Using a stabilizer, or multiple stabilizers, can be very helpful in lessening the reactions of your bow after your shot, but they have to be set up correctly for you or they only hurt, instead of help. So what is correct? Is this a standard something that works for everyone? Is it a secret formula of mathematics? Or is it putting your bow on a hook and balancing it out?
It’s actually not as hard as most everyone makes it out to be. Finding the set up that works for you is simple, and possibly even evolving with your shot over time. There’s only a few steps that I use to get my perfect stabilizer set up, and it’s quite easy.
1. Equip your bow with everything you’ll have on it when you are shooting it, except your stabilizers. Make sure the sight is on, a quiver mounted on the bow if you’ll leave it on during hunting, arrow rest, and anything else you may have on it. Now the next part will only work if you have a correct and relaxed bow hand. If you have a death grip on the bow, it won’t react because you are controlling it. You’ll want to hold your bow out in front of you like you would when you shoot it, without drawing it back. What does the bow do? Does it tilt back? How severely? Does it fall forward? Is it leaning to the left, or right? All of this motion it wants to naturally have is going to be your starting point for your stabilizers. For example, with my Hoyt Alpha Elite, I had a 27 inch front rod because it held more level front to back and I knew I wouldn’t need as much front weight. I also didn’t want as long of a bar on it because of the style of shooting I was using it for at the time. Now when I got my Hoyt Pro Comp Elite, I got a 30 inch front rod because the bow tilted so severely back in my hand it would go 180 degrees around if I let it. This told me I was going to need much more weight up front and I didn’t want to have so much more added weight it was hard for me to hold the bow up during long outdoor/indoor rounds.
2. Now it’s time to put your stabilizers onto your bow. I’m a big advocate of having at least two stabilizers. A longer front rod and a shorter side bar, or a v-bar set up. It helps level your scope bubble and keep the energy from your bow when you execute your shot more stable and flat. Start with the side rod level with the front rod, and straight back. If you have a mount towards the bottom of the riser, go ahead and mount the side rod there. It helps separate the planes that both rods are working on, and will take more torque out of your shots, when errors occur. Now that you’ve attached your stabilizers, make sure all of the weight is off of them and hold the bow out in front of you again to see how it reacts. Add weight at this point to get the bow to hold level in your hand front to back and side to side. Start with whatever point is the severe angle. For instance on my Pro Comp Elite I mentioned earlier, I left the side rod with no weight on it to begin with and added front weight to bring the bow level that way. Then I added weight to the side bar to level my bubble out left to right. This made the bow lean back a little bit more again, so I added enough weight onto the front to balance it out again.
3. The next step in this process is holding the bow at full draw. Having your bow level in your hand without it at full draw and without any of the forces you put into the bow is only a starting point. The ending point is having the bow react level at the time of the shot, so the arrow has the best chance of coming out straight each time. When you draw your bow back and anchor for the first time just hold there for a couple of seconds. Check the bubble and see if it is level. Check how it feels front to back. Let’s first adjust for the bubble now at full draw. Most likely your bow will be leaning top to the right, if you’re right handed. There’s a little more force in your grip and the angle you hold the bow when you are at full draw. At this point, you will use the adjustments on the connector for the side rod. You’ll need to start adjusting the bar out from the riser one click at a time until the bow is level right to left again. Now address the front to back tilt of the bow. It will probably want to tilt back in your hand now because of the force of being at full draw and pulling the string back. If it does tilt back, you have a couple of options to choose from. If you have a side rod connector that has multiple adjustments for left and right, and also up and down, this will be where you can adjust the side bar to have a downwards angle. One click at a time until the bow levels back out again for you at full draw. If you do not have a connector with multiple adjustments, You can loosen the side rod connector and rotate it counter clockwise where the side rod will start to angle down some, or you can start taking one weight off at a time from the back and putting it on the front bar to work on the balance that way. I recommend having a connector with multiple adjustments though, because you can fine tune how everything is set up. If the bow at full draw is not wanting to tilt back at this point and is instead tilting forward you have a couple of options to fix this as well. You can take one weight off the front and add to the rear until it balances, or you can buy a 5,10,or 15 degree down angled quick disconnect for the front rod. When you are angling the rods down, whether it be the front or back rod, you are taking away some of the overall length away from the riser it has. This makes it act like a shorter rod, giving it a shorter and lighter effect.
4. The last step to this process is just fine tuning the weights and angles the same ways I talked about before, but this time letting how your bow reacts at the time of the shot going off and the impact point of your arrows tell you what and how to adjust everything. If the bow is wanting to come up throughout your shot you will want more front weight, and inversely if the bow is going down throughout the shot you will want less front weight. During the adjustments here, and as you get closer and closer to your ending set-up, make several shots each time before making any changes. Your body will have to adjust to your stabilizers and with each shot you take you will feel more comfortable with the new weight you’ve added. Keep track of each shot you make and its impact point during this step and after you are getting your best groupings you’ve completed all the steps.
Too many times in archery we try to complicate everything to the point it muddles up the outcomes. However, if we can remember that the bow will out shoot us every time and our only job is to lessen our inputs on it, we can find a simple route to a better outcome each time.
Here’s a link to the segment from one of my Instructional Videos over stabilizer set up.