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Does Removing a Bow's Grip Improve Accuracy?

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July 11, 2013

Does Removing a Bow's Grip Improve Accuracy?

By Dave Hurteau

Here's the last in our seven-part series of tests designed to prove or disprove some common conceptions about compound bows. These tests all appeared in the July issue of Field & Stream.

The Conventional Wisdom
A thick grip or tacky rubber model makes for more hand-to-bow contact, which ups the odds of torquing the riser during the shot. More and more accuracy-obsessed archers are removing the grips on their bows.

But Wait a Minute
A bare grip is cold and not especially comfortable. Is the difference in accuracy worth it?
 
The Test
Simple. We chose bows with substantial grips: I used the Bear Motive 6 with a rubber grip. Bestul, the Mathews Creed with a large wood grip. Brantley, the Hoyt Charger, also with a rubber grip. Then we shot them with and without.

The Results
Total average group sizes for grip on, grip off:
30 yards: 3.05; 2.43
40 Yards: 3.88; 3.62
60 Yards: 6.01; 4.98

The Conclusion
Yes, absolutely. All three of us shot better without the grip. For me, the difference didn’t show up until I stepped back to 60. But Brantley shot better across the board. And Bestul, testing the thickest grip of all—Mathews’s famously enormous hunk of walnut—shot a full inch better at 30, 40, and 60 after removing it. 

The Inside Story
Bowhunters are nuts about grips. Guys who love the big honking wood grip loathe the itty, bitty skinny grip, and vice versa. Until now, I’ve been an exception to this rule. I really didn’t care one way or another. And I still don’t in terms of comfort. What’s more, I really didn’t expect that removing the grip would make any significant difference in accuracy. But it absolutely did—and for all three of us.

Of course, you don’t need to worry about this if you shoot a PSE or Bowtech or other make or model in which the “grip” is merely a side plate and your bow hand contacts nothing more than the riser. But if you have a wood, plasic, or rubber grip that wraps around the riser, you can probably start shooting better right now by just by turning a few screws getting rid of the thing.

Comments (10)

Top Rated
All Comments
from ENO wrote 40 weeks 4 hours ago

Again...Good Stuff! I really didn't think it would make that much of a difference. Who doesn't want to shoot tighter groups?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mwmrtn wrote 40 weeks 1 hour ago

I shot a Mathews Legacy 01',went to PSE Dreamseason X Force 08'. Didn't think I would like the PSE grip at first but now anything is else seems cumbersome. Just got a Hoyt Spyder this week and just started shooting and getting use to it. I feel it is much easier getting and repeating same spot without the grip than with it so far. I will do my comparison giving ample time to see for myself. The only down side without a grip is its like holding an ice cube when it the temperature drops.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SeanGroves wrote 40 weeks 1 hour ago

This is a really interesting story; and I never would have guessed these results.

This will make for some fun practice next time I'm out with my Bear Stike - grip on that isn't too bad as it is about 3 years old and it seems in last year or two Bear has started increasing grip sizes.

Appreciate the information!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joaxe wrote 39 weeks 6 days ago

I'll have to agree...

I bought my Mathews Switchback XT in 2006, shot it for a while (with the large, walnut grip) then swapped the grip out for a Torqueless grip (medium wrist, competition nose). My groups (even at 20 yards) tightened up very noticeably!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 39 weeks 3 days ago

Very interesting -- I may have to give this a try.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Island_Time wrote 39 weeks 3 days ago

I've been thinking about this for years. My Mathews has the curved wooden grip. I added black tennis grip tape for a custom fit and my groups worsened. I wasn't sure if their new grip style was salesmanship or actually useful. I'll have to give it a try!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Glenn Borchardt wrote 39 weeks 1 day ago

What is the difference with and without the grip tape after removing the wooden grip from the Mathews?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Island_Time wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I had added the tape over the wooden grip to reduce the contour in the thumb pad area. The tape engaged too much of my hand and allowed for more twist. The contour of the wooden grip tends to make the bow cant. Also, I prefer not to wear a glove and my hands get pretty slippery in the September bow season in Georgia. I plan to install the Mathews Focus Grip by the end of summer. I just have to come to terms with removing the wood. It looks great, but just is not as functional!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from moth6 wrote 31 weeks 1 day ago

looks like i'll be giving this a shot, cool article

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from masterbowhunter95 wrote 24 weeks 3 days ago

i got a Bear odyssey II, gonna take her out right now and try this grip theory. my grip fell off of it at the beginning of this bow season, i glued it back on, so it shouldnt be to hard to remove if i think this theory works.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Island_Time wrote 39 weeks 3 days ago

I've been thinking about this for years. My Mathews has the curved wooden grip. I added black tennis grip tape for a custom fit and my groups worsened. I wasn't sure if their new grip style was salesmanship or actually useful. I'll have to give it a try!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 40 weeks 4 hours ago

Again...Good Stuff! I really didn't think it would make that much of a difference. Who doesn't want to shoot tighter groups?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mwmrtn wrote 40 weeks 1 hour ago

I shot a Mathews Legacy 01',went to PSE Dreamseason X Force 08'. Didn't think I would like the PSE grip at first but now anything is else seems cumbersome. Just got a Hoyt Spyder this week and just started shooting and getting use to it. I feel it is much easier getting and repeating same spot without the grip than with it so far. I will do my comparison giving ample time to see for myself. The only down side without a grip is its like holding an ice cube when it the temperature drops.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SeanGroves wrote 40 weeks 1 hour ago

This is a really interesting story; and I never would have guessed these results.

This will make for some fun practice next time I'm out with my Bear Stike - grip on that isn't too bad as it is about 3 years old and it seems in last year or two Bear has started increasing grip sizes.

Appreciate the information!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joaxe wrote 39 weeks 6 days ago

I'll have to agree...

I bought my Mathews Switchback XT in 2006, shot it for a while (with the large, walnut grip) then swapped the grip out for a Torqueless grip (medium wrist, competition nose). My groups (even at 20 yards) tightened up very noticeably!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 39 weeks 3 days ago

Very interesting -- I may have to give this a try.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Glenn Borchardt wrote 39 weeks 1 day ago

What is the difference with and without the grip tape after removing the wooden grip from the Mathews?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Island_Time wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I had added the tape over the wooden grip to reduce the contour in the thumb pad area. The tape engaged too much of my hand and allowed for more twist. The contour of the wooden grip tends to make the bow cant. Also, I prefer not to wear a glove and my hands get pretty slippery in the September bow season in Georgia. I plan to install the Mathews Focus Grip by the end of summer. I just have to come to terms with removing the wood. It looks great, but just is not as functional!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from moth6 wrote 31 weeks 1 day ago

looks like i'll be giving this a shot, cool article

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from masterbowhunter95 wrote 24 weeks 3 days ago

i got a Bear odyssey II, gonna take her out right now and try this grip theory. my grip fell off of it at the beginning of this bow season, i glued it back on, so it shouldnt be to hard to remove if i think this theory works.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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