As you get better in archery, there will always come a time when you’d want to control every little detail on the way you shoot. And this may even boil down on your bow setup.
And one important variable to consider would be stabilizers. Basically, stabilizers will help you have the balance you’d need to make those shots. Minuscule adjustments for some; a game-breaking enhancement for others! Read on to find out more how stabilizers can help you today.
How to Balance a Bow with Stabilizers?
Setting up stabilizers to balance your bow can be done with these quick and easy steps:
- Stabilizers are mounted on your bow's riser. But it isn't a simple "plug-and-play process"! Make sure that the weights on the stabilizers you'll be using are separated from the rod with a rubber-like material. You'd want to do this to dampen vibration caused by these stabilizers. This is because you'll not only prevent any faulty movements whenever you'll shoot. You'll also give yourself some much-needed flexibility, by actually making the bow easier to carry!
- Stabilizers come in all forms and shapes. Typically, a stabilizer is heavy enough that having one on your bow results in a noticeable increase of weight. Depending on the type as well, some of these weight-adjusting equipment also come with pistons that help in vibration dampening. Some models even have oil bladders that also lessen vibration. Note that more weight doesn't necessarily mean an increase in accuracy. It all boils down to your own style, level of archery expertise, and even preference. Choosing the right stabilizer will all depend on you – go for a balance that you are most comfortable with! Just like anything with archery, you want something that will make you focus on your target and not the other way around!
- Seeing that stabilizer preference is a subjective and "trial-and-error" process, what can help you choose a type that will best help you? Well, getting that balance for your bow is possible by taking note of these stabilizer variables: how an equipped stabilizer actually feels like when you're holding the bow, and how different sighting in your target is with a stabilizer equipped!
- Lastly, always have in mind that stabilizers are just archery equipment. These pieces of bow equipment will not define you. Your archery stance, your shooting form, and even your own confidence to shoot arrows will always place first over your gear. Knowing these principles will help you find the balance you need – and in effect, make those stabilizers work!
Get that Balance Right: What and Why You Need Stabilizers
Let’s break down stabilizer concepts in bite-chunk segments!
Know Your Stabilizer
What exactly is a stabilizer? This (perhaps essential) bow equipment absorbs whatever vibration that occurs when you shoot an arrow and helps keep your bow level and stable at all times. By reducing the vibration, they lessen the shock you feel on the bow grip. Essentially, the more weight placed in your bow's grip, a stronger sense of balance is felt as well.
Where to put a Stabilizer?
Notice that hole on your bow? The one located just below your grip? This is what you call an accessory hole (most, if not all, bows today have these holes). This is where you basically screw a stabilizer in!
Front rods are for Transitional and Rotational Resistance
This means that you can use front rods to make your bow move less backwards when shooting. They also help you by making your bow less likely to rotate around the grip.
Side rods help with vertical tilt and add Rotational Resistance too
Side rods help with the twist of your forearm. This is because they are offset from the line of your forearm, so they can create rotational resistance. They can also balance the weight of your front rod, so you regain the balance you have lost when you put on your front rod.
Rods which extend backwards help balance the weight of your Front Rod
When you add a front rod, your bow will want to tilt forward. You can compensate by adding a rod which extends backwards - this will effectively make your bow tilt backwards, and the two forces cancel each other.
Why a Stabilizer Matters
Now, why do vibration dampening and more weight matter? Essentially (and again, just like anything in archery), a sense of stability is needed for you to make shots. Imagine taking multiple shots - but each shot with a change in your stance! Wouldn't that be a hassle?
And that is why stabilizers may work wonders for you. By taking out the vibration and giving you more stability on the grip, you are basically training your mind (and muscles) to focus on the target.
Key Differences that Bow Stabilizers Produce
Breaking it down even further, an effective stabilizer should produce these noticeable factors whenever you let an arrow fly:
Yay for More Balance
The right stabilizer weight applied will make your bow noticeably heavier. And the right kind of "heavy" is a bow that you can still control! The added weight will do make your bow more stable. This means that you wouldn't be able to easily rock your bow from side to side. And this matters when you want to stay focused on your target!
Yay for Less Vibration
The right stabilizer will not only give your bow some much-needed weight. It'll also help in dampening vibration. As it is, firing an arrow releases potential energy stored in your bow string. And where does this potential energy go? Nowhere else but your bow!
Sure, some energy is transferred to the fired arrow. But the rest of the energy will transfer to your gear. And if you aren't ready, taking the brunt of this force can be taxing.
Have you noticed that taking multiple shots can be really tiring? Given as well that you have your own endurance to factor in, but chances are, you're bound to have a shaky bow after a long shooting round.
And this is where a bow stabilizer shines. By helping dampen the vibration produced, you'd be able to manage more shots. And more consistent shots will mean better chances to hit your targets!
The Case of Sound Produced
Another important factor that stabilizers may provide for you is how it can dampen sound. In some cases for volatile bows (those that have been shot multiple times), there's going to be a tendency for it to just produce more noise. And if you're a hunter out in the wild, having a noisy bow is never a good thing! So, by dampening vibration, a stabilizer, in effect, may also drown out sound!
For further dampening your string's noise consider getting a string silencer.
What You Should Look Out for in a Bow Stabilizer
Fancy getting a stabilizer for your bow? Check out these pointers to look out for:
What is the Stabilizer Made Out Of?
To find out how efficient a stabilizer is dampening vibration (or sound), consider first the material used in its construction. Again, it does depend on your preference, but the go-to material that majority of archers attest to is rubber. Other materials that stabilizers are made out of (well, the dampening material part, to be more specific) are sand and gel. As such, go test out several variants to get the right feel for your bow!
How Heavy is the Stabilizer?
Always consider and check the front end of a stabilizer. This is where the additional weight is found. Checking first the weight should give you a good gauge on how it'll feel like once the stabilizer is attached to your bow.
How Long is the Stabilizer?
Checking a stabilizer's length will also help you determine on how it'll benefit you as an archer. For target shooting, you'd want to focus more on stability. And the longer a stabilizer is, the more stable it'll be for your bow. As such, go for longer!
On the other hand, if you're hunting prey in the wild, you'd want one that will still provide you stability without offsetting control. A recommended length then for hunters would be stabilizers at least 4 - 10 inches long!
Can the Stabilizer Be Customized?
Another important factor to look out for in a stabilizer is its capacity to be customized. Depending on if you're a DIY archer, having a stabilizer that is safe to be customized may just be the thing you'd need on your bow!
Bow Stabilizer Adjustments Checklist
Let’s get down and dirty with stabilizers. In this section, we’ll be breaking down key points on what makes an effective stabilizer:
Side Bars and Stabilizers
Need more weight? But don’t really want to replace your stabilizer? Opt for a side bar! Also known as side rods, these help in adding more weight to enhance the balance of a bow. Depending on how you plan to use your bow, you may even use multiple rods to get your desired bow weight. Again, your preference matters, so do go ahead and experiment if these bars are meant for you!
The Right Kind of Resistance
Being more technical, bow stabilizers exist to add more "moment of inertia" (MOI) in a bow. The MOI unit is essentially just how much an object can resist rotation. As such, the higher the MOI is, the more resistant it is to torque.
We're pointing this out because you'd need the right amount of resistance in your bow to make it work. The lesser the resistance in your bow is, the more skilled you need to be to make your shots hit. Again, it all boils down to your own archery skill level. But for safety and convenience's sake, you'd want to have a bow that will offer you just the right amount of resistance (you'd want to control your bow properly, anyway!).
As such, let's quickly discuss why the right MOI produced by a stabilizer will give make matters worth it:
- Transitional Resistance – this is essentially the force your bow's energy travels to when you shoot. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean you'll hit your target this way. This is, in fact, how an unbalanced bow works! With potential energy not properly exerted, you are mainly relying on luck, your own personal skill, and endurance on trying to hit a target.
- Rotational Resistance – with this form of resistance, potential energy is efficiently distributed instead. By resisting torque, you are able to both control and aim your bow at the same time. As subtle as it is, this is how stabilizers work!
Interesting, right? That's just how awesome stabilizers are, once you get to know more about them!
Note: archery releases can help with the torque too.
Adjusting Waggle Issues
A good stabilizer will help you keep your bow steady. But what if waggle still occurs? Should you replace your stabilizer? Should you add more weight? Don’t worry - try these simple suggestions first:
Loosen Up - chances are you are just too tense! Given that the extra weight caused by the stabilizer can be daunting. But try relaxing your grip on the bow first. You may find it surprising that you’re just gripping it too tightly, causing some stress to waggle your bow!
A Longer Choice - remember, the longer the stabilizer, the more stable it is. Instead of going for a heavier stabilizer (which may mean making more adjustments in lifting a bow), consider getting a longer stabilizer instead.
Here's another technical aspect to consider. Not only do you need to consider the weight of your bow in making shots. You also need to consider your holding weight.
- Holding Weight – essentially the weight you're holding your bow at full draw.
- Gear Mass Weight – the total weight of your bow setup.
Setting the balance between the two is essential in getting those shots fly. Having a really light bow will only make your hold pattern erratic. Consequently, having a too heavy gear weight will only mean it'll take too much time to shoot. Strike the balance, and make those arrows fly!
Fine Tuning Your Shot
Here's the fun part. Try getting the right shot with your stabilizer by looking for the right kind of feel when you hold your bow. Experiment how different each shot is with varying pressures you apply whenever you shoot. Try to aim for a balance of control and accuracy as well. After all, this is mainly the reason you have a stabilizer equipped, right?
Better Balance, Better Shots
Getting the right stabilizer will not only give you a balanced bow. Importantly, the confidence by having a bow you can properly handle will help you make those shots count. Have fun aiming and hitting your targets!
Balancing act? Read up more information on how stabilizers will give you the right feel when shooting:
This video shows a nice way to balance a bow!
This is perhaps one of the most comprehensive documents that details everything about bow stabilizers!
An archery coach writes on how testing is essential when using stabilizers.
Do not forget paper tuning after adding the stabilizers to make sure everything works together as expected. It's a great idea to practice a bit after adding the stabilizers - click here to get a few tips on practice locations.