Being a target sport, archery is a pursuit which demands attention to fine detail.
Making micro-adjustments to the bow can improve function and comfort.
One of the simplest and most effective modifications that can be made to a traditional or compound bow is the addition of the best bow string silencers.
These small accessories are a beneficial tool for the target, field or hunter archer.
You may be wondering, how do these bow silencers work? What are the benefits? And what are the best bow silencers on the market?
We will answer all of those questions soon. However, for those of you who want to go straight to the best products, here are our top five:
- Mountain Man Beaver Balls
- I-sport Otter
- Bow Jax II Dampener
- Carbon Express 57509 String Silencer
- Apex Gear Double down
Table Of Contents
- What Are Bow String Silencers?
- How Do Bow Silencers Work?
- Where to Put a String Silencer on a Bow?
- How to Install a String Silencer
- What to Look for When Purchasing Bow Silencers
- Top Bow Silencer Reviews
What Are Bow String Silencers?
Sometimes referred to as ‘string dampeners’, bow string silencers are designed to reduce the noise and vibration created when an arrow is released.
They are fitted directly onto the bowstring, which, depending on the type of bow silencer and individual capability, can either be done by the archer themselves or an archery professional.
These silencers are made from synthetic or natural materials.
Both versions are effective, but they each have some distinctive individual qualities that we will investigate later in this article.
Using a bowstring silencer can provide the following benefits:
If you are a target archer, you will probably shoot around 60 arrows per competition, more during practice.
You will have felt the vibrations in the bow-hand post release, which can either be an annoyance or at worst impair your accuracy.
Bowstring silencers can reduce this vibration, allowing for a more accurate and comfortable shot.
Over a period of time, excessive residual energy can crack or weaken the bow and reduce the longevity of the bowstring. Absorbing this energy can prevent that from happening.
The benefits to sound reduction are two-fold. Firstly, I personally gain satisfaction with a silent release.
I am sure it’s purely psychological, but I feel that my arrows fly much more true when there is little to no string ‘twang’.
Secondly, sound reduction performs an essential function for the game hunter. The key behind any successful hunt is stealth.
If you are a keen hunter, you will have already suffered frustration at the hands of a crunching footstep or broken twig.
Wild game are constantly on alert. Even the slightest sound of the bowstring can startle the animal, leading to an inaccurate shot.
Using a bow silencer can increase your competitive advantage.
Although string silencers are effective at reducing noise, your first step should always be to ensure that your bow is optimally tuned.
How Do Bow Silencers Work?
Understanding how bow silencers work involves some knowledge of the physics behind the bow itself.
As you pull back on the bowstring, the energy you exert is converted into elastic potential energy which is stored in the bow.
When the arrow is released, the bowstring and bow ‘spring’ back to their normal shape.
You may recall from school that ‘energy cannot be destroyed’, it can only change form.
In the case of releasing the arrow, the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy which propels the arrow forwards.
However, some of this energy is transferred into the string, providing the familiar oscillation.
As objects oscillate, they produce sound waves, which is the twang heard when shooting an arrow.
Bow silencers work by absorbing and dissipating kinetic energy in the bowstring (which is passed through into the limbs and grip).
This reduces vibration through the bow itself, and also dampens the sound created by the string.
Be aware, however, that some of this kinetic energy is absorbed during the release of the arrow itself.
This means that, although quieter, the bow shot is actually less powerful than without silencers.
Where to Put a String Silencer on a Bow?
Deciding where to place your bow silencer is a trade-off between sound and power. The more central on the bowstring, the less sound is created but more power is lost, and vice versa.
Ideally, for maximum noise reduction, they should be placed on the knocking point.
However, that is obviously highly impractical.
This means that the silencers have to be somewhere above and below this position, the key being that they should balance – one on either side of the nocking point.
As a rule-of-thumb, place one string silencer six to eight inches from both limbs.
It’s worth experimenting to find the optimum position on your bow to satisfy both your sound reduction and power requirements.
How to Install a String Silencer
The old adage, ‘always read the manufacturer’s instructions’ holds true here.
Different bowstring silencers, combined with the large variety of bows available, means that there is not one method to suit all.
Some silencers require the bowstring to be removed before fitting.
For a longbow, this may not prove too difficult for the experienced archer.
However, for compound bows this could be too complicated for some. If you are in doubt, seek the assistance of a professional.
Many silencers can, however, be simply attached by tying onto the bowstring while it is still on the bow.
Here are the steps to follow for a typical fur or cat’s whiskers silencer:
- Measure eight inches from both limbs on your bowstring and mark with chalk (it is preferable to ink, which can weaken the string).
- Begin by securing one end of a piece of serving string an inch above the chalk mark.
- Slowly wrap the serving string around the bowstring.
- Each turn should move closer to the mark. After each turn, pull tight to ensure it remains as taut as possible.
- When you are just less than a quarter of an inch away, put the silencer in place.
- Depending on the design of the silencer (whiskers, fur etc.), wrap the serving string around an appropriate location point five times.
- Pass the serving string over the silencer, and again wrap five times around a securing point.
- Finish by wrapping the serving string around the bowstring until you are one inch past the chalk mark.
- Complete for the other limb.
What to Look for When Purchasing Bow Silencers
As with choosing your bow, string silencers are down to personal preference. These are some of the factors to take into consideration.
- Fitting – if you wish to attach the bow silencer yourself, but are uncomfortable removing the string, choose one that can be attached with the bowstring still in place.
- Quality – choose a silencer that will last, especially if removing the bowstring is required for fitting. You do not want to be replacing them every few weeks.
- Noise level – if you are a game hunter, noise reduction should be at the top of your priorities, less so if you are simply looking to inhibit vibration.
- Waterproof – indoor archers, or fair-weather shooters, will have little use for a waterproof silencer. However, if you are in the great outdoors for any length of time, choosing a waterproof silencer can be invaluable.
- Natural or Synthetic – their efficacy is very similar. If you are looking for the ‘traditional’ hunter look, natural materials such as fur may be more appealing. Conversely, if you are against animal products, synthetics such as rubber or plastic are ideal.
Top Bow Silencer Reviews
When considering which bow silencers to purchase, the choice can be initially overwhelming.
Hence, we have taken time to review the current available options.
Here are the top five we believe are a good choice to keep your bow silent and vibration free.
Mountain Man Beaver Balls
Being one of the most natural and ‘traditional’ looking of all bow silencers, Mountain Man Beaver Balls offer effective noise reduction together with a pleasing aesthetic.
The ‘balls’ refer to the shape of the bow silencers, not the anatomical part. They are made from 100 percent beaver hide and can be fitted without removing the bowstring as detailed above.
However, removal and separating the string twists can provide a more secure fitting.
When mounted on the bow, they give an authentic, almost Native American appearance.
This makes them ideal for the game hunter looking for a real outdoor look.
Functionally, they perform as well as synthetics, and better than other hides, such as otter. Their composition means that they are naturally waterproof, shedding water as the string is released.
They will outlast most synthetics as they are less liable to perish through water or extreme temperatures.
Customer testimonials praise their ability to function well on longbows, recurve or compounds, making it a great all-round choice. One pair is included in each pack.
If there is one negative, they are a little heavier than some synthetic silencers.
- 100 percent natural beaver hide
- Perfect for the ‘traditional’ archer
- From a manufacturer with a pedigree in archery equipment
- Heavy compared to some synthetic silencers
- Not suitable for people who do not use animal products
The I-sport Otter is another natural silencer, being made from otter fur. It hence supports the ‘traditional’ archer look.
Coming as a pair, these are most effectively fitted by removing the bowstring, separating the strands and then tying in place before restringing.
These bow silencers will stand up to frequent use and weather demands.
Although they are naturally waterproof due to the natural oils present in the fur, some customers have mentioned that they do not shed water as efficiently as beaver.
The dense texture provides one of the most effective noise and vibration dampeners of all the silencers reviewed here, with only a small loss in power.
- Ideal for the ‘outdoor’ look
- 100 percent natural otter fur
- Impressive sound and vibration dampening
- Naturally waterproof
- Does not shed water as easily as beaver fur
- Requires removal of bowstring
- Unsuitable for people who do not want animal products
Bow Jax II Dampener
One of the most popular plastic dampeners on the market, with very positive customer testimonials.
They are shaped as a small cross with a hole in the middle, and are fitted by removing the bowstring and slipping it through.
They can then be slid up and down the string to the desired position.
If you have a compound bow and no access to a bow press, it may be best to take them to your local professional for fitting.
Recurve owners should find fitting easy.
Appearance wise, they suit the ‘modern’ archer. Small, sleek and black, they do not stand out, but are highly effective.
Their plastic ‘x’ design dissipates sound and vibration, with some users reporting improvements of over 50 percent.
They do not last as long as the fur variety, but do come in a pack of four to allow replacement.
Bow Jax II Dampeners repel water, and do not give the ‘dog spray’ effect that furs can provide.
- Sleek, modern and discreet
- Perfect for the ‘modern’ archer
- Come in a pack of 4
- Up to 50 percent reduction in noise and vibration
- Good alternative for people who do not want fur
- Not as durable as natural fur
- Requires removal of bowstring
Carbon Express 57509 String Silencer
A synthetic silencer that aims to mimic the features of natural fur by having a bundle of rubber ‘hairs’ (sometimes referred to as ‘whiskers’).
They are provided in packs of two and are very easy to install. They simply tie to the bowstring. There is no requirement for removal.
While they may not be as effective as other synthetics, their relatively cheap price and simple fitting makes them perfect as a ‘starter’ silencer.
The only real issue with this product is that the individual strands appear to perish quite quickly, meaning replacement is more frequent than other silencers.
Waterproof and lightweight, the Carbon Express 57509 String Silencer provides around 40 percent noise and vibration reduction and will not reduce power as much as fur.
- Relatively cheap
- Easy fitting
- Reduces noise and vibration up to 40 percent
- Some users may find their appearance untidy
- May perish quickly
- Customers have complained of a strong glue smell
Apex Gear Doubledown
A distinctive looking bow silencer that is definitely not for the traditional archer, due to its bright color.
The Apex Gear Doubledown is probably one of the easiest to fit out of all the silencers.
The two ‘arms’ are bent around the string and then fed through the inner hole to attach it. This makes it perfect for the beginner market.
Provided with four individual silencers, this allows for easy replacement should they break.
Customers indicate that their life is not as long as fur, but better than many synthetic competitors.
Their main strength lies in their ability to heavily dampen vibration, therefore reducing noise. Some users have compared it to leaving the bowstring ‘dead’ after release.
- Very easy to attach to bowstring
- Deadens string vibration
- Bright color may not be suit all tastes
- Some customers have broken them during fitting
Bow silencers are a good way to improve your shooting experience. Whether you are looking for a more comfortable release, increasing the life of your equipment or increasing stealth during hunting.
The ideal silencer for you will depend on the aesthetic look you are trying to achieve and the results you demand.
In their own way, all the above bowstring silencers can enhance your equipment. However for us, the Mountain Man Beaver Balls slightly edge above the rest for ease of fitting, sound and vibration improvements and long-lasting quality.