Balance your bow to shoot like the pros

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In a recent article, “Don’t let the sales guy talk you into a stabilizer on your new bow,” I spoke about the importance of having a balanced bow. For those who took my advice and bought two stabilizers instead of one, here’s a guide to help you actually balance your bow.

Before we start, there are a couple of items you will need in addition to your two stabilizers. First, you will need a V-bar mount for mounting your back bar. A V-bar mount enables you to adjust the position of your back bar in multiple planes so you can balance out accessories on the front of your bow (front bar and sight) and the side of your bow (quiver). If you don’t have a quiver on your bow, you may be able to get away with using a static mount for your back bar, but to balance your bow properly, a V-bar is superior—and with a quiver on your bow it’s a necessity. Second, you will need some extra stabilizer weights.

To begin, mount the V-bar on your bow or have the shop you bought it from do it. Most will do it free if you bought the bow from them. Next, attach your two stabilizer bars and head to the range. Nock an arrow and come to full draw. (Never draw your bow without an arrow nocked; it’s just not worth the risk of an accidental dry fire, which can severely damage your bow.) While watching your bubble, consciously think about not manipulating the bow with your hand. If your bow starts to tip to the side, you will need to adjust the lateral positioning of your back bar. Move it toward the bubble. For example, I have a quiver on the right side of my bow. This caused my bow to tip to the right, moving my bubble to the left of my sight picture. To counteract the tendency to tip to the right, I adjusted my back bar to the left—the same direction my bubble moved. Repeat this process until you can come to full draw with your bow hand completely relaxed and your bubble dead center.

It’s imperative you don’t need to manipulate the bow with your grip to get the bubble centered. Your bow will respond to force more once you release the arrow than it will while held at full draw. This means any force you apply to the bow to hold your bubble centered while at full draw will cause an overcorrection the moment you release the arrow, ever so slightly steering it. It’s a subtle difference, but at longer distances it will have noticeable effects on your accuracy.

Once you have your left-right balance set, come to full draw and focus on how difficult it is to keep your pin exactly where you are trying to aim. Are you finding that you have to fight to keep your pin from dropping below your target? Or does it float high if you aren’t careful? If you’re having to fight to keep your pin from dropping, the weight of the stabilizer and sight out in front of your bow is causing it to tip forward. To counteract this you have two options: Lower the back bar or add more weight. Likely you will need to do both. If your pin has a tendency to rise, do the opposite: Raise your back bar or remove weight. Personally, I added six ounces to my back bar to counteract the front stabilizer and my sight. Keep in mind that the longer your back bar is, the greater effect each ounce of weight will have, so every setup is a little bit different and will require some experimentation.

Once your pin settles right on target, double check that your bubble is centered. Changing the height of your back bar or adding weight may have knocked your left-right balance off just a bit. You may have to make additional fine adjustments to both the left-right and the front-back balance to really lock your bow in.

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