Do you REALLY need a stabilizer on your hunting bow?
A good stabilizer performs 2 jobs. Primarily its purpose is to stabilize your bow, and to slow down the movement of your pins. When you’re aiming with a pin that is moving too much it could make you want to time your shot with the pin over the target. This can be called punching the trigger, and could lead to target panic. Adversely, if the pin is too slow, it can be hard to make small changes when aiming, because you might be over stabilized. Ideally you want to get your pin to hover over a target quickly and still be there when you pull through the shot. Having a properly stabilized bow will help achieve that goal.
The second purpose of a stabilizer is to minimize vibration which quiets your bow and removes shock felt in your hand. No matter how smooth your bow is, you’ll always find vibration. It can cause bolts and screws to loosen over time, not just on your bow but also your sight, quiver, and rest. A good stabilizer will have a dampener near the end to absorb as much vibration as possible.
When choosing a stabilizer it’s important to start with function over looks. I am guilty of choosing a stabilizer that looked cool, or had a crazy new design, or one that matched the camo pattern of my bow. I’m not saying that these are not functional, it’s entirely possible that they are, but you need to look at how well it functions first. Three things you need to look for are length, ample weight on the end, and ideally some kind of dampener behind the weight.
If you are shooting a bow with a stabilizer shorter than 5”, chances are you have a dampener, not a stabilizer. A true stabilizer works as a counter balance and requires a weight at the end of a bar. The farther the weight is from the bow, the lighter the required weight is to have effect on the bow. Keep in mind that a longer stabilizer will be tougher to deal with in the woods. My personal sweet spot is 10” but a good starting spot would be 6”. Anything longer than 12” can be a real hassle to hunt with.
Like i said the longer the bar, the less weight you need on the end to effect your bow. But you DO NEED WEIGHT. I would start at 2oz and go up from there. Placement of the weight is also important. It needs to be at the very end of your stabilizer to be most effective.
A good stabilizer will have a rubber dampening material at the end just before the weight. This helps send the vibrations to the end of the stabilizer where it can be dispersed as far away from the bow as possible.
The purpose of a backbar on a stabilizer is simple, more stabilization. I’m sure you’ve seen the guys who walk across the highwire at the circus, carrying the super long poles right? It’s the same principal here. The more weight you can get away from your bow the more potential for stability. Generally speaking you’ll want 3x-4x more weight on the back then you have on the front. I know what you’re thinking, but just TRY it. I have consistently found that by moving a considerable amount of weight to the end of my backbar, my groups get smaller and more consistent.
Why Spider Archery?
We met the guys at Spider Archery through our friends at Born and Raised Outdoors. They’ve been mutual friends for a long time, and given the fact that we love their new low profile Tracker Series Hunting Stabilizers, it seemed like a perfect fit. At S&S Archery we only sell products we use and recommend. But it takes more than that. Our vendors have to be great companies who support hunters and are easy to work with. Spider Archery fits that description to a T.
Spider Archery Tracker
What makes the Tracker special? It’s the first stabilizer that we have found with a smaller diameter lightweight bar. The .59 inch bar puts the weight where it is most effective, on the end of the bar. The bar itself is lighter and stiffer than other stabilizer bars. It also sports a very effective bowjax dampener placed right behind a 4 oz weight. The Tracker is available in 8, 10, or 12” bars. Currently I am running an offset 10” tracker with the bowjax dampener and 4oz of weight. How did i come up with that configuration? Here is what i recommend to get the most out of your stabilizer.
Deciding on YOUR Setup
First consider your hunting style. Are you a treestand hunter that might need a shorter stabilizer to keep things easy to manage? Or are you a spot and stalk western hunter that needs as much stabilizer as you can get for those longer shots? Are you a 3d shooter/hunter who would be willing to consider a back bar, despite being harder to handle in hunting situations? For this example, we’ll consider that i am a spot and stalk western style hunter. I don’t shoot 3d very often and I have hunted with a longer stabilizer in the past, and found it was too difficult to carry around comfortably.
Keep in mind that you can get a quick release that allows the stabilizer to slide on and off very quickly. I have found that it works great when you are packing in, however not ideal when you might need to get a quick shot off when actually hunting. So I recommend using a setup that allows you to keep your stabilizer attached while in the woods.
The Spider Archery Pro Hunter Pack is a great starting point for most guys like me. It comes with two 4 oz weights, so it’s weight is adjustable. It also comes with quick release, and offset bar, really everything you need to get started. Follow these four steps to get the most out of your stabilizer setup
- Attach the stabilizer to your bow
- Come to full draw and sight your pin on the target.
- Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax.
- Open your eyes to see if your aiming point has moved.
I like to follow this routine a few times just to make sure i am consistent. Keep your mind free of thought if possible so you’re not affecting the outcome. My wife would accuse me of finding this very easy to do -emptying my mind that is.
Here is what to do with changes you find in your aiming point:
- High – add more weight to the front of your stabilizer
- Low – less weight on the front of your stabilizer
- Right -Offset your stabilizer, or add a back bar. Swing back bar out for more effect.
- Left – Bring back bar in or remove and use an offset bar. Also you could remove the offset, and use your stabilizer in the typical fashion.
When I have a setup that keeps my aiming point tight and consistent, I’ll remove the stabilizer and shoot at distance without it. Take a pic of the group, then shoot a couple rounds with the stabilizer back in place just to confirm that I am improving my groups and aim.
Keep in mind that these are just general pointers. Feel free to just try different setups to see what feels best. At the end of the day whatever makes you a more consistent and confident shooter is what you should stick with!!
Sounds easy right? Well, honestly it is. I do find that it’s fun to experiment with different setups in the spring time to see how it affects my shooting, and usually I am completely dialed in by June.
I hope that helps some of you get dialed in with a great stabilizer setup. At S&S Archery, we all use and recommend the Spider Archery Tracker stabilizers, but if you can find a good quality stabilizer that has a good length, weight at the end, and a good dampener, then you’ll be shooting with more confidence in no time!