With so many different stabiliser sets on the market, it can be difficult to cut through the marketing hype and decide which rod is really best for you. This article is the first part in a stabiliser mega test, directly comparing lots of different types of stabilisers in real-world factors like stiffness, weight, finish and cost.
Vibration dampening is something always talked about whenever stabilisers are discussed. However, after testing all of the rods, I couldn’t really draw any conclusions on this matter. All the rods felt slightly different to shoot, but I couldn’t say one felt ‘better’ than another or that one significantly dampened the bow’s vibration more than another. After just a couple of dozen shots, you get used to how a certain rod vibrates, and the difference in vibration between rods can be seen by attaching an accelerometer to the bow. The vibration signature with each rod is slightly different, but not enough for me to draw a clear conclusion one way or another. In my opinion, vibration dampening doesn’t really make much difference to the shot itself, so preference is very much down to individual feel.
When writing this article, I got to test a great variety of rods of different shapes, sizes and lengths, which revealed to me that by far the two most important factors for your stabiliser are its length and the amount of tip weight you use.
Whilst it is important to have a rod stiff enough to comfortably support your desired amount of weight, after a point additional rod stiffness becomes difficult to perceive during shooting. A great example of this is the Carbofast stabiliser featured in this test.
Although it looks like a fairly average scorer in the comparison, I used this rod to shoot some of my best scores ever at 50m. This was simply because the length and amount of tip weight was perfect for me, and the stiffness was suitable to support that. Nothing else really matters.
In my opinion, archers should have a set of weights at least 20 oz at their disposal – most won’t use this many, but unless you have them available for testing, you will never know if your bow shoots better with them. When considering what stabiliser to buy, I’d think about weights first, length second and brand third.
The Vibration Characteristics
The graphs represent acceleration in each direction (up-down, left-right, forward-back) of the bow, just before and during the shot. The more vibration that occurs when the bow is shot, the more violently these graphs will oscillate. As you can see, the rods all produce very similar vibration – with the exception of the unique Beiter, which is much quicker at ‘zapping’ the residual vibration from the bow. However, the price you pay for this is having less predictable post-shot vibration. All this happens after the arrow is well clear of the bow, so the reason you would want to try and reduce this is to minimise strain on delicate components such as your limbs, rest and sight.