What results can you expect from them? And what are the best bow releases available on the market today?
This article will answer all of these questions, together with a detailed review of each of the best releases.
What Are Bow Releases?
Bow releases, often called ‘release aids’ or simply ‘releases’, are devices which are used to draw and release the bowstring.
For many years, bows were released only with the fingers. Most often this was a ‘pinch’ method, utilized by the ancient Greeks, which used the thumb and index finger as the drawing mechanism.
Today, with the popularity of compound bows, the pinch method has all but disappeared, apart from those enthusiasts interested in historic archery techniques.
The tension and accuracy required for these bows need a more precise method of deployment, hence the release aid.
There are two main types of compound bow release, but both work on similar principles.
Depending on the mechanism, the bowstring, or a D-loop, is ‘locked’ or hooked into the bow release itself.
While attached, the bow is drawn by pulling back on the release with the arm or fingers. Pressing a trigger or button on the bow release ‘unlocks’ the bowstring and shoots the arrow.
How to Use a Bow Release
As there are variants available, I’ll concentrate on the most commonly used – a wrist trigger-based caliper release for a compound bow.
Securely attach the wrist release with either the buckle or Velcro straps provided, and adjust the rod to the optimum position in the hand.
Rest the arrow on the frame of the bow and place the arrow notch on the bowstring (nocking the arrow).
Pull back on the trigger and clip calipers to the loop on the bowstring.
Draw the bowstring back, using the full arm, with the arrow pointing downwards.
Lift the bow to shooting height and draw further until bowstring is at the jaw.
Aim at the target.
Slowly squeeze the trigger. Do not make a sharp pulling movement as this can affect accuracy.
The arrow will fly when the trigger is in the optimum release position. Do not preempt it – allow it to ‘surprise’ you.
Types of Bow Release
There are different types of common bow release:
One of the most popular and easiest to use of all releases for a compound bow.
By attaching to the wrist, they allow the archer to pull back on the bowstring, using the whole arm for power, instead of just the fingers and hand.
Attached with either Velcro straps or a buckle around the wrist, they are secured to a rod which houses the index finger trigger to shoot and calipers to hold and release the bowstring.
T-Handle Style Release
The T-handle is not usually attached to the arm. Instead, it is grasped in the hand, with a protrusion extending from beneath the index and middle fingers (giving it the T-shape) which attaches to the bowstring.
This means it requires greater finger strength than the wrist-strap style.
The arrow is released either through a thumb switch or back tension, both of which are described below. Again, like the wrist strap, it is used with a compound bow.
Finger Tabs or Gloves
Recurve or longbow shooters tend to use finger tabs or gloves as their release aid, mechanical releases are not permitted in competition.
In these circumstances, the index, middle and ring fingers are used to draw the string, with the tabs or gloves easing the strain and pressure on the fingers.
In addition, there are three types of mechanisms found in mechanical releases:
Calipers – the most widely used, especially with a trigger mechanism on a wrist strap. Pulling the trigger back allows the calipers to lock-in or release the bowstring.
Thumb switch – usually found on a T-handle, the thumb release requires the thumb to push down on a button to release the arrow.
Back tension – also called the hinge release, the back tension mechanism has no button or trigger. Instead, rotating the wrist or squeezing the shoulders allows a hook holding the bowstring to pivot, which then releases the arrow. It is often found on a T-handle design.
Why Do We Need Bow Release?
Using a bow release provides numerous benefits, both for the hobbyist and competitive archer.
Improves Draw Power and Stability
Using a wrist strap release allows the full power of the draw to be distributed down the arm. Not only does this make the draw easier, it can increase stability leading to a more accurate shot.
Prevents Dry Firing
Releasing a bow without an arrow is known as ‘dry firing’.
As there is no arrow to use the energy, the entire power is distributed through the limbs and accompanying parts.
In a simple bow this is not too severe, but with the vast energy stored within a compound bow, it can seriously damage the equipment.
With the bowstring locked in place in a release aid, there is little chance of finger slippage releasing an empty bow.
Using a bow release can ensure that every arrow shot is the same as the previous one. Each release will be under exactly the same amount of potential energy and released in the same way as the last.
With only one point of contact on the bowstring (instead of three with fingers), bow releases are more consistent, and torque or finger rolling issues are reduced.
Anticipating the release of the shot can lead some archers to ‘jerk’ as they release the bowstring from their fingers. This can lead to inaccuracy. Mechanical releases relieve this tension. By gently squeezing a trigger or pushing a button, the exact release moment should come as a surprise.
Improves Cold Weather Shooting
If you shoot outdoors in winter, you know controlling a bowstring is tough with cold hands. However, even when wearing gloves, a button or trigger can be easily used without affecting the quality of the release.
What to Look for When Purchasing Bow Release
As we have seen, all bow releases are not the same. There are numerous factors to consider when selecting your ideal mechanism.
Bow releases are subject to large pressures during the drawing stage. Compromising on quality could result in short-lived release-life and could possibly damage the bow.
If you are using the release for hunting, the noise emitted by the bow release should be a consideration. Releases with a hinge mechanism have an audible ‘click’ and are considered the loudest.
Using a wrist strap requires less finger strength, T-handles more. Some releases also have adjustable trigger pressure, for either weaker fingers or personal choice.
Wrist straps are made out of neoprene, leather, synthetics or a combination of the two.
As you will be wearing the release for a long time, choose one that will be comfortable for extended use.
For T-handles, take into consideration the size of the handle and your hands.
Ensuring a perfect fit is important. Generally, wrist releases with Velcro are more adjustable than straps, although for the hunter they can create too much noise.
Furthermore, in wrist releases, look for a rod with an adjustable housing length, to ensure it fits your hand perfectly.
Top Bow Release Reviews
If you are considering purchasing a bow release, you need a reliable source of information to discover which are currently the best available.
We have looked at the different models on the market, and have found what we consider to be the best bow releases for anyone wanting to deploy the perfect arrow.
TruFire Hardcore Buckle Foldback
Generally accepted as the largest manufacturer of bowhunting releases in the world, TruFire have produced a versatile wrist release in the TruFire Hardcore Buckle Foldback.
Manufactured in the USA, as with all their products, the TruFire Hardcore offers comfort and versatility in a very reasonably priced release.
It comprises of an adjustable trigger pressure (from 3-oz. to 16-oz), which makes it suitable for people wanting either a soft release or needing the feeling of pressure – particularly useful when wearing gloves.
A simple single hook release (instead of jaws) makes it one of the quietest releases available, perfect for hunting.
Comfort has not been left out for the sake of practicality, as the wrist strap is substantially padded, with wide bands and turned edges to prevent ‘cutting-in’ to the skin.
Customers have praised its sturdy construction, with a buckle that will not fail under pressure or the demands of the outdoors.
Others have indicated that shooting daily over the past year with a 74 lb. draw has not affected the function of this release.
Manufactured in the USA
Adjustable trigger release pressure
Low noise release
Some customers indicated it was too large for smaller hands