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Recurve Bow Too Loud? Here’s How to Silence It

While recurve bows tend to be louder than longbows due to their structure, archers may be surprised to find that their bow may create too much of a loud boom upon releasing the arrow when it shouldn’t. But how do you silence a recurve bow that’s too loud?

Archers can silence a recurve bow by using several accessories like different types of dampeners. But before doing that, the bow should be checked out and fine-tuned to make sure all the parts are in place and not causing unnecessary vibration. 

Having said that, it’s always best to understand the number of possibilities causing the noise so you can find the best solution. In this article, we’ll cover the reasons why your recurve bow may be too loud with use and how to silence it. 

What Makes Your Recurve Bow Too Loud?

To fix the issue adequately, you need to know what’s going on with your recurve bow in the first palace. If something is loose, out of place, or broken, it could also cause this unpleasant side-effect. 

There are five main reasons why your recurve bow could be too loud: 

  • Loose Parts
  • Length of String too Short or Long
  • Incorrect Brace Height
  • Runaway Strands
  • Unbalanced Tiller

Any of these five probable causes will make your recurve bow loud, signaling to you that something is off. 

Loose Parts

Loose parts can cause vibrations that contribute to the loud sounds you’re getting upon release. There are several parts you’ll want to check for to make sure they are screwed on tightly. The two most common, however, are the stabilizer and the sights. 

  • Stabilizer – Checking to see if the weights on your stabilizer are screwed on tightly is an excellent place to start. A stabilizer provides stability to your bow when shooting, and the weights help balance it. If these are loose and not put on correctly, the stabilizer won’t function properly and add unnecessary vibrations. 
  • Sights – Similar to the effect of the stabilizer, loose sights can also cause vibrations and increase the sound at the snap of the bow. Determining whether or not your sight is secure should be easy to figure out, as wiggling it with your hand will indicate if it is loose or tight. 

Incorrect Length of String

The strands of a bow intertwine together so that they sit in the grooves of the limbs perfectly. When the strings are too long or too short, they can cause some different issues that may contribute to the sound your bow is making:

  • Too Long – If you haven’t twisted the strings together enough times, it can result in the string being too long and clogging too much of the groove up. The groove should allow for ¼ inch on both sides of the limb, indicating it’s a good fit. When you’ve clogged the track, it can lead to a noisy rattling sound when you shoot. 
  • Too Short – If the strings are too short, they will most likely detach themselves from the groove and limb but will not cause the same rattling noise. It could, however, contribute to other issues that are causing the noise. 

Incorrect Brace Height

One of the most significant impacts on a recurve bow’s acoustics and sound is when the brace height is not set up following the manufacturer’s guidance. Having the right brace height can be compared to tuning a guitar; if not “in tune,” the sound is affected. 

Runaway Bowstring Strand

This is not a super common issue but is still a problem that causes loud vibrations within the bow. A runaway strand is when the intertwined string has some loose strands and is not spun tight enough. It sort of looks like a braid when one of the hairs is popping out and isn’t tucked in place properly. 

Unbalanced Tiller

The tiller is the difference between the upper limb to string distance and the lower limb to string distance. When the tiller is out of balance, it can cause extra vibration and shock, increasing the level of noise you hear with the release. 

  • Positive Tiller – This is when the top limb from the string has a greater distance than the bottom limb from the string. A positive tiller is relatively standard with modern bows. 
  • Neutral Tiller – This is when the difference equals zero. Both sides are completely equal. 
  • Negative Tiller – This is when the top limb from the string has a closer distance than the bottom limb from the string. 

If the tiller is out of balance, you can adjust it by either tightening the screws or changing its position according to the recommended manufacturer’s notes. 

How to Silence Your Recurve Bow

While recurve bows definitely make noise, there are many ways to dampen or silence the sound. One of the most common ways to fix a bow that’s particularly too loud is by using a dampener. Other options include confirming you have the right arrows for your bow or tuning it. 

Use Dampeners

A dampener for a recurve bow works just the same as a dampener for a tennis racquet; it’s placed on the equipment to limit vibrations and shock to the arm as well as reduce the sound. However, the difference between a tennis dampener and a bow dampener is there are many kinds and types to choose from when it comes to a bow. 

Limb Dampeners

Limb dampeners are a great place to start because the strings tend to vibrate and hit the ends of a bow the most. 

A limb dampener will reduce the noise to a certain degree, but it will also take out a good amount of shock and vibration that your arm bears when shooting. This helps limit fatigue, pain, and injury with recurve bows. 

Riser Dampeners

Another place on the bow that can take quite a bit of punch is the riser. The riser is near the middle of the bow, where the grip is. Placing a dampener here can reduce the level of vibrations and noise the riser makes upon releasing the arrow. 

String Silencers

The last sort of dampener is string silencers. There are plenty to choose from and many ways to use them; not a single one looks the same, and they all function a little differently but with the same goal in mind. 

As you may have guessed, string silencers fit right on the string; one benefit of these silencers is that you have the flexibility to place them anywhere along it to reduce the most noise. 

The following are a few recommended string silencer options:

STRING SILENCERDESCRIPTIONWHERE TO BUY
Bowjax 1036 These dampeners come in a pack of four, so you have the option to use multiple on your bow’s string as you see fit. They have a solid black color, so they blend in well without causing too much distraction.BUY ON AMAZON
Mountain Man Beaver BallsAlthough these fuzzy silencers are on the more noticeable side, they’re just as effective as the last option and come in a pack of two to balance your string during use.BUY ON AMAZON
Whisker Bowstring SilencersMade of rubber, these silencers come in a large 12 pack to use as many as you need on your bow’s strings. They are very lightweight and easy to install—just tie them on. No string removal is necessary.  BUY ON AMAZON

Groove Silencers

Some groove silencers are explicitly made for recurve bows, making them a popular option for dampening down their sound. They sit right in the grooves on the limbs of your bow and are typically made of leather. Some may say they are similar to and sometimes interchangeable with limb silencers. 

Although these silencers help reduce the slapping noise you get from a recurve bow, they will not reduce vibration. Therefore, these silencers are not fit for archers who wish to get a little relief in their arms in addition to eliminating loud noise. 

Want more about recurve bows? Check these out:

Top 10 Most Affordable Recurve Bows BETTER THAN Samick Sage
Are takedown recurve bow limbs interchangeable?
What is the Best Wood for a Recurve Bow?

Top 10 Recurve Bows for Women

Make Sure You Use the Right Arrows

Many archers automatically blame the bow if there is a large sound or a lot of noise upon releasing the arrow. However, although the bow is often the source of the issue, it’s also worth checking out the arrows you’re using as well. 

Using the wrong arrows can produce unwanted noise, usually when they are too light. An arrow that is too light will send excess energy and vibrations down the bow, leading to damage to the bow and your arm later if not corrected. 

However, this problem is the easiest to fix with a recurve bow, as you only need to replace the incorrect arrows with the right ones. 

All bows from a manufacturer will have a manual or manufacturer guide that lists the recommended arrow weight for that specific bow; this is the easiest way to ensure you’re using the right arrows. If you no longer have the manual or purchased your bow without one from a third-party, you can also try experimenting with heavier arrows. 

Tune Your Bow 

As mentioned before, tuning the bow is similar to tuning a guitar. Once your recurve bow is in tune, the sound and acoustic may be more pleasant. 

To get your bow tuned, you’ll need to adjust the nocking point location and brace height. Additionally, to confirm your bow is tuned correctly, you can perform the paper test. Let’s review these steps in detail: 

Tuning the Nocking Point

The nocking point is essential to archery as it is where the arrow shoots from each time you release it. It’s usually about a half-inch above the shelf and provides a consistent place on the bow to place your arrow. 

If the nocking point is not in an excellent position for the archer, it will continuously mess with their aim and interrupt the process of tuning other areas of the bow. With that said, when adjusting the nocking point, it’s essential to be precise. 

To tune the nocking point, you will need a T-square. This tool will help measure the string distance and confirm the arrow’s resting point. Once the spot is selected, then you can use a copper-buckle to crimp-on the nocking point into place. Ensure that it is secure but do not force the nocking point on, as it might eventually break itself or damage the recurve bow. 

Tuning the Brace Height

As mentioned earlier, the brace height is the distance between the grip or riser and the strings, and an incorrect brace height can result in bad shots and loud noises from your recurve bow. 

To fine-tune your brace height, look at the length of the strings. If you need to decrease the brace height, then loosen the bowstrings by unwinding them; this will release the tension on the limbs, allowing them to expand and straighten the bow itself. 

If you need to increase the distance of your bow’s brace height, do the opposite by winding the strings tighter, therefore making the strings shorter; this will increase the tension on the bow and its limbs, bringing the ends closer together and increasing the actual bow shape it has. 

The process of tuning your recurve bow’s brace height will become involve a little bit of trial and error. Because this can quickly become frustrating for novice archers and those unfamiliar with this process, it may be best to seek a professional’s help to fine-tune your bow’s brace height for you.  

The Paper Test

The Paper Test is a great way to check to see if all your bow tuning has worked. The process involves shooting your arrow through a single piece of paper, then analyzing the rip you made. 

To set up the paper test, you just need to have a piece of paper handy and securely pinned onto a target for you to shoot at. The sheet needs to sit approximately eight feet away from you. Aim and shoot your arrow as you normally would through the paper. 

Several types of rips will tell you your recurve bow’s status:

  • If the rip is above the contact point (where your arrow ultimately lands), your nock point is too high and needs to be moved down.
  • If the rip is below the contact point, your nock point is too low and needs to be moved up. 
  • If the rip is to the left of the contact point, your rest point needs to be moved to the right; this also means that the bow’s spine is too weak. 
  • If the rip is to the right of the contact point, your rest point needs to be moved to the left; this would mean that your spine of the bow is now too stiff. 

Ultimately, the goal is to adjust your nock point and brace height to the point that the rip should be right in line with the arrow’s final contact point when you shoot through the paper. 

Here is an excellent video by Clay Hayes that shows the whole bow tuning process:

Why It’s Important to Silence Your Recurve Bow

Sure, the loud snapping noise when shooting your arrows can be painful for the ears and eventually draw a headache. But by silencing your recurve bow, you actually reap a lot more benefits than just keeping things quiet for your own sake. 

Avoid Scaring Animals When Bowhunting

If you bowhunt, then keeping things on the quiet side is a must. A loud bow will scare off prey immediately before your arrow can even come close to reaching them. 

Reduce Arm Fatigue

The heavier the shock and the vibrations (and resulting loud noise) that shoot from your recurve bow to your arm, the quicker fatigue will set in. Most people think that by using lighter arrows and lightweight balancing, their arm won’t fatigue, but in reality, it is just the opposite. 

Heavier arrows and weighted dampeners actually absorb the shock. Although this initial adjustment may feel challenging to wield at first, your arm will not have to brace your bow’s vibrations as much and will become less tired in the long run.

Prevent Injury 

The injury that can come out of a loud bow is usually self-inflicted. The constant shock and vibration from a recurve bow can cause things like tennis elbow and golfers’ elbow, which can be quite painful. People will often compensate for whatever the bow is not doing, leading to wrong form and then eventually some sort of arm, shoulder, or elbow injury. 

In Summary

Although a recurve bow is generally a lot louder than a longbow and other bow types, too much noise usually indicates that something may be wrong with your bow or the arrows you’re using. 

The first step in fixing this issue is figuring out what the problem is in the first place. Several things could be wrong with your bow, from incorrect brace height to loose strands. 

To best troubleshoot the issue, it’s usually better to start with the limbs and work your way towards the middle, addressing each component of your bow that could be contributing to the noise. Don’t forget to consider the arrows, too!

To quiet a loud recurve, you can use various dampeners like those mentioned above or try to fine-tune your bow and swap out the arrows you use.