The Complete Guide of How to Use a Bow Release in Archery

There are different types of bow releases available and which one you use will depend on what sort of bow you use, your preferred style of shooting and whether you are hunting or aiming at a fixed target.  Choosing your bow release is important, but equally as important is practicing your archery release technique.

What Is a Bow Release?

A bow release is an aid designed to improve your accuracy.  The mechanics allow you to keep perfectly still once you have the shot aligned and you should find that bow string torque is significantly released, eliminated even.

Rather than using your fingers to release the arrow, you push or pull a trigger which does it for you. They are most commonly used with compound bows

What Is a Compound Bow?

A compound bow has the usual shape of curved wood, with a bow string tied to each end. The archer draws back the string and traditionally lets go of the string with their fingers, sending the arrow flying towards the target in the direction it is pointed.

What makes it a compound bow is the addition of pulleys at each end of the wood, which (with the wonders of physics) enable the archer to build more string tension. As the string is drawn, the pulleys will take much of the tension strain. The point where this occurs is known as breaking the bow over. This allows the archer to only need a small amount of force while aiming.

To improve the bow even further and eliminate a change in direction caused by the fingers rolling off the strings, a bow release can then be added.

Essential Read : How to choose the best compound bow?

How to Use a Bow Release Trigger

First of all, you should decide which style of bow release is most suitable for your needs.

Different Types of Bow Release

Wrist Strap/Trigger Release

The most common type of bow release used by hunters, is the trigger release with a comfortable wrist strap attached. This strap is used to secure the trigger release in place and can be either buckle or Velcro in style. For extra comfort, you can get a padded one. Perfect for hunters, who tend to be out for hours or even days at a time.

These wrist straps will either be a continuous loop or a V shape, with the former option being much more convenient and quick to attach.  You will be able to adjust the length of the strap, depending on your size, and most products can be worn on either hand.

Try and get one with a 360-degree rotating head, for this really minimizes bow string torque. You can usually adjust the trigger tension between a more sensitive setting and a heavier one, depending on your shooting preference.

Handle/Finger Release

Using either 2, 3 or 4 fingers, you hold one of these releases in your hand with no strap.  They are usually T shaped and are very popular with target archers.  They are much smaller and lighter than a wrist strap/trigger release and are often more responsive.  This means you will not need to put as much physical effort in and because of this, they are perfect for those with a smaller frame.

They are also very popular with archers who are a little ‘trigger-heavy’. This is because you rotate the device in your hand, which together with your back muscles, triggers the release. This is perfect for the more experienced archer but can be used by anyone. Just be sure to practice, to ensure you perfect your archery finger release technique.

Automatic/Hydraulic Bow Release

These bow releases have a timer, allowing you to pre-set the trigger mechanism. This is a very popular style of bow release with target archers and can delay the shot by up to 6 seconds. You can either hold these in your hand or get one with a wrist strap, for comfort and convenience.

It can be very beneficial to go into an archery pro shop and speak with an expert, where you will then be able to try out different types of bow releases and get a feel for which style you prefer.  They will be able to teach you exactly how to use a bow release trigger.  Once you have chosen your bow release, you can then get ready to use it.

How to Put on a Bow Release

When ready, nock the arrow by placing the arrow into the grip fingers, which can be found on the bow string.  The arrow can then be rested on a ledge on the frame of the bow or on a specifically added arrow rest.

You can then attach the bow release, ensuring it is secured firmly in place and is comfortable to use.  The release should be clipped to the rope loop or calipers and the tension can be adjusted as required.

You can then proceed to break the bow over, which will involve pulling the bow string with a considerable amount of force.  Make sure you do this with the arrow pointing down towards the ground, for safety reasons.

Once you have completed these steps, and only then, you can raise the bow up into your preferred firing position.  You can then proceed to draw back the bow string further, using the release mechanism to ensure the string is pulled back as far as your jaw, and hold it in position.

Next, aim the arrow towards your target and relax. If you are anxious, you are more likely to shake and the arrow will not fly straight. Keep your bow arm relaxed and allow your back muscles to do the work. You are then ready to use the bow release.

This next stage will depend very much on what style of bow release you chose.

If you use a thumb release, as is preferred by many target shooters, you should know how to use a thumb trigger release properly. You don’t just use your thumb, rather your whole hand to trigger the release. Begin to squeeze the trigger with your whole hand, steadily and gradually.

Do not squeeze too quickly or your bow may move in a jerky, sporadic fashion.  Make sure you focus on keeping your arrow pointed straight at the target and as you feel ready, release the arrow.  Remember, the slower you do this, the more feeling and control you will gain.

Do not squeeze too quickly or your bow may move in a jerky, sporadic fashion.  Make sure you focus on keeping your arrow pointed straight at the target and as you feel ready, release the arrow.  Remember, the slower you do this, the more feeling and control you will gain.

Remember, a compound bow is a very powerful weapon. Do not dry fire from your bow (without an arrow) for all of the energy generated will go back into the bow and crack it, making it unsafe to use further, and can also can cause injury to you.

If you decide not to shoot, be sure to lower the bow and steadily release the tension and don’t just let go as you move it. You don’t want to risk the arrow being shot at something other than your target.

Your Bow Release

We have discussed how to draw your compound bow and arrow, with the use of a bow release.  Now we will go into more detail on how to use the bow release specifically.

How to Hold a Bow Release

It may sound simple but it is worth knowing how to hold a bow release, before going ahead and shooting at a live target.  Now that you know how to put on a bow release, you must then ensure you have your hand set up in such a way as to hold the bow release correctly, with the right amount of pressure.  Do not dig it into your hand too much, as this will create too much pressure and your hand will form a fist shape.  This will move your hand away from your jaw and alter the arrow alignment, decreasing the amount of accuracy.

Rest your handheld release in between your two knuckles, which will enable you to keep your hand flat and therefore properly anchored by your jaw.  If you use a peep sight, you will be able to look directly through it without having to turn your head and risk the arrow moving off target.

Be sure to keep your hand flat as you bend your knuckles, for this will keep the draw length consistent.  By bending your hand into a fist, as previously mentioned, you will alter the draw length.  Most target archers find it easier to be consistent with a nice, flat hand, rather than a tight, curled up fist.

Once you have a feeling for the best set up for you, be sure to hold your bow release in exactly the same way each time.  This will ensure consistency and you will be able to improve your accuracy with more and more practice.

You must then think about using the trigger itself.  The way you engage the trigger with your finger or thumb, will determine the speed and rhythm of your shot.  As with all other aspects of your shot, you must be absolutely consistent.  If you are not, then your shots will be inconsistent and you will not improve.

Also, if you are inconsistent with your timing, then the release can be impatient and therefore inaccurate.  Impatience causes anxiety, which will cause you to punch at the trigger instead of gradually engaging it, and the arrow could fly erratically.

How to Use a Finger Trigger Release

If you use a finger trigger, try not to curl your finger around it too much.  The more contact you have with the trigger, the more pressure you will feel as you apply it.  This will lead to anticipating the shot too much and then getting over-excited and punching at the trigger.  Be sure to practice your archery finger release technique for the best results.

How to Use a Thumb Trigger Release

When using a thumb release, keep your thumb straight while you move it towards the trigger. This way, there is only the slightest of pressure from your thumb onto the trigger, meaning you can then focus on using your back muscles to draw back your elbow correctly. This will enable you to get the right angle with your arm, indeed your whole body, to be able to make an accurate shot.

By setting up your bow release correctly, you can then use the surprise release technique.

How to Practice Without Using Arrows

So, you are now ready to put your newly acquired knowledge into practice, but you do not want to shoot those arrows yet.  How can you do this?

Well, you can set up a device to enable you to dry fire, without using your compound bow and causing damage to the bow itself and to you.

Get a long piece of cord, the same length as your draw length, and use that to dry fire with. You can then work on your release methods, without actually firing your valuable arrows. Ensure the length is correct, to simulate your posture and pull in the most exact manner possible. Load the bow release onto this string and lay it in your release hand, curling your finger around it and keeping the back of your hand perfectly flat.

Extend your arm back into full draw position and adjust your fingers to create the perfect angle for your shooting style and comfort. Once you are happy, work on applying the correct amount of pressure to the trigger, gradually and gently. Be sure to keep your thumb straight if you are using a thumb trigger bow release and do not curl your fingers too tightly.

Be sure to focus on those back muscles, feeling them working hard to extend your arm and take the pressure out of that area.  It is a good idea to have something behind you, such as a wall or other focal point, so that you can really focus on drawing your elbow back towards it.

This practice archery release technique is something you can do at any time, from anywhere.  If you work in an office, you can even do it at your desk.  Just be sure your boss doesn’t catch you, as you may have trouble passing it off as work!

This is also a perfect technique to use when the weather is bad.  So, when the hunting season is over and you can’t get outdoors as much, be sure to practice your bow string release techniques to keep your momentum going unto the next season starts.  After all, you don’t want to get rusty and have to start all over again.

Now that you know how to shoot a bow with a release, be sure to practice as much as you can. After all, practice makes perfect.


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