If you follow our blog then you’ve probably noticed we’ve reviewed a lot of different releases, but we’ve never really explained what all the different releases are. If you want to get the best shot you possibly can each and every time, then you need to find the best archery release that suits you, and that’s why we’ve put this post together, to give you a better understanding of the functions of different releases and what may best suit you.
Let’s start with a little bit of history.
The evolution of the release
It’s no secret that archery has been around since all most the beginning of time.
If you look back to medieval times, you’ll notice that there were burly broad man shooting 100lbs long bows, and with their fingers as well.
Over time people noticed that to be deadly accurate with a bow, you needed shot after shot consistency, and that wasn’t easily achieved with finger shooting.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people out there shooting their bows with their fingers, but archers and bow hunters noticed that they could achieve better release consistency with a release aid of some sort. Something similar to a trigger on a rifle, that would offer the exact same release pressure each and every time.
Hence the release aid was born. A device that offered just that. Shot after shot consistency with the exact same pressure to release the shot every time, and minimize torque on the bow string, which was particularly important for compound bows, and even more important today with modern compound bows that utilize highly sensitive cam systems.
It’s believed the first release aid was invented in 1879 in the US, and was actually known as a clutch. But, there were earlier more primitive efforts used by different tribes in order to release a bow string with out finger torque.
It’s funny actually, our long gone ancestors knew what the advantages of such a device could provide, and it was thought that they used these crude handmade devices to pull back more weight on a longbow, while not having any finger torque.
How times have changed though, with companies now days having so many different styles of releases it’s hard to know which one to choose.
The 3 main styles of release
In your travels you’ll most likely come across three main styles of release aids. Those styles, depending on the manufactures have their own styles and mechanisms with in them, but overall they always come under three main types of releases.
Those three main releases are Hinge Release, Thumb Release, and Index Finger Release.
Lets take a closer look at these different styles of releases and how they may or may not benefit your overall shooting style.
We’ll start with the most common and work our way down…
Index Finger Release
During my travels I have found the index finger release to be the most popular to the beginner bow hunter. Partly because when a Bow kit is sold ready to shoot, 9 times out of 10 it will include a index finger release.
The pro’s to this style of release are the fact that there most like firing a rifle. So if your a shooter, then the transition to bowhunting with a release is an all to familiar feel.
That familiar feel of squeezing the trigger ever so lightly to get off the shot lens it’s self tremendously to those transitioning from guns to bows.
The other upside to this release is when pulling the bow back the tension is placed through the wrist and into the arm, and their is very little tension put through the fingers or the hand to go through the draw cycle.
The one down side I have found is that if you dont have an adjustable index finger release, you can be prone to accidentally pulling off a shot mid cycle, or even an unexpected shot at full draw.
That’s easily over come with practice and the correct release for you though.
We’ve done plenty of reviews on index finger releases that you can check out to help you find the right release.
The next most popular, and probably more among the bowhunting scene, is the thumb release.
The thumb release has quiet a natural feel to it, usually with finger indentations on either side of the calipers where the hand sits.
This gives the release a nice feel overall.
The thumb sits just off to the side and squeezes off the shot in a similar fashion to that of the index finger release.
The upsides to this style of release are clearly the natural and comfortable feel to it. Also, I feel that activating the release is much cleaner with this style.
However, personally I’ve found some downsides in them.
Now, dont get me wrong, there still a great release, but they just take a little more practice.
The down side is that because of that natural feel to the release, you actually take a the pull weight straight through your hand and fingers, which is quiet the contrary to the index release.
While this isn’t terrible, if people aren’t focusing on their draw, they can torque the bow string ever so slightly to the left or right. Meaning you can change your POI slightly every shot.
The other downside to torquing a bow string is modern day bow cams are designed to have very little play. Their a precise and delicate mechanism of the bow and are responsible for basically the whole mechanics of the draw cycle. Because they have little to no play, if you torque the string bad enough you can actually derail it of the cam system.
You dont want that while your out trying to hunt that trophy buck.
The chances of that happening are slim, but something that needs to be kept in mind.
If you think a thumb release is right for you then check out our review of the best thumb release for hunting to find what would best suit you.
The feared hinge release.
By far the best style of release around, but also the hardest to master.
Your probably wondering “well if it’s the best, why is it the last”
As I said, it’s by far the hardest one to master out of all, but funny enough it’s also the most system on the market.
Hinge releases are often used by target archers, and bow hunters who are braisen enough to use them. Usually these bow hunters are well advanced in the bow hunting game and have been practicing bow hunting and archery for years on end.
The thing with a hinge release is you have absolute control over it, and this level of control means you can fine tune your release style to absolute perfection.
Their not activated via a trigger. Rather they’re activated via a slight twist of the wrist, or by squeezing your back muscles (traps) together to activate the release.
The mechanism is just a simple hook that sits in the d loop, and is activated via the above methods.
The down side…
They take practice. Lots of practice.
Your prone to punching your self in the nose.
Because of these delicate touchy little releases, the new comer is often prone to giving themselves a swift punch in the face due to activating the release mid cycle, because they twisted their wrist ever so slightly. But people learn pretty quick after a few self inflicted punches.
When you’ve mastered these bad boys though, they are by far the best style of release around, and also the most durable with very little mechanically that can actually go wrong with them.
Another thing ill mention is, that you’ll often here hinge release and back tension release used interchangeably. Their basically the same thing, they both activate by pretty much the same techniques. The main difference is more so that manufactures sometime get a little fancy shmancy and call theirs a back tension release rather then a hinge.
If your interested in being up there with the pros then check out our article on the best hinge release for hunting.
Choosing a Release Aid
Choosing a release aid comes down to personal preference and experience more then anything else.
The best way to get the experience is to go down to your local bow range and ask if you try some different releases. Most people in the bow hunting community are pretty helpful and wont hesitate to help you out.
Just remember though there are some releases that may not be the best option if your brand new to the sport and want to get out and start shooting straight away.
For an absolute beginner first time archer/bow hunter, my recommendation would be to utilize an index finger release. These are by far the most beginner friendly, and will provide you with more then acceptable accuracy with practice.
Wrapping things up…
So there you have it folks, there’s your ultimate guide to choosing the best archery release to suit you and your needs.
Remember, it all comes down to personal preference, but what ever you choose, practice and hard work always comes up trumps.
Put in the time and effort and any release you use will provide you with an aid that will enhance your shooting ability 10 fold.
‘Till next time,
Happy hunting and fishing,