A great archery setup includes many different pieces of equipment. With improving technology, there are many things that are essential to increasing accuracy. One of the most basic and simple accessories that will increase your accuracy is a bow stabilizer.
What is a Bow Stabilizer?
A stabilizer is basically a weight, added to the front, back, or sides of a bow. While stabilizers come in all different shapes and sizes, they all serve the same basic purpose. Bow stabilizers are designed to reduce the vibration that is created by shooting a bow. They also help to stabilize the bow by increasing its inertia. Without a stabilizer, a bow can feel light and unstable. This can make it more difficult to shoot and keep steady. Now you may be thinking, do I really need a bow stabilizer? What are the advantages of a stabilizer? Let’s dive into some of the benefits you may see by shooting with a stabilizer.
The Benefits of a Bow Stabilizer
1. Increases Shot Stability
One of the main purposes of a stabilizer is to help increase your shot stability. Stabilizers increase a bow’s inertia, which helps reduce motion during the shooting process. A bow’s inertia refers to its ability to remain at rest or stay in motion. In the case of a stabilizer, the added weight and mass slows down any movements you may experience. This allows an archer to aim steadily at a target without having to constantly adjust the bow’s movement. Having a stable bow will improve your steadiness while you aim and it’s why most modern archers shoot with a stabilizer.
2. Absorbs Vibration
The other main purpose of bow stabilizers is to absorb vibration. When drawing a bow, energy is built up in the limbs. Upon release, this energy is transferred into the arrow, but some is retained in the form of vibration. Most bow stabilizers have built-in rubber and other materials that are designed to absorb this residual energy. Other stabilizers that do not have vibration absorbing materials use a different design. These stabilizers are often long rods that provide more surface area. This increase in the surface area gives the vibrations more room to travel and spread out. This minimizes their effects and decreases vibrations felt by the shooter.
3. Increases Accuracy
The use of a bow stabilizer results in greater accuracy. This is thanks to both stability and vibration absorption. The more stable your bow is, the more accurately you will be able to shoot. In addition to stability, the stabilizer’s ability to absorb vibration will also make a shooter more accurate. Big vibrations can cause you to flinch the shot, causing your arrow to go off of its desired flight path.
4. Reduces Noise
The last added benefit of using a stabilizer is the reduction in noise. For archers out on the range or in competition, this may not be a big deal. However, this can be an issue for hunters. Excess noise can mean the difference between a good shot and a missed opportunity. When an arrow is released, all of the built-up energy is released. This released energy can be very loud, spooking the animal before landing the shot. A quality stabilizer will drastically reduce this noise when shooting.
Types of Bow Stabilizers
There are many different types of bow stabilizers. These different designs and styles are used in different areas of the bow. From front stabilizers to back bars, there are a lot of options to choose from.
The most common type of stabilizer is a front stabilizer. Front stabilizers attach to the front of your bow on the riser. They usually sit right below your bow grip. These stabilizers generally extend forward, in the direction the bow is shooting. These stabilizers are designed to provide plenty of stability while shooting. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and lengths. Some extend only a few inches, while others can measure a few feet in length. The longer the stabilizer is out front, the more stability and vibration absorption it should provide.
Rear Bars & V-Bar Brackets
Other types of stabilizers are rear back bars and v-bars. These stabilizers are designed to help bring balance and stability to the sides and back of the bow. They are usually always used in conjunction with a front stabilizer in order to better balance out the bow. Back bars are positioned at specific angles in order to help prevent your bow from leaning one way while at full draw. V-bars are used by archers to provide a front stabilizer and a rear back bar from the same mounting bracket. This allows a shooter to have the benefits of both while attaching them from the same area on the bow. These bring greater stability and balance to an archer’s setup.
When choosing a stabilizer, weight is a very important consideration. Starting out, a new archer should start with a lighter weight until they know what they are comfortable with. A good rule of thumb is a front stabilizer (6 to 12 inches in length) with around 5 ounces of weight. From here a shooter can play around with different weights up front and in back in order to find the perfect balance for them and their bow setup.
The key is to have the right balance between the front weight, the back weight (if you have one), and the bow. The more weight you have, the more stability you will experience. However, be careful not to overweight your bow, as this can cause your arm to fatigue much faster when shooting.
Just like stabilizer weight, the length of a bow stabilizer largely comes down to a shooter’s needs and wants. However, take note there are certain limitations on length when it comes to competitions. If you plan to compete with your bow, make sure that you study the rules of the competition before deciding on a stabilizer length.
As another general rule of thumb, new shooters should experiment with a front stabilizer of 6 to 12 inches in length. If you shoot “freestyle”, you may experiment with longer length and additional rear stabilizers. If you plan on hunting, consider the situations you’ll be in. A longer stabilizer will be much more difficult to use in a treestand or ground blind. For this reason, most bowhunters will opt for a 12 inch or less stabilizer in order to provide better maneuverability.
Finding Your Perfect Bow Stabilizer Setup
Selecting your ideal stabilizer setup for your bow will largely depend on the style of archery that you choose. A competition archer will be using a much different setup than a bow hunter. Both styles of archery require different styles of stabilizers, but luckily there are many options.
Target Archery Stabilizers
Selecting a target stabilizer setup can be a little overwhelming for a new shooter. There are many different options available. Target archery stabilizers can be as simple as a single short stabilizer or many different bars and brackets. It all comes down to your personal needs. At the end of the day, you will have to decide what works best for you. Just remember that if you plan to compete, check to see stabilizer limitations for you class.
Target archery stabilizers are usually much longer than hunting stabilizers. This goes for both recurve and compound bows. A target archer may use a stabilizer up to 30 inches in length, while a bowhunter may be using a stabilizer that is only a few inches long. Remember that the longer the stabilizer, the more stability you will see.
Stabilizers are also important for hunters and come in a variety of styles. Most, however, are under 12 inches in length. Bowhunting stabilizers are designed to significantly reduce noise and vibration. This helps to avoid spooking the animal you are hunting. Some hunters even use stabilizers that are under 5 inches in length. These are popular as they do not get in the way and are very easy to carry around while hiking.
Many bow hunters find themselves hunting in areas with tight spaces and thick brush. This is where this style provides the most benefit, as they are very user friendly in these conditions. While they may not provide the best stabilization or balance, they help to dampen vibration, cut back on noise, and increase inertia for better aiming. Any style or size of stabilizer can be used for bowhunting. The most popular tend to be shorter models with plenty of dampening and vibration rubber.
As you can see, there are many factors that go into selecting a bow stabilizer. Whether you intend to use your bow for target archery or for hunting, there are plenty of things to consider. No matter what you decide, the use of a stabilizer will provide a number of benefits to any archer looking to improve their success with archery.