Do you really need a stabilizer for your bow?

One of the questions we hear from new archers all the time is, “What is that thing sticking out from the front of the bow?

“A stabilizer,” we reply.

Inevitably, there’s the follow-up question, “Do I really need a stabilizer?”

That’s a personal choice. The simplest answer is, “No, you don’t need a stabilizer to shoot a bow. The bow is capable of releasing arrows without a stabilizer attached.”

However, there are tremendous advantages afforded by stabilizers. Look to the pros for proof. Professional archers can shoot with or without any equipment they want. They use what they need to win. That’s their job. Except for archers who compete in the classes that forbid them, you won’t find a professional target archer on the shooting line who doesn’t use a stabilizer. Most use more than one, in fact.

V bar stabilizer

Now you don’t have to rig your bow with stabilizers like the pros do just to punch targets in your backyard, or chase deer in the woods or even to shoot at local tournaments. But if you want to shoot tighter arrow groups, you might want to try a stabilizer of some stripe.

WHAT DO THEY DO?

A stabilizer is mounted to the riser back, by screwing it into a threaded accessory hole located just below the grip. Nearly all compound and Olympic recurve bows come from the factory with this accessory hole in place.

Stabilizers perform a variety of functions. They absorb vibrations in the bow at the shot, which reduces the shock felt in your hand on the bow grip, and makes the bow quieter. They help keep the bow balanced, by adding weight below the grip. That weight down low encourages the bow to stand up straight, which is critical for consistent accuracy. It also helps settle your sight as you aim at the target.

Stabilizers combat bow torque. When an archer releases the bowstring, the riser torques as all that energy hits it. But a stabilizer, which adds weight out in front of the bow, resists that torque.

Think of it this way. Stand with your arms at your side and twist at the waist. There’s no resistance. Now hold a broom by the handle out in front of you, with the stick parallel to the ground, and twist at the waist. The broom will resist the twist.

HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?

The length of the stabilizer you choose, again, is up to you. If you’re a bowhunter sitting in a ground blind, shooting at game no more than 20 yards away, then you might prefer the light weight and maneuverability of a 6-inch stabilizer. But if you’re a tournament archer shooting at targets 70 meters out, you might prefer the steadying power of a 30-inch stabilizer.

stabilizer sizes2

Know this. The longer a stabilizer is, the more it’s going to resist bow torque, and the more it’s going to steady the bow as you aim. And the best place for the bulk of the weight is at the very end, away from the bow. That’s what gives the best stabilization.

So, maybe a bowhunter heading out West to chase elk, who might have to shoot 40 or 50 yards, would do better with a 12-inch stabilizer, rather than the 6-incher favored by the ground-blind hunter shooting no more than 20 yards. That extra length can help tighten arrow groups at longer distances.

In competition, there are limitations on stabilizer lengths for certain classes. The National Field Archery Association, for example, limits stabilizers to a maximum of 12 inches in its bowhunter classes. So that might dictate length for you.

WHAT ABOUT SIDE RODS?

Adding side rods, again, is a personal choice. Their purpose is to help balance the bow by adding weight behind the riser. A bowhunter, for example, can counteract the weight of a bow-mounted quiver by putting a side rod on the opposite side of the bow from the quiver. Target archers often use only one rod, too, to counteract the weight of their sight and rest. Or, they might put one rod on each side of the bow using a V-bar, which many feel makes the bow rock steady when they take aim.

side rod2

The best thing you can do when making a decision about stabilizers is to think about how and where you shoot – and what you shoot at – and then try different lengths and combinations to see what fits your needs.

Aperture, scope or pin: Which one for my sight?

So you’ve decided you want to shoot with a sight on your bow, and now you’re going to have to choose an aiming device. There are only three choices – aperture, scope or pin. You attach one of these to a sight body, and then use it to direct the bow so your arrow hits where you want.

Sight-Diagram

Take note – not all sight bodies come with an aperture, pin or scope. You might have to buy one separately, but you need both parts for the sight to function. So if you’re looking at buying an HHA Pro Scope, for example, understand that you would still need a sight body to attach the scope to your bow.

The aperture, scope or pin extends out in front of the bow, above the arrow, perpendicular to the riser. It must be adjusted to reflect the flight path of the arrow at the distance you’re shooting. At full draw, the archer places the aperture, scope or pin on the target to take aim. It’s imperative the archer’s eye and aiming device are on the same plane for every shot, to promote consistent accuracy.

APERTURE

These are small circles or squares primarily used by Olympic-style, recurve archers. The aperture might have a pin or a dot in the center, which is pasted to the bull’s-eye as the archer aims.

Spigarelli Black Aperture

SCOPE

This is a large round housing that mounts to the sight body, and it’s used only by compound archers. The scope might have a lens in it, which can magnify the view of the target anywhere from 2-8 times its size. That lens might have a dot in the center, which is pasted to the bull’s-eye, or there could be a fiber-optic sight pin or set of crosshairs in the center of the scope housing.

CR Apex Scope

PIN

A pin is a simple piece of metal or plastic, with a rounded end that serves as your aiming point. These days, the tip usually is the very end of a fiber optic strand. The strand gathers light, so that the aiming point glows. Sight pins can be used by recurve or compound shooters. A sight body might have just one pin, or several, which can be set at different yardages. Pins are especially popular among bowhunters.

TruGlo Pro Dot Pin

What’s better? A single-pin or multi-pin sight?

It’s possible to start a debate akin to “Ford vs. Chevy” when talking with a bunch of archers about whether a single-pin sight is better than one with multiple pins. We certainly don’t want to launch such a dust up here. But opinions aside, there are some factual differences between the two.

multi-pin sight

 

Here’s a quick rundown of things you’ll want to consider when choosing between a single-pin sight and a multi-pin sight for your bow.

FUNCTION

Multi-pin sights typically come with three to five pins that you set for specific yardages. For example, you might set a five pin sight so you have one pin each for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. You’ll have a pin to hold dead on your target at each of these distances, and then you’ll have to aim high or low with the appropriate pin for distances in between. Those pins are fixed in place, and can only be adjusted with tools.

Trophy Ridge Volt

With a single-pin sight, you have one pin that’s movable. You adjust it up and down by hand to set it in the right spot for the distance you’re shooting. Such sights typically feature a “sight tape,” which is a strip of paper or sticker marked with different yardages. There will be an indicator pin on the sight that you move along the sight tape to the distance you want to shoot. As you adjust that indicator, your sight pin moves accordingly.

PROS

With a single pin, there’s no chance of choosing the wrong pin when you take aim. You adjust the pin to where you want it, and then there’s only one choice to make as you take aim. Also, many archers say the single pin gives them a cleaner sight picture, which makes it easier to concentrate when aiming. And no matter what the distance is, you can always paste your one pin directly on the spot you want to hit. There’s no need to aim high or low.

Trophy Ridge Drive SLider

Multiple pins allow you to adjust to different yardages without having to physically adjust the sight. Let’s say you’re bowhunting and a deer is at 20 yards when you come to full draw. Suddenly, the deer hops away to 30 before you have a clear shot. All you have to do is aim with a different pin.

Also, in situations where you can’t use a rangefinder to determine the exact distance to a target or animal, the multiple pins can act as a rangefinder. Through repeated use, you will learn how targets look at different distances in relation to your pins. Maybe a 3-D deer that’s 20 yards out fits neatly between your 20- and 30-yard pins. If you see air between those pins and a deer, then you know it’s more than 20 yards away.

CONS

Single-pin sights give you just one reference point for aiming. If your target moves when you’re at full draw, then you have to let down the bowstring and adjust your sight. Or you can gamble and try to aim high or low with only one reference point.

Some of these sights employ large knobs for making pin adjustments, and those knobs can make it difficult to attach a quiver to your bow. If you can attach a quiver, then it might be tough to access the knob to make sight adjustments.

With multiple pins, it’s possible to choose the wrong one. That is, your target is 30 yards out, but you accidentally take aim using your 40-yard pin. Also, you’re going to have to “shoot the gap,” which means you’ll have to paste a pin high or low of the point of impact when your target is at a distance other than the ones for which your pins are set. Any time you don’t put your sight directly on the spot you want to hit, there’s a chance for error. And some archers think having multiple pins gives their sight picture a cluttered look, making it hard to focus on just one pin.

COMPETITIONS

Take note that some tournaments might restrict to certain classes the use of sights with movable pins. At National Field Archery Association events, for example, several of the Bowhunter classes require fixed-pin sights with up to five pins, making sights with movable pins legal only for some Freestyle classes.

Buying a bow case: 5 things to consider

You’ve got your bow, and now you’re on the hunt for a case to protect it.

“Which bow case is right for me?”

Here are five things you should consider before making a selection.

1. What kind of bow do I have?

This is a no-brainer, but answering the question will steer you toward certain cases and away from others. And be specific in your answer. Do you have a target compound? Or is it a hunting compound? A target compound bow won’t fit into every compound case.

There are cases made for all types of compounds, cases made for takedown recurves, cases made for traditional recurves and cases made for longbows. Choose accordingly.

Hoyt Trad Bow Soft Case

2. How am I going to use this case?

Think about where you’re going to take your bow case and how you’ll be transporting it. If it’s going to sit on the cushioned back seat of your car as you drive to and from an indoor range, then your needs are different than if it’s going to bounce around the back of a pickup truck en route to outdoor 3-D shoots or your favorite hunting spot.

Also, do you envision your bow case being the place where you store your bow at home? If so, then you need to think about where it will be, and whether that location demands a certain type of protection from running kids, curious pets, falling tools, weather, etc.

3. Do I want a hard case or a soft case?

How you answered No. 2 will play a key role in addressing this question. A soft case isn’t going to provide the same level of protection as a hard case. But hard cases are heavier, and they usually take up more space. It’s up to you to determine which is practical, and which will protect your bow the way you haul it and store it.

Legacy Takedown Recurve Soft Case

There’s actually a third choice – hybrid cases – which are soft cases with a bit of rigid foam built in. Hybrids give you a little more protection than standard soft cases, but still aren’t quite as rugged as hard cases.

4. Will I be flying with my bow?

If there’s one thing you can count on from airport baggage handlers, it’s that they will be rough with your luggage. Look for the term “airline grade,” or something similar, on any case you plan to buy for air travel. They’re going to be sturdier than other cases, and they’re going to be lockable. And even though it’s rated for airline use, there’s no reason you can’t use your travel case for everyday archery activities.

5. How much gear do I want the case to hold?

If your case must hold your bow, arrows and everything else you need to shoot, and all you want to do to when you head out the door is grab it and go, then that requirement is going to steer you toward certain models.

Plano SE Pro 44 Bow Case

Some cases are basically designed to hold your bow – and that’s it. Others have pockets, straps and related features to hold all sorts of equipment.

Some takedown recurve cases made to hold your entire rig have built-in, padded straps so you can haul everything on your back.

Click on any of these links to check out the different types of bow cases carried by Lancaster Archery Supply:

Hard compound cases

Soft compound cases

Hard take-down recurve cases

Soft take-down recurve cases and packs

Soft one-piece recurve and longbow cases

 

 

 

Shibuya DX Plunger

Competition archer Dan Schuller takes you through the details and use of the Shibuya DX Plunger for recurve bows.

In this video, Schuller shows you how to install the plunger, and describes how to customize it for your specific setup.

The Shibuya DX Plunger can be used by right- or left-handed archers, and each one comes with extra springs and two tips – one brass and one teflon. It’s available in six colors.

Easton X10 Arrow Shaft

Easton X10 arrow shafts have claimed more Olympic and World Championship titles than any other archery product. Watch Lancaster Archery TechXPert Randy Groff as he talks about what makes the X10 the choice of champions.

Additionally, Groff will tell you how you can custom order X10 shafts from Lancaster Archery Supply to meet your specific needs.

Specialty Archery Super Peep Clarifier

Just because you add a magnified lens to your sight doesn’t mean your picture will be clear. In this video, Lancaster Archery TechXPert Randy Groff takes a look at the Specialty Archery Super Peep Clarifier system.

This system is intended to help sharpen the sight picture for archers who use a sight with a magnified lens.

Groff describes Specialty’s clairifier system in detail, while also walking you through the steps to match the right diameter clarifier to your specific setup. Then he talks about which of the three clarifiers you might want to try, depending on the lens in your sight.

Specialty Archery Verifier Aperture

Having trouble seeing your sight pins, target or both? In this video, Lancaster Archery TechXpert Randy Groff takes a look at the Specialty Archery Verifier Aperture system.

This system is intended to improve the sight picture for archers who employ a sight without a magnifying lens.

Besides discussing how the verifiers work, Groff also runs down how to choose which one to use – there are six in each of two sizes – and how to properly install them.

Stan Shootoff! Release

Lancaster Archery Supply TechXPert Randy Groff takes a close look at the Stan Shootoff! release in this video. Specifically, Groff checks out the Blackout and the Standard versions of the release.

In his review, Groff goes through all the adjustments available with this versatile release that can be shot by right- or left-handed archers, and which comes in three- or four-finger versions available in three sizes each.

Left-handed archers: Five things you should know about buying equipment

Left-handed archers live in a right-handed world. Actually, that’s not something confined to archery. It’s generally held that only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, and so the whole world tends to cater to righties.

In archery, the way you shoot should pertain to eye dominance, rather than hand preference – but that’s a topic for another article, which we plan to address in the future.

The world has nothing personal against lefties. It’s a matter of numbers. Here at Lancaster Archery Supply, for example, only about 15 percent of the gear we sell to both right- and left-handed archers is bought by the southpaws. And if you scroll through the shopping area of our site, you will notice that most images of gear that comes in right- and left-handed models depict the right-handed version.

Unfortunately, right-handed dominance can make life difficult when lefties go shopping for a left-handed bow and related equipment. Here are five things left-handed archers should keep in mind:

1. All bow manufacturers make right- and left-handed models. But your local pro shop probably doesn’t keep a huge selection of left-handed bows in stock, due to the comparatively few number of left-handed archers. (Of all the bows sold each year by Mathews, for example, only 8-12 percent are left-handed.) Call ahead to make sure they have the bows you want to check out in the proper size, draw length and draw weight.

2. Release aids for compound shooters all can be used by right- and left-handed shooters. Some simply swivel into position for use either way, while others require minor adjustments with tools to complete the switch. Those that have to be adjusted will always be packaged by the manufacturer for use by righties. So don’t freak out when all you see is a wall of right-handed releases. They can be converted for left-handed use.

Release aids

3. Some sights are made for right-handed or left-handed archers, while others are ambidextrous. That is, you can set up one sight for either left- or right-handed use. Be aware, however, this usually means the sight amenities will be “upside down” for lefties. For example, the normal configuration for most sights is to have the level on the bottom of the sight guard, and the light shining down from the top. Ambidextrous sights will be set that way for right-handed shooters. When set up for lefties, however, such sights typically have the level on the top and the light on the bottom.

left-hand-sight-no-logo
4. Be prepared to special order a lot of your gear. Many pro shops simply don’t keep on hand the same selection of left-handed equipment as they do right-handed – especially the high-end, high-dollar gear. They’ll tell you they can get what you want, but you have to special order it.

5. Bowhunters often will find tree stands, stick ladders and other gear set by the manufacturer for right-handed archers. For example, ratchet straps often are connected to tree stands at the factory so that they must be tightened with your right hand. Usually, you can switch these straps at home for left-handed use.