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Today’s archers seek every advantage they can get.
Every compound bow accessory helps to make the tool more accurate, bringing you success.
One of the less-understood accessories is the stabilizer.
Stabilizers are used in archery to dampen the vibrations of compound bows, both for hunting and target shooting.
A quality stabilizer makes a hunting bow more deadly and improves how the bow feels in your hands.
Despite most people use stabilizers for vibration dampening, it isn’t the only thing they are used for.
Anybody near a compound bow can hear the loud thwack! when an arrow is released. A lot of that comes from the bow vibrating.
A good stabilizer helps with that, too.
With a properly-weighted stabilizer, you’ll surely have a more accurate and quieter shot with less hand shock.
In this guide, we’ll give you all the major information you need to choose and use a stabilizer properly.
Related: 2023‘s Best Compound Bows for Women
How Does Having a Stabilizer Help in Archery?
Stabilizers are able to perform a lot of different tasks with your bow.
Let’s look at those in detail.
Stabilizers can dampen the level of vibration produced when you create a shot with your bow.
When you release an arrow, most of the stored kinetic energy is transferred from the bow into the arrow.
Most, but not all.
Vibration and sound are signs of wasted kinetic energy. Stabilizers absorb this excess power.
When the bow vibrates in your hand, this can cause hand shock, which is uncomfortable.
Stabilizers therefore help reduce hand shock, resulting in a more pleasant experience.
Reduced vibration also reduces the sound released when you launch an arrow, reducing your chances of spooking that big buck.
Reducing Bow Torque
Stabilizers also combat bow torque.
Bow torque is when the bow tries to twist and rotate after you’ve released an arrow.
Adding some weight in front of the bow increases the bow’s moment of inertia, allowing it to resist the torque that can be produced in the riser once you have released your bowstring.
This can also help you in hitting your target when shooting, as a rotating bow can knock the arrow to the side.
You might be wondering how they improve the accuracy of your bow.
In fact, stabilizers help you to improve your accuracy in two different ways.
The first one is the mechanical improvement, which allows you to aim at the target with improved stability.
In other words, you’ll experience less bow sway.
Here your groups will be tighter if you are holding your bow tightly, which really helps you to improve the accuracy of your shot.
On the other hand, the mental improvement offered by the stabilizers helps you to relax and use your bow properly.
The mental improvement can change the way you aim and shoot at the target. You’ll be more confident since your body won’t tense up in anticipation of uncomfortable hand shock.
What About Side and Rear Stabilizers?
For beginner archers, all you need to do to get the benefits of a stabilizer is to buy one and attach it to the front of your bow.
You can go to an archery story and try out various styles to find out what’s best for you.
However, for most people, any stabilizer is better than none.
So, what’s with all the fuss about a stabilizer weight formula?
Where, there’s something about stabilizers we haven’t touched on yet:
You can also add side and rear stabilizer rods to your bow.
Done well, this will improve your bow’s balance far more than a single, front rod can achieve.
However, doing this is an advanced technique, often recommended only for experienced archers.
Why Use Side and Rear Stabilizer Rods?
Many archers find more weight to be better, but this comes at a cost:
Heavier stabilizer weights are often longer, which increases your chances of catching your bow on the foliage when hunting.
Using side and rear rods helps your bow to be more compact, improving handling in the woods.
Archery Stabilizer Weight Formula
Is there a formula you can use to determine the appropriate length and weight of your bow’s front and side rods?
That’s because the weight and size that works best for you is not based on the bow itself.
Instead, it’s based on your strength and handling requirements.
The heavier the stabilizer, the better.
A 14 ounce stabilizer will reduce hand shock and combat bow torque.
A 14 pound stabilizer will almost eliminate hand shock and bow torque.
However, can you hold a 14 pound weight with your arm fully extended as you take aim at a deer? Probably not!
That’s why you need to spend some time practicing with a stabilized bow to find the one that helps you hold steady without causing extra fatigue.
Thankfully, many stabilizers are modular so you can add and remove weights in ounce or even half-ounce increments.
Something to note, however, is that length and weight work together.
That 14 oz stabilizer? You’ll achieve the same effect by using a 7 oz stabilizer that’s twice as long.
This is why competition bows often have stabilizers that are ridiculously long compared with stabilizers on hunting bows.
Twice the length, half the weight, and you’ll get the same effect.
Related: Which Arrow Spine is Right for You?
How to Setup a Stabilizer for Archery?
Setting up a stabilizer for archery isn’t as difficult as you might be thinking.
Archery stabilizers are seated on the back of a compound bow’s riser. They’re screwed through a threaded hole under the grip.
Most modern compound bows already possess an accessory hole at the proper place.
However, you need to look for a proper stabilizer for your bow.
Here is everything you need to do to set up a stabilizer for archery.
First, you need to set up your bow as you would for normal shooting.
The sight, quiver, arrow rest, and the other pieces of equipment should be installed as normal.
Then you need to grab the bow with a well-relaxed bow hand. You won’t be able to set up the stabilizer properly when you have a death grip on your bow.
Hold your bow right in front of you without drawing it back and keep staring at it to observe whether it is tilting, falling forward, leaning to any side, etc.
This can help you tell where you need weight.
While figuring out your stabilizer, you need to handle your bow as naturally as possible.
Placing The Stabilizers
After you’ve observed how your bow moves without a stabilizer, to get started placing stabilizers.
It’s best to have a couple of stabilizers with you to figure out the best one but this isn’t always possible.
A long front rod along with a short side rod works best for most people.
Side rods help to counterbalance attached accessories such as quivers and sights, as they can cause your bow to rotate horizontally1.
Good side stabilizers also compensate for how some front stabilizers can cause your bow to want to pitch forward.
That nosediving action can cause your arrows to fly low, which you don’t want.
When you have properly attached the stabilizers, leave off all the extra weights.
Then you can hold the bow like you do while shooting to determine its balance.
If you want your bow to be stable from the front to the back and side to the side. Remember to not hold it in a death grip!
You can start adding weight opposite the movement.
For example, if your bow wants to fall clockwise, add some weight to the side rod.
If you leave your side rod with no weight and add some front weight to make the bow stable it may start leaning forward. Compensate with some weight to the side bar to stabilize it.
This may cause the bow to start leaning backward.
In this case, you can add some weight on the front so that it will be well-balanced.
It’ll take some back-and-forth to find the proper amount of weight both fore and aft.
Some people recommend a 3 to 1 ration of weight on the front rod to the side rod, though this depends on both stabilizer’s length.
You can use stabilizers with adjustable angles to help fine-tune your bow’s balance, too.
Test the Bow at Draw
Once you’ve figured out what combination makes your bow stable at rest, test the bow when fully drawn.
It’s possible to do this without an arrow but be absolutely sure not to dry fire your bow!
A safer option is to practice target shooting instead.
When you draw your bow, you will torque it. How well does the addition of a stabilizer help resist this torque?
Keep an eye on your sights. They should remain level.
A leveling bubble can help with this.
How does the bow react after your shot? Does it pitch in a direction you don’t want?
Evaluate how the bow behaves and adjust the weights accordingly.
Because of the different angles when a bow us undrawn and drawn, you won’t be able to have it perfectly stabilized in both conditions2.
Instead, figure out which feels best for you.
With that being done, you’ve properly set up the stabilizers on your bow!
Precautions While Setting up Stabilizers for Archery
Here are few safety precautions you need to take while setting up stabilizers for archery:
- Never adjust stabilizers with a nocked arrow
- Get stabilizers that are compatible with your bow (don’t force install the stabilizer if the threading is wrong!)
- You shouldn’t try setting up stabilizers without properly setting up the bow first
- Make sure that your bow is in good condition
- Keep all valuable items away in case you drop the bow
What to Look For in a Compound Bow Stabilizer
While buying a stabilizer for archery, you need to know about several things.
The most important thing is to buy a stabilizer that fits your bow.
Not all stabilizers fit all bows, so make sure they’re compatible!
Here are some tips that will help you to choose a stabilizer for archery.
Choosing the length of the stabilizer isn’t an exact science. It depends on how you use your bow.
Getting a 6″ stabilizer would be the perfect choice if you hunt at short ranges in dense woods.
However, 30″ stabilizer would work the best if you usually participate in target shooting competitions with targets at long range.
Keep in mind that longer stabilizers are more effective but are more likely to catch on obstructions.
Side rods help to stabilize your bow by increasing the weight behind the bow’s riser.
It isn’t mandatory to add a side rod, so it’s up to you to decide if the added fuss and expense is worth the improved stability.
A side rid can help counterbalance the weight of a loaded quiver, however.
Some archers install a second side rod on the other side for even more stability.
Wrapping it Up
Getting a stabilizer for your bow isn’t a necessity.
Many people have landed lethal shots on deer without the use of this tool.
But, if you get one, you’ll experience increased stability and reduced hand shock.
The right stabilizer for you it depends on where you’re shooting and type of target.
Setting up a stabilizer for archery is easy, though it does take some time. Still, there are precautions you should take in order to stay safe.
The only thing you need to do if you are planning to get stabilizer is to look for the one that suits your personal requirements.