Archery release aids are absolutely essential to the accuracy and efficiency of a bowhunter or competitive archer. For all those seeking to get into the sport, today our focus is going to be on all the specs and key aspects of what makes a quality archery release.
What is an archery release aid? An archery release aid is a mechanical release aid, made to facilitate pulling back and releasing a bow string and replace the use of fingers. The use of an archery release aid significantly improves the accuracy and efficiency of an archer, taking much of the human error out of a shot.
Archery release aids are rather complicated and require plenty of research before buying. To avoid making a mistake and buying a release of a whim and jeopardizing your performance, continue reading to find out all the specifications and nuances between these little wonders and find the one that best fits your shooting style.
In the following sections, we will carefully focus on the three most prominent types of archery release aids, the proper techniques to shoot with each type, and a top three releases of each category. Videos explaining the tequniques used for each release will be provided.
Types Of Archery Release Aids
The three most prominent type of archery release aids are the following:
- Wrist strap index finger releases (Command Releases)
- Handheld thumb releases
- Back tension releases (Hinge Release)
Simply put, each release comes with a very specific technique and shooting style that one should take into account when purchasing one. It is very important that you pay attention to what technique best suits you.
Are you prone to target panic? Target panic is the anxiety that one experiences when firing their bow, causing them to flinch or punch the trigger. Many inexperienced and experienced hunters or archers have the tendency to punch the trigger back quickly rather than squeezing it slowly as you would on a rifle trigger, which causes a jolting motion, greatly diminishing accuracy and drastically ruining your performance.
The preferred technique that suits you depends on your level of target anxiety and whether or not you flinch or punch the trigger when firing.
Wrist Strap Index Finger Releases (Command Releases)
Wrist strap index finger releases or command releases are built to give the bowhunter or archer full control of their shot; requiring that they be completely ready and determined to make a shot. With this technique in mind, it is easy to see why they are called “command” releases. Many bowhunters prefer this style over the others because it ensures that the release won’t fire until they decisively pull the trigger.
The Carter Like Mike Buckle Release is a great example of a wrist mounted index finger release. As you can see, the mechanism is rather simple; with one trigger to release the hook at the front, giving the shooter full control of their shot.
How it works: Command releases are very simple in their design. They are strapped to the underside of one’s wrist with either a Velcro or leather strap. Depending on the brand, the release itself will loosely dangle from your wrist or remain stiff. The trigger is pulled back, opening the release to receive the bowstring. The trigger is then cocked forward to lock in the bowstring. The hunter then pulls the bowstring back with the release with their index finger far away from the trigger.
When ready to release, the archer or hunter places the first knuckle of the index finger over the top of the trigger and pulls back with their shoulder blades, naturally pulling the trigger back. Pulling the trigger then opens the mechanism letting off the tension of the bowstring.
One of the most notable features about command releases is the comfortable way weight is distributed. When an archer or bowhunter pulls back their bow with a command release, all the weight of the bow is directly placed on the forearm and wrist rather than placing the weight on their hand. This facilitates the shot by giving the shooter consistency in their shot and and position. Everything simply feels natural to the shooter with a command release aid.
The leather or Velcro strap allows the shooter to pull back the string in a straight line, making it significantly easier for each shot to be taken from the same position each time; improving consistency and accuracy.
There is one downside to using an index finger trigger release that may prove a problem for many hunters. Punching the trigger has proven to be the bane of every bowhunter’s existence. The accidental or deliberate lurching of the trigger when firing is referred to as “punching the trigger”. Command release aids are most prone to cause you to fall into the same habit. View the video down below to see how to combat this.
The flinch is another problem that many bowhunters run into when they think they have released the string and relax their muscles prematurely. I personally have fallen into this habit many times growing up in a bowhunting family. When a hunter or archer doesn’t release the string and flinches, they run the risk of firing the arrow off in an odd direction and making a fool out of themselves.
To combat these flukes, the hunter must either change their release to a different style or train themselves to slowly pull the trigger in a calm manner with the inner knuckle of the index finger; giving them a smooth, natural-feeling release.
Top three wrist strap index finger releases:
- Spot Hogg Wiseguy
- STAN Xtinction Index Finger Release
- T.R.U. Ball Short-N-Sweet’r Wrist Strap Release
Spot Hogg Wiesguy:
The Spot Hogg Wiseguy has to be one of the most hunter friedly release aids on the market today. Designed with a single hook talon, this release gives the shooter the option of hooking up the bowstring without taking his eyes off the target.
One of the neatest features we have ever seen on a wrist-mounted release is present with the Spot Hogg Wiseguy. It is the foldable extending rod, which takes the head out of the way of your hands entirely till its time to take a shot. The trigger on this baby is one of the smoothest triggers on the market today, providing a crisp release. The pressure required to pull the trigger is easily adjusted with a simple hexagon Allen wrench.
Overall review: 10/10
STAN Xtinction Index Finger Release
The STAN Xtinction is considered to be one of the best archery release aids on the market, having a wide range of adjustable featrues to tailor it to your personal shooting style. Made with a single talon open-hook style, this release makes hooking up to your string easy while keeping your eyes on your target.
One notable feature that really makes this release stand out is the easy reset trigger feature. You pull the trigger once to release the string, then pull the trigger a second time to reset the hook instantly. It’s a handy release aid that is well worth the look, and a great competitor on the market.
Overall review: 9.5/10
T.R.U. Ball Short-N-Sweet’r Wrist Strap Release
The T.R.U Ball Short-N-Sweet’r release is a perfectly manufactured index finger release with a few sweet tricks. It comes with a new and improved swept trigger and a single talon hood for easy hooking. The most notable and innovative feature on this release that really makes it stand out among the rest is the sinch-connector which clamps down on the web strap attached to the head of the release; providing room to easily adjust the length of the head.
Overall review: 9.2/10
Handheld Thumb Releases
Handheld thumb releases have grown significantly in popularity over the years among hunters. The key feature to remember about this style of release aid is that they are built primarily to facilitate the shot by removing the flinch factor entirely while still retaining the ability to release on command. These releases can take the punching factor out completely of each shot, ensuring that your groups will shrink significantly.
How do handheld thumb releases do this? Due to the tendency that many archers and hunters have of punching the trigger, bowhunting enthusiasts invented these releases to force you to take your focus off pulling the trigger and place it on your aim. Similar to how rifle hunters are taught to take their minds off of shooting and squeeze the trigger slowly till it fires.
How they work: Handheld thumb releases are worked by wrapping one’s hand around the whole release with the inner knuckle of the thumb resting on the cylindrical or stick-like lever, wrapping the thumb naturally around it. The lever directly releases the front latch in the front holding the bowstring when pressure is applied.
To release properly, the archer or bowhunter is to focus on their target till ready and then proceed to gently press their shoulder blades together; thereby relaxing the hand wrist and lightly pulling on the lever with their thumb.
The advantages to using a handheld thumb release over a traditional trigger release are enough for many hunters nowadays to switch over immediately without hesitation. They don’t usually come with wrist straps, giving you the option of hooking and hanging them on your bow or putting them in your pocket; to be forgotten about till its time to take a shot. This gives you the option of wearing gloves more comfortably. So later in the season you can keep your hands warm.
Handheld thumb releases are considered to be the sweet spot between the two forms of release aids. Because of the way they are designed, they can be activated on command similarly to command releases, while still giving you that same natural, surprise-driven feel offered by back-tension releases, which we will discuss later. No wonder hunters and archers are switching to handheld thumb releases by the dozens.
Top handheld thumb release aids:
- T.R.U. Ball Boss X 3-Finger Release
- T.R.U. Ball Bone Collector T-Rex Release
- Tru-Fire Hardcore 4-Finger Handle Release
T.R.U Ball Boss X 3-Finger Release
The T.R.U. Ball Boss X 3 finger release holds the highest praise for its simplicity and efficient user-friendly design. Currently, since it holds the highest spot on the market for thumb release aids today, you can bet this release is worth the price paid for it. This release is a simple jaw style release with three features that make it the top thumb trigger on the market today.
First, the Boss X comes with a safety lock that one simply pushes to ensure that the jaws will not release no matter what. You simply push the safety button down on the handle or twist the inner lock with a small Allen wrench. This gives you the option of hooking it to your bow and forgetting about it completely without worry of losing it.
Second, the trigger is extremely sensitive, but you will still never have to worry about accidental premature due to a a weak spring in the jaws like in the T.R.U. Ball Max Pro 4.
Third, the 360 swivel head really makes a difference for those who prefer to turn their hand outward when at full draw. The swiveling head on this release allows the shooter to twist their hand without adding any unwanted torque on the string, jeopardizing their shot.
Overall review: 10/10
T.R.U. Ball Bone Collector T-Rex Release
The Thumb release aid built specifically for hunters, the T.R.U. Ball Bone Collector T-Rex is an outstanding masterpiece of a release aid. This unique release comes with a single clamping jaw that locks up with a stationary claw that the hunter needs only compress to lock into place. When the jaw is clamped shut, the thumb button cocks back and is ready to fire, making it perfect for tree stand bowhunters who want to hook their release to the string and just leave it dangling.
This release has a wonderfully sensitive thumb button that can be adjusted to fit the preference of the hunter. If you aren’t a fan of hot button releases, this release can be adjusted to be rather stiff.
Overall rating: 9/10
Tru-Fire Hardcore 4-Finger Handle Release
Last on our list is another innovative thumb button release that stands out in the hunting community. While it is not the same smooth performer as the previous releases on our list, it is clear that Tru-Fire Hardcore 4-Finger Handle Release is attempting to really think outside the box to give hunters the most out of their experience. The features that are undeniably attractive to hunters are enough to make anyone switch over in a heartbeat.
First, the detachable adjustable lanyard is fantastic for tree stand archery hunters. This added featrue makes losing your release while 20ft up in a tree a thing of the past.
Second, the sleek design has been claimed by professional hunters to be undeniably comfortable. The 360 swivel head rotates on 11 ball bearings, giving the shooter plenty of room and comfort when adjusting their hand for that perfect shot. The designers undoubtedly achieved their goal of producing a fine piece of equipment for a decent price.
Finally, the simple yet innovative latch in the front is made up of one single claw loop and a thin metal plate to ensure that the bowstring remains attached to the release till it is time to fire. The bowstring rests between the plate and hook. Critics adore this feature because it is very effective at providing all the swiftness of a single-hook style release while allowing the release to hang on the bow.
Overall rating: 8.8/10
The final release aid type on our list today is the back-tension style release. Made entirely to cut out the command factor of each shot, these releases allow archers and bowhunters the opportunity to focus on their aim rather than on timing. Back-tension release aids are less favored in the archery hunting community due to the common story of a first time user accidentally punchin himself or herself in the face. While this has happened, don’t let that scare you off so easy.
The release aid shown to the right is the Tru-Fire Sear and is considered one of the highest quality back-tension release aids on the market today and is a great example of what a back-tension entails.
How they work: The release is a simple hinge or pivot design. the hook is attached to a hinge which is rotated slowly as your hand relaxes. Once the hinge reaches the edge of the crescent moon-shaped pivot point, the hook releases, surprising the archer or hunter a bit. It is obvious that this surprise technique can be nerve-wracking at first, since there is the fear that the aid will release prematurely, they are actually quite safe and very beneficial to your accuracy when properly used.
When pulling back the bowstring with a back tension release, it is important that you do so with without allowing the release body to rotate toward its pivoting point. Many of these releases come with a thumb knob or rod to give the shooter a comfortable way to determine if he or she has gone too far near the pivot point. The shooter places all the torque on this knob when pulling back, ensuring that it doesnt fire prematurely. View the video below to see how they back-tension release aids are properly used.
When searching for the back-tension release that best fits your shooting style, be sure to pay atttention to how hot or cold it is. The words “hot” and “cold” refer to how sensitive the release is. If a release is hot, it is considered very sensitive and can release very quickly without much rotation. As a shooter pulls back with a back-tension release, he or she must be very mindful of at what angle they pull back, if they are too far forward in their draw, the release may release unexpectedly and have a dangerous outcome.
Why would you want a release aid that surprises you? We previously talked about the tendency to flinch or punch the trigger with the other two types of release aids. With a back-tension release, the shooter is completely at liberty to focus on aiming and picking a spot while the aid slowly release the bowstring simply by relaxing the hand.
Now, to address the elephant in the room. Yes, there are stories of new archers and bowhunters who use back-tension releases for the first time wind up punching themselves square in the face and miss their target entirely. These stories are true and occur because the shooter responsible tries to run before he or she can crawl. For this reason it would be wise to practice proper positioning and technique on a string streatched to an arms length. Do this practice till you feel confident for the real deal.
Bowhunters have seldom been known to use this style of release while hunting, but it can be done. While it is mostly used by archers, who have plenty of time to aim without the pressure of buck fever, bowhunters are welcome to use this style as well. If you are a hunter who is considering using this style of release, make sure you get plenty of practice and can handle the pressure.
The top 3 back-tension releases today:
Tru-Fire Sear Release
The Tru fire Sear is the number one rated back-tension release on the market today. The designers set out with one goal in mind, provide the most aesthetically pleasing and efficient back-tension releases possible.
To start out, I simply must say that this release is not meant for hunting. On the temperature scale, this release is very hot. Many experienced archery competitors enjoy this release due to its stylistic look and for how sensitive it is. There is no doubt that an archer who uses this release will significantly shrink their arrow grouping. Just consult the professionals who cant get enough of this release.
The Tru-Fire Sear is a three finger release that can be adjusted to be a four finger simply by switching out the far end hook for an added extension that comes with each purchase.
Aesthetically, this release is absolutely stunning, with a contrasting, multi-colored build and beveled edges for optimal comfort. It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, which adds an extra appeal.
While it is not the best hunting release on the market, for archery practice and competitions, the Tru-Fire Sear is a sure-fire choice.
Overall rating: 9.5/10
Scott Backspin Release
The Scott Backspin Release aid is the most popular back-tension release on the market today among archery competitors. THis innovative back-tension release is make to function like any other back-tension release aid but with one literal spin; the free-floating ring on the inside. What’s surprisinga bout this little ring is that it allows the shooter to take nearly all the tension off thier thumb in the end and allow the rotation of the ring to really facilitate the shot.
The Scott Backspin is a two finger release that can be adjusted to be a three finger or a four finger back-tension release. There is more than enough room for customization to really fit the shooters style.
One notable feature that really ups the quality of the release is the magnetic single-hook release on the head. It simply feels like a solid release that was manufactured by loving designers with an idea of what a good release consists of.
If you are an avid bowhunter, we have good news for you. Bowhunters who prefer back-tension releases often gravitate towards the Scott Backspin because of its versatility and easy adjustment features. While, it still may be risky, this back-tension release is one of the best used by hunters.
Overall rating: 9/10
Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter Release
The Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter Release is considered by many professionals to be the best back-tension releases for hunters. It is made specifically for bowhunters who really want to get into back-tension releases, and fits the bill perfectly.
Ergonomically, this release is beautiful with its beveled edges and camouflage skin. It is meant to be small enough to fit in your pocket and solid enough to feel like a reliable release.
In terms of how hot it is, the Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter Release is made to be significantly colder than most back-tension releases, giving the hunter that much more room for error caused by buck fever.
Overall rating: 9/10
What release aid style is simplest to use? The wrist strap index finger release aid type is the simplest to use and is permissible in competitions and archery hunts. Often called command Due to the simple nature of the trigger system, allowing the shooter to command the shot when he or she desires. This style of release aid doesnt come without is shortcomings. Due to its touchy nature, using this style of release often leads to punching the trigger and target panic.
What release aid type is best for hunting? Handheld thumb release aids are considered by professionals to be the most effective releases for hunting. Made to significantly diminish target panic, while giving the shooter full control of their shot, these releases are the sweet spot within the spectrum. The way this style of release aid is made provides hunters the option of hooking their bow and leaving it till it is time to shoot, which gives the shooter more liberty for thieir hands.
What release aid type is best for archery competitions? The back-tension releases are the most effective release aids for archery competitions. Designed to remove the tendency of punching the trigger and force the shooter to focus entirely on their aim, back-tension releases are made for competitions. Many professionals and casual shooters say that by switching to a back-tension release aid their grouping has significantly improved, always hitting near their mark.