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The balancing act: stabilizers are the answer for quieter, more accurate bows.

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In their earliest forms, bow stabilizers were little more than skinny metal rods with heavily weighted ends. Of course, this was well before vibration-dampening technologies were introduced.

As technology advanced, so did stabilizer traits. Companies began shortening stabilizers and incorporating rubbery cores or extracurricular additions to help tame hand shock and bow vibrations. These are the most common stabilizers found on today's hunting bows.

From 2002-2012, I worked as an archery service technician at a family-owned pro shop where I outfitted hundreds of customers with stabilizers. Of them, few were educated on a stabilizer's purpose. When I'd suggest one, customers commonly looked confused, especially if they hadn't previously used one. So, I'd explain the benefits and present the differences between each style. Then, I'd match one to their bow and shooting style.

Perhaps you're undereducated on stabilizers or, for whatever reason, just haven't tried one. Or maybe you've used one, but didn't experience tangible results. In this article, we'll explore multiple stabilizer types and how to choose one that'll help you shoot more accurately than ever before.

Stabilizer Options

If you've fallen for the misconception that stabilizers are stabilizers, it's time to categorize them based on what they're designed to do. As I said earlier, most bowhunters use stabilizers designed more for vibration dampening than for stabilization. These are recognizable by their short, lightweight profile and rubbery features. If you don't shoot at game past 25 yards, these stabilizers will do absolutely everything you need. But, if you're looking to increase your effective hunting range or tighten your aim during a bowhunting shot opportunity, consider a longer, heavier option.

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Several manufacturers offer long, weighted stabilizers that also incorporate vibration-dampening properties. Still others are designed solely for stabilization. If I had to choose between one quality or another, I'd totally go for stability. To me, a steady sight picture and a properly balanced bow are far more influential on accuracy than vibration dampening, especially since most modern bows are already virtually vibration-free.

Another stabilizer design that greatly improves balance and stability is the offset stabilizer. This design incorporates an offset mounting bracket that kicks the stabilizer(s) to the opposite side of the bow as your sight and quiver for a perfect counterbalance. Many models are adjustable too, so you can achieve the perfect fit, feel and balance. Personally, I achieve my best results with offset stabilizers.

Adam Hayden, director of sales for The Outdoor Group, agrees. "I always use a rear offset stabilizer on my bowhunting setups," he said. "It helps counterbalance the weight of other bow-mounted accessories, and therefore helps the bow level out and balance without additional effort and focus. This is one less thing I have to mentally focus on when a shot presents."

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Keep It Personal

I wish recommending a stabilizer was as simple as telling you which make and model to buy. Unfortunately, it's far more complex than that, and there are several reasons why.

First, every bowhunter has his or her own preferences and shooting form. Second, each bow model balances differently. Third, sights, quivers and other accessories affect the way a bow balances. Fourth, specific bowhunting applications call for specific equipment. These and many more are reasons you must choose wisely in order to experience good results. Never buy a stabilizer merely because it looks nice, or because a friend recommended it. Carefully choose one that complements your bow and hunting/shooting style.

For example, Hayden configures stabilizers relative to application. "For whitetail hunting, I run a 10- to 12-inch front stabilizer with a couple ounces of weight near the end, and a 6- to 8-inch rear stabilizer mounted to an offset bracket," he said. "For Western hunting, I tend to use a longer front stabilizer, say 14 to 15 inches, but with the same offset rear stabilizer."

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Sweet Stability

Much anxiety originates from an unbalanced bow. A shaky sight picture usually causes shooters to forcibly place their pin on the target and punch their trigger the moment it gets there. At full draw, a legitimate stabilizer steadies your sight picture, which greatly calms anxiety that would otherwise instigate target panic and trigger punching. The steady sight picture helps you effortlessly float your pin on the exact spot you want to hit.

Hayden believes a hefty stabilizer reduces bow movement at full draw by half. "Without a stabilizer, your pin may move in a 3-inch circle on your target as you begin applying back tension to fire the shot," he said. "A quality stabilizer can decrease that perceived area to 1.5 inches."

When fired properly, a bow should naturally fall down and forward during follow-through. A somewhat heavy stabilizer promotes good follow-through, which then improves your accuracy and consistency. Further, heavy stabilizers keep weight forward so you're less likely to torque your bow.

Wind also wreaks havoc on lightweight bow setups, and heavy stabilizers help anchor your bow in place during windy conditions. There's definitely merit to the bigger-is-better mindset when considering stabilizers.

Hayden recalls one particular bowhunt where his heavier stabilizer helped him make a difficult shot. "I'd just hung a treestand, and while walking out, I spotted a buck rubbing a cedar tree on a logging road," he said. "I stalked closer to a point where I was sure he'd walk by me. He finally walked up the road. It was raining, and I was pretty shaken up. My shot was steep and downhill at 50 yards. As I aimed, I clearly remember how steady my pin held on the buck. I credit that partially to a quality stabilizer setup."

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Weigh Your Options

Many archery pro shops will gladly allow you to test various stabilizers on your bow. This "try before you buy" approach is invaluable, and will help you decide what you like and don't like. Ideally, your local pro shop will have a somewhat long shooting range so you can really hone in on the pros and cons of each style of stabilizer as you shoot. Knowing what you're looking to achieve and what each model actually does will help you select the right stabilizer for you.

2016 Stabilizer Buyer's Guide

Archers can now dampen bow vibration, improve accuracy and fully customize their bow's balance with .30-06 Outdoors' K3 Quarterback Stabilizer ($45-$55; www.30-06outdoors.com). Available in two lengths and seven colors, the stabilizers offer performance for target archers and bowhunters alike. Quarterback Stabilizers are outfitted with six rubber dampeners and a rubber O-ring with a patent-pending front-hollow damper that holds up to 10 quarters for a weight-forward effect, which greatly stabilizes the shooter's aim. A durable CNC-machined aluminum shell houses everything durably. Shooters can choose from red, pink, blue, green, black, purple and orange damper colors. The K3 Quarterback Stabilizer is available in 6- and 9-inch lengths.

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If looks could kill, Archer Xtreme's Carbon Triad ($90; www.archerxtreme.com) would do just that. The 8-inch stabilizer weighs eight ounces and employs forward-thinking technologies that balance bows and squelch vibration. The Carbon Triad features a patent-pending 3K T.C.R. carbon-fiber body with unreal rigidity, and its 3K B.C.R. carbon support frame is designed for lightweight performance. The HD Core Dampening Chamber zone incorporates isolation dampening beads and provide a smooth-shooting experience.

Easton's new Contour Hunter ($90-$100; www.eastonhunting.com) is one of the most advanced stabilizers Easton has developed for modern bowhunters. Its Tri-Mod technology tames vibrations while balancing the bow for rock-solid aiming and proper shot execution and follow-through. Each Contour Hunter stabilizer comes with a 2-ounce base and a 2-ounce pancake weight, compatible with any standard weight system. Additional weights are available in increments of 1,2 and 4 ounces. The Contour Hunter is available in 8 inches (2.3 ounces) and 11 inches (2.7 ounces). A stealthy blackout version of the Contour Weight System is included with both models, and both lengths are available in black, Realtree Max-1 and Realtree Xtra.

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FUSE Accessories offers advanced technologies designed to complement any bow, and the Carbon Torch stabilizer (www.fusearchery.com) proves it. Available in 6-, 8- and 10-inch configurations, the Carbon Torch features a 3-ounce base weight and two 1-ounce disc weights. The disc weights sandwich innovative Stealth Discs which stop noise and vibrations. The carbon tube is ultra-lightweight, but with the weights situated near the stabilizer's end, the Carbon Torch stabilizes the shooter's sight picture. The Stealth Discs are available in nine different colors, and the carbon tube is available in Realtree Xtra, Max-1 and Black Out.

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A revolution in bow-stabilizer design, Kinex Systems introduces the USA-made Checkmate ($70-$90; www.kinexsystems.com). The quick-detach Pawn and Rook compression-fit coupler allows you to remove or attach your Checkmate stabilizer in seconds while reducing torque. The rubber connector turns the entire stabilizer into a great noise-dampening device. Checkmate stabilizers are available in 6-, 8-and 10-inch lengths and in various finishes to match virtually every bow under the sun.

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KTech Designs stabilizers offer every shooter benefits. Based on the Infinity series stabilizer platform, the DX Hunter ($64.99-$74.99; www.ktechdesigns.com) series features Sims Vibration Laboratory's Bull Barrel De-Resonator and three 1-ounce, removable disc weights, which shooters can customize to their individual preferences. The DX Hunter Series stabilizers include a proprietary, closed-cell material to increase dampening capability within each carbon-fiber tube. The series is available in 6-, 8- and 10-inch lengths, and in various finishes to match today's vast majority of bows.

Performance comes from clever construction, and the Vibracheck Spire stabilizer ($35-$45; www.pse-archery.com) harnesses a next-generation design for the ultimate vibration-dampening solution. The precision, machined-aluminum tube houses a rubber core that zaps noise and vibration at the shot. The result is an ultra-quiet shot with virtually no recoil. The Spire is available in 5- and 8-inch lengths, and in red, purple, Skullworks 2 and Mossy Oak Break-Up Country finishes.

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Specialty Archery has redesigned its popular Feather Lite stabilizer ($76-$97; www.specialtyarch.com) lineup to include a machined-aluminum base with an integral quick-disconnect attachment system. With just half a turn, the stabilizer easily removes from the bow for convenient storage. Feather Lite stabilizers are built using three, high-modulus carbon rods that make them stiff and lightweight. The Feather Lite's moveable weights--held within a vibration-dampening NAVCOM slider--help shooters achieve perfect balance. Feather Lite hunting stabilizers are available in 6-. 8- and 10-inch lengths, and in black or Lost Canto finishes.

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Tactacam ($290-$310; www.tactacam. com) is the stabilizer for tech-minded bowhunters. Not only do you experience the benefits of a weight-forward design, but at 6.4 ounces, Tactacam is the only stabilizer designed to record and share your hunt. With one-button operation, 1080HD recording, a shockproof/waterproof design and 3X zoom, you can have the best of both worlds. If you want to keep your existing stabilizer, no sweat; the Tactacam will screw into any stabilizer on the market that has a threaded adapter on the end. Tactacam's gun package has a mount that easily attaches to most modern stabilizers, too.

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Trophy Ridge's Static stabilizer (S49-S62; www.trophyridge.com) comes with two customizable weights, which give shooters control over the stabilizer's weight and balance so they can match it to their bow setup and/or hunting situation. Static stabilizers also feature Trophy Ridge's Ballistix CoPolymer System body, which is 25 percent lighter than aluminum but with comparable strength. Static stabilizers are available in 6- and 9-inch lengths.

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Performance-based composites are the reason TRUGLO s Carbon XS stabilizer ($49-$62; www.truglo.com) offers a stunningly smooth shot, TRU-TOUCH Soft-Feel Technical Coating ensures silence as brush or other obstacles rub against the stabilizer, and an adjustable weight-suspension system includes two, stainless-steel 1-ounce weights. Engineered for high-performance bows, the Carbon XS includes a paracord wrist sling. Interchangeable colored dampening rings help shooters customize the stabilizer, and 7- and 9-inch models offer every bowhunter something.
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Article Details
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Author:McDougal, Darron
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Jun 19, 2016
Words:2009
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