There was a time in the seemingly not too distant past where bow hunting, or shooting a bow in general, was best done with a finger draw and a finger release. It didn't matter if you were hunting large game or trying to hit a target at long distance, the technique remained the same. Today, this is no longer practical. Of course, if you prefer a longbow or recurve bow for whatever reasons then this article may not apply to you. That is because most hunters and accuracy shooters use compound bows, and that is precisely why it is prudent to use the best bow release.
The best archery release will take all the pressure off your fingers and apply it to your wrist so the only strain while drawing or releasing is taken on by large muscle groups such as your biceps and triceps. This is important because compound bows allow for a much stronger and more forceful draw which ultimately leads to a more powerful shot, more accuracy, and easier big game kills. The draw weight between a recurve bow and a compound bow isn't the only thing separating them and it isn't the only reason for utilizing a release.
The fact that there is a tension dampening system once completely drawn back on compound bows means it's much easier to remain in the drawn position for a longer duration, versus the recurve which only gets harder to remain drawn the farther back the string is pulled. Having a good release means no finger strain and therefore you can hold the draw for longer.
Different Types of Bow Releases
There are many types of bow releases including wrist/caliper, handheld/finger, back tension, T-handle, and thumb switch.
T-Handle and Thumb Switch
These are 4-finger handheld releases that ultimately rely on the shooters overall strength in their arms, fingers, and hand to hold it back. The actual release is held in-between the index and middle finger, and it is typically fired by a thumb switch or back tensioning mechanism. Many times, this type of firing mechanism and release are a little more difficult to use. That said, they are still favored among many treestand hunters and competitive shooters alike.
This type of firing mechanism can be real tricky to master, but when that day comes it can be a real treat. It works basically without a real trigger, and instead rely's on a slight twisting motion and an added tension from flexing back muscles a little harder than they initially are during the draw. This type of release is not for beginners and takes quite a bit of skill to become consistent and accurate.
This is the most popular style of release and features a multipart structure designed to make every shot as simple, easy, and consistent as possible from the get-go. There is always a strap that goes around the wrist, and it carries all the force and weight of the draw putting no strain on your hand and fingers.
There is a middle section that varies in length and it puts distance between the wrist strap and the actual caliper. The caliper is the very end that holds the string and features the finger/trigger firing mechanism.
This type of bow release is probably the most common which is in part because all the various features you can choose from. This would again include overall length, but also such things like adjustments for the trigger, head rotation abilities, and custom strap styles (padding, angles, color, etc.)
Finger releases are different from caliper/wrist releases in that they do not ever attach to the wrist of the shooter. Finger releases have a "T" shape and can lock onto the bow string knock which allows the hunter or shooter hands-free movement. These types of releases are also popular because they have some of the 'touchiest' quickest and lightest firing responses triggered by either thumb, pinky, or back tension.
Important Things to Consider
There are a few essential things to consider so that you can make the right bow release purchase. Among them are making sure all the adjustments on the release will work for you in terms of comfort and fit.
Also something as simple as making sure everything is compatible, and even such things like the overall length of the release. If you're taller and have larger hands you may want a longer release, and just the opposite if you're smaller in stature or size.
Another important feature that may not get thought about too much is the noise (if any) the release makes whether in use or not. This is especially important for serious hunters, and not so much for range or competition shooters.
When it comes time to purchasing your bow release you might consider some other options such as color, the difficulty of use, and your level of shooting and experience. You might also consider a few tips that many seasoned veterans still adhere too. Things like having a second release. If you're investing in something that can become damaged or lost out in the field, you might as well have a backup you like.
Also make sure you try them on first, even if you buy online. Go into the store and be sure it will fit securely and comfortably.
Lastly, try and avoid cheap releases. This doesn't necessarily mean cheap in cost but specifically in design. You want a smooth release with durable parts that make up a flawless mechanism. Bulky, cheaply made, noisy, or clunky mechanisms and their releases simply will not do. The last thing you want is to try and fire and find there's a delay for some reason or a shift in the caliper that moves you off target.
A Quick Tip:
- If you are a beginner or even a successful average/above average archer who is not quite pro, I would stay away from automated and/or hydraulic releases. They can be difficult to master, they are not very good for hunting, and they can be unnecessarily expensive.
Compound Bow Release Reviews
In no particular order, here are the top 5 compound bow release reviews.
Made in the United States of America, the Tru-Fire Hurricane bow release is among the best. It features a quick spring loaded trigger, that when coupled with the dual caliper, you get one incredibly responsive release.
Not only does this release give you a quicker knock clamp and target acquisition, but it is also durable enough to give you a long life. The jaws of the release have a strong Teflon coating and the whole thing has solid stitching, tough nylon material, and a durable design.
Other notable features include the camo print and the silent buckle which are both great for hunters. The buckle itself also completely prevents slipping. The jaws or calipers will open when you pull back on the trigger, regardless of being on or off nock, and they automatically close together when you release pressure.
With its comfortable design and large adjustment lengths (including trigger adjustments), it's a bit of a shock to see this as one of the cheapest on our list. It can usually be found for under 50 bucks, so you might as well buy two.
This is yet another incredible bow release from Tru-Fire. The Edge release is very similar to the Hurricane, but the Edge has a few upgrades which account for the double in price. This release has state of the art mechanisms and it's made from the most durable materials.
The Tru-Fire Edge bow release comes with a camo plated head and camo patterned buckle strap which is great for hunters. Another nice feature for hunters is the fact you can rotate the release so the head is not facing your hand, therefore; it allows for hands-free movement which is especially ideal for ascending and descending tree stands. It has a linear motion bearing inside of the head, which is very petite, which makes the trigger very smooth.
All in all, this is a great bow release and among other Tru-Fire releases, this one holds its own. It's hard to determine the overall best bow release for accuracy when considering individual needs, but for a wrist release, this one is at the top of my list.
The Edge 4 handheld bow release is another release from Tru-Fire that has made our list. The handle is solid CNC aluminum and is completely camo colored. The innovative head can rotate a full 360 degree which allows for a completely torque free shooting experience. This is a dual caliper and spring loaded release/trigger system which makes for the quickest response times.
Both the thumb knob and trigger unit are fully adjustable so you can find your perfect comfort level and have that perfect shot every draw. Yet another great aspect of this release is the ergonomic design which fits effortlessly in hand.
Great for either hunters or tournament shooters, the Edge 4 is not only arguably the best thumb release, but also the best thumb release for hunting.
This handheld bow release from Scott Archery is top of the line in regards to handhelds. It has a molded black and textured grip to eliminate slipping, unintended noise, and accidental damage. This is one durable release with one heck of a grip system, and its comfortable ergonomic design makes using it seem effortless.
The head can swivel a full 360 degrees and the trigger can adjust so you can find your perfect firing length. The trigger is also extremely sensitive, and when coupled with the comfortable in hand design, this release has the ultimate comfort level. That same comfort eliminates jerkiness and ultimately provides a more accurate and consistent shot.
With a very affordable price, you should snag one as soon as possible. You won't regret it because not only will your shot get better, your consistency will increase as well. Not to mention that due to its durability, unless you run it over or loose the release, it will give you a long and fruitful life.
With the Truglo Nitrus bow release, you can always be sure of one thing. You do not have to worry about ordering it without ever trying it on and it not fitting right or it being uncomfortable. This is due to its innovative BOA strap system that allows for one of the largest adjustment ranges to find the perfect strap setting for you specifically. This makes the Truglo Nitrus automatically one of the most comfortable bow releases on the market.
The trigger is also able to be fine tuned to eliminate any unwanted trigger travel and again, make a truly perfect fit for you and your needs. That said, it is a bit on the longer side so if you have extra small hands I would look at other releases. It's made from extremely durable and reliable stainless steel which makes the dual jaw design have an incredibly long life.
The price may be a bit steep when compared to others on this list. That said, this release is extremely comfortable and features the most up to date designs and firing mechanisms. It will not only get the job done, but it will help increase both your accuracy and consistency.
All the bow releases on this top five list will do more than just simply get the job done. Depending on your individual desires, intended uses, and overall preferences any one of these top 5 bow releases will surpass your expectations.
As always thank you so much for reading, and hopefully this article helps you find and choose the right bow release for you.