Archery Equipment – The Bow Stabilizer

Published: 27th October 2008
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It might seem that there's not a lot of equipment needed to enjoy archery, in fact the equipment is simplicity itself - a bow and an arrow. This is true to a certain extent. Some of the equipment used in archery is well known and taken for granted, others are a little more mystifying for novices.

A compound bow or a recurve bow is a reasonably straightforward object, however the bow stabilizer is a piece of equipment that only the experienced archer will know intimately. Put simply, if you want to shoot accurately over a long period of time, the bow stabilizer is essential equipment.

There are two main functions of a bow stabilizer. Number one is to hold the bow steady and more stable, hence its name. The second is that it reduces hand shock and vibration. I will explain why this is important in just a moment.

So that you can understand how the bow stabilizer works we should take a closer look at it. In the past they were metal tubes. This worked well, but the drawback was that it is a rather heavy material and although it stabilizes the bow, it can become too heavy if you have to hold the bow for any length of time. So these days the body of the stabilizer is made from carbon or AMS (Alphamethylstyrene) plastics. The rigidity of carbon means that it performs properly while its light weight makes it comfortable to work with.

The reason to use a dampening device is to reduce vibration through the bow when you shoot the arrow. The stabilizer does this by directing the vibrations through its body rather than to the ends of the bow. The dampening device will most likely be made of rubber although other vibration absorbent materials may be used. By putting the dampening material away from the end of the bow their effectiveness will be maximized.

The last device you'll find on a stabilizer is a weight which will sit right on the end beyond the rubber material. The purpose of the weight is to counterbalance the bow and it is this that keeps the bow stable when it is being shot. Aiming consistency is improved by the positioning of the weight at the front of the bow.

Stabilizers come in a range of lengths. The length of the stabilizer you need will depend considerably on the type of archery you plan on doing. In general, the longer the stabilizer you use the more steady your bow will be and consequently, the more accurate you are likely to be. Target archers use long stabilizers. Bowhunters, on the other hand, use shorter stabilizers because of the conditions under which they will be carrying and firing their bow.

Shorter stabilizers are used with shorter framed hunting bows due to the terrain you may be required to cover, long protruding pieces would be more likely to snag and hinder progress and would also be more noisy. Similarly, any extra weight on the bow would be accentuated the longer the bow has to be carried to the point where it would become extremely tiring.

Finally, we return to the importance of reducing vibration. Any vibration experienced by the bow is going to be expressed as noise and when you are bow-hunting you are trying to be as silent as possible. Vibration will also cause movement in other components on your bow affecting accuracy. When you shoot a bow only about 75 per cent of the energy expended goes into propelling the arrow. The rest has to go somewhere else and that is to the only other thing touching the bow, which is you. The accumulated shock that is transferred to your bow arm during a long day of shooting starts to hurt very quickly which will lead to shaking and reduced accuracy.

Not only is it important for your bow to be fitted with a stabilizer but it is just as important to have one that suits you, your bow and the type of shooting you're going to use it for. You have to weigh things up, as it were, look for quality and decide what is most suitable to you and you will be sure to be shooting quietly and accurately.

The Compound Archery Store has a range of major archery brands to choose from specialising in compound bows as well as all sorts of accessories including a full range of bow stabilizers.

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