When you first start out with archery, you could be forgiven for thinking that you might only require your bow, your arrows and somewhere to aim – but there are far many more pieces of equipment, that, whilst not essential, can help with your aim and accuracy.
One such piece of equipment is a bow release, and whilst they might be something of an investment, they are certainly worth splashing out on.
However, if you have never purchased a bow release before, it can be a little overwhelming when you see the sheer number of products that are out there. Choosing the right one for you will depend on several factors, and it is never a good idea to jump in at the deep end without knowing what you should be looking for.
In this article, we are going to be taking a detailed look at the bow release, what you should look for in a product and showing you some of the products that we consider to be the best bow release available today.
What Is A Bow Release?
A bow release is a small piece of equipment that is used in archery to help the archer shoot their arrow. There might be a degree of confusion surrounding what a bow release is since this product is known by several different names. You might hear it being referred to as simply a release, but others might call it a release aid; whatever you refer to it as, they are all one of the same.
A bow release is used to give you more accuracy when firing your arrows because, rather than using your fingers to release the arrow, this is done with the aid of the release. This works well as the amount of torque that is produced when releasing the arrow with your fingers is reduced and you, therefore, get a much more quick and precise shot.
What Are The Advantages Of Using A Bow Release?
Many things make using a bow release advantageous both to your practice, in terms of accuracy and skill as well as protecting your bow.
Primarily, you will notice that we have already talked about the improvement in accuracy and speed when using a bow release, and this is one of the main reasons that so many people use them. When you are using a bow release, you will be getting a far more consistent shot. Consistency is one of the critical things to keep in mind with archery. Many people are under the false impression that accuracy is the most important thing. While it is essential, it simply cannot be achieved without remaining consistent in your firing.
When you use your fingers to draw the bowstring, there will always be variables, and this can take away from your consistency. In contrast, when you use a bow release, you will always get the same draw weight and tension so your arrows will be released consistently every time. This is essential but particularly in competitive archery. What’s more, using a bow release can mean that it is far easier to group arrows more tightly together, and this is also concerning the consistent draw on the bowstring.
Furthermore, it can be far easier to use the bow when you are using a bow release. When you draw with the finger, you are reliant on the finger muscles and strength to reach full draw. This means you will need much greater finger strength, which, as anyone knows, is much more challenging to obtain than arm strength. Conversely, a bow release will mean that you put the effort in using the arm muscles, which is a lot easier for you.
The condition of your bow can be better maintained through using a release aid, and this is because this small piece of equipment can help to prevent dry firing the bow. Dry firing is when you release the bowstring without an arrow, and this can cause devastating damage to the bow. But more importantly, it can also serve as a way to cause injury both to the archer and anyone in the vicinity owing to debris that can come flying off the bow. We have written a more detailed article about that here.
What’s more, many modern compound bows have been designed with a bow release in mind and not using one could put unnecessary pressure on the cams, causing the bow to become damaged.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Using A Bow Release?
In the main, a bow release is an effective tool to have when you are using a compound bow; they may not be suitable for a recurve bow, but we will look at that in a little more detail later on.
If you use a release aid with a compound bow, you will see far more advantages than drawbacks. The only downside is that, much like any piece of hardware, your bow release will need replacing after some time. That being said, many of the modern release aids are made with exceptionally durable material and have a great deal of durability.
What Sort Of Bow Uses A Bow Release?
There are two main types of bow in archery; the recurve bow and the compound bow. A recurve bow is a much more traditional piece of equipment, whereas a compound bow is a modern, mechanical take on the recurve.
In the main, a bow release is used with a compound bow. That being said, some archers will use a release aid with their recurve bow, but if you do this, there are several things you should keep in mind. Mainly, you will need to have your bow retuned so that it is suitable for use with a release as well as reconsidering the type of arrows that you will use.
Many archers who use a recurve bow prefer to stick with traditional methods of the sport; after all, archery goes back thousands of years and back then, our ancestors certainly would not have had the additional equipment that we use today. If you prefer to shoot using as traditional method as possible, then a release probably isn’t for you.
However, there have been specific releases that have been used over the years with the recurve bow, but most archers have developed reliable techniques using the fingers that deliver incredible results; although this takes a lot of practice to get right and if you want to get your shots accurate from the get-go, then a release aid would work well.
One of the main reasons that archers using a recurve bow don’t tend to use release aids is that they are more focussed on holding the weight of the draw. The mechanical design of the compound bow means that, at full draw, a very high percentage of the draw weight is being held by the bow. In contrast, when you use a recurve bow, you will need to take the weight of the draw, and a release may interfere with this. If you were to use a release with much heavier draw weight, there would be a genuine potential for an accidental arrow release which is not something that you want.
When you use a compound bow, you will likely use a peep sight; this means that using a release is much easier. However, since a lot of recurve archers do not use this type of equipment, and so their shooting style would not be compatible with using a release aid.
Using A Release Aid With A Compound Bow
As we have already mentioned, a compound bow is designed to be used with a release aid, so it is undoubtedly worth considering one if you own a compound bow.
One of the main reasons that releases work well with a compound bow is that many archers using this type of bow are susceptible to target panic. No, this isn’t some kind of archery related illness but rather when the archer finds it challenging to keep their arrows aimed at the target and may struggle with shaking or fidgeting. As we know, stillness and composure are two very critical aspects of archery. Using a release aid will drastically reduce target panic.
Furthermore, when you use a release aid, you will not need to spend anywhere near as much time practising your aim. If you shoot with your fingers, there is no getting away from the fact that you will need to practice for much longer to get a consistent level of accuracy that is conducive with being an effective archer.
Do I Need A Release Aid?
In short, no, you don’t need a release aid, but you certainly might want one. It is clear that using this small piece of equipment can drastically improve your precision, and this is particularly important in target archery competitions. But, some people simply prefer a more traditional method and want to shoot with their fingers. This is entirely acceptable but will require much more practice.
Of course, as we have discovered, if you are using a recurve bow, you may need to have the bow retuned before you can start using your bow release and the type of arrows you use might need to be changed.
Types Of Bow Release
Archery is a complicated sport, and as such, most of the equipment involved does not merely come in a standard design. This applies to the bow release, and as such, there are several types of bow release.
Before you commit to purchasing any particular product, one of the first things you should do is to look at the various types of release and understand which one would work well for you. As with anything, there are pros and cons to each type, but your level of experience, equipment and personal preference will all play an essential role in choosing which you like best.
A wrist release uses a similar sort of trigger that you would see on a rifle, for many people this will be a much more familiar motion, especially if you have moved from rifle shooting to bow shooting. Therefore, making the transition much more straightforward. One of the significant advantages of this type of release is that it is attached to the arm and therefore, always ready for use. Furthermore, they are ideal for using in windy conditions or when aiming for a moving target. Since you will be using the muscles in the wrist to draw the bow, this makes it much easier to get a quick and steady draw.
The wrist release is, without a doubt, the most popular among hunters, and there are several reasons for this. One of the primary reasons that they remain so popular is that they are far more affordable; archery can quickly become an expensive hobby if you invest in the most expensive equipment, but when you can pick up a wrist release for a reasonable price, it’s tempting to go for it.
But just because they are more affordable, this certainly doesn’t mean that they are not useful and practical. The wrist release is exceptionally comfortable to use, and for this reason, a lot of people will lean towards it. Furthermore, they are effortless to use and adjust. This means that you can easily alter both the torque and the pressure without any complicated process.
These are also very reliable pieces of equipment and deliver consistent results; as such, you will find that they are an excellent choice for anyone who is just starting with archery. If you want to start as you mean to go on and learn to get your shot on target, this is a great place to start.
Wrist releases, as their name may suggest, are fitted around the wrist and can be attached to your body using either a buckle or velcro fastening. Both of these offer security and comfort. Neither method is preferable over the other and which you choose will largely depend on your personal preference.
- Wrist releases are great for people who are just getting started with archery or for hunting.
- The release is operated with the index finger.
- They feature an arm attachment.
- They can be adjusted.
- Wrist releases make it much easier to hold the fully drawn bow.
A hand release is another popular choice, but you may find that these are used more in competitive archery thanks to their greater accuracy and the fact that they are far more sensitive than the wrist release.
Even if you do not take part in archery competitions, the hand release might be a good option if you are looking to take your archery practice to the next level, as this type will vastly improve your skill and accuracy.
There are many excellent benefits to using this type of release, but one of the most notable is that they will prevent you from releasing the arrow prematurely. As an archer, at one point or another, you will likely fall victim to target panic and let the arrow go too quickly. However, when you use a hand release, this prospect is mostly eliminated. The reason behind this is that this style of release uses a tension system as opposed to a trigger release. With a trigger, it would be easy to fire when you aren’t ready, but this method will not allow you to release until the thumb is drawn back enough to hit the release.
- Hand release aids offer greater sensitivity and precision.
- They are great for those looking to move their skill to the next level.
- Hand releases will eliminate premature arrow release.
- They have a hand attachment.
- There are many more adjustments.
- Suitable for use in competitive archery.
- They are compact, portable and lightweight.
In addition to the two main types of release, there is also a hinge release, and while these are less common, they are not without their advantages. In the main, this type of release works very well if you are unable to control your target panic. Many people decide to throw in the towel with archery because of this, but it is essential to remember that it will take some time and practice before this goes away.
But even those who have practised for years may still experience target panic. But that doesn’t mean to say that you should give up; a hinge release offers ultimate control and is used in a similar way to the hand release so is familiar if you have been using this method previously.
This type of release aid does not have any sort of trigger to release the arrow and instead relies purely on the back tension as a way of firing the arrow.
The Best Bow Release Aids
Later in this article, we will be looking at what you should look out for when buying a release aid, and there are many things to think about. However, it is wise to get a good idea of what is on the market and discover which products take you fancy at first glance.
If you are confident that you know which type of bow release would work better for you, then it can make choosing a product a lot easier. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best bow release aids for different situations.
Since the wrist release is one of the most popular, it stands to reason that you will find a lot of this type of release on the market. Unfortunately, some are not what you might expect, but that is not the case with this one. People are raving about the quality and effectiveness of this wrist release.
It is a very lightweight piece of equipment that is portable and won’t get in the way. The accuracy that you will achieve with this wrist release is immense, and this is thanks in part to the forward trigger, which allows for maximum draw length and incredible speed.
Pretty much everything can be adjusted on this model; there is an adjustable trigger as well as adjustable length so no matter what your wrist size, you will find the right fit for you. The d-loop hook means that adjusting the strap is quick and straightforward, giving you more time to get on with shooting.
This is an excellent bow release for beginners owing to its ease of use and adjustability. Furthermore, the wrist release is widely considered to be the best choice for those who are new to the sport. It has been made with both men and women in mind, although, if you need something a little smaller for a child, this might not be suitable.
- Adjustable trigger
- Adjustable strap
- Easy to use
- Zero self-travel reloading hook
- D-loop hook up
- Maximum accuracy and speed
We often talk about hands-free hunting, but what does this really mean? In short, this hand release is the definition of hands-free hunting and allows for both repetitive shooting as well as use when hunting game.
There are many exciting things to say about this hand release, and one of the first things that you will notice is that this is an extremely durable piece of kit. It is crafted from top-quality materials that will undoubtedly withstand being put through their paces. Even if you spend all day doing archery, you can feel confident that this is a bow release that won’t let you down.
Aside from being durable, the archery fang features a full containment system which requires the archer to push the slide forward to lock the release or push it back when you want to do repetitive shooting. This is undoubtedly a versatile product.
An important thing to look for in a bow release is whether it is adjustable and you won’t be disappointed with this one; the trigger is adjustable as well as the thumb barrel position so you can use the release in a way that is comfortable for you.
If that wasn’t enough, it is easy to use, simply pull the trigger once to fire and pull it a second time to reset the release.
- Easy to use
- Highly durable
- Full containment system
- Hook style jaw
- Great for hunting and repetitive shooting
If you have a passion for archery, you will likely want to share that love with your children, but if you do, it is vital to source archery equipment that has been designed for them. This means that the activity will be more accessible to them as well as being much safer.
This is a wrist release which is ideal for kids as they familiarise themselves with the sport. There are a lot of youth products on the market, but none are quite as good as this which features an infinitely adjustable strap, so even children with much smaller wrists can get involved. What’s more, it is effortless to adjust and features a robust nylon strap connector so that the child is free to adjust the release themselves without help from an adult.
Furthermore, this is a very lightweight piece of equipment so the youth won’t feel as though they are being weighed down by something hefty, which could affect their aim and accuracy.
It boasts a knurled trigger which offers superior comfort and a much better grip, again this is ideal for kids who are just getting to grips with the sport.
Further adjustments can be made which will better control the torque giving you child the freedom to shoot accurately right from their very first arrow.
- Highly adjustable, even for tiny wrists
- Torque reduction
- Knurled trigger for more outstanding grip
- Extremely comfortable wrist release
- Made from high-quality materials
Archery equipment can cost a lot of money, and if you are looking for something that is a little less expensive, you want to be sure that quality will not have been compromised. One of the most notable things about this piece of equipment is that, despite its budget price, it still demonstrates a superior level of quality.
Coming in at more than $100 less than some of the more expensive release aids, this one is made from lightweight materials that offer the archer superior comfort. What’s more, this wrist release is compact enough that it will not get in the way when you are not using it.
It features a v lock release strap and a buckle design that offers ultimate security and can be adjusted to a wide variety of sizes. Even those with extra-large wrists would find that they get a comfortable fit with this bow release.
You are also getting a very durable piece of kit here, and many people have talked about the long-lasting design. This is great if you shoot regularly and need something that will stand the test of time. This further demonstrates that a budget bow release doesn’t have to be inferior.
In fact, this release has some of the highest review ratings we have seen even when compared to some of the more high-end products.
- Durable and long-lasting
- Easy to adjust, even for larger wrists.
- V lock release strap
- Buckle for added security
What To Look For In A Bow Release
Buying any type of archery equipment requires you to think carefully about what you are looking for and what will work best for you. You could dive in and buy the first product that you stumble across, but this comes with the risk of getting something that won’t deliver as you expected.
Many people believe that firing a bow and arrow is relatively straightforward, but unless you have ever tried, you won’t realise that this is something of an art and definitely takes some practice. Making sure that you have the right equipment can significantly contribute to your skill and accuracy.
Type Of Bow Release
We will not go into great detail about the types of bow release as we have already looked at these. However, it is essential to point out that when you are shopping for a release aid, you will need to think about the style you are going to go for.
In short, beginners are much more likely to find a wrist release the easiest option, whereas those who are more experienced would benefit more from a hand release. Furthermore, those who take part in competitions might be at a more significant advantage when using a hand release as they can achieve greater precision.
Is The Release Comfortable?
When you are practising archery, the last thing that you want is to feel uncomfortable in any way. This is why we see archers wearing comfortable clothing and shoes but also why choosing equipment that is comfortable is essential. If you are more focussed on a minor irritation from your equipment, you are much more likely to stray off target.
For this reason, it is vital that you source a release aid that will not disrupt your accuracy and skill. If you are choosing a wrist release, one of the first things that you should look for in terms of comfort is whether the strap is padded. If it is not, you should give it a wide berth and look elsewhere. Without padding, the strap could rub on your skin and cause irritation. This is even more important if you will be using the release for longer periods of time.
In contrast, a hand release should be looked at in a different way when we are trying to determine whether it will be comfortable. You will want to make sure that it is made from hard wearing materials that offer a superior grip.
The last thing you want is a piece of equipment that is going to fall apart after a couple of uses, but sadly, there are some inferior products that this can happen to. Before you commit to a purchase, you should take a look at the build quality of the release. This will include looking at the materials and the way that they have been put together.
It is no secret that bow releases are not necessarily cheap pieces of equipment and for this reason, you certainly don’t want to spend all of that money only to find that the release breaks after the first use.
Most experts would recommend looking for a wrist release that features a leather strap as this material is far more durable than anything else. You may also want to look at the individual components of the release to make sure they are well constructed and sturdy.
As we have mentioned, bow releases are not always the most affordable things; they’re by no means the most expensive either but it is important to work within your means.
We have shown you one excellent budget wrist release which has all the important features that you would expect to find in a more expensive model, so this proves that it is entirely possible to find effective budget releases. It may just take a little more time and inspection to be sure that the product is fit for purpose.
In contrast, if you have a larger budget and want to splash out a little more, it can be tempting to believe that the most expensive releases are the best. While you will often pay for quality, it is still important to give the bow release the once over to ensure that you aren’t simply paying for a brand name.
Your level of experience and the way you shoot will both play a part in determining the best release mechanism for you. Opting to go for either an index finger or thumb release can also be determined by how much target panic you experience. In the main, if this is a problem for you, you might be better using a thumb release that will prevent firing the arrow before you are ready.
On top of this, you should make a decision over whether you prefer a fang or a caliper hooking mechanism; for the most part, this will be down to your personal preference, and if you try out both styles, you will likely discover which you feel more comfortable using.
Is The Release Quiet?
If you are out in the wild hunting game, the last thing you need is a noisy release aid. Some products might create a clicking sound as you draw the bow and this is a big no-no when hunting. It might not be such an issue for target archery, but if anything, it could be off-putting, so it is better to look for a bow release that has a quieter operation.
In addition to this, it pays to think about the type of fastening on the strap. A buckle fastening will be much quieter when adjusting than a velcro one, which can vastly disturb the silence.
The style of your string setup will determine the type of release that will be suitable for you, and this is a very important factor to consider, so be sure not to omit this.
In the main, there are three different types of string setup; these are D-loop, metal fastener or a metal nock, and it is vital that you choose a release that is compatible with your setup.
Is The Release Adjustable?
You do not want a release aid that will limit you, and one of the most critical things to look at when buying your release is whether it can be adjusted. There is the option to have a custom made bow release, but it is worth keeping in mind that this will be more costly.
When you can purchase a bow release whose length, angle and trigger can all be adjusted, it seems pointless forking out for a custom model.
A bow release is a small piece of equipment that is used to shoot your arrow without having to use the fingers, as you would when using traditional archery methods. This can improve your speed and accuracy as well as giving you greater consistency. These releases are especially useful for those who compete in archery tournaments and certainly give you the upper hand over your competitors.
There are two main types of bow release; hand and wrist and which you use will significantly depend on how experienced you are and the type of archery you do. For example, bowhunting enthusiasts might benefit from a wrist release, whereas target archers might find a hand release to be more advantageous.
Whichever type of release you choose, it is crucial to take specific aspects into consideration before you purchase your equipment. Doing this will ensure that you get a quality bow releases that will meet your needs and serve you for many years to come.