Get All that Crap Off Your Bow

Get All that Crap Off Your Bow

I have neither been accused of nor confessed to be a stylish sort. In fact, I suppose, I swing in the other direction. If it’s trendy, popular, or vogue, I admit to being of a different mind. While that may sound like a statement of desire for originality, it’s more a function of practicality and a bit of frugality.

I see nothing wrong with jeans that wear a few well-earned stains, shirts bought from the Wal-Mart clearance rack, and a truck that’s patched together with whatever it took to keep it rolling down the road. Life is how you look at it, not how you look doing it, for me.

Minimalism in Bowhunting

I have written before about my somewhat-newfound focus on simplicity and minimalism. I won’t rehash the entire saga here but I will say that my hunting gear is a whole lot easier to organize, sort, and store these days given that everything I truly need for a full season in the woods fits in a couple of medium-sized totes. My bow is a reflection of this keep-it-simple approach. My rig is, in a word, underwhelming. It’s also a damn-straight killer.

There was a time when I had just a bit of concern in the back of my mind when a target animal was working its way in range. I’ve always been a pretty decent bow shot, but there was still that slight tingle of “what if.” These days, that’s all gone. I know when I release an arrow, it’s going to go where I want it to go. That doesn’t mean things can’t happen between the time the nock leaves string and broached makes contact. Things can, and do happen. But it is not because I did something during the shot sequence and it’s definitely not going to be because something attached on my bow failed to perform or caused an unintended consequence.

This in-the-moment confidence is equal parts experience and absolute trust in the simplistic gear I choose to employ. Long story short, this is my way of saying: Get all of that extraneous crap off your bow. And do it now.

Taking a look at images of bow setups that are so proudly displayed on social media and at various 3D shoots that take place throughout the summer months reveals an interesting trend in the bowhunting world. Our bows are better than ever and yet we continue to dangle all kinds of accoutrements off of them that, in my opinion, are completely unnecessary and possibly detrimental in a hunting situation.


I understand the benefits offered by a dovetail-type sight and a movable single-pin aiming system. On the range, those sights will deliver the ultimate in accuracy. Single-pin sights offer a very real advantage, particularly when shooting longer distances. There’s a reason top-end competitive archers run them. But in the woods? I see almost no advantage and a whole lot of downside.

Dovetail setups, for the most part, stick out further from the riser than a “traditional” sighting system. Again, I understand the advantage this offers. The sight housing will better fit in the frame of your peep and the smaller aiming point of a fiber-optic pin that’s further from your eye is, indeed, more precise. In the woods that extended sight means higher odds of banging it into trees, brush, and all manner of objects encountered during a day afield.

That movable pin? Well, I’ve tried it. I fumbled to rotate the dial to the correct yardage as a 150-class whitetail dashed to and fro after a hot doe, and I knew it would be the last time I took one to the stand.

My sight is basic, features just three fixed pins and can be called bland. It’s also as reliable as a system can be and provides me with no-thinking-needed service from 45 yards and in.

Stabilizers and Balancing Systems

I’ve shot nearly every “flagship” bow made for the past decade or so and I can honestly say I’ve only fired three or four that weren’t pretty darned good. Today’s bows are accurate. They’re quiet. They’re plenty fast. And they’re dead in the hand and balanced.

This is the case shooting a stock bow with no attached accessories aside from a peep sight, D-loop and fixed-pin sight. Sure, I add a short 4-inch stabilizer to the front of my hunting rig for a little additional weight, to further reduce noise and, honestly, its primary function is to serve as a means for attaching my wrist sling.

I can think of no true tactical advantage to strapping a 12-inch pipe on the front of a hunting bow, certainly not one with the intended use of chasing whitetails in the Midwest. But to double down and have a giant protrusion jutting from not only the front of the bow but another side-mounted rod pointing off the back of the bow? I fail to see any advantage whatsoever in the majority of whitetail hunting situations to such a setup. Again, I understand the benefits in a range situation. When it comes to in-field use, however, I can think only of all kinds of bad waiting to happen with all of those extraneous gadgets whacking into tree limbs, stand bases and such.

If your bow is truly so unbalanced that it requires two feet of stabilizing material on the front, back and sides there might be something else amiss.

What a Bowhunter Wants, What a Bowhunter Needs

Here’s what I want when the moment I’ve been waiting on all year happens: I want to see a buck that makes my heart skip a few beats. I want to grab my bow from the limb it’s hanging on. I want to attach my release to the loop. And that’s it.

No more thinking. No more worrying about a dozen different components working in tandem. No contorting to make sure my bow’s appendages are clear of obstructions. I want to know that I can move my bow as needed without fear of 12 inches of protrusions smacking into the tree trunk as I maneuver for a shot. I don’t want to worry about spinning a dial to the correct tiny number as the buck does the stiff-legged march of November through my shooting lane.

I want to know that what happens next isn’t marred by a misstep created by gear that isn’t really needed. But, maybe that’s just me.

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