Whitetail Hunting photo

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.