By Mark Kenyon:
Over the past few weeks we’ve been highlighting easy ways to improve your archery accuracy in these final months leading up to hunting season. So far we’ve covered removing your bow grip and practicing at long distances, and today we’re going to discuss the use of longer stabilizers.
What’s The Purpose of a Stabilizer?
As most of you know, a stabilizer is the rod that is screwed into the front of your bow riser. Popular brands of stabilizers include Trophy Ridge, Doinker, Limb Saver, Octane, and Pine Ridge Archery. Most any bow you see today has one of these screwed on, but these stabilizers can vary in appearance greatly. There are long ones, short ones, skinny ones, fat ones and everything in between. So what’s the purpose?
A stabilizer inherently should do three things. Number one, it should help minimize vibration. Secondly, it should dampen the sound of the bow and make for a quieter shot. Third, it should add weight out in front of your bow, resulting in a steadier bow.
The most common stabilizers seen on bowhunters’ rigs today are most likely 6 inch models. These 6 inch stabilizers can be helpful in eliminating vibration and noise, but when it comes to steadying aim they don’t do much. In a recent test performed by our friends over at Field & Stream, they tested shooting several different bows with and without a 6 inch stabilizer. The test ended up showing no noticeable difference in accuracy when using the 6 inch model.
That said, if you’re looking to improve your archery accuracy, you might want to toss that 6 inch model on your bow and look for a different option.
Why A Longer Stabilizer?
Per a Peterson’s Bowhunting article, according to Rob Kaufhold, a former member of the U.S. Olympic Archery Team, “Longer is better. Heavier is better, and you want all that weight at the end. That’s what will make your sight pin sit still. A simple test is to shoot with a 6-inch stabilizer and then shoot with a 12-incher. The longer one is going to make your pin steadier.”
So why does this happen? Again quoting this article, “added weight on the lower half of your bow pulls the bow straight down, allowing you to hold it steadier. Sticking out from the front of the bow, the stabilizer’s weight also makes it more difficult for you to torque your hand at the shot — a common shooting problem. Length and weight extending away from the front of the bow resists that torquing action. The longer the stabilizer, the less you’ll torque the bow.”
So the theory of how a longer stabilizer works makes sense, but does it actually play out in the real world? Well, in that aforementioned Field & Stream test, they looked at this as well. The shooters tested longer 10″+ stabilizers and ended up finding that their groups out to 60 yards were almost cut in half! The improvement in accuracy was, and I quote, “Damned-near astonishing, in fact.”
With all of this theory and now first hand tests from my pals at Field & Stream pointing to the value of a longer stabilizer, I decided I needed to give it a try for myself.
I’ve been shooting with a 6 inch stabilizer, but this week I removed that and replaced it with the new 9″ Static stabilizer from Trophy Ridge. Immediately I could tell the bow felt different, and of course a little heavier. It was time to head to the backyard range.
I stepped back to 50 yards and began shooting three arrow groups. The results? I immediately could see that my pin settled much easier. In the past I’ve sometimes struggled with my pin floating on the target a bit erratically. I’ve worked hard to improve this by working on my form, but with just this small equipment change I immediately saw a difference. The occasional erratic jerks while trying to settle my pin seemed to be gone. In the end, my first six arrows buried themselves right into the bull, which wasn’t always happening before. I haven’t quite quantified the positive impact, but I do feel that my observations demonstrated a noticeable difference. Based on what I’ve read and the results I saw, I’ll be switching to the 9 inch stabilizer from here on out.
Try A Longer Stabilizer
So if you’re looking for a few new tweaks to make to your rig for improved accuracy, this may be just the ticket. By adding more weight out in front of your bow you’ll reduce torque and steady your pin. In the field, that means better shots, and more venison. Sounds good, right?
Have you seen a difference between short stabilizers and longer models in your experience? What do you shoot? Let us know in the comments!