Archery Stacking – What is it?


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If you’re an Archery fan, then you probably heard the term stacking. This term describes what happens when you pull a bow beyond its maximum draw length. As a result, you will struggle to hold the bow to your anchor point while aiming, which will result in a loss of accuracy.

When you draw a bow past its optimal draw length, you experience archery stacking, which leads to exponential increases in draw weight.

There are several reasons for this phenomenon.

Drawing a bow results in tension inside the bow and flexion on the outside of the bow, which in turn stores energy in its limbs. For each inch you draw, you should add 2-3 pounds of weight every time. Bows that are drawn past their draw length will stack (draw weight exponentially increases).

Overdrawing a bow can ruin your shot. Overdrawing a bow will dramatically increase your draw weight, and an over-draw might lead to failure of limbs or other damage because you have overstrained the bow.

Stacking refers to spring rate curves in archery. There are spring rate curves in every bow. When the flex increases, the draw weight goes up – This process is NOT linear. 

How Do You Know You Are Stacking?

At some point, drawing a bow becomes dramatically difficult. It is at that point that the bow starts stacking that the string becomes very difficult to pull. Your bow is probably not sized correctly if you reach this point before you reach your desired personal draw length. In archery, it’s crucial to get the draw length right.

Definitions

Let me describe a few terms used when I talk about stacking. To draw a bow to the specified draw length, it takes a certain amount of force, usually measured in pounds.

Archers Draw Length

An archer’s draw length refers to the distance you physically are able to cover when pulling the bowstring to your anchor point.

Bow Draw Length

Draw length is most simply described as the distance between a bow’s riser and the most distant part of a bow’s string when at full draw.

Why Is Stacking a Problem?

  1. Bow stacking will make archery unpleasant. Pulling the bow into your anchor position and maintaining it while aiming takes more effort than needed. Due to this, many people abandon archery before they even give it a fair chance. Also, stacking can cause problems with accuracy, limb failure, and hand shock.
  2. Limb failure occurs when you draw the bow too far, which causes the limbs to break due to stress. You can be injured, and it can be an expensive problem if you actually break your bow. Although it isn’t very likely to happen, it is something to keep in mind.
  3. Losing an arrow causes hand shock, which is the vibration felt in the handle. Any arrow shot will cause some of this, but stacking makes it worse. As long as you know how stacking can affect your archery experience, you can minimize hand shock.
  4. Form errors can be amplified by stacking, affecting your accuracy.

Can Compound Bows Suffer from Stacking?

The most common misconception when you mention stacking is that you’re referring to traditional bows only. But there is some stacking in every bow. Compounded bows stack far harsher than traditional bow types like longbows or recurve bows.

The let-off that takes place with compound bows will feel like the bow’s draw weight is starting to decrease when you are drawing the bow. This will reduce the draw weight by up to 90%, depending on the let-off your bow offers. By the time you reach the maximum draw length of the bow, the strength needed to draw beyond would increase dramatically.

You’ll know when you reach this point. It is called the back wall. When drawing a compound bow past its limit, it will take more force to draw. Drawing a compound bow beyond this point is possible, though it is unlikely because of the dramatic increase in draw weight.

Does Stacking have any Benefits?

Some individuals argue that Stacking allows one to shoot on a shorter bow, which supposedly allows lighter arrows to be used, resulting in quicker arrows.

But, this argument is weak! A bow with a shorter draw length must not necessarily result in a lighter arrow.

Yes. When an arrow is faster, its arc is smaller, and it is less susceptible to environmental conditions, such as wind. This makes it easier to be more accurate. It is argued that these factors make the extra effort of drawing the bow worthwhile.

Stacking results in an increase in draw weight. But not much of an increase in the energy transferred to the arrow. Plus, if you aim at the target while holding extra weight, you will lose accuracy.

How to Reduce or Eliminate Stacking

Takedown Recurve Bow

Stacking can be minimized in several ways:

  • Get your draw length right
  • Modify your current bow
  • Get a bow that is the right size
  • Switch to a compound bow
  • Alter your shooting form

Your best option for reducing or eliminating Stacking is to get a bow that is sized appropriately for you.

You could adjust your form to shoot with a shorter bow by decreasing your draw length. Maintaining consistency is the biggest issue with modifying your form. A person’s form in archery depends on many factors, including foot position, body alignment, gripping the handle, and other factors.

Every time you shoot, you would have to adjust your form in every way. You may be able to shoot with a shorter bow, but keep in mind that you will have to adapt your form.

Takedown recurve bows provide the option of changing the limbs on the bow to eliminate stacking. Takedown recurve bows with too short limbs can be replaced by ones that are longer if you have one on hand, perhaps purchased from a friend or inherited. By increasing the bow’s draw length, it should change the point at which it stacks.

As I mentioned earlier, the term stacking usually refers to traditional bows. If you shoot a compound bow, things are more straightforward. By hitting the back wall with a compound bow, you know when the optimal draw length is reached and can avoid stacking altogether.

Conclusion

When you draw a bow past its optimal draw length, Stacking occurs due to a disproportionate increase in draw weight.

Traditional bow types tend to suffer from stacking, while compound bows encounter something known as the back wall when you reach the optimal draw length, which in most cases will prevent you from stacking.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

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