The 5 Best Bow String Silencers
Bow hunters rely as much on concealment, camouflage, and hiding as they do accurate shots. Things like covering their scent and blending in with the environment are just as important to a successful hunt as putting an arrow directly into the vital organs. And when hunting animals like deer or elk that have extremely sensitive hearing, there is nothing more important than operating silently.
There are several possible sources of noise that a bow hunter has to be careful about. Crunching shoes, for instance, are silenced by wearing cloth covers over boots or finding a leafless path through the woods. When crunch time comes, the bow, surprisingly, can be a source of hunt-ruining noise. The bow string’s twang as the arrow zips out of the bow is plenty loud to alert a prey animal in close range. Many a hunter has had his arrow bury in the mud, rather than a nice buck, because the bow string gave him away.
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One kind of popular string silencer is the Mountain Man Beaver Balls. “Beaver” refers to the fact that this style of silencer—beaver balls—is basically a small wad of beaver fur. Many “traditional” archers tend to prefer Mountain Man Beaver Balls.
These archers use recurve bows and shy away from equipment that is made of plastics and metals. They prefer wooden bows, bow strings made of natural material, and likewise, silencers made of natural material.
The composition and look of the Beaver Balls are really what make them popular. They are very easy to install. Simply pinch them onto the bow string at equal intervals away from the nocking point.
Beaver Balls do not appear to perform better than synthetic silencers, but they do work much better than other types of fur silencers (otter, mink, etc.) When compared to modern silencers, Beaver Balls don’t seem to work any better and are much heavier.
The heaver a silencer is, the more it dampens the vibration of the bow string, and the more it slows down the arrow. If you’re a traditional archer, these may be the perfect silencer for your rig. If you’re open to more modern options, check out some of the other silencers reviewed below.
Another popular silencer with the traditional archery crowd are Traditional Gear’s Bow String Groove Silencers. As the manufacturer’s name implies, these fit in with the traditional archery setup. They are made of real leather (a natural material). These silencers are designed only for recurve bows. They will not work on compound bows or modern crossbows. Also, the Groove Silencer is really more of a limb silencer or bow silencer than a string silencer.
String silencers are usually attached to the bow string and dampen vibration of the string. Silencers like the Groove Silencers actually stick to the bow and reduce the slap of the string against the bow (known as limb slap). They do not reduce string vibration at all.
That being said, they work very well for reducing limb slap. They are easy to install. The groove silencer is a thin pad of leather with a groove where the string should sit. Line up the bow string with the groove on the silencer, then simply stick the silencer to the inside surface of the limbs.
The silencer will either have an adhesive on the back or come with a small amount of adhesive to use. These can be used in combination with true string silencers, and most archers tend to use both for maximum silencing.
Installation is pretty simple.
Just tie them in an overhand knot at equal lengths away from the nocking point. Some archers use zip ties or bobby pins to get a more “round” ball look to their whiskers. It might look better, but it doesn’t affect performance.
Whiskers are preferred by many archers because they are cheap, light, and durable. Where fur silencers tend to get heavy and nasty when rained on, rubber whiskers obviously perform the same in all weather conditions. They are lighter, too, so they do not reduce arrow speed as much as fur silencers. Overall, this is the most popular kind of string silencer on the market.
The Bowjax 1036 Ultra Bow Jax II Dampeners represent technological advances in the string silencer market. These are basically small weights that get clamped onto the bowstring. Some models, such as the 1036, require removal of the bow string for installation.
This can be difficult, so consider taking your bow to a professional for installation. Some models have a tiny slit in them so that the weight can be slid over the bow string for installation. These are easier to install but don’t work quite as well.
These dampeners are more effective than any of the types reviewed above. They are perfectly balanced, so they deliver maximum vibration reduction. Bow strings vibrate at a high frequency when loosed; think of the string moving in tiny circles very fast. The weight of a dampener slows that movement and keeps the string in a smaller “circle” of motion. This serves to dampen the vibration very quickly.
Some archers report a 50% reduction in string vibration with the 1036 dampeners.
The Bowrattler String Silencer is yet another type of string silencer. Where these other models rely on adding weight to the bow string at specific locations, this type of silencer, known as a string stop, provides a solid point beyond which the bow string cannot travel.
In this method of vibration dampening, the string stop forces the string to stop moving because the string cannot move past the string stop. Thinking again of the tiny circles in which the string rotates very quickly, the string stop sticks halfway into the circle and doesn’t allow the string to vibrate or rotate fully.
String stops are often used in conjunction with whisker stops or weight stops. To install, the stop is inserted into a hole on the front of the bow, near where the grip is. A bow must have this hole for the stop to be installed. While most bows come with the hole pre-drilled, it is not a good idea to drill one yourself. Take it to a bow shop.
Luckily, there are products out there to defeat that bow string noise. Bow string silencers come in many different designs but all accomplish the same thing: dampening the noise created by a fast-moving bow string. They all basically work by reducing the excess vibration caused by the release of tension when an arrow is loosed. Regardless of the kind of silencer used, all silencers slow down the arrow to some extent.
All these different devices can be very effective for string vibration dampening. Some work better than others, but in the woods, anything to help keep quiet is a welcome gift. For best results, try adding one or two different kinds of string silencers to stay as silent as possible.