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What Is Hand Shock And Does It Matter?

a man holding a compound bow

There is great interest in hand shock, 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 several factors. Let’s dive right into it by looking at some major causes of hand shock and how you can avoid them.

Key Points

Hand Shock

The vibration and recoil of the bow after releasing the arrow felt through the hand holding the bow.

Causes of Hand Shock

Factors such as bow type and size, arrow weight and spine, brace height, riser size, and limb flexibility can affect the amount of hand shock.

Effects of Hand Shock

Hand shock can cause discomfort, noise, and instability in shooting, but it has little impact on modern compound bows’ actual performance and accuracy.

Ways to Reduce Hand Shock

Adding limbsavers, stabilizers, string stops, or rubberized grips can help dampen the vibration and noise of the bow.

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, 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.”


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:

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 can absorb most of the energy an arrow releases, resulting in lower-hand shocks. The benefits of large risers are 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 limb savers 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.

Bow Stabilizer

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 bow’s riser by acting as a vibration dampener.

When shooting, a heavier stabilizer makes the bow more stable. You may want to 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 reduce vibrations but don’t expect miracles.

A bowstring stop is easy to install and remove. For optimum performance, a bowstring stop must 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.

Before you go..

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 reduce 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.

Undoubtedly, anything that makes you more confident will help you become a better hunter. Additionally, having a positive mindset is equally important.


What is hand shock and why is it a problem?

Hand shock is the vibration and recoil that you feel in your hand when you shoot a bow. It can cause discomfort, noise, and reduced accuracy.

How can you reduce hand shock in your bow?

There are several ways to reduce hand shock, such as using limbsavers, stabilizers, string stops, and rubberized grips. These accessories can dampen the vibrations and make your bow more stable and comfortable to shoot.

What are the benefits of reducing hand shock?

Reducing hand shock can make your shooting experience more enjoyable and efficient. You can avoid hand fatigue, improve your accuracy, and extend the lifespan of your bow and its components.

How does brace height affect hand shock?

A lower brace height means more energy is transferred to the bow, resulting in more hand shock. A higher brace height means less energy is transferred to the bow, resulting in less hand shock.

How does riser size affect hand shock?

A larger riser can absorb more energy when an arrow is released. Resulting in less hand shock. A smaller riser can absorb less of the energy released by an arrow, resulting in more hand shock.

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