When practicing an archery arm guard is one of the most important pieces of protective equipment. The issue some individuals have is finding one that suits them. It makes more sense to just make your own in certain situations, instead of buying multiple arm guards trying to find one that matches.
Steps for making an Archery Arm Guard
- Gather Materials
- Make A Pattern
- Cut The Leather
- Round Leather Edge
- Punch The Holes
- Form The Leather
- Add Lace Hooks
- Lace The Cord
- Finish Up
Step 1. Gather Materials
Many arm guards for archers are made of leather. I prefer a finer, more pliable leather material (1/16″), but these steps will also apply to thicker (1/8″), but these steps will also apply.
When it’s over, you will also need some sort of cord or string to tie the arm guard to your arm. In this case, I’ll be using a bungee cord, but if you prefer, you can use a shoestring or any sort of flexible string.
In this example, I will add hooks on the arm guard to make it easier to take the arm guard on and off, but it’s not necessary. Any time you use it, you can still just lace a string and tie the arm guard to your arm. It’s much easier for me to just extend the bungee cord over some hooks to attach the guard to my shoulder.
List Of Materials:
- Piece of leather
- Bungee cord (4 feet or so)
- 3 Lace hooks (or more)
- Beeswax (optional)
- Pen and paper
List of Tools:
- Sand Paper (or Dremel sanding tool)
- Dremel polishing tool
- Punch pliers (punch tool)
- Utility knife (sharp blade)
- Pin (thumbtack or needle)
Step 2. Make A Pattern
The standard arm guard is 5′′ wide and around 8′′ long for an adult male. I just wanted to give you an idea that this can differ between brands and sizes. The most important thing to note, to prevent the bowstring from slapping against your skin, is that the arm guard needs to protect the inside of your forearm.
To trace the pattern, make a pattern on a piece of paper that you will then lay on top of the leather. I find it best to draw the pattern on paper, cut it out, and lay it over my arm to ensure that it will cover anything I want covering.
Here is a template I have created as an example for you. I have added a download button so that you can also print this off and use it. To be a custom fit for you, you would most likely want to change this design. Now is your chance to make your arm guard with a cool style.
Step 3. Cut The Leather
You will have to trace the pattern on the leather you are using now that you have your prototype made and sized exactly as you want. I was fortunate to have only used a pencil to trace the design to a piece of leather. I’ve learned, too, that a piece of chalk works well for this. On the rear side of the leather, mark the template outline.
Using a sharp blade like a kitchen knife or sharp scissors to cut the leather to the correct shape with the template drawn onto your piece of leather. Cut into the back of the piece of leather where you have outlined your design.
Make sure that the leather is the right size for your arm and, if necessary, make any changes. If you’re someone who likes to fine-tune every detail, to start with and change from there, it might be better to cut the leather a little wide.
Step 4. Round The Leather Edge
After you cut it, you might find the edges of the leather look a little rough. With sandpaper or a Dremel sanding instrument, you’ll need to sand the edges of the leather. Only concentrate on smoothing the edges of the leather when you’re using it to keep it from snagging on clothes.
After you have made all the edges smoother and squared, you will want to polish the edges of the leather. This step is not entirely important, but it will give you a pleasantly smooth finish and darken the leather a bit by polishing the edges of the leather.
With a polishing bit and some beeswax, just use a Dremel (or any rotating tool). Use the polishing tool to add the beeswax, turn it on, and run it over the leather edges. On touch, the beeswax will melt and give you a good durable leather edge.
Step 5. Punch The Holes
Now you want your lace hooks and cord to punch out the holes. You can easily lay your template back on your leather and mark where the holes ought to be if you have marked out the holes on your template. Try marking with a small thumbtack, pin, or needle as close to the middle of the template hole as possible.
Use the punch pliers now to punch out a piece of leather from the template where you labelled it. Punch pliers usually come with punch holes of different sizes. Try to make the hole small enough for the cord to fit through, but have enough space to slip through the leather easily. Make the lace hook holes wide enough to match the fastener with the lace hook.
Simply mirror the punch holes on both sides of the arm guard if you don’t want to use the lace hook process. Any time you put it on, you will need to manually tighten up the laces on the arm guard. But with this option, making the arm guard is a lot simpler. You can skip phase 7, and you can use any rope or string you’d like, such as shoelaces, instead of using a bungee cord.
Consider some other ways to secure the arm guard to your arm if you are not using the same lacing system I used.
Example Securing Options:
- Bungee Cord
Step 6. Form The Leather
If you pick a dense leather to make the arm guard out of it, this step is more necessary. You may not even need to do this move at all with a lighter, more compact leather. The aim is to shape your arm around the leather so it resembles that shape all the time. This makes it easier to take it on and off and more relaxed.
Start by soaking the leather in hot water and using your hands to work the leather as it soaks. Take it out of the water and shape it around your arm until the leather feels readily bendable. Find a way, like using rubber bands, to hold the leather in that shape until it dries out completely, maybe overnight.
- Leather Soak
- Around Arm Shape
- Let yourself dry overnight
You will need to do this again over time with the thicker leather, as the leather loses its form. But the leather will normally wear out the more you use it and become more manageable. This form is analogous to how you might break into a new baseball glove.
Step 7. Add Lace Hooks
For this portion of the arm guard, you can use whatever you want. I like the lace hooks that you usually see on outdoor or hiking boots. What you need is something that keeps the bungee cord.
The idea is that from one side of the arm guard to the other, you will draw the bungee cord around your arm and the hooks will hold the bungee cord close to your arm, holding the arm guard securely in place.
You can find fairly cheap lace hooks online, often referred to as eyelets or grommets. Bear in mind that you will need to rivet them in place with some lace hooks, while others will just click into place.
Step 8. Lace The Cord
Now, through the arm guard, you can lace the bungee cord or shoestring. You want to make 4 loops with the bungee cord, one for each lace hook. When you melt the tip of the cord with a lighter first, you will have an easier time getting the bungee cord through the holes in the leather. You will lace the arm guard around your arm the same way you would lace your shoes if you are using a shoestring or non-elastic belt. There are some fancier ways to lace up your shoes and arm guard, find and stick with one that works for you. Each time you use it, you don’t need to lace the arm guard, you just need to slip your arm in and tighten it up.
Step 9. Finish Up
As you should have a finished arm guard at this stage, this move is optional. But now is when a lot of archers want to add some soldering iron decoration. Some archers can also punch additional holes in a pattern all over the arm guard. Mainly to add some decoration, but also some extra flow of air to your arm for warmth.