Making Your Bowhunting Outfit Deadly Silent


Silence of the Limbs

Modern compounds are quieter than ever out of the box. Many now include complete silencer kits installed at the factory. Polymer-lined, locking limb pockets eliminate sources of noisy vibrations found on many past models. String suppressors, such as those on Hoyt, Bear, BowTech and Elite bows, for example, allow the option of shooting without standard string silencers. Martin Archery adds Vibration Escape Chambers (VAC) beneath limb pockets. Silence seems to have surpassed speed as the new industry obsession.

Still, there's no such thing as a bow that's too quiet. This is especially true of extraordinarily jumpy whitetails (Idaho whitetail, hunted relentlessly by cougars and wolves, are more tightly wound than a Belfast valet parking attendant). This also makes Coues whitetails notoriously tricky targets. Animals approaching water, pronghorn most notably -- and African plains game subjected to predation -- are normally extremely twitchy.

String suppressors make an excellent example of good made better. I have a Bear Archery Anarchy that's sufficiently quiet out of the box, but adding string silencers near the speed buttons (half a Cat Whisker tied with an overhand knot) turns each shot into a mere whisper. This was also the case with the BowTech Invasion I shot last year -- all for the sacrifice of, maybe, 5 fps arrow speed. If your bow comes from the factory without string silencers this is an obvious focal point. Cat Whiskers remain a favorite, though Sims LimbSaver String Leeches, BowJax or E.W. Bateman & Co. Puff Silencers are also excellent choices. 

Many consider stabilizers balancing tools, but "active" models also act as vibration-absorbing accessories. Rubber couplers supporting outboard weights, shifting silicone powder, oscillating weights suspended in polymer gels or rubber webs, or stabilizers molded entirely of vibration-squelching rubber are all worthwhile. Test several models to find one that works best with your bow.

Limb and cable guards can also be sources of shot noise and vibrations. I find with split-limb designs clamp-on or wedged limb silencers often help bows shoot better, limbs working in unison instead of independently, though even solid limbs benefit. Sims' LimbSaver started this trend, BowJax and Alpine Archery also offering wothwhile limb silencers. Carbon cable guards have all but eliminated chattering, squeaking draw cycles, but I still prefer all-Teflon slides, and always add vibration-absorbing silencers if they aren't installed at the factory.

Many neglect to address tuning-fork hums and vibrations originating from sights and rests. The first step is assuring all screws and bolts are locked down and will stay that way. Even a loose pin-guard screw can cause annoying buzzes without affecting accuracy. Sims' Mini LimbSavers are excellent for taming humming accessories, while I've also applied trim-to-fit patches of Sims Bow Wrap where drop-away rest arms contact riser shelves and to accessory surfaces to eliminate shot noise. Something as simple as stretching thick rubber bands around a sight aperture can also do the trick.

These are offered as ideas. The trick is to listen carefully while shooting and ferret out points from which bow noise originates and apply necessary products to assure the quietest shot possible and fewer string-jumping animals.