What Is Hand Shock And Does It Matter?

Last updated : August 19, 2023
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There is a great deal of interest in hand shock at the moment, so here is a guide on what this is, what they can do about it, and most importantly, how hand shock can affect your shooting.

How much force you will feel can vary depending on a number of factors. Let’s dive right into it by looking at some of the major causes of hand shock and how you can avoid them.

David HurteauBowhunting: Bows, Hand Shock and High-Speed Video

Why does my Bow Vibrate?

Now, what is hand shock? As the arrow is released, residual energy remains on the bow, causing vibrations. Bow types and sizes play a part in how much this factor varies. At the time of the shot, the riser appears to recoil forward due to the unloading of the limbs. As opposed to gun recoil, that pushes the implement away from you.

How Does A Hand Shock Affect Shooting?

Hand shock is felt through the hand which is holding the bow. The hand shock that used to be a concern when using compound bows is almost non-existent today.

David Hurteau, over at fieldandstream.com, has a few words to share regarding this issue:

“Hand-shock? As it applies to today’s compound bows, it should be called “hand-nudge” or “hand-almost-imperceptible-tremor.” Yes, back when everyone was shooting a D-shaped bow, most of us noticed that the unloading of the limbs caused the riser to recoil forward at the shot. Unlike gun recoil, this pushed the implement away from you, causing bows of the 1990s to jump out of your hand at bit.”

Source: https://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/how-bow-hunt-whitetail-deer-turkeys-bear-and-big-game/2010/06/shoot-me-down-hand-shock-does-no/

Even though a minor hand shock can cause slight discomfort when shooting, it should have no effect on your form or accuracy.

Let me refer to Dave Hurteau again when he says:

“These days, hand-shock has about as much bearing on the actual performance of a bow than does the camo pattern.”

Source: https://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/how-bow-hunt-whitetail-deer-turkeys-bear-and-big-game/2010/06/shoot-me-down-hand-shock-does-no/

Let me just leave it at that…

What Are the Causes of Archery Hand Shock?

Heavy Tips

After releasing your bow, heavy tips can move past their original position, causing the bow to jerk forward. You may lose the bow if you don’t hold it properly, or it may cause uncomfortable vibrations.

Archery is based on physics, and the more power involved in each shot, the more force it takes to maintain accuracy.

Flexible Inner Limbs and Stiff Outer Limbs

The more flexible part of the limbs is close to the grip, so most of the remaining energy will be concentrated there, causing the entire bow to bounce back and forth. This is comparable to having one limb stiffer than the other.

Low Brace Height

When the brace height is low, more energy is transferred to the bow. In terms of brace height, there are a number of pros and cons you should consider, so you can determine whether you can accept the trade-offs. For instance, a shorter brace means faster speed, but lower arrow forgiveness.

You should be aware that having a higher brace height may affect the speed of your arrows and their trajectory.

Small Risers

Unlike a smaller riser, a large riser is capable of absorbing most of the energy released by an arrow, resulting in lower hand shocks. The benefits of large risers are the reduced vibrations and a wide grip range.

At the same time, large risers are likely to be heavier. The true answer depends on each individual’s preferences and priorities. If you hunt from confined spaces such as a ground blind – a small riser is what you are looking for.

Advice for Avoiding The Vibration On Your Archery Equipment

There are a few ways you can reduce the vibrations in your bow.


If you wish to reduce vibration in your bow limbs, adding small limbsavers will be the quickest and easiest solution. Using these rubber devices, vibrations and noise can be reduced. Sizes and shapes vary.

Using them can make bow limbs, sights, quivers, and other bow accessories less likely to vibrate during a shot. The great thing about Limbsavers is that they can be applied easily and quickly to any bow.


stabilizer bow and string stop in bow case_1

Picture of a Bow Stabilizer

A bow stabilizer does two things at once:

  1. As you shoot, a stabilizer keeps your bow steady, which is what it was meant to do. Stabilizers usually have rubber built into their bodies.
  2. Rubber dampens vibrations in the riser of the bow by acting as a vibration dampener.

When shooting, a heavier stabilizer makes the bow more stable. You may want to take a look at some of the larger stabilizers, which are eight inches or more long.

Bowstring Stop

The bowstring vibrates after you lose the arrow, a string stop “stops” those vibrations by stopping the bowstring. When the string stopper is at rest, there should be a very tiny gap between it and the bowstring. A bowstring stop will help reducing vibrations, but don’t expect miracles.

A bowstring stop is easy to install and remove. For optimum performance, it is important that a bowstring stop be mated perfectly to the string and the arrows. If not, your vibrations will be amplified.

Modify the Grip

Eliminate the grip on the bow and use a custom grip. Many aftermarket grips are rubberized. Thin, easy-to-grip, and vibration-free, they are ideal for bowhunters. In addition, you can wrap your existing grip with rubberized material. Both methods work well.


A Limbsaver will reduce the vibration in bow limbs, sights, quivers, and other bow accessories less likely to vibrate during a shot. You should take your time when looking for a stabilizer. A heavy stabilizer will make the bow more stable and will help reducing vibration.

The more vibration is eliminated from the bow, the longer the bow will last and all the equipment associated with it will last longer as well.

But, as Dave Hurteau says, with modern compound bows, hand-shock has just as much to do with a bow’s performance as its camo pattern.

There is no doubt that anything that makes you more confident will help you become a better hunter. Additionally, having a positive mindset is equally important.

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. Please feel free to contact me.

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