What is a bow release: quick guide to arrow release aids

In bow hunting by hooversoutdoors1 Comment

A bow release or a release aid is a device that allows an archer to use a mechanical trigger to release the bow string instead of their fingers to improve accuracy.

What are the different types of bow release aids available

For compound bow shooters there are 4 different types of releases.

  • index finger trigger
  • thumb trigger
  • back tension
  • resistance activated

For longbow and recurve archers

  • finger tabs
  • gloves

A quick guide to the different types of bow release aids

Index finger release

These are exactly what they sound like. They are triggered by using your index finger. These releases use a wrist strap that joins the muscles of your forearm and wrist making it easier to draw your bow. Hunters will appreciate the fact that these stay attached to your wrist making it easy to keep up with them while hunting in the deep woods. When drawing your bow you should keep your trigger finger behind the trigger mechanism. Once you are ready to shoot your finger should not have to extend all the way out to reach the trigger. Simply curl your finger around the trigger and pull your whole are through the shot. This will eliminate trigger slapping which will throw off your arrows flight.

Thumb trigger release

These types are released with the thumb obviously. They do not generally have a wrist strap, although a few manufacturers are making them with straps. Some bowhunters and target shooters use these but they are not the most popular among either. In my personal experience you will need to concentrate on keeping your thumb well clear of the trigger especially when drawing. When switching from another type of release to a thumb trigger you will have some time learning a completely new technique as this type of release has a different feel than the others.

Hinge release

The newest type of release on the market. The release connects to the D-loop by an open hook. The theory is you come to full draw and then squeeze your shoulder blades together. This torques your release further toward the open hook. The best shots in archery are the ones that surprise you when they break. A hinge release is designed to give you a surprise release every time to prevent you from having target panic.

Another technique used by some of the top 3-D shooters is to come to full draw and then relax your release hand. This will cause your hand to stretch and allow the shot to break.

This type of release is great for experienced target shooters because of the surprise factor. Due to the necessity of keeping your pin on the target constantly it may not be the best option for hunters or novices. Hunters sometimes require more control over when the shot breaks even if a little less accuracy is attained.

Resistance release

This type of release is used in the same fashion as the hinge release. When drawing your bow you hold your thumb on the barrel shaped safety mechanism. This prevents accidental discharges. Once you come to full draw you will then release the safety and begin squeezing your shoulder blades or relaxing your hand to fire your arrow.

Finger tabs

Finger tabs are used by traditional archers. It’s not that mechanical types or trigger releases cannot be used by longbow or recurve archers. In competitions they are prohibited. Finger tabs are also more closely related to bare fingers and are more traditional in nature. Most archers shooting bows with no cams are after this feeling. Tabs are used to create a more consistent release of arrows by providing a flat-smooth surface for the string to glide across. This is better than letting the string roll off your fingers.


Working in the same way as finger tabs these are used to protect your fingers and provide a smoother release of the bow string.


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