Bow stabilizers… They come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the questions we are asked almost daily is “What size should I get?” To answer this question, we need to first understand a little about the science behind stabilizers.
The technical way to explain this would be to say that the stabilizer is a way to have added weight solidly attached, yet away from the riser, which serves two purposes: increasing the moment of inertia of the stabilizer and the amount of control over the net torque the riser has during the shot cycle. An increased moment of inertia helps withstand external sources of torque, such as the natural corrective movements that a shooter makes to keep the pin on the target.
Example: Imagine three tight rope walkers. One has a long weighted pole, another has a very short weighted pole, and the third has no pole at all. If the walkers with poles were to hold their poles so that they were perpendicular to the rope, with equal lengths of the pole to the right and left of them, they would have an increased chance of crossing the rope successfully, and with less effort than the walker without a pole. This is due to the fact that holding a pole, especially a long, weighted one, effectively increase the walkers stability, thanks to the added mass that is held away from their bodies. The walker without a pole would find it very difficult to cross even short distances on a rope, without the use of a balancing pole.
Archery stabilizers work in the exact same way. By adding mass away from the riser, a bow stabilizer will greatly increase the stability of a shooter’s bow, resulting in a more accurate, smoother shot. In theory, the longer your stabilizer is and the more weight it carries away from the riser, the steadier your aim will be. However, simply increasing the weight and length of a stabilizer isn’t the only factor in this equation. Weight, length, materials, strength of the shooter, type of intended use, and even the climate are all important factors to consider when we design a stabilizer. If the weight is too heavy, the shooter might have a hard time holding the pin on the target for more than a few seconds. If the length is too short, the stabilizer might not do enough to increase the moment of inertia. Too long, and even the stiffest materials will not be good enough, and if you are hunting, it could catch on branches or brush.Archery is a very technical sport that typically requires personalized gear that is set up specific for the shooter and his or her individual shooting styles and needs.
Since choosing a stabilizer so dependent upon the shooter, and is extremely subjective, I am going to list the various types of stabilizers by their strengths. This list isn’t exhaustive, I’m sure, but it will give you a fairly good idea about which stabilizer(s) will work best for you, and which ones might not work for what you are looking for.
Short, typically lighter weight, can help to reduce bow jump, calms riser vibration, and isn’t really affected by the wind. I would choose this stabilizer if I were doing any sort of stalking or long treks through thick woods or brushy areas, or if I were going to hunt from a ground blind. Its length is a huge plus in confined areas. Will typically make your shot feel smoother and can take out some of the noise that your riser will make. If minimal weight is your number one goal, this is the stabilizer that you want.
Medium length, helps to keep your pin on the target, typically comes with removable weights for customizing the way your bow behaves. I would choose this stabilizer if I were going to be shooting in more open areas, or hunting from a tree stand. This type of stabilizer does double duty, as some archers will use them in competitive shoots so that they don’t have to train on two different types of gear. For me, this is what I prefer to shoot, as it gives me some good stability and keeps the weight to a manageable level, so that I can shoot hundreds of arrows a day when I am training. If adding/subtracting weight and increased stability are huge factors, this is most likely the stabilizer for you.
Med/Long – Long lengths, primarily used by target archers (some hunters use them), usually benefit from premium materials like carbon fiber, titanium, etc., are the best for reducing the overall settling time (time it takes for the pin to rest on the target), and are the most effective choice in terms of increasing the moment of inertia. Large diameter tubes (over .625″) are great for indoor and calm outdoor ranges, while small diameter tubes (under .625″) are great for indoor and windier ranges or climates. If getting the maximum amount of stability is your number one goal, this is the class of stabilizer that you want.
With all of these options in length, weight, materials, etc., it’s important to do your research and find out which stabilizer style is going to work best for you.
Here are links to some of the hottest selling stabilizers out there:
Bill Barnhart is the Archery Department Manager for LimbSaver and Sims Vibration Laboratory. He is an avid sportsman and competitive target archer, and he uses LimbSaver products every day. If you would like to contribute to our blog or social media, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.