it much easier for most bowhunters to get total fletching clearance without the need to fine-tune the nocks of each individual arrow. If a bowhunter has ever put an arrow on the string wrong while using a conventional and reaped the poor arrow flight that comes from such a sin you won’t have to tell him twice that eliminating this variable is important.
Because carbon arrows are smaller in diameter than most aluminum shafts they present a greater likelihood of fletching contact when using conventional rests. With a drop-away rest, bowhunters can expect clean arrow flight with carbon arrows even if they apply a fairly aggressive helical offset.
Read more about Arrow Rest Selection.