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Arrow Rest Or Shelf? [Explained]

Shooting off a rest or shelf can hardly change the performance of the bow. Is it hard to determine which one you should go for? 

Well, it’s actually difficult to choose the right one. This topic is covered in this entire article, so don’t worry. 

So, which is better: arrow rest or shelf? 

For both longbow and recurve bow, the shelf is better than rest. The shelf is a kind of rest. For accuracy and comfort shelf rest is better than other rest. It has low friction with arrow feathers and smooth arrow movement. Consequently, other rests are better for arrows with low or no feathers.

This is a summary of the whole comparison. To choose the right one, go through this. 

Quick Overview: Rest Vs Shelf

Features of rest and shelf are quite different. Take a look at the quick comparison table for a better understanding. 

Accuracy Don’t affect the accuracyHave a little bit of impact on accuracy
Built Material Rug material cushions Leather, slick hair 
ComfortComfortable for the arrow to run on it for a feathered arrowComfortable for the arrow with a low feather, featherless, and fletchings arrow
Matching BowRecurve longbowBoth recurve longbow and compound bow
Good for feather arrow YesNo 
Contact with arrow Low friction Comparatively high friction
DurabilityLess durable for the built materialMore durable

These are the most common features that you need to consider before choosing rest.  


Accuracy is one of the most important things to consider. And the rest and shelf have some impact on accuracy. 

The shelf can give improved precision for the option of smooth movement. All other forms of rest, on the other hand, do not have as much smooth movement. This factor may have an effect on precision. You may also encounter minor accuracy issues in rest.

The shelf is better than the rest for accuracy. 

Built Material:

Built material is impactful for other relevant features. Performance, accuracy, and comfort are much dependent on the built material. 

Rug cushions are used to build the arrow shelf, while leather is used for most of the rest. And the leather of the arrow rest is rough and can make friction with the arrow fletching. Also, this can be the reason behind arrows wobbling in flight

On the other hand, rug cushions are silkier. And that helps the arrow for smooth movement. 

Considering the built material arrow shelf is ahead of other types of arrow rest. 


Arrow movement needs to be comfortable. Comfortable movement assures a better performance. 

The structure and material of the shelf are movement friendly. There is no problem moving the arrow over from it.

Other arrow rests that use leather, most of them are rough. This is why the arrow fletching gets friction with the rest and can’t move comfortably.

The arrow shelf is comfortable for the arrow to move while other types of rest are not. 

Matching Bow:

Arrow shelf in one kind of rest and synchronizes with the recurve longbow. Meanwhile, it is capable of matching both compound bows and recurve longbows.

There are many types of arrow rest and all the rest give you versatility. There are many arrows rests for almost all types of bows. 

There are almost three types of rests for the compound bow and those are, drop away rest, Launcher rest, and containment rest. 

So there is a broad option for other types of rest, while the shelf hardly has the versatility. 

Good for Feather Arrow

Feather arrow needs a special type of rest or shelf. Because the feather behind the arrow can face little restriction with the rest. 

So you’ll need a type of rest that will let the arrow fly without even tiny restrictions. The synthetic material shelf restricts the feathers. While for the rough characteristics other types of rest restrict the feather arrow. 

So shelf rest is good for the feather arrow while other kinds of arrow rest are not. 

Contact with Arrow

While you aim the arrow toward the target the arrow rest supports it. For this reason, rest and arrow contact should be smooth to move. 

Rough contact between the arrow and the rest can decrease the speed of the arrow. Again the built material of the rest is important for it. And the built material of the shelf provides smooth movement. While the other types of rest can’t do it.

Contact between rest and arrow is also dependent on what grain arrow you’re using

The shelf has smooth contact with the arrow, while other kinds of arrow rest don’t.


The arrow shelf materials are less durable. As you already know, an arrow shelf is a rug cushion material. And for the rough leather material rest is more durable. 

The shelf is more durable than the arrow rest. 

Final Decision

People often ask if an arrow rest is necessary. It’s not necessary for the traditional bows which already have the space to place the front part of the arrow. 

As you can see in most of the segment shelf wins over other types of rest. But you’ve to keep in mind, where you’re applying it. 

Because the arrow shelf is not for all types of bows. You can just use it in a recurve longbow. 

So, use an arrow shelf for the recurve bow. And for the compound bow, you need to use other types of bow according to your need. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is An Arrow Rest Necessary?

No, arrow rest is not necessary for all types of bows. There is no arrow rest on a traditional bow because it is designed to shoot without it. But most of the archers use arrow rest for their modern bows. It’s just for the purpose of enhancing performance.

What Arrow Rest Do Olympic Archers Use?

Most of the Olympic archers use bolt-on magnetic arrow rest. This type of rest is for high-performance archery shooting. Archers feel confident because of the performance and accuracy of bolt-on magnetic rest. And it doesn’t hamper the speed and performance at all, not even for the feather arrow.  

How Long Do Arrow Rests Last?

Common types of arrow rest last mostly for 10000 shots. Rough leather arrow rest lasts longer than synthetic rest. Synthetic cushion rest is performance- friendly but it has lower durability. If you are not a professional archer then it can last even longer. 


Well, this is all we have for you regarding the arrow rest or shelf. Hopefully, now you know which one is for you. 

Before choosing a rest you must consider the demand of the bow. Use an arrow shelf if you are a recurve bow user. And use other arrow rests for a compound bow.

Best of luck!

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