As hunters we tend to think lighter is better when it comes to our archery equipment. But what’s more important is shooting stability. The feel of a super light carbon riser bow may feel “COOL” but from my past experience the feel of shooting a moderate weight bow is much more enjoyable. I see these fancy little rubber coated “stabilizers” on the shelves and always have to chuckle to myself. In all reality people who have a short rubber “stabilizer” on their bow, merely have a vibration dampener.
What’s that thing sticking off the front of your bow?
The real purpose of a stabilizer is to do what it’s name states, STABILIZE. Sure a stabilizer will help reduce felt hand shock. But with bows these days there isn’t much of that to deal with. In order for a stabilizer to live up to its name it needs length and mass weight. I’m not saying you need a 30” target stabilizer out in the woods. But the farther you can get the weight out in front of your bow the more effective it will be. Is there a magic stabilizer set up, no, every bow mass weights differ by model and brand .
How do I know which set up is right for me?
Stabilizers come in all sorts of lengths. For example, if you primarily hunt out of a ground blind you’re probably not going to want a long bar sticking off the front of your bow. For blind hunters an 8″ stabilizer is about all the longer you will want. This of course depends on how much room you have in your blind. Hunting out of a tree stand or spot and stalk I’d recommend a 12″ stabilizer. For the open country hunter a 12-15″ is more up your alley depending on how much weight you want to carry.
A good stabilizer will come with the option to add or remove weight from the front of it. These weights normally come in the shape of round discs with different diameters and thickness. Diameter and thickness will determine the weight of the disc. You might be amazed what 4-5 oz. out front of your bow will do for your shooting. A heavier bow will aim and hold on target better than a light bow. Especially in the wind or at longer range.
Do side rods or V bars really help? Are they worth the added weight on my bow?
Once you start adding weight you will feel you bow get front heavy. In order to achieve true balance the use of a side rod or back bar comes into play. A side rod is a stabilizer mounted to a bracket extending back towards the shooter. Adding weight behind the bow will help balance the bow vertically. You can adjust your side rod to put the weight farther from the side of your bow or closer to it. This will help balance your bow and prevent it from wanting to lean left or right. This is done by counteracting the weight of your sight, rest, and quiver. V bars use a bracket which puts a stabilizer on both sides of your bow. They allow you to fine tune that left and right balance. Typically, these are not real popular with hunters.
How much weight do I add to the front and rear of my bow?
When starting out with a new stabilizer set up you want to start light. Slowly start adding weight in even increments. Both to the front and rear of your bow. One formula that a lot of shooters use is length of the front bar times the weight that’s on it divided by the length of your back bar. To come up with a good starting weight for the front I typically add one ounce at a time. I do this until I feel that the front of the bow wants to fall forward when releasing my arrow. That will get you a good starting point. Remember that you will want to do a lot of shooting with your set up. This will allow you to find that weight combination that works for you and the type of hunting/shooting you do.
I have a 10″ front bar on my hunting bow with 5 ozs on it and a 12″ rear bar with 8 ozs. On my target set up, I shoot bowhunter class so my front stabilizer is limited to 12″. This includes any weights on the end of it. In my case I use a 10″ with 22 ozs out front. As far as my rear bar, I am not limited so I run a longer bar. This allows me to use less weight. I have a 15″ rear with 22 ozs. Many shooters have told me that’s way too much weight. That is until they try it for themselves and feel how balanced my bow is. They are amazed at how my pin will just float around the inside of the bullseye. Perfect balance and extreme stabilization are a must.
Watch Your Sight Pins For An Idea on Your Shooting Stability
So the next time you are out shooting your bow take a few moments. Watch what your sight pins are telling you. If you are having to push them or find yourself chasing the bullseye with your pins you want to rethink your stabilizer set up. We all owe it to the game we hunt to be the best shooters we can. This is one step to get you on track to being a better shooter. When that buck of a life time comes in and the knees begin to shake, don’t let the shaking keep you from keeping your pins on that deer’s vitals. A few more ounces of weight to your bow may be what keeps those pin where they need to be and what puts meat in your freezer.
Do you have any recommendations for shooting stability? Please share them in the comments section below.
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