Silence is Golden
Q: I constantly see print and television ads and commercials for new compound bows and aftermarket archery products that promote cutting-edge technology to make hunting bows virtually silent. How do I know if my bow is quiet enough?
-LM Jim Morrison, Bella Vista, AR
A: Thanks to improved design and manufacturing processes, modern compound bows are much more inherently quiet than comparable models of a decade ago. In addition, many bow companies now build vibration-damping features right into the bow's riser.
In terms of the actual decibel level of noise that you should strive to reach with your bow-and-arrow setup, I know of no actual manufacturer's recommendations in that regard. Suffice it to say that a hunting bow should be as quiet as you can make it. That means making sure all the screws and bolts are tight, the bow quiver doesn't "twang" and that your accessories are all well-made.
I often place a thin piece of stick-on moleskin between my bow and accessories before I screw them down, which eliminates any metal-to-metal contact that can make noise.
One simple test that you can do to check where noise and vibration is coming from is to hold the bow close to your ear without an arrow on the string and then pluck the string like a guitar string while listening closely for where the noise is coming from. If it's the quiver, you might try removing the foam block that holds the broadheads and then re-attach it by using a spray foam glue that will fill in the small air pockets that tend to cause vibration. You might also try shooting arrows with low-profile vanes. The truth is, with today's super-quiet bows, it's the arrow shaft traveling downrange that produces the most amount of noise. -Bob Robb
Flustered Over Feathers
Q: I need some advice. I'm currently shooting 4-inch feathers through a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest and there's significant wear on the feathers, but it's not affecting my arrow flight. I'm shooting three-blade, 100-grain Muzzy broadheads and am considering changing to either Blazer or QuickSpin fletching to stop the wear. Do you have any input or suggestions on my decision? -Dewayne Witt, Fort Meade, MD
A: Just how old is your Whisker Biscuit? The upgraded second generation Quick Shot models I've seen and used are specially designed for minimal friction with either feathers or vanes. Check them out for yourself. They're reasonably priced at approximately $40-$60 and in my opinion are a noteworthy improvement over the original Whisker Biscuit rests. If you have your heart set on trying the Blazer or QuikSpin vanes, go ahead and switch to them. Testing shows they certainly will give you improved in-flight arrow stability and speed.
While I'm not a fan of shorter vanes on my own hunting arrows, a growing number of serious, successful bowhunters swear by these unconventional newer vanes. My advice? If you try them and like them, use them. Good shooting! -M. R. James
Q: I'm considering getting back into bowhunting due to the fact that it'll give me more time in the woods each fall, and I've narrowed my two bow choices to a Hoyt Trykon or Mathews Switchback XT. I've read what the manufacturers have to say about split limb vs. solid limb, single cam vs. cam & 1/2, but I'd like an unbiased opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of these two popular setups.
- John E., Willman/SnowmassVillage, CO
A: John, this probably isn't what you want to hear, but I believe any attempt to say something negative about either bow you mention in your letter would be ludicrous. These bows are so popular with today's shooters because both offer outstanding accuracy with very little recoil during the shot. With topnotch accessories installed correctly, both of the bows you're considering are capable of shooting up to (and beyond) any archer's abilities, and they'll continue to perform for many years of service with proper care. The only way to decide between these two superb bows is to shoot them (side-by-side if possible) at a pro shop and pick the one that feels best in your hand as you draw and shoot it. You can't go wrong with either model. -Dave Maas