Focus is often placed on a bow’s poundage, draw length, overall design and an arrows length, weight, the broadhead used, and components of the spine. With all this information there seems to be very little attention given to where the actual arrow needs to rest on the bow.
Not only is an arrow rest an integral part of a bow setup, but it can also directly affect the flight and accuracy of the arrow.
Let’s analyze two of the more unique arrow rests, the whisker biscuit and the drop-away rest.
The introduction of the whisker biscuit in 2003 sent shock waves through the bow hunting industry as it was viewed as a revolutionary piece of equipment that was so simple, so obvious, and yet entirely unique when compared to other arrow rests.
A whisker biscuit’s design is made for simple insertion of the arrow for nocking while providing it with complete stability, there is almost no movement in the arrow’s position.
The “whiskers” that hold the arrow in place are synthetic bristles that form a complete perimeter holding the arrow firmly.
Having the arrow completely encased means the archer can shoot from almost any angle or position. It was this benefit alone that catapulted the whisker biscuit to becoming a firm favorite amongst many tree stand hunters.
Another simple, yet masterful, piece of engineering, was the V-shaped cut into the biscuit called the quick shot – an entry slot that allows the arrow to be loaded with efficiency and ease.
Drop Away Rest
There are many varieties and adaptions when it comes to drop-away rests, but essentially, they all operate in a similar fashion and have a unique feature that distinguishes them from the static rests, such as the whisker biscuit.
The drop-away rest holds your arrow in an upright position through the draw cycle and then falls out of the way as the arrow leaves the bow.
The falling away action of the rest means there is nothing impacting the arrow’s flight. The idea is that there is no external influence on the arrow once it receives the bow’s energy.
With the very nature of hunting being unpredictable, most of the drop-away rests geared for hunters have a full-containment system which holds the arrow firmly in place during full draw.
There are three types of drop-away rests:
- Cable-driven rests: These use a cord that connects to the down cable of a compound bow. Once the bow is drawn, the cable pulls down on the cord, which raises the rest into position.
When the arrow is released, the cord flies up and the rest falls.
- Limb-driven rests: With this type of rest the cord attaches to the top or bottom limb. The cord holds the rest in the down position. When the bow is drawn, the cord relaxes, and the rest rises into position.
At the release of the trigger, the limb goes back to its normal position, pulling the cord tight and the rest down.
- Inertia rests: Here the cord is attached to the don cable or limb, but they can be cocked in the upright position which will help if the bow is drawn and then let down without shooting, the arrow will stay in the shooting position. Only once the string is released will the inertia fall away.
Pros and Cons of the Whisker Biscuit
- No moving parts, means zero chance of mechanical failure and repetitive maintenance
- The arrow is firmly held regardless of how the bow is angled
- Comes in three different sizes to accommodate small to large arrow spines
- Not affected by varying weather conditions
- Although very slight, the whisker biscuit does reduce speed and accuracy of the arrow. The difference is minuscule which should not affect hunters, but it is something to consider for competition shooters
- Whiskers will put stress on the arrow vanes, and they will need to be re-fletched after a while
- Adds a noise to the bow. Again, a minor issue but many bow hunters want their setup to be as quiet as possible
Pros and cons of the Drop Away Rest
- Allows for better accuracy and tighter groupings for those hunters who want to be specific in their target shooting
- Minimal friction on the arrow which turns out a higher arrow velocity
- Quieter as the arrow does not have to pass through any bristles
- Prone to failure with moveable parts, constant maintenance must be done
- Pricing of a drop away rest on average can be higher than a whisker biscuit
- The arrow may fall off from the rest while moving or crawling to get closer to an animal
- Moveable parts tend to be affected by extreme weather conditions
- Attaching the cords to the limbs or strings may take time or be forgotten by the hunter
Which is Faster?
Speed is on every bowhunter’s mind, and many have questioned whether an arrow rest affects the speed of an arrow? The short answer is yes, but which arrow rest is faster and by how much?
Various chronograph tests on arrows fired from a whisker biscuit versus one fired from a drop-away rest have consistently shown that the arrow from a whisker biscuit is on average 3 – 6 feet per second slower than a drop-away rest.
It is simple physics that the more drag created on a moving object, the slower its speed and momentum will be.
What is interesting however, was the variation in speed of arrows with different vanes when fired from a whisker biscuit.
- 4” Vanes slower by 1 – 2 feet per second
- 5” Vanes slower by 5 – 7 feet per second
- 5” Vanes with a 6-degree helical slower by 12 – 15 feet per second
How to Choose the Right Rest?
In order to choose the correct arrow rest, it is best to match the rest with the type of archer you are.
A hunter that prefers to put a stalk on through wooded areas or has no problem crawling over rocky ground to close in the distance on an animal would want their arrow to be held firmly in place and not have to fiddle with cables or drop plates just before letting an arrow fly.
Hence, they would be inclined to choose the whisker biscuit.
Then you have a competition shooter that needs every part of their bow to be perfectly in tune and adapted to pinpoint accuracy.
Competitive shooters will scrutinize every inch of their equipment and wouldn’t settle for bristles that may influence the accuracy of the arrow by as little 1/16th of an inch. This accuracy comes from the drop-away rests.
Some questions that may help with decision making:
- Are you happy to sacrifice a small amount of speed for arrow stability?
- Is the risk of mechanical failure a concern?
- Are you ok with replacing vanes on a regular basis?
Although these points can be seen as minor or easily managed through the correct maintenance of your equipment, they are none the less still issues which many archers would need to consider when deciding on a whisker biscuit vs drop-away rest.