With a mechanical release, a clean, accurate shot is virtually guaranteed every time.
It sure would have been easier to be a bowhunter 50 years ago. It was a simpler sport; a stick, string, arrow and your own fingers. Simpler - definitely. As accurate - not hardly. Everything is a trade off. Archery is more complicated today with all the choices of gear, but it is also a lot easier to become proficient then it was 50 years ago.
Releases are a prime example of this. It is possible to shoot a bow very accurately with your fingers, but it requires years of hard work and dedication (not that either of these requirements are bad-just that most people don’t have the time) but with a mechanical release, a clean, accurate shot is virtually guaranteed every time.
A few years ago releases used to be an option for hunter and shooters, but today with high-speed bows, they are almost a necessity. The axle to axle length of bows has decreased drastically over the last 10 years. The shorter length creates a more acute string angle, which does not lend itself well to finger shooting. Today, if an archer wants to shoot accurately with fingers he has few "finger" bows even to choose from.
All this being said, it is evident that a release already is, or should be in your future. The real question is, which one should you use? With the numerous choices available, it is hard to determine which one will work best for your own individual shooting style and bow.
Different Types The first major choice you have to make is between a wrist strap model or a grip (three or four finger) model. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Wrist strap releases, help take the strain off your hand and distribute it through your wrist up your arm, making shooting more comfortable and higher poundage bows easier to draw. They also are easy to use while hunting, since you can’t lose them by laying them down on a stump or dropping them.
Traditionally more associated with 3D competition then hunting, grip handle models (Like the T.R.U. Ball Pro-Diamond, 3-D Thumb Puller and the T-Handle) offer more control, a more positive anchor and generally, a finer trigger mechanism. Personally, I have used both over the years, and I am currently using the four-finger grip Pro-Diamond from T.R.U. Ball and am pleased with it for both hunting and target shooting.
Features to Look For
With all the models of releases out there today, it is hard to know which one to choose. Here are a few things I look for when making a decision. First, is quality construction. It sounds like a broad topic, but machined aluminum construction, smooth finish, padded wrist straps (when applicable) and quality sear/trigger mechanism all add up to a release that will provide many years of trouble free service.
Overall length adjustment is another important feature in a strap release (it is not applicable on a grip style release). Since everyone’s hands are different sizes no one release will properly fit everyone. If you have to strain to reach the trigger accurate shooting is hard to accomplish. With an adjustable release the length can be tailored to fit you perfectly.
The actual release mechanism/jaws are another important consideration. While some work well with a variety of string styles other are very specific in use.
You can really only set up your string/arrow nocking region a few ways. The traditional metal nock, with or without a rubber eliminator button under the arrow nock is the standard. The second is with a rope tied onto the string to form a "D" loop. The final way is to use a metal type fastener such as the single or double ball system, or the Ultra-Nok. The exact string set up will often limit the amount of release choices available.
Standard caliper releases work well on most types of set-ups, but if you are using a rope, take a look at a release designed to work specifically with a rope loop. The Scott Rhino and the T.R.U. Ball Loopmaster are all good examples.
If you are using a standard metal nock on a string, most styles of caliper release will work fine, but a favorite among many archers is the Split Fire from Tru Fire. It is incredibly fast and easy to snap on a string and the two polished bearings (pulleys) cause very little string wear or retardation.
Some innovative metal nocking devices on the market may or may not require the use of a specialized release. For example, the Ultra-Nok will work with almost any style of caliper release, while the T.R.U Ball single or double ball has to be used with their own dedicated release.
Authors Top Picks For wrist strap varieties, I have always liked the Scott series of releases. Scott releases have been a long time favorite among hunters and 3D shooters alike. They are all constructed from machined aluminum, have a quality trigger/sear mechanisms and have a secure strap system.
Scott makes several varieties of releases to fit your shooting style, from double caliper, single caliper, rope, and hook.
Cobra is another caliper release that I really like. It is also machined from solid aluminum and comes in either a wrist strap form are a comfortable glove. The heads rotate 360 degrees so string binding and twisting is eliminated.
They make models in camo and black and at prices that even the beginning archer won’t shy away from.
For grip style releases, my favorite, and the one I am currently using, is the T.R.U. Ball Pro-Diamond. It is a highly precision instrument that cleanly releases the string every time with a consistent trigger pull. It fits my hand very well and the 360-degree swiveling head doesn’t let me twist the string even when my anchor position is less then perfect.
Two features really make the grip series of T.R.U Ball releases shine in my opinion. The first is the jaw design. It is available in three different styles: caliper, single ball and double ball. I choose the double ball because I like how it grips the string on either side of the nock, making each shot as consistent as possible. But for those shooting a rope or standard nock, the caliper may be the best choice. The single ball is good for hunting situations as it is fast to hook on, and still gives a lot of the accurate performance of the double ball system.
The second is the adjustable thumb trigger. The main reason I am shooting a grip style release is because over the years I have developed the bad habit of "punching" the trigger, which opens group size and produces the occasional flier. With a thumb release, I have to squeeze the trigger, like I should, producing a more consistent release, with no anticipation and subsequently tighter groups. The Pro-Diamond can be adjusted for trigger pressure as well as for position, making it my personal favorite grip style release.
Several unique releases are on the market that I have had the opportunity to try, and for certain situations, they may be just what you are looking for.
The C-12 Relax Trigger Release by Winn is perfect for the archer who wants a natural release (similar to fingers) or for someone (like myself) who is struggling with punching the trigger. Instead of pulling the trigger to release the arrow, you hold the trigger during the draw (trigger pull is less then 5 pounds) and when you want to shoot, you simply relax your index finger. It is simple and accurate.
For 3D shooters, the Bear Paw release is ideal. It has a high tech machined aluminum head, with Teflon coated sear and trigger mechanism, which will last for years. It also has a built in arrow puller that makes removing imbedded carbon arrows from foam targets easier then ever. No more searching for your puller, or blistering your bare hands. Just grip the arrow with the built in glove and pull.
Releases are part of modern archery. This is a good thing. They allow a cleaner arrow release and are more consistent for the majority of archers then fingers. While many models and styles are on the market, once you narrow down your individual style and preference combined with the exact bow set-up, the choices become simple.