The Perfect Release … For You
By Aaron Carter
Are you in the market for a mechanical release? Here’s what you need to know to make an informed purchase.
For many archers, abundant consideration goes into selecting a seamless bow setup; however, seldom is much emphasis placed on a component that’s essential for extracting the utmost performance from the aforementioned outfit—the release. To attain top-notch accuracy with any bow requires a clean, consistent discharge of the arrow, and on a high-performance compound bow, employing a mechanical release is the best method to achieve such. With so many styles from which to choose, how do you know which release is the best for you? Read on.
Of the releases utilized by archery hunters, the overwhelming majority falls within the index finger- and thumb-activated categories, with the former being the most popular—for good reason. Why? Typically, index finger-activated releases have an attachment system consisting of hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, or some combination of the two. TRUGLO’s unique and user-friendly BOA closure system (available separately to upgrade your current connection system, too), that affixes it to the archer’s wrist, keeping it nearby and ready at all times. This is obviously an important consideration when hunting. As the release is secured to the archer, it cannot be dropped from a tree stand. Unlike a handheld release, which the fingers must hold during and after the draw, the wrist strap of an index finger-activated release places the drawing burden on the wrist.
As a class, index finger-activated-releases are quick and easy to attach to the bowstring—even in low-light conditions. Considering that most trophy-class animals appear suddenly and in diminished light, this is significant.
Index finger-activated releases use one or two jaws to attach directly to the bowstring (not suggested), D-loop, or metal nocking loop and, true to their name, are activated by the index or “trigger” finger. Archers who hunt with also firearms will find their operation instinctual and comforting; there’s nothing new to learn. And, like firearms, high-quality models—such as TRUGLO’s Nitrus —have a trigger that’s customizable for both sensitivity and travel. Additionally, these releases enable the user to shorten or lengthen the release head. Due to their numerous benefits, as well as myriad makes and price points, index finger-activated- (wrist-style) releases are the best choice for most hunters—especially new archers, those with compromised strength, and hunters who don’t practice sufficiently to master a target-style release.
Some archery hunters use thumb-activated releases which have features found on index finger-activated and target-style releases. Most thumb-activated releases are handheld—like tension/hinge- and resistance-activated “target” models. For the archer, this means back, shoulder, and arm muscles are used during the draw cycle, finger strength is still needed to hold the release. The string, which is held by a loop or jaw, is released by pressing the trigger with the thumb. It takes some practice to get used to—especially for firearm hunters. However, after sustained use most archers tend to stick with thumb releases.
Except for models featuring a wrist strap or lanyard, or are retrofitted with one, thumb-activated releases need to be attached to the bowstring (and thus left dangling) or placed in a coat or vest pocket. As such, there exists a risk of inadvertently dropping it from a tree stand, or not having it immediately accessible when needed. But, the benefit is that there’s nothing attached to one’s person for lengthy periods, which can also clang on the side of a tree stand. Price-wise, most thumb-activated releases are typically more expensive than index finger-activated releases.
Typically utilized in competition, a small segment of archers are now using back-tension/hinge- and resistance-activated releases for hunting. Attached to the bowstring, D-loop, or metal nocking loop in a manner identical to other releases, these finger-held variants don’t have a “trigger”. As the name suggests, the back-tension-activated release is activated after the bow is drawn and the back muscles are tightened (i.e. shoulder blades cinched), which causes the hand and release to naturally rotate. The rotation permits the string to free itself in a surprise manner—similar to that of a surprise break of a lightweight rifle trigger—so that one cannot flinch. Resistance-activated releases, on the other hand, fire from a build up of pressure and not rotation of the hand, or as Carter Enterprises explains, “pulling through an amount of poundage greater than your holding weight.” There’s now a new generation of mechanical releases that combine both release options of thumb- and resistance-activated releases, all in one model. Because of the nature of their operation, target-style releases require considerable practice to perfect, and even then they’re not the best choices for hunting because of the amount of movement associated with the sport—especially from an elevated position on a tiny platform, and where proper form is hard to achieve. All it would take for a poor shot would be to unconsciously make a wrong movement. Some hinge-type models have a click feature that signals to the user that it’s ready to fire; however, this wouldn’t be a good idea for hunting, as it could inadvertently alert game animals, too. As these releases are intended for competition, user adjustability is guaranteed; however, finding the perfect setting takes time and practice. As for other benefits and detractions, those of these release types are similar to thumb-activated releases.
In the end, the release that’s best suited for you will depend on a host of considerations, many of which were mentioned within this article. Once you’ve considered these, the choice will be clear. For me it’s the TRUGLO Detonator index finger-activated release. How about you?