When it comes down to getting a clean shot with your bow, it can takes years and years of practice to do so using your bare fingers. For almost a decade, I cast arrows with just my fingers and various gloves and tabs, trying to get that perfect release. I was stubborn, and wanted to avoid adding any more mechanics to my shooting than I absolutely had to. What a mistake!
Finally, I tried a mechanical release, and I’ve never looked back since. If you want to be sure of a clean, precise shot each and every time, you should consider using the best archery release you can get your hands on. With the use of an archery release, you have a single point of contact on the string instead of three fingers. This reduces the variables that can affect how the string pulls back and then springs forward, sending your arrow speeding to its target. When you begin using an archery release, you’ll start to fully understand the true accuracy of your bow as well as your own abilities as an archer. Whether you’re a beginning archer or a seasoned bowhunter, a good archery release provides you with the best opportunity to shoot consistently and more accurately.
What Types Of Releases Are Out There?
In essence, there are two kinds of archery releases: handheld and wrist releases. You might find the odd duck that doesn’t fit into either of these categories, but these are the variants that dominate the market. Priced according to their quality, adjustability, and smoothness, archery releases should be carefully examined to ensure they fit in with your type of shooting. In particular, some models have varying caliper jaws depending on whether you are shooting a loop on your string or right off the string itself. We’ll discuss this later, but remember to select the best archery release for your particular setup.back to menu ↑
A Note On Automatic/Hydraulic Releases
You’ll find some archery releases, both handheld and wrist, that are automatic or hydraulic. These particular accessories are set up to automatically fire your bow after a certain amount of time has elapsed since you began drawing back. These are the most expensive alternatives, and they take away a good deal of the archer’s control in shot placement. If you’re a hunter or a novice archer, I’d recommend avoiding this type of release like the plague.back to menu ↑
What Is A Wrist Release?
This is the oldest and most popular style of archery release. It attaches to your body using a wrist strap, and includes a trigger that you pull using your index finger to release the calipers or jaws. The quality of the wrist release will be reflected in the calipers or jaws, and better models will allow you to adjust the calipers or jaws for an easier or harder release.
The wrist release comes with another benefit beyond the increase in accuracy – it transfers the draw weight of your bow to your wrist and forearm instead of your fingers, making it easier to hold back your bow at full draw.
Remember, the position of the release’s trigger, as well as the accessory’s overall length, will have an effect on your draw length. My suggestion is to buy the best wrist release you can afford and make your selection when you are setting up your bow for the first time. Otherwise, you will have to retune your bow to account for the change in your draw length.
The Best I’ve Found: The T.R.U. Ball Fang RC
If you want a superior ergonomic hook-style release that’s fully adjustable to your preferences, the T.R.U. Ball Fang RC is the right choice for you. This wrist-style release incorporates the manufacturer’s red rope connection system to provide quick and easy adjustments to fit any anchor point, allowing you to customize the accessory to minimize how much you might need to change your draw length.
You basically get multiple releases in one package with the Fang RC, since it comes with two different triggers. One, a forward/straight trigger, allows for more draw length and speed. The second trigger features a swept-back design that allows for more comfort and relaxation in your draw. The Fang RC features a two-screw trigger sensitivity setting that allows you to adjust the travel and pressure independently of each other. Even better, the inclusion of three varied-weight springs in the package allows for a wrist release that is customized precisely to your body. Finally, the Fang RC is available with either a buckle or hook-and-loop closure system, and in your choice of blackor Mathews Lost Camo.
The Runner Up: TruGlo’s Activator
This one is new for 2017, and it’s almost (but not quite!) beat out the Fang RC as my favorite. The TruGlo Activator is quiet, fast, and accurate while also providing superior ergonomic hand and finger positioning. The automatic active spring trigger reset functions perfectly each and every time, and the rock-solid connection system allows you to make ultra-precise length adjustments to the release’s shaft. With a jaw that opens away from the shooter, there’s an even greater level of comfort than most wrist releases offer, and the 360º rotating head completely eliminates string torque.
The Activator comes with a roller sear adjustable trigger, providing for a butter-smooth pull along with a crisp break. The trigger travel length is adjustable, as is the sensitivity. The stainless steel wear-free jaw should last for years, and the release strap is comfortably padded for hours of use. The only real drawback to this release is that you’ll certainly have to adjust your draw length considerably, but I’m pretty used to that.
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What About Handheld Releases?
These are newer to the market, and offer some advantages over wrist releases. With that said, there are also some drawbacks. A handheld release is lighter in weight and not quite as cumbersome to use, but that’s not “the rest of the story.” Handheld releases still utilize a trigger mechanism, but it’s not typically pulled with your index finger. Instead, the trigger on this variant is pulled with your thumb, which usually isn’t as sensitive. You can, however, use back tension to release your arrow – a slight increase in tension at full draw coupled with a slight rotation of the archery release is usually enough to release the string. Competition shooters love handheld releases, and they’re quite fantastic once you get the hang of using them.
One thing you need to be mindful of when purchasing a handheld archery release is the amount of length adjustment the accessory offers. Not all of us have the same size hand, so there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” handheld archery release. You don’t want to have to strain to reach the trigger, so make sure your accessory is adjustable enough to allow you to shoot comfortably. Otherwise, you might as well stick with using your fingers or a wrist release.
What’s The Best Handheld Archery Release? Tru-Fire’s Hardcore 4 Revolution
The first handheld release I used was the Tru-Fire Hardcore 4 Finger, and I didn’t think the manufacturer could improve on that design. Then came the Tru-Fire Hardcore 4 Revolution, and I was astounded. All of the great features of the Hardcore 4 Finger are there, but now the release has some revolutionary new features. The 360º head rotation can be locked into any position, and an 11-ball bearing system ensures the head rotates smoothly at all times. The trigger knob is fully adjustable in one of 16 different positions. Furthermore, the trigger tension and travel are independently adjustable. A removable loop retainer allows you to keep the release attached to your string when not in use, or you can use the adjustable lanyard to just keep the accessory attached to your hunting vest. I would recommend a bit of caution with this release, though, if you’re new to it: the position of the trigger beneath your thumb makes it relatively easy to prematurely release the string as you’re drawing back. I’m also not a big fan of having my release bounce around as much as this one does, whether it’s attached to my string or my vest – too much noise, ya know?
The Another Fine Choice: T.R.U. Ball Fang 4
A slightly different design, the T.R.U. Ball Fang 4 features a full containment system (FCS) with a hook-style jaw that allows you to lock the release on your string’s D-loop. You can also pull the FCS slide back for repetitive shooting, if that’s required. This highly ergonomic model provides you with the ability to shoot with a no-sensitivity spring for the lightest possible setting, or swap out for a medium or heavy spring to give a heavier trigger pull. Trigger travel is independently adjustable using a screw, so you can set your release up in numerous different configurations depending on your individual preferences.
The thumb barrel is also adjustable, providing you with multiple positions to fit the release to your particular hands. If you prefer a three-finger setup, T.R.U. Ball also produces the Fang 3, identical to the Fang 4 except that it’s designed with a three-finger handle. The only drawbacks to this handheld release are the inability to rotate the jaws to different orientations, the lack of a lanyard hole for mounting a strap to the accessory for retention, and the fact that the handle is a bit on the smallish side if you have large hands.
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What Should I Know When I’m Shopping For An Archery Release?
I’ve given you some solid suggestions for archery releases, but you should keep reading for even more information. See, choosing the correct release is going to depend on your bow’s setup, as well as what you need and don’t need. Let’s take a look at my buyer’s guide for archery releases.back to menu ↑
How Is Your String Set Up?
Some bow strings have a D-loop, but others have a metal nock or fastener on the string. Not all release aids will work with all types of setup, so make note of what you’ve got configured on your bow string before you make your purchase. You’ll need to ensure your potential release is compatible with how your string is set up. Of course, if you’re setting up a brand new bow, this is easy!back to menu ↑
How Much Adjustment Can You Make?
You really don’t want to tamper too much with your draw length, so make sure the combination of your bow’s string and your release aid still allows you to pull back fully to the back of your cheek. Otherwise, you won’t get the most power out of your bow, since you’ll be underdrawing the string.back to menu ↑
Where Is The Release Made?
I hate to be picky here, but most of the archery releases made in China are very poor quality. If at all possible, ensure that your choice is manufactured in the United States. Misfires are common with Chinese-manufactured archery releases, and a misfire can mean anything from scaring off your prey to actually injuring yourself. In short, you don’t want it to happen.back to menu ↑
How Loud Is It?
Speaking of scaring off your prey, remember the possibility of a critter string-jumping on you. This is bad enough with just the sound of the bowstring thwacking, which is why you put silencers on your bow when you tune it. If you purchase a noisy archery release, though, you might as well not bother with the string silencers. Fortunately, most archery releases designed for hunters have very quiet triggers and jaws or calipers, but there are still other factors to consider. For example, will the release rattle around when you’re traipsing through the woods stalking that deer? If so, that’s a problem. Finally, remember that archery releases designed for competitive shooters aren’t necessarily manufactured to be quiet – make sure you buy an accessory that was engineered with hunters in mind.back to menu ↑
What Will It Cost?
Look carefully at the price of the archery release. To be clear, you want to look at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, not necessarily Amazon’s selling price. The reason is this: you might be tempted to purchase an archery release at a dirt-cheap bargain price, but this would be a mistake. You don’t always get what you pay for, but you certainly do with archery releases. Bargain-bin prices are usually indicative of a release that’s been at least partially manufactured in China, which leads to serious quality control issues. That’s not something you want to find out about in the woods, so don’t try to cut corners here. If you can find a great deal on Amazon, fantastic, but make sure the manufacturer isn’t cutting corners to give you that.back to menu ↑
Thanks for reading up on archery releases. These are vital accessories for getting the most out of your bow, so read and then re-read this article before you go out and buy one! You’ll be a much better archer with a release, greatly improving your accuracy and consistency. The key is getting an archery release that fits best with your style of shooting and your strengths as an archer.