With a rifle, you know you have to have a great trigger to get a great shot but that fact is often overlooked when it comes to archery. Using your fingers, you can get string roll which will throw of your shot. You can certainly shoot that way and be fairly accurate but if you want pinpoint shots, you want the best bow release with the best trigger.
This minimizes the chance of the string deflecting the arrow. While all modern bowstrings minimize this to some degree, none can completely negate it. Once you have good gear and good form, the only thing aside from tons of practice that can really make a difference is a bow release.
Bow Release Buyers Guide
Bow releases are not an overly complicated device but there are a few finer points that will help you choose the release that is correct for you. If you plan to use a bow release for accuracy, the quality will always be an issue.
Two factors you also want to be aware of:
Bow releases will usually increase your draw length. Make sure your bow has enough adjustability to give you a couple of inches if you need it.
Bow releases can make drawing a bow more difficult as you apply muscles somewhat differently. Consider starting your draw a little lower and working up to your preferred weight.
Aside from that, here are some points to consider:
Compound Bow Release Types
Wrist Strap Releases: These are probably the most common and popular form of releases and function by strapping around the wrist. Attached you have a clamp or hook with a trigger. Pulling the trigger either opens the clamp or releases the hook. Having the strap around your wrist does lessen hand fatigue.
Clamp style releases are the most secure and work quite well. They do take a little time to get on the string if you are in a rush. This is a movement you should practice before you get in the field for hunting season.
Hook style releases are much easier to get on the string but take a little more practice to get your draw right. If you have really sloppy form or draw near your max, you can cause the string to slip off the hook. You should practice drawing at significantly lower weight until you are used to it.
Handheld Releases: These are usually made of aluminum and are held in the hand. Most function with a thumb release lever. The big debate with these tends to center around whether they make drawing the bow more natural or releasing the string more alien.
While many professionals use a handheld bow release for hunting, they do require more hand strength. They are quite accurate and fast to use while being out of the way until you need them. It’s worth learning to shoot with one just to have the option.
Understanding Bow Release Mechanisms
While the index finger trigger mechanism is fairly easy to understand, a pull of the trigger releases the clamp or hook, there are other varieties that are more complicated. While the trigger is the most common you will find on wrist strap releases, handheld releases are another matter.
Most handheld releases use a thumb trigger. The premise is the same as an index finger triggered release but with the trigger on the back or top of the release. The trigger is pressed with the thumb allowing the stronger fingers to be used to draw and hold the string. It may feel alien the first few times but you will get used to it.
Back tension releases are more commonly used in target archery. These releases need a specified amount of pressure before they will release the arrow. There is a safety that is held down while the bow is drawn. Once at full draw, the safety is released, further pressure will cause the release to activate. The idea behind this release is to remove any flinch response from a trigger pull.
In the author's opinion, tension activated mechanisms have no place on a handheld release for hunting.
While most releases will work with a bare string, some will work better with specific points of attachment on the string. This will vary as much by brand as by type. While very few will actually require it, adding a release attachment point can be a good idea, it saves wear on your string if nothing else.
This mostly pertains to releases that use clamps or calipers. Hook style releases tend to work well on a bare string and not cause any string damage. If you do decide to add an attachment point, you will likely need to shorten the draw length of your bow to compensate.
Speaking of affecting draw length, while most releases will. A good release will be adjustable to minimize the effect. For handheld releases, this is not as important but for a wrist strap release, it is absolutely vital. If you get accuracy from consistency, changing your draw length can change everything about how your bow shoots.
The mechanism a release uses to adjust will vary but all work about the same. The most affordable use a removable pin and various holes. Others may have Allen screws and detents or even fully mechanical adjustment. Those that use Allen Screws are the weakest, otherwise, all are about the same.
While most of the actual business parts of a release are made of aluminum, some will be made of high-density plastic. In cases of strength, both are about equal but aluminum has a much better wear resistance for moving parts. Both work well but opt for aluminum when you can. Also, never use a bow release that has anything other than steel jaws or hook. They are simply not durable or strong enough to handle the load.
On wrist strap releases, you can get them with neoprene/nylon bands or leather bands. Both nylon and leather are very strong but need some form of a lining or they will be painful on a powerful bow. Neoprene is common on nylon. Leather is often left unlined. The preference is to have a good, lined nylon band.
TOP 5 Best Bow Releases - Comparison Table
Nylon / Neoprene
Nylon / Leather
Best Bow Release Reviews
1 Spot Hogg Wiseguy
The Wiseguy by Spot Hogg is perhaps the most underrated release I have ever seen. Everything about this product screams quality and the effect it will have on your accuracy is, frankly, astounding! I would easily consider this among the top, if not the top, bow release for hunting on the market. If you are after the best, quit reading. This is it!
What makes this the best? Well, first off it is fully micro-adjustable for length making great for any shooter. If you need a bow release for big hands, this will do you great service. In addition to that, it features a fast hook-up connection and amazing trigger. Seriously, this bow release is like shooting a match rifle. You need to experience it to truly appreciate it.
Materials are top notch with nylon sheathed inside a neoprene strap. Super strong and comfortable. The body of the release is aluminum with steel hook-up. This minimizes weight while maximizing strength. This product has no downside for the modern bow-hunter.
2 Tru-Fire Edge
If you are in the market for an archery thumb release, this is about as good as they get. Made by Tru-Fire, a company specializing in bow releases, it has everything it should and performs as good as any handheld release at any price.
The contouring on this release is about as perfect as a company could make it. The thought and testing that went into it had to be staggering. Its made of solid aluminum with steel trigger and internal parts for strength but is very lightweight overall.
The trigger does have a little travel but that is adjustable for your perfect shot. The rotating jaws keep the string aligned and snap open cleanly. All in all, this will help you dial in your long-range archery game without a doubt. Every Tru Fire Release is made in the USA by people who know archery!
3 Scott Archery Shark
There is a lot to be said about a Scott bow release, namely that their true quality comes from simplicity. Rather than designing something that has some fancy gadget that turns into a point of failure, they keep it as simple as they can.
Made out of leather with a thin, frictionless lining for smooth comfort, the wrist strap is stout and will last a lifetime. Get this as a youth bow release, and your child will have a release that will last a lifetime! The body is made of machined aluminum with a solid swivel connection and steel jaws. This will last for absolutely ever with a minimum of care.
This is the best selling Scott caliper release and likely the top selling of any brand. Scott makes great products and stands behind them 100%. If you ever have an issue, you can be sure they will resolve it. But you won’t because this thing is an absolute tank!
4 Scott Little Goose
Another Scott release? Absolutely! This time it is a smaller, compact version of their Mongoose release. This is in many respects a superior product. While overall a great release, the Mongoose was a little large and long for most shooters. This is the perfect remedy!
Like all Scott releases, it uses a smooth, lined leather band for maximum strength and durability. This is combined with the aluminum body and steel working parts for an amazing, tough release. But that isn’t the whole story…
What makes this release truly great, on top of the warranty, is the jaws. No other release has combined the best attributes of the hook and caliper styles until now. The off-center point of release makes every shot exceptionally clean. When you enter the world of the archery hunting release, Scott will always be a contender.
5 Tru-Fire Patriot
If you need a release on a budget, you can look to Tru-Fire to do it. It can be tough to find a decent bow release under $50.00, it can be a struggle. There is so much cheap crap these days that its hard to trust. In that case, turn to a USA made product that is designed by people who know what they are about.
This is a budget release which means you will miss out on some of the features that make better models so great. If you can’t afford the price tag on those, this has enough to satisfy. The strap is nylon backed Velcro with a thin liner which is quite comfortable. The action happens at the full steel head and jaws. All in all, this is a very tough release.
As for the action itself, the trigger is very nice, even on a very powerful bow. The strap is quite comfortable and adjustable to fit most shooters. However, the length is not adjustable. It suites average shooters well but those with shorter draw lengths may have some issues. All in all, it is still a pretty good buy!
While there are dozens of brands and hundreds of releases of different styles, types, materials, and quality, rest assured that any of the above will perform amazingly! This isn’t just our opinion but a fact that has stood up to hundreds of test shots and numerous hunts.
That kind of evidence can never be denied.