Noisy bow? Got a bit of a twang? Not great for hunting, and just not the noise you want to hear every time you shoot. Even though modern split and solid limb bows have dampeners built into the riser some can still have a tendency to make unwanted noise. Fortunately, all is not lost and there are things you can do to silence it. We've taken a scout around the market and put together a list of some of the best split limb dampeners and best solid limb dampeners we can find. The difference they can make is night and day, and they really don't cost the earth either....
Split Limb Dampeners
Solid Limb Dampeners
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices.
Bows are designed to be quiet for hunting and just generally for aesthetics. Vibration creates noise, and excess vibration usually comes from wasted energy and is a sign of an inefficient system at work.
A modern compound bow with either split or solid limbs will normally have dampening materials built right into the framework. This can come in the form of dampening material within the riser construction or as part of the limb design. Some come right out of the factory with limb dampeners fitted. Recurves with a modern aluminium riser will also offer similar opportunities for dampening within their construction. Traditional recurve bows made from wood don't have as many places to stick dampening materials in the riser. There are however still things you can for those bows do by dampening the string and the limbs.
Noise is produced when vibrations are passed through air (or water) in the form of sound waves. These are sensed by our ears and we hear them as sound. The rate at which the waves flow is called frequency and is measured in Hz. A healthy person can hear frequencies from around 20 to 20 kHz.
When you release a bowstring you're releasing pent up forces and allowing them to act on your arrow. If the system of transfer from the string to the arrow is not 100% efficient the remaining energy has to go somewhere. That somewhere is usually back into the string or the limbs. This causes them to vibrate. That vibration makes noise.
If you're a hunter, you've more than likely had, or heard stories of a deer jumping the string. That what happens when your prey hears the slightest sound from your bow and takes flight. That sound could be as slight as the sound from your bowstring or noise from your limbs. In order to stop it happening hunters favor a quiet bow.
Animals hear at different frequencies to us. High frequencies over the human hearing range or 20 kHz are called ultrasonic and some animals can hear these frequencies as well as the normal frequencies that we can hear. You might think your bow is quiet, but your prey might not.
As I've already mentioned, a perfectly efficient bow would try to transfer 100% of the energy in the string directly to the arrow. If that arrow is light not all the energy will be used to fire it and there will be excess energy left. That excess will go back into the bow and string, and we have noise again. A heavier arrow will absorb more of the strings energy, a perfectly weighted arrow would absorb all the strings energy. You're never going to get the perfectly weighted arrow, and bows aren't 100% efficient. As a rule though a heavier arrow will absorb more vibration and therefore more noise.
Even after making sure your arrow is the best weight weight you can, you may still find that your bow makes noise. The two places that create that noise are the string and the limbs. All types of limbs (solid and split) can vibrate. Adding material that is designed to dampen and absorb those vibrations can lessen the noise. Here's an excellent video that demonstrates the noise from split limbs and the effects a dampener has when added to those limbs.
Just in the same way that limb dampeners can absorb the noise from the limbs, you can do the same with the string. We've a sister article that covers just that topic over here. There are different types of string silencers, some easy and some not-so easy to install. They're all covered. Take a look!
There are dampeners for solid recurve limbs that you simply stick on with the supplied adhesive (there's a how-to in the video below). These perform the same job as dampeners for a compound, the principle is the same.
Split limb dampener
Solid limb compound, recurve or longbow dampener
LimbSaver BroadBands are made using the proprietary material call NAVCOM. That stands for Noise And Vibration Control Material. It's a material designed to absorb vibration in the 10 to 30 kHz spectrum. Humans hear at 20 kHz max, but deer can hear above that level (the ultrasonic spectrum) so this material has you covered. NAVCOM is being used everywhere nowadays, aerospace, automotive you name it. LimbSaver also make string silencers out of the same materials. Prime are also that confident that these work they also equip all of their G5 bows right out of the factory with these dampeners fitted.
You won't be disappointed. Mount them correctly and you'll notice a difference on nearly any bow.
BroadBands are available for split and limb bows. The split design rests between the limbs for the maximum effect and the solid comes with adhesive to allow you to attach it to the limb. If you've a compound with split limbs and wide split, keep reading below.
All the benefits of NAVCOM from Limbsaver are also available in the SuperQuad. NAVCOM is a proprietary material widely used in many industries that can help to reduce up-to 70% of limb vibration. No question that will give you a quieter and smoother shot and be easier on your bow hand.
These are designed to fit 95% standard and wide split limb bows irrespective of how big the gap between the limbs is. They can make that claim because you can install these in 2 orientations. Horizontally for wide splits and vertically for narrow. These weigh 1.3 ounces and are about 2 inches wide by one and a half high and deep. SuperQuads come in 2 color variants, plain black, or camo. The camo finish covers the entire dampener too which means it wont stick out on a camo bow setup.
The BowJax system claims to be more efficient at absorbing vibration than LimbSaver. Whilst they may not look as pretty they aren't designed with looks in mind. You can get these in 2 sizes 11/16" and 15/16" depending on the size of the split between your limbs. This one is for split limbs only. Read on for the solid limb variant.
Here's a video showing and example of how BowJax claims to beat LimbSaver in the vibration absorption stakes.
The solid limb variant of the BowJax dampener comes in a range of colors and sticks to your limb with supplied adhesive. You can use these on recurves or compounds, either with a solid limb will benefit.
Each of the 6 arms are designed to vibrate at slightly different frequencies allowing the dampener to absorb as much as possible. BowJax recommend placing them on the flat part of your limb between the cam and the limb pocket. That's usually somewhere in the region of 5-7 inches down from the cam. They come supplied with adhesive which you get to by simply peeling off the backing tape. It's a simple installation once you've decided where you want them to go. Make sure you orient that arms so they don't stick out to the side of your limb.
If you're looking for a crossbow dampener there is a slightly different variant of this called the 1022x (just follow the link below and then search for it). The 1022x is specifically designed for solid limb crossbows and is made from a slightly different material. BowJax also make complimentary string silencers.
I hope this roundup was useful and led you in the direction of a quality component for your setup. Please let us know if we're missing your favorite and need to add it to this review, or if there are any aspects of any of the above we've not covered correctly! Either leave a comment or send us some feedback!
I've had a love of shooting since I was a kid. My parents used to tell me I'd never stop bugging them to let me have a real bow and arrow! That desire never really went away and now I own lots and lots of different things you can shoot with, bows, rifles, catapults, you name it I've probably got one. and I still love to shoot them. Please let me know what you think of my work, comment, like, rant, speak up!