Crossing Over – American Leathers Big Shot Crossover

Those of you who’ve read my blog in the past may recall my reviewing the Big Shot glove by American Leathers at the behest of my father. In it I mention not purchasing one of my own due to the price ($59.95), but that was only part of the story.

Ultimately my reason for not purchasing one of John’s American made gloves was the nylon material he uses in the construction of the finger tips. I am a leather man. That is the only material I like on the tips of my gloves. I feel out of control with any other material. I’ve had horrible experiences with nylon, calf hair, plastic, etc. Leather is the only material that puts my arrow on target with any degree of consistency. I find everything else too slick.

I shared this with John at the Kalamazoo Expo in January and he recommended the Big Shot Crossover, a version of the Big Shot featuring a stitched leather face over nylon inserts. His latest creation. It sounded perfect, but he didn’t have any with him for testing. Having spent my allowance anyway, I reluctantly shelved the idea of my own Big Shot for the time being. Fate would inevitably intervene several months later.

I was experiencing major equipment woes by the time I posted Dad’s Big Shot review in September. I bounced around from glove to glove during winter league and my shooting grew inconsistent as a result. The primary culprit? Finger pain. I’ve always believed a thinner glove meant a cleaner release because you can feel the string. I’ve recently found the opposite to be true, at least in my case. Gloves offering little finger protection may work well during hunting season, but can be murder on your fingers during months of heavy shooting. I’ve found that discomfort of this nature ultimately leads to a poor release. It can create target panic, inconsistent anchoring, and plucking/torquing the string. Injury and discomfort negatively effects performance. Any athlete will testify to this fact.

By November I was fed up. Something had to change, and fast.

I contacted John after cutting a particularly painful shooting session short, and asked if I could try one out. A package arrived three days later with a brand new Crossover and I immediately put it to work.

I found it awkward at first. The stalls were a bit stiff for my liking. I wasn’t accustomed to the added protection of the plastic shoots beneath the stalls and shot erratically as a result. On the other hand, the texture of the leather face provided the natural cordovan feel I’d grown accustomed to and the spandex backing made for an extremely comfortable fit. Two coats of Montana Pitch Blend worked the majority of the stiffness out and made the glove a pleasure to right out of the box.

Upon release, the stalls yielded the perfect amount of friction – slick but not overly so. While the subtle change in feel forced me to alter my release, it was ultimately for the better. Gloves with little finger protection are easily manipulated by the tension of the string, which causes everything to give beneath it. The skin essentially folds around the string while drawing, making it difficult to release without physically dropping it. Human fingers vary in finger strength so the dominent finger holds the majority of the tention. When the string is dropped, the fingers do not release simultaneously because they are not gripping with equal strength. Plucking the string can occur as a result. The string should slip from the fingers to achieve a crisp release.

By this logic, a glove that resists the tension of the string and is slick enough to allow it to slip with little effort, will result in the crispest release. This is exactly what the Crossover provides. It offers the practicality and comfort of a glove, with the functionality and protection of a smooth cordovan tab.

In fact, I tried shooting my old tab for comparison purposes and was amazed at the similarities. I’ve always been able to transition from glove to tab and back again following a few days of adjustment. I found transitioning to the Crossover similar. My groupings initially suffered a bit but quickly tightened up after only three weeks of light practice (10-20 arrows a night).

Has it made me a better shot? The jury is out, but I believe it has. My hand is pain free and remains totally comfortable while shooting. If you are comfortable, you are relaxed and that results in better shooting. That is good enough for me.

The Crossover is also a wonderful hunting glove. It can be worn above or beneath a winter glove and you can pull the stalls off your fingers as needed without losing them. I particularly love the Crossover for cold weather hunting because the added protection decreases the burn of drawing with frozen finger tips. Forgetting to remove your glove while clearing snow or debris from the frozen ground will usually result in a wet, leathery, shooting disaster. The Big Shot gloves in general are a whole lot more resistent. I crawled through a muddy field with mine recently and it hardly phased it. Though I do recommend the Pitch Blend if you plan on doing things of that nature. It is a must, and $7.99 is a small price to pay for your $59.99 investment. You can use the remainder on your quivers and arm guards!

Is the Big Shot Crossover for you?

The difference between the traditional Big Shot and Big Shot Crossover boils down to preference. I’m not a fan of the traditional Big Shot’s nylon face and prefer the texture, feel, and friction of leather. The Crossover was my obvious choice for this reason and I would buy a second without hesitation. The Crossover also seems to have been influenced by the great Howard Hill. In his book Hunting the Hard Way he mentions building a similar glove with leather stalls reinforced with shoots for added protection when shooting heavy bows. I may only be shooting 47#-56# but my fingers simply can’t take the strain that his could. I embrace the Crossover for this reason. If you shoot a heavier bow, it is definitely the glove for you. I highly recommend you try one. I’m absolutely hooked on mine.

What better way to spend that Christmas money thats burning a hole in your pocket?

Visit the American Leathers website for ordering details or call the Turners at (208) 423-5781. They are fine people with an outstanding American product. If you already own one, feel free to share your Big Shot experiences in the comments below!

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