Archery is an endeavor in which the smallest of details can have an immense impact on one’s success, or a general lack thereof. To find consistency as an archer, one must eliminate as many variables as possible from their shooting repertoire. One way of accomplishing this is to ensure that your bow is as balanced as possible.
The vast majority of today’s compound archers employ the use of a stabilizer when attempting to achieve this level of balance. However, there is far more involved in determining which stabilizer to use, than many archers would initially believe.
The following guide will assist you in deciphering how best to balance your compound bow, with the use of a stabilizer.
What Is A Stabilizer?
A stabilizer is a weighted rod of varying length, which most commonly threads into a tapped hole at the forend of a bow’s riser. Stabilizers come in a number of different configurations and designs, though the mechanical advantage that each provides is similar.
Simply put, the use of a well-chosen stabilizer brings a bow into balance, when at full draw. This is accomplished by selecting the correct stabilizer to offset a bow’s natural imbalance.
In almost every instance, a bow tends to lean in one particular direction or another while at full draw. This results from a number of factors, including a bow’s overall design (weight distribution), and the force implied by an archer while anchored in the valley.
Stabilizers are weighted, effectively serving as a counterweight to modify a particular bow’s center of gravity. When optimally balanced, a bow exhibits zero tendencies to lean forward/aft, or side-to-side. This, in itself, provides immense benefit for any archer.
Additionally, most stabilizers also come coated in rubber or other vibration-dampening materials. This, in turn, drastically reduces noise, while also minimizing hand shock felt during the shot.
The Virtues Of Balance
There is significant value in a well-balanced bow. When optimally balanced, a bow’s grip floats effortlessly in the palm of the hand, when at full draw. A balanced bow does not pull in any particular direction and is easy to steady on target. As a result, a bow’s sight pins will seem to effortlessly align upon an archer’s specific point of aim.
Additionally, since no wrist torque is required to hold a well-balanced bow on target, the chance of a shot being skewed off-target is greatly reduced. This is due to the fact that any torque applied to a bow’s grip, will be amplified throughout the shot, upon an arrow’s release. Therefore, this lack of torque results in a cleaner follow-through, and greater accuracy.
Types Of Stabilizers
Stabilizers come in several different forms, each of which caters to a specific need. Understanding the value associated with each configuration of stabilizer will prove valuable when attempting to select the perfect stabilizer for use on any one particular bow.
The following are several of the most popular types of stabilizers on the market today.
Standard (Front-Mounted) Stabilizer
The most popular type of stabilizer currently offered is the standard or front-mounted stabilizer. This type of stabilizer threads into the forward-facing portion of a bow’s riser, thereby adding additional weight to the leading edge of any bow to which it is affixed. This, in turn, provides additional vertical-line stability, making it easier for most archers to hold on target.
One less-commonly used type of stabilizer is that of a side-mounted design. Side stabilizers are oriented to one side of a bow’s stabilizer, or the other. These stabilizers are designed to offset the additional weight tacked onto one particular side of a bow’s riser, with the installation of a sight, arrow rest, and quiver. Therefore, a side-mounted stabilizer should be positioned opposite a bow’s riser-mounted accessories.
Back Bar Stabilizer
A back bar stabilizer mounts to a bow’s riser, in a rear-facing fashion. The angle of most back bar stabilizers can be easily adjusted, making it possible to customize a bow’s center of gravity. However, the bulk of archers positions their back bar stabilizers at a slight downward angle. This causes a bow to balance naturally in the upright position, thereby preventing the need for excess wrist torque.
Finding Balance: How To Choose The Perfect Stabilizer
In many ways, selecting the perfect stabilizer for a given situation comes down to a matter of personal preference for most archers. However, there are also some key points to keep in mind when shopping for a stabilizer. The first of which revolves around the fact that most archers can achieve satisfactory results, with the use of nothing more than a standard, front-mounted stabilizer.
In the vast majority of cases, the use of a 6”-8” standard stabilizer will be all that is required to balance the average bow quite nicely. A stabilizer of this design often proves adequate at minimizing hand torque, while also making it easier overall to steady the bow itself. Most average front-mounted stabilizers are also compact enough to avoid becoming a hindrance when hunting in tight confines.
As a general rule, the use of back bars or side stabilizers proves most valuable to relatively experienced archers, who are already well-versed in the use of proper form. Stabilizers of this nature provide additional stability that is not easily achieved through the use of traditional front-mount stabilizers. However, one must also be disciplined enough to reap the benefits of this enhanced stability.
One is also wise to experiment with stabilizers of various lengths, in order to find the particular unit that provides their bow with the highest degree of stability. While a relatively compact stabilizer often proves adequate in most bowhunting scenarios, many target archers opt for slightly lengthier stabilizers, as they seek to further alter their bows’ center of gravity.
When in doubt, a little trial and error is often required in order to discern how best to balance a particular bow. Luckily, most archery shops will readily allow their customers to test out various stabilizers that they have in stock. Doing so allows an archer to get a feel for the effects imparted by the use of one or more stabilizers.
The Balancing Act
There is little substitution for a well-balanced bow. When a bow’s center of gravity is manipulated in a way that prevents excess lean and wrist torque, a heightened degree of accuracy is sure to follow. By carefully considering their choice of stabilizer, any archer can achieve enhanced balance and the consistency that it fosters.
While there are an endless number of stabilizers currently available for purchase, some prove more valuable in a particular situation than others. Being able to discern between the ideal stabilizer, and that which proves to be of little benefit often serves as the catalyst to success in the sport of compound archery.