Bows are simple mechanical objects in principle. But designing them for archers makes
life surprisingly complicated. Archers cannot shoot the arrow through the centre
of pressure (at least, not without injury), so the arrow leaves the bow above the
grip, and the bow is consequently slightly out of balance when shot. The riser is
cut away on one side, so stresses in the riser are asymmetric, and vibrations complex
and difficult to control. The ‘archers grip’ on the bow is hard to centre and reproduce,
introducing variable torque. Muscles are best in motion, and perfect stability of
aim is not humanly attainable. Different archers have different preferences for bow
behaviour before, during and after the shot. All these things lead to a large range
of bow movements, many of which are incidental to, or interfere with, the arrow reaching
the target. So bowyer's and archers have gone looking for ways to control bow movement.
Relatively early in modern bow design, it became clear that many movements could
be controlled by adjusting the overall weight and the distribution of weight in the
bow riser. This led by easy stages through ‘points’, lead or mercury inserts and
‘bus- bars’ to short, weighted metal rods replacing ‘points’, longer rods replacing
short rods, centre-mounted ‘long rods’, counterbalances and V-bars, TFC’s, internally
damped rods and oil-filled dampers to the range of stabilisers and attachments now
available. The problem facing the archer is to sort through all the options to get
good control of the bow.
That does not mean that stabiliser systems are a necessary first resort. On the contrary,
though they can undoubtedly reduce the effect of poor technique.
Stabilisation is no substitute for good technique.
If bow behaviour is seriously and consistently faulty, the cause should be removed
as far as possible before turning to stabilisation. For example, stabilisers can
reduce the effect of torque, but it is a great deal better to adjust style or grip
to avoid torque in the first place.
This note is intended to show how particular stabilisers and attachments control
different types of bow motion, and how their effect can be adjusted to suit the archer’s
needs. The document covers different types of bow motion, then discusses the use
of stabilisation to control them.