On recurve bows, you often see disk-shaped devices which are referred to as limbsavers or limb dampeners. If you currently don’t use this device, you might be wondering whether they are really necessary. In this article I will answer this question in more detail, but here is a short answer:
Limbsavers are not necessary if you have the right bow size and if it’s tuned correctly. Limbsavers do remove vibration from the limbs. Therefore, you could consider using limbsavers if you are experiencing issues with vibration or if you want to quiet the bow down.
In the remainder of this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of limbsavers. I will also discuss when you should and shouldn’t use limbsavers and give additional tips. So, keep reading for more info!
What limbsavers are and their purpose
Limb savers are a small piece of rubber which is attached to the limbs of the bow. These devices remove vibration from the bow. Since excessive vibration is bad for your bow, it can improve the lifespan of your bow limbs.
Although we always call these devices limbsavers it is only a brand name. The name of the product is ‘’limb mounted dampeners’’ or ‘’limb dampeners’’. But since everybody calls them limbsavers I will continue to do so in this article.
The benefits of limbsavers
Alright, let’s first discuss some reasons why some archers use limbsavers.
Increase the lifespan of your bow
To understand why limbsavers can increase the lifespan of your bow, I need to explain why vibration is bad for your bow. I explain this in more detail in this article, but I will summarize it below.
When your bow vibrates the limbs will be under a lot of strain. You can see the devastating effect of vibration with an earthquake. The rapid movement can destroy complete houses.
The same is true with bow limbs just on a smaller scale. When the limbs spring forward the limbs will start to vibrate before they come to a full stop. If the vibration is not excessive it will not damage the bow. But if it vibrates too much it can severely reduce the lifespan of the limbs.
Limbsavers reduce the amount of vibration, which can increase the lifespan of the bow. That’s why they are called limbsavers after all.
It makes the bow more pleasant to shoot
If your bow vibrates a lot, it can be rather unpleasant to shoot. The vibration from your bow will be transferred into your body which can also cause various joints issues. I experienced the adverse effects of vibration while I worked part-time in the wood industry. My fingers got very cramped after a day of work.
A bow that doesn’t vibrate all over the place will make for a smoother shooting experience. This can also increase your confidence and enjoyment, which greatly affects your accuracy!
It silences the shot
We don’t want to shoot our bow with hearing protection on, right? It’s just a lot more enjoyable to shoot your bow when it’s silent. It helps you concentrate and focus between shots. For hunters, it’s a pure necessity to silence the bow. If the animal hears the noise of the bow, they will get away if they are fast enough.
So, there are a lot of reasons to silence your bow. Since most noise is created by the limbs and string, a limbsaver can severely reduce the amount of noise.
The disadvantage of limbsavers
There are some good reasons to use limbsavers but there are also some good reasons to shoot without them. Let’s discuss the disadvantages of limbsavers one by one.
It slightly decreases the arrow speed
Although limbsavers remove vibration from your bow, a lot of archers don’t use them. Limbsavers make your limbs a bit heavier which slightly decreases the arrow speed.
A lot of archers are quite obsessed with arrow speed because it decreases the arrow drop and allows you to shoot longer distances. I discuss why arrow speed isn’t that important for target archers in more detail, in this article.
On the contrary, for hunters, arrow speed is an important factor. You need to have enough penetration power to humanly put down the animal. But you also don’t want overpenetration.
I have to say though, the difference in arrow speed is very minor. Therefore, I don’t think you should forgo limbsavers just because of the reduced arrow speed.
It removes very little vibration from the bow
The less your bow vibrates the better. Both for your bow and your accuracy. But there are a lot of different ways to reduce the amount of vibration. Most of these methods are also a lot more efficient.
A good set of stabilizers or a dampener can dramatically reduce the amount of vibration. On some bows, you can’t even feel the difference when you add limbsavers.
They don’t increase the lifespan on most well-tuned bows
The primary reason to use limbsavers is to increase the lifespan of your limbs. But if your bow is correctly tuned and sized to the archer, they are not necessary in most cases. Therefore, on most bows, a limbsaver will do little to increase the lifespan of the limb.
It wouldn’t make sense that you need limbsavers on all bows. Why wouldn’t the manufacturer install them or integrate them into the limbs right from the factory? The fact is that on most setups a limbsaver isn’t necessary. It won’t hurt your limbs, but it won’t change a lot either.
This is only the case for recurve bows, however. Almost all compound bows benefit from a limbsaver. That’s why most manufacturers preinstall them on most models. We will discuss limbsavers on compound bows in more detail later in this article.
Another item to worry about
Any gadget you add to your bow adds complexity, weight and can get damaged. Therefore, some archers like to run their bow with as few aids as possible. It can be rather annoying when a part of your bow breaks. Therefore, it might be better to have as few parts as possible.
Recurve limbsavers are mounted on the limbs with sticky tape. As you can imagine this isn’t the most secure method. But since it needs to be light, removable, and bendable this is the only option. Of course, you can still shoot if one or both limbsavers fall off, but it can be a bit of a frustration.
When you should use limbsavers
In general, the rule ‘’if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’’ is a good summary of limbsavers. If you don’t experience any issues whatsoever, why make changes. Below I will summarize the most important reasons to start using limb savers:
- If you shoot a compound bow
- If your bow vibrates excessively
- Your bow makes a lot of noise
- The manufacturer recommends using limb savers
- You have joint issues in your upper body
- If you use shorter limbs than recommended with your draw length
If any of these conditions apply, I recommend buying some limbsavers. They are inexpensive thus they are worth a shot. Just stick them on and see whether they make a difference. If they don’t, you can peel them off or keep them on without any major disadvantages
Limbsavers on compound bows
Most compound bows are outfitted with limbsavers. Although they look different, they work the same way as limbsavers on recurve bows. The limbsaver absorbs the vibration of the bow which helps increase the lifespan of the limbs.
Due to the cables and the string stopper, the limbs stop more abruptly which puts more strain on the limbs. Just compare the slow motion of a recurve with a compound bow. The recurve limbs will vibrate more forward and backward, which decreases the strain of the limbs more slowly.
Therefore, I do recommend getting limbsavers for your compound bow if they aren’t installed already. They will increase the lifespan of the limbs and make the bow shoot more accurately. Also, when the limbs break on a compound bow, you will have a hard time finding replacements. This is a lot easier with takedown recurve bows.
Below I have listed the limbsavers/limb dampeners I recommend per bow type.
Most compound bows have two lower limbs and two upper limbs. The SuperQuad Split Limbsaver fits between the two limbs. Therefore, the limbsavers are attached securely and won’t fly off while shooting. These limb dampeners are made by the Limbsaver company which is known for its high-quality products. I have these limbsavers on my bow and I am very happy with the amount of vibration it removes.
For recurve bows, I recommend the Sims Limbsavers. These limb dampeners are also manufactured by the Limbsaver company. They are a staple within the archery community and are overall known to be the best limbsavers on the market.
Traditional bows generally don’t use limbsavers. Not that you can’t use recurve limbsavers on a traditional bow, but they will look out of place. Limbsavers are a modern invention, therefore it doesn’t fit the theme of those bows.
To remove the vibration of a traditional bow, archers often use string dampeners and string silencers. If you want to remove vibration or silence the bow, I recommend getting this package from Standing Wolf. It includes both products which will decrease the amount of vibration and noise to a bare minimum.
Other ways to remove vibration from the bow
Limbsavers are only one of the many tools that allow you to remove vibration from your bow. If you have serious vibration issues, you might have to use multiple to make the bow feel smoother. Therefore, you might want to consider any of these other tools to remove vibrations
- Main stabilizer
- Upper and lower stabilizer
- String dampeners
- String silencer
- String stopper
I have written a full article on how you can remove vibration from your bow. In that article, I will also discuss these tools in more detail and explain which you can use depending on your bow. I also give some additional tips, so it’s worth a read!
I hope you found this article helpful and that you now know whether you want limbsavers on your bow or not. In this article, I wanted to play devil's advocate and highlight both the pros and cons. I don’t use limbsavers on my bows, but I shoot a full stabilizer setup with dampeners which removes a lot of vibration.
Whether limbsavers are useful depends on your setup and preferences. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please leave it down below. I will respond to any questions as soon as possible and I will send you an email once I have replied!