By Jace Bauserman
You see it on YouTube, social media and outdoor television. A guy or gal shooting their new flagship bow, its grip perfectly wrapped in a vibrant neon color. It adds a touch of flair, a bit of personalization. Some of my bowhunting buddies have even told me, “Man, it looks so cool.” I agree. A wrapped grip does look cool. The big question, though: is it purposeful?
Your bow hand is your only contact point with your bow. That’s a big deal. Its position on the bow will directly impact your accuracy. For me, nothing is more important than my grip, and I’ve found that placing a custom wrap on my bow’s grip improves overall feel and function. An improved overall feel means increased consistency when it comes to gripping the bow exactly the same way each and every time. Increased consistency means boosted accuracy.
A custom wrap serves many purposes, but none is more important than reducing hand movement. Hands sweat, and sweat leads to slippage. Increased heart rate during the moment of truth, whether in the field or on the competitive stage, will quickly boost hand moisture. This moisture can make the grip slick, which can lead to inconsistencies. Spring and summer temperatures also promote hand sweat, and the simple act of carrying your bow around the woods can glaze the grip in a layer of slick sweat. Grip wraps come with a bit of tackiness, and some are even engineered to channel airflow and absorb moisture. A dry grip promotes consistency and keeps your bow hand right where you need it.
Once I’m sure my grip is perfect and right where I need it to be, I typically also have a partner trace the outline of my palm-swell area on the grip. This serves as a visual reminder and can be another step in your overall shooting system.
Comfort is another reason to wrap your bow. Lots of custom bow wraps offer a bit of padding in different thickness ratings. This padding provides improved comfort. Shooting comfort leads to shooting confidence. Confidence leads to precise arrow placement.
If you plan to experiment with wrapping your bow, great! However, there are lots of different wraps you can go with, so let’s dive into the different styles of bow wraps and get a bit more in-depth about the purposes they serve.
Tennis Racquet/Baseball Bat Wraps
There are a number of these wraps on the market. The key to finding the one that’s right for you is knowing your grip style and finding a wrap that matches it. My personal favorites come from HEAD. You will want options, and HEAD delivers. This wrap manufacturer offers wraps in thickness ratings of 1.8 mm, 1.75 mm, 1.5 mm and 2.1 mm. Various grip weights are also available, as are various grip styles. My HEAD grip of choice is the HYDROSORB PRO. It’s a thinner grip that promotes excellent feel, and it’s more perforated to ensure maximum sweat absorption. The material promises cushioning and boosts airflow, which means the grip stays dry. In the event of super wet weather, the grip retains its tackiness and dries quickly. Those who prefer a grip that’s a tad thicker will want to look to the HYDROSORB COMFORT.
My advice is to spend some time on HEAD’s website and read about the company’s many different grip offerings. At a maximum price of $12 (minus the Leather Tour option), you can order a few and have some fun tinkering.
When wrapping my grip, I like to start at the bottom and work my way up. The back side of HEAD wraps is lined with a sticky coating, which grabs and holds to the grip. The wrap also allows for an element of stretch, but be careful not to pull too hard. You can rip the material and, if you pull too hard, you’ll put some wrinkle memory in the tape. I like to overlay each wrap about ¼-inch over the previous wrap as I work my way up the grip. Overlaying too much will quickly thicken the grip. Keep the wrap tight to prevent ridges. Once you reach the top of the grip, trim away any excess. I then like to add two pieces of thin electrical tape — one to the grip’s bottom and one to its top — to prevent unraveling.
Standard Athletic Tape
I like a thin grip, and for this reason, standard athletic tape has been one of my favorites over the years. You can find athletic tape in just about any color under the sun, and you’ll find it adds a bit of tackiness to your grip.
My big knock on athletic tape is its longevity. It will begin to fray and rip, and sometimes the edges will roll up. If the tape is exposed to too much moisture (rain or snow), it will lose its tackiness. If you don’t mind replacing your tape from time to time and want to save a few dollars, athletic tape is a solid option.
As with a custom wrap, start at the bottom of your grip and work toward the top. I like to keep the tape on the roll rather than tearing it off in strips. Keeping it on the roll allows you to control the amount of tape you unwind, which ensures a seamless tape-to-grip bond. You don’t want lots of ridges in your wrap. These will hinder that consistent grip you’re looking for. As with the HEAD wraps, I like to overlay each wrap of tape about ¼-inch over the previous wrap. This helps keep the edges down and will boost the lifespan of the tape wrap.
Whether wrapping your grip is right for you is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself, and that decision is best made after you test and tinker. When I take the time to experiment, especially with something as inexpensive as a custom wrap, I usually find a small pot of gold at the end of the bow-setup rainbow.