Being an archer might seem like a lot of fun, and it is, but it’s also a lot more physically demanding than most people think.
Archers are incredibly strong, with most of that strength residing in their arms, as they have to be able to draw the bow as far as possible in order to shoot the arrow as far as possible in turn.
Like with many other activities and sports, archers can also wear protective gear that keeps them safe while they shoot arrows. In this case, it’s bracers.
So what are they, and what do they do? Aka, why do archers need to wear them?
A bracer is a strap or sheath that covers the inside of an archer’s arm. It is usually made from leather, stone, or plastic, and it wraps around the inside of the arm, adapting to its size and being secured in place with smaller straps.
The bracer essentially protects the archer’s forearm against possible injuries, which could occur from the whipping of the bowstring, or the fletching of the arrow, while they shoot. It can also prevent the sleeves of the clothing from getting caught in the bowstring, which would be less than ideal.
Usually, bracers only cover part of the forearm, but you can also find full-length bracers that go all the way to the upper arm, for extra protection. You can also even get protective gear for the chest, known as chest guards. These are usually worn by female archers, to better protect the breast while shooting. By the way, you can also check out celebrities who enjoy archery here.
Apart from serving as protective gear against injuries, bracers can be decorated to represent allegiance or to display a coat of arms, or other. They could even be decorated to represent a rank, therefore serving a social purpose amongst archers. As long as they keep fulfilling their main and basic purpose, they can be made in any color, and can display any decoration you can think of!
Nowadays, in role-playing games or cosplay, bracers are often worn as a piece of additional armor, as they are very similar in appearance to vambraces (the forearm guards belonging to full suits of plate armor, worn in medieval times).
Bracers are a good alternative to vambraces, appearance-wise because they can be made to look the same, but are of course a lot more comfortable and practical to wear!
Why do archers wear arm guards?
We’ve answered why archers wear bracers, so let’s tackle the question about why archers wear arm guards. This will be easy because they are the same exact thing! They serve the same purpose, and have the same design, they can simply be called by both names interchangeably!
But let’s take this as an opportunity to summarize the previous answer, and maybe add to it.
So, arm guards are used as protective gear, to avoid injuries while archers shoot their arrows. They’re used by archers of all skill levels, but they are especially necessary for beginners and intermediate shooters, as they are the most inexperienced, and therefore the most prone to accidentally getting hurt! (Although the chances of suffering an injury during archery never really go away, no matter how experienced you are, so wearing arm guards is always a good idea, and highly recommended).
When we say that arm guards serve as protection, we mean that they stop the string from hitting your arm once you’ve shot the arrow. With the amount of tension that the string accumulates when drawn, it can cause a lot of damage, and archers will attest to the pain of a string burn, which can cause bruising or even worse.
But on top of this, wearing arm guards also keeps your sleeves and loose clothing in place, and out of the way, so that it doesn’t accidentally get caught in the bowstring. Plus, a loose sleeve can get in the way of a good shot, so arm guards can kind of improve your performance as a whole!
As we mentioned with the bracers, arm guards are usually made of leather or plastic, and it’s important to get them properly fitted to your forearm so that they’re both comfortable and effective. They come in plenty of different sizes, and you can choose to protect part of your forearm, your whole forearm, your entire arm, or even part of your hand and fingers.
They’re pretty easy to put on, as you just slide them onto your forearm, and then adjust them in place by pulling and securing the straps that they come with. It might take some practice at first, but after a while, it becomes almost an instinctive pre-archery session process!
In the previous answer, we also mentioned how arm guards can serve a decorative or even social purpose amongst archers. But the main use will always be to protect from injury.