Perhaps you’ve seen a lot of compound bowhunters have a weird-looking rod sticking from the front of the riser. If you’ve never used a bow stabilizer before, its design and purpose may seem counterproductive to you in terms of balance.
However, having the best bow stabilizer for the right situation can make shooting arrows so much easier. There’s a reason why stabilizers are sometimes banned in competitive archery. This accessory, in the right hands, can tip the scale in one’s favor with minimal effort.
So, what makes some stabilizers better than others? It’s a combination of appropriate length, weight, materials, and design features. Find out more about this simple-looking yet highly complex compound bow accessory in the following paragraphs.
Bee Stinger Sport Hunter Xtreme Stabilizer Review
The carbon fiber rod is just one of many things that make the Sport Hunter Xtreme stabilizer a highly sought-after compound bow accessory.
The price may vary depending on the length. However, due to its range, from 6” to 10/8” (10” front bar and 8” side bar), this Bee Stinger stabilizer is suitable for a wide range of hunters and bows.
The Bee Stinger features SIMS Internal Harmonic Dampener and Deresonator. This contributes to the elimination of vibrations from the bow. The weight is positioned on the front end in the furthest point to facilitate smooth roll and follow-through.
Steady aiming is the name of the game, despite not being the longest or heaviest stabilizing rod. The balance is good at full draw and the shifted center of gravity doesn’t make it hard to take aim.
What’s also a nice touch is the customizable weight design. The weighted front end allows you to remove or add three more aluminum caps. However, the ratios with respect to each length are rather well-balanced by the manufacturer.
Apart from superior vibration reduction and improved steadiness at full draw, the
Dead Ringer Vector 10” Bow Stabilizer Review
The 10” Dead Ringer Vector stabilizer also comes with a front-ended weight. It features a more aerodynamic design that includes open grooves. Although the rod is fairly thick, the open spaces allow wind to pass through, thus eliminating any unwanted torque.
Of course, the lack of length variation makes it somewhat limited in terms of utility. It’s not ideal for all hunting scenarios, especially those which involve tracking and stalking, but it works wonders in stationary situations.
The Vector also has a customizable weight system as well as a quick release mechanism, which does allow for some interesting decision-making on the fly.
What Is a Bow Stabilizer?
The most basic description of a bow stabilizer would be that of a counterweight or counterbalance. Although most of them look quite simple, there’s a lot of engineering that goes into designing one.
A bow stabilizer best resembles a rod. It’s an accessory that some hunters and professional archers use to increase repeatability or precision when shooting at targets. Using a bow stabilizer is not mandatory in most situations but it can achieve tighter arrow groupings. It also has other benefits, to be discussed later on.
To get a sense of what it does, hold out your bow as you would before the draw. You will notice that the bow, if it’s a good one, is well-balanced even if you release your grip and use only a finger to hold it.
Once the stabilizer is added, the same hold will cause the bow to tilt or actually roll forward. It’s the reason you see most Olympic archers get that smooth roll after the arrow is released.
How It Works
Not all stabilizers are used to correct the same inconsistencies in technique. Some of them are used to give an edge to the archer during the string release while others are used to help with the aim. It’s all about what type of stabilizer you use and where you mount it on your bow.
It’s important to understand one thing. Whenever you add a stabilizer to your setup, you’re making it harder on yourself to hold the bow straight. That’s because the bow becomes heavier and gravity makes things worse for you. Stabilizers are not that beginner or kid-friendly in that regard.
In terms of actual mechanics, the main concept behind the stabilizer is not hard to follow. It’s all about static and non-static inertia. Any force acting on the bow, whether it’s wind, gravity, your pulling the string, etc., makes the bow more likely to move or shake.
A stabilizer balances things out by increasing the static inertia of the center section of the bow. More static inertia means less movement and better precision on repeated shots.
Build and Materials
For a long time, bow stabilizers were made of metal. The whole purpose of a stabilizer is to add weight but metal can be tricky to work with. To cut down on the overall weight and concentrate it more towards the tip of the stabilizer, manufacturers introduced new materials into the mix.
These days, ABS plastic, carbon fiber, and rubber materials dominate both the consumer and pro archery markets. Carbon fiber is a particularly good alternative to metal, especially for the body.
When building a bow stabilizer, you need something that’s lightweight, rigid, and wind resistant. Carbon fiber stabilizer rods meet all of the above criteria. In addition, carbon fiber bow stabilizers rods can also be made very thin, which makes
Bow Stabilizer Components
For the most part, there are four components to any bow stabilizer. There’s the stabilizer body, the screw mount, the dampening material, and the weight. The placement of each is key to achieving the proper balance at various shooting ranges.
The weight will almost always be placed at the front end of the rod. This location allows it to serve as a counterbalance, which is what maintains the bow’s stability.
The dampening component, usually made of rubber, acts as a separator for the weight and the stabilizer body. The addition of a rubber dampener cancels out vibrations much better than traditional one-piece stabilizers.
The principle is simple. When you shoot an arrow, with a modern stabilizer attached to your bow, the vibrations get canceled as they reach the dampening component. The weight on the front end can oscillate freely at different frequencies than the bow and the stabilizer.
When these two components work in tandem, the kinetic energy of the vibration is converted to motion but without affecting the rest of the bow. Therefore, you get better stability and repeatability when shooting arrows.
The design of the rods is also important. You will notice that some are thicker than others. While more weight and length should in theory give you more stability and better follow-through, there are situations when you may want a thin rod or even a shorter rod.
The tip varies a lot too on bow stabilizers. Some manufacturers use triangle-shaped front-ends in order to make the stabilizer more aerodynamic. Others keep the rod shape but create open groves along its length to allow the wind to pass.
Types of Bow Stabilizers
There are diffrent types of bow stabilizers on the market and we gonna go trough some of them right now.
Poker stabilizers are generally fitted through the center section of the bow. They should be placed in line with the bow arm. Sometimes they are placed under the hand position. This type of stabilizer aims to do two things.
First of all, it helps reduce the torque effect. The twisting or torque effect generally presents itself on arrow release. While the bow is at full draw, the string acts as a stabilizer and prevents it from turning to the left or right.
Secondly, it shifts the center of gravity to the front. This means that the bow should turn in the opposite direction when the archer moves it off target in any direction. The correction is not amazing but it’s enough to increase the accuracy of some archers that have not perfected their technique.
Twin stabilizers give more precision. They’re always mounted both above and below the bow hand. Because of their proximity to where the limbs meet the center section of the bow, they’re also referred to as limb stabilizers.
This type of stabilizers uses the same principle as poker stabilizers, which gives the bow a forward roll or a front-end center of gravity. This helps correct some of the bow hand technique inconsistencies.
But, unlike poker stabilizers, twin stabilizers have a third benefit. The unique positioning of the twin weights helps the bow to resist rotation, which usually occurs due to bow-hand errors. This effect is what causes arrows to fly to the left or right, when accounting for gravity.
Vibrations may also be lowered at times, which should facilitate a smoother feel to every shot. But this usually depends more on the rigidity of the mounts and not just the type of stabilizer used.
Also known as reverse stabilizers, these weighted rods shift the center of gravity backward. It’s important to know that counterbalance stabilizers should always be used in conjunction with the traditional forward-roll long stabilizer rods.
Using both a counterbalance stabilizer and a regular bow stabilizer is an interesting combination. The shift in the center of gravity won’t be as great. However, the correction made to vertical tilting coming from the bow torque is much better.
Differences Between Various Stabilizer Lengths
The length of the stabilizer is just as important as the materials used. You can’t use the same stabilizer for hunting game, competing in the Olympics, or practicing in your backyard. Different bows respond better to specific shifts in the center of gravity.
Long stabilizers are used to improve the stability of the aim. They may range from 16” to 30” according to how far the target is, the type of the bow, and the archer’s personal preference.
They’re often preferred when shooting at stationary targets with compound or recurve bows. Short stabilizers, on the other hand, see more use in compound bows. They range between 4.5” and 11” in length.
Unlike long stabilizers, short stabilizers are mostly used to reduce vibrations and dampen some of the noise made when releasing the arrow. They’re not as good as long stabilizers at maintaining consistency either.
And then there are also medium stabilizers that give you a bit of both worlds. Medium-length stabilizers are usually those in the 10” to 15” range. A medium stabilizer keeps the weight at a manageable level, which should increase your shooting output.
It’s good for training but also during some competitions, and even when hunting from a tree stand. It’s designed for open areas.
The main differences between the various length categories are made obvious by the archers that use them. Competitive archers prefer 16” to 30” stabilizers because it allows them to make the most of the steadying factor under controlled conditions.
Short and medium bows rarely see competitive use as their designs and features cater more to bow hunters.
Picking the Best Bow Stabilizer for Your Needs
Obviously, there’s a lot to think about when buying a stabilizer. Thinking of your surroundings should give you the first clue as to what type of stabilizer you’re looking for.
There are some other tricks you can use to determine the correct size, type, and rod design. You can account for external factors and forces that come into play.
Say, for example, you’re usually hunting on tree stands. This means that your space is limited so a long stabilizer won’t do. Something in the 4” to 6” range might be more suitable. A shorter stabilizer rod isn’t as likely to be affected by branches, leaves, and weather conditions.
Shooting a bow in windy conditions takes a lot of skill. At the same time, it also requires the correct configuration of accessories to make the experience enjoyable.
Stabilizers with a large surface area or of certain materials don’t do well when wind pushes against them. In these conditions, it may often be harder to shoot the bow with a stabilizer than without.
So, one solution would be to find a bow stabilizer that comes with open grooves. Those allow the wind to pass right through without exerting more torque.
Lack of Experience
What do you do if you don’t have the proper technique? What if you’re generally not sure when and where you’ll be using your bow?
There are plenty of bow stabilizers on the market that come with adjustable weights. While you can’t adjust the length of the stabilizer, some stabilizers allow you to adjust at least one of the front-ended weights.
This should allow you to find your sweet spot, meaning the right balance between stabilizer weight and length.
Correcting torque is not the only thing stabilizer rods are made for. Some of them have excellent vibration damping qualities, depending on the materials used.
So, to whom is this feature important? Anyone that wants to have a quiet practice session at the range or anyone hunting professionally or often.
The string dampener on most compound bows does a decent job but not good enough. Adding a stabilizer to the bow configuration reduces the vibrations even further.
Less vibration means that the bow makes less noise when releasing an arrow. It also helps improve the accuracy. That’s because vibrations that occur right before arrow release tend to shift the arrow’s trajectory.
Although stabilizers should generally be bought for their intended purpose of correcting bow-hand errors, it doesn’t hurt to pay extra for more features in certain situations.
Night hunting is very popular. But, unlike using rifles, bows don’t come with many illumination options. Some stabilizers, on the other hand, may come with built-in flashlights that should make spotting your pray easier. Of course, you won’t be as inconspicuous anymore.
Once you know what type of shooting you’ll be doing, picking a stabilizer becomes a walk in the park. The price consideration is also a factor but not as important as everything else. Most affordable and mid-priced stabilizers are good enough for anything short of competing in the Olympics.
Is Mounting Stabilizers Hard?
Stabilizers are very easy to install. Regardless of the type of stabilizer you get or plan on using, you will find a mounting screw on the back end. The stabilizer should always be hand-tightened no matter how long or short it is.
The stabilizer is mounted on the riser. In case you don’t know, the riser is the main body of the bow, the middle section where the limbs come together. It’s also the section that your shooting hand grips when using a bow.
There’s no right or wrong way to add a bow stabilizer to your compound bow. Due to its positioning, you can easily make the stabilizer the first accessory you install and configure on your bow. Also, because a bow stabilizer is basically a long rod, it’s sometimes easier to add the stabilizer first before installing the quiver, arrow rest, and sight to your riser.
However, if you are using a hand sling, note that some bow stabilizers may be installed in the same spot as the sling. This is usually the case with stabilizers that mount underneath the bow hand.
To make it work, simply thread the mounting screw through the sling at the desired length and then tighten the stabilizer. The sling is always used just as a safety measure so there’s no need to tighten it too much.
Bow Stabilizers in Hunting Applications
Most experienced archers would say that using a bow stabilizer is not necessary to hit your target and get tight groupings. That’s true.
But, even at high skill levels, a bow stabilizer adds value as it can improve your accuracy even further, or at the very least, correct some mistakes or protect against unexpected wind conditions and other external forces.
Not all hunters use stabilizers but those that do so do it for good reason. Hitting your target dead-on is important if you want to avoid unnecessary suffering. It also ensures a quick kill and not having to relocate to find your target again.
Bow stabilizers with great vibration damping properties can reduce most of the noise made by the arrow release. This makes it harder to give away your position. It’s especially useful if you’re hunting in one spot, say a tree stand.
Some bow stabilizers also come with lighting features which should help when hunting at night. It’s important to understand that accuracy is not the only thing you need from a stabilizer when hunting.
Therefore, going heavy on the length and weight is not recommended. Short or medium-length stabilizers are recommended if you’re stalking or hunting on tree stands.
Looking out for additional damping features and quality materials is important if you want to reduce post-shot vibration.
As you may or may not know, release aids are used by hunters and competitive archers to eliminate or at least minimize the negative effects of target panic. Some people have itchy trigger fingers and there’s nothing that a stabilizer can do for them.
However, a good stabilizer will help with flinching. If you’ve shot a bow before, you should know that flinching is almost a given with every arrow release. This is a natural reaction, something that even the most seasoned archers still do.
Flinching is not the same as target panic. It causes a small but noticeable jerk. In some cases, with beginners mostly, that jerk can be the difference between hitting the target dead-on or missing by a few inches.
Stabilizers help reduce that movement by a large margin, increasing the accuracy at the critical moment of the arrow release.
Bow Stabilizers vs. String Silencers and String Suppressors
Despite the risk of overdoing it, using more than one accessory is often recommended. The main advantage of using a compound bow is that it can be customized in a variety of ways so that you can improve each shot’s performance by tweaking various factors.
We’ve established that bow stabilizers play a big part in reducing the vibrations that travel through the riser and the limbs. But, stabilizers are not the only option for reducing the noise coming from your bow when the arrows start flying.
String silencers, which are usually rubber accessories, can be attached to the string to absorb even more vibration. String suppressors also mount similarly to stabilizers – the main difference is that they stick out from the back of the riser.
Combining all of these accessories together would help you create a truly stealthy bow, perfect for practicing at night and hunting in wide open spaces. Relying on a bow stabilizer alone for the vibration noise is not something that any experienced archer would do.
Bow Stabilizers the Definitive Pros and Cons
Less noise, less torque, better groupings, and faster release times are the common traits associated with using bow stabilizers. Even with shorter stabilizers, there’s a certain lack of mobility that is evident if you compare standard bows to compound bows. Yes, the release is quieter and you’re able to get a better follow-through, but even that little extra weight is sometimes annoying for some hunters. However, there are quite a few bow stabilizers that feature the so-called quick release mechanism, there’s no such thing as a quick-install mechanism.
So, if you do take your stabilizer out with one pull or twist, for whatever reason, you may not be able to put it back in time to train your sight on the next target. There’s also something to be said about the noise of installing it again.
You’ve probably made up your mind by now as to what would be the best bow stabilizer for your hunting trips. There are many features to consider and external factors to address, which is why the ability to customize is very important.
It’s hard to look at the Bee Stinger Sport Hunter Xtreme stabilizer and not see a near-perfect carbon fiber stabilizer rod. The dampening features are there, the forward roll is guaranteed with each release, and the variety in length and weight is just what any bowhunter needs.
That’s not to say that the Dead Ringer stabilizer doesn’t deserve its fair share of attention. The open grooves design may just be ideal for hunting or target practice in windy and less controlled conditions.