Do You Need A Stabilizer On Your Bow?

Do You Need A Stabilizer On Your Bow?

Stabilizers are one of the most common accessories compound archers use to increase their accuracy. They’re basically a pole that’s sticking in front or the back of the bow, designed to reduce vibrations, balance weight and improve precision.

Though they’re not essential by any means, stabilizers are used by a lot of archers. They really help with absorbing vibrations on the release and balancing your bow. You can do well without them, but they can help improve your shooting.

In this post, I’ll help you understand the function stabilizers serve and decide if you want to add them to your equipment. We’ll cover the different types of stabilizers, and learn how to choose one that fits your needs best.

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you buy through one of them, I’ll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. It’s a great way to support the website.

What does a stabilizer do for a bow?

I’ve mentioned that almost all experienced compound archers use a stabilizer on their bow. Actually, most of the compound bows come with the necessary holes for mounting it. That’s for a good reason.

Vibration Absorption

The main functionality of stabilizers is vibration absorption. When you release an arrow, a shock waves through the bow an into your hand. When you release the bowstring, most of the energy stored in the bow is transferred to the arrow. But the bow isn’t an ideal system, and some of the energy is left, causing the vibrations in the bow.

This explains why you should never dry shoot a bow, meaning release the bowstring without an arrow. When dry shooting, instead of a small fraction of the energy remaining in the bow, all the energy will stay and be translated into vibrations. This can cause real damage to the bow and to your joints.

The shock on the release is really unpleasant and can actually cause physical issues over time. Stabilizers actually absorb a lot of the vibrations and make shooting much more experience, while reducing the chance of physical pain in your arms.

Preventing torque

Another reason for using stabilizers is that they help to prevent torque. Torque is typically caused by an improper grip and manifests in your arrows flying to the side. Stabilizers resist this movement of the bow with the added weight. This means small errors in your grip placement will not result in as significant misses as they would without a stabilizer.

Improved Bow Balance

Additionally, by adding more weight below your grip point, stabilizers improve the balance of your bow. This can definitely result in a better aim. Simply by being more stable, small movements the archer makes become less significant. This means the archer is able to hold the bow steadily while aiming.

Though the added weight on the bow can improve your aim, it can also be hard to hold the higher weight up at full draw. It’s a game of balance, where you choose the weight and length of the stabilizer based on your needs and abilities.

So let’s discuss that right now.

Does the stabilizer’s size matter?

The length and the weight of a stabilizer affect how the bow will behave once it’s mounted on it. Longer poles will also feel heavier.

A typical stabilizer length is between 6″ for a short one, to 30″ of a long one. They weigh at around 6 oz and above. The longer and heavier a stabilizer is, the more stabilization effect you’ll feel when using it. Personally, I don’t think a pole below 10″ provides much stabilization at all. On the other end, every added weight on the bow needs to be carried around and held up when aiming.

Usually, archers that need to move around a lot and shoot shorter distances, like 3D archers and bowhunters, prefer shorter rods. Target archers that shoot longer distances use longer poles.

Note that some archery tournaments limit the length of stabilizers on the competitor’s bows in some classes. If you’re going to join archery competitions, you might want to get stabilizers that fit the criteria of your nearby club’s rules.

What are side rods?

Just like the standard stabilizers that are located in front of the bow, some archers add poles on the sides on the bow. The main goal of side rods is to increase stability and improve the side balance of the bow.

For example, if you rack accessories on one side of the bow, you might want to add a side rod to counter their weight. A heavy sight, arrow rest or mounted quiver can add significant weight that makes aiming consistently harder. A small side rod of a back bar can balance their weight.

You can also choose to add two side rods, one at each side of the bow (using a V-bar), to improve the right-left balance of the bow. They should be symmetrical and create a sort of a Y shape with the standard stabilizer (with appropriate angle). This will make you bow extremely steady, so any tilting of the bow to any direction will be countered.

Recommended Stabilizers

If you’re looking for a short stabilizer, I’d definitely go with the Trophy Ridge static stabilizer (link to Amazon), which comes at 12″. It weighs at around 10 pounds with adjustable weights. I like its overall design, vibration-reducing effects, and affordable price.

For longer stabilizers, I’d purchase the Bee Stinger competitor stabilizer, which comes at 20″ up to 33″ length. It’s one of the best in the market, with a great vibration dampening and adjustable weights. It’s a bit on the higher end, but longer stabilizers typically are.

How to balance your bow?

After you’ve considered how you’re going to use your bow, and based on that decided what the right setup and stabilizer lengths for you are, it’s time to stabilize the bow. To do that, you’ll need some small weight that you can take on and off the stabilizer.

The recommended setup for a beginner is one stabilizer at the front and one in the back. The back stabilizer should be 2-3 times heavier as a starting point. You can do well only with a front stabilizer though, but you’ll have a harder time balancing the bow.

Before you set the stabilizer up and start balancing your bow, I suggest you take a few shots with the bow and see how it feels without balancing. The effect should be noticeable, and it’s good if you get the feel of the bow before balancing it.

Begin by mounting your stabilizers on the bow and setting everything up. Start with a small amount of weight. You’ll add and remove weight until you’re happy with the bow. You can add weight as long as you can hold and aim without effort.

Try aiming with the bow, by holding it at full draw towards the target. If you feel your sight goes up, you’ll need to lose weight from the back (or add weight to the front). If it goes down, add weight to the back. If you have a side rod, try doing something similar with the right to left stabilization.

By balancing your bow you’ll be able to easily aim the bow and hold the pin in the correct position.


Stabilizers are a great tool to improve your accuracy. They absorb vibrations and help balance your bow. But it’s important that you choose the right stabilizers based on your needs, and balance your bow with the system. It’s an easy process, but one that’s really important to do.

I hope this post helped you understand whether or not you need a stabilizer on your bow, and if you do, which one to get and how to set it up.