The Best Bow Release – Let it Fly!

To unleash a bowstring cleanly, forget your fingers, you need to be using the best bow release. Whether you're hunting or target shooting there are many different styles to choose from.

You can choose between triggering with a single finger, several fingers, or your thumb. Do you want to grip the release or hold the weight with your index finger or wrist? Maybe you want to learn the back-tension technique?

Each type of release has drawbacks and benefits depending on exactly what you are using it for. In this article we'll take you through the different types and styles of release aid introduce you to our top picks.

Our Top Picks

Wrist Strap Releases

4 Finger Trigger Release

4 Finger Thumb Release

Back Tension / Hinge Release

Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices.

A Quick Guide

Your fingers are the first obstacle that your string has to overcome before it goes on to fling the arrow towards the target.

Those fingers are coarse, and naturally sticky, they're designed to grip things. That grip can affect the path of your string on release, and ultimately the path of your arrow. Competitive recurve archers use finger tabs or gloves to assist not just with finger protection, but with helping to minimize that effect.

Compound archers or hunters commonly use release aids to completely remove fingers from the equation. There are several types available. Recurve shooters can use release aids too, but you should note that release aids are not permitted in all levels of competition.

Archery releases come in various different styles. Each with benefits and drawbacks for the archer. The simplest way to understand them, and to understand which would be best for you is to go through examples of each.

Wrist Strap / Trigger Releases

This type of release fits around your wrist and has a body that extends out past your fingers. The body has a trigger part way down and a caliper to grip onto the D-loop of your string.

To draw a wrist release you first need to clip the caliper end onto the D-loop of your string. You then grip the body of the release and draw back.

Scott Archery Shark Double Caliber Release

At full draw with a wrist release you can open and freely move your fingers as the weight of the string is being held by the strap on your wrist. In order to release the string and arrow, all you do is extend your index finger and apply some trigger pressure until the calipers let go of the string.

Because you hold the weight of the drawstring on your wrist this is great for people with grip strength issues or who are recovering from injury. Using your wrist also allows you to hold your bow at full draw for long periods with less difficulty than other types of release. This is useful when hunting and wanting to remain stationary when waiting for a target to move into range.

Another advantage to this type of release is that because it's attached to you, you won't easily lose it!

A couple of downsides to a wrist release are versatility and speed of shot execution. These are things that will most likely affect hunters. When you are not holding your bow ready to shoot, the body of the release is a constant obstacle to overcome when you may want to be doing other things with your hands. Also you aren't going to be quick on the draw and just grab and shoot with this style of release as you need to attach the caliper before you can draw which takes a few seconds. One way to speed things up is to switch to a 4 finger trigger release.

4 Finger Trigger Releases

4 finger trigger releases operate similarly to the wrist strap trigger releases mentioned previously. They have a body that you grip (with 4 fingers) and a caliper and index finger trigger mechanism that extends out past your fingers. 

Scott Archery Caliper Grip Release, 4 Finger, Black

In order to operate this style of release you simply attach the caliper to your D-loop. Wrap your fingers around the finger slots on the release and draw back. At full draw you are holding the weight with your fingers and hand but your index finger will be free to extend up and pull the trigger.

The major advantage to this type of release over the wrist release is speed of execution. If you're hunting you can leave this attached to your bowstring and have your hands free to do other tasks. When you need to take a shot you just grab the bow with one hand, the release with the the other and you are instantly into your shot cycle.​ This type of release is also pretty portable and will fit in your pocket or can attach to a lanyard on your wrist.

4 Finger Thumb Releases

Held again with 4 fingers, (one in each of the grooves) these releases are similar to the 4 finger trigger release shown previously. The main difference however is that this release is held a little differently. Your palm is more opened your index and first fingers make a V shape around the caliper extension. This gives your thumb a natural position resting on the trigger and your fingers a good anchor point against your face.

You activate the trigger on these with pressure from your thumb.

Tru Ball Max Hunter Pro 4 Release

Again, this type of release is more easily lost than a wrist release, but offers you a different shooting style and speed on the draw as you could, if you wanted, leave it attached to your D-loop whilst waiting for your next hunting shot.

Video - Mastering The Release Aid - Tips

Some great tips here from John Dudley on the differences between wrist and thumb releases and what you should be looking for when anchoring using each type of release.

Hinge / Back Tension Releases

This type of release is triggered a little differently. Even though you'll find releases labelled as 'back tension' releases, this isn't what they are. There is no magical sensor that can tell when your back muscles tense. The whole thing is a bit of a marketing mis-interpretation. These releases are normally hinge releases that trigger based on slight rotation of the device caused by your fingers. They are easier to trigger when you have good back tension in your draw.

Scott Archery BackSpin Release, Red, 3 Finger

3 finger finger hinge release, drawn with index finger

The principle is that as you pull back on this type of release it will not trigger as the hinge is not angles for release. Closer to full draw your other fingers come into play, adding tension to the other finger slots on the release, causing it to rotate or angle slightly and release the string. 

Scott Archery Longhorn Hex Release

A wrist strap hinge release, drawn with wrist

Video - Back Tension - How the Pro's do it...

Jimi Ellis explains back tension and demonstrates the Scott backspin release.

Wrist Strap Release Reviews

Tru Fire Release - WriST - Patriot Pt

TruFire Patriot Archery Compound Bow Release - Adjustable Black Wrist Strap

This is a wrist style release featuring a padded black nylon strap. The strap is velcro, which may not be the ideal thing to be taking on and off if you're trying to be quiet maybe when hunting. But it does offer a great deal of adjustment to suit any wrist size.

You can use it with either hand and you won't put any un-necessary torque on your  bowstring as the calipers will rotate to match the angle of your hand to the string. You can also adjust the travel on the trigger, but the sensitivity level is fixed. The calipers are coated with Teflon which helps to reduce friction against the bowstring and this is a dual caliper design. Dual caliper means that both sides of the caliper open when triggered to give a clean release. Also to give you the ability to shoot this either way up whether you are left of right handed. This is a great affordable release which will do 80% of what more expensive releases do for 30% of the price.

There's also a Junior model of exactly the same release available. Made with the same components and quality but designed to fit the wrists of youth shooters.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Adjustable
  • Dual Caliper
  • Swivel
  • Usable Left and Right Handed
  • Junior Version Available

Cons

  • Noisy Velcro Strap
  • Fixed Trigger Sensitivity

Scott Archery Shark Double Caliper Release

Scott Archery Shark Double Caliber Release

Scott are a well known name in the archery release world. They produce some great products and this is one of them. The Shark is one of their best selling releases. This release gives you the option of 2 types of strap and 2 styling choices (camo and plain black). You can get it with a velcro strap for maximum adjustability but it's also available with a buckle for people who want to be quiet when hunting.

The distinctive dual green calipers both open on this release when the (also green) trigger is activated. That trigger has a ribbed finish to ensure your finger won't slip. The trigger sensitivity can be adjusted so give you just the feel you want. The caliper head swivels to allow use in either hand and reduce torque on the bowstring and you can adjust the length of the release to one of 4 placements.

Pros

  • Camo Styling Option
  • 4 position length adjustment
  • Dual Caliper
  • Swivel
  • Usable Left and Right Handed
  • Choice of Strap (Velcro or Buckle)
  • Adjustable trigger sensitivity

Cons

  • None

Tru Fire Hardcore - Buckle Fold Back Release

TruFire Hardcore Buckle Foldback Adjustable Archery Compound Bow Release - Camo Wrist Strap with Foldback Design

If you find wrist releases annoying when you're hunting or between shots. If they get in your way, this release may be just the thing for you. Tru-Fire have designed this one so that you can flip back the body of the release when it isn't in use leaving you unobstructed hands for performing other tasks. You'd also be happier wearing this for extended periods of time whilst walking or hiking to your destination.

The Hardcore has a camo buckle strap so it's quiet to put on, but with that fold back release you probably aren't going to be taking it on and off all that much. 

This features a swept back trigger which we also like because if you're doing it right you shouldn't be using the tip of your finger to pull the trigger. That's too sensitive and can cause target panic and anticipation, ideally you want to use the first of second joint of your finger. That's easier to do with a swept back trigger design.

Pros

  • Folds Back When Not In Use
  • Hook Release
  • 20% pivot
  • Swept back trigger
  • Adjustable
  • Usable Left and Right Handed

Cons

  • Flourescent yellow logo isn't very camo!

Scott Longhorn Hex

Scott Archery Longhorn Hex Release

The Scott Longhorn combines the best of Scott wrist release straps with a 2 finger a hinge to give you the best of both worlds. You draw and hold this with the weight on your wrist, but you activate it with tension in your first and second fingers. The rope connector  holding the release to the wrist strap means you can make infinite adjustments to the length. This type of release is great for someone wanting to learn how to shoot back tension and who needs to be able to hold the weight on their wrist.

Pros

  • Camo and black designs
  • Wrist and back tension combo
  • Quality leather wrist strap
  • Infinite length adjustment

Cons

  • Cost

4 Finger Trigger Release Reviews

Scott Caliper 4 Finger Grip Release

Scott Archery Caliper Grip Release, 4 Finger, Black

If you're not a fan of the wrist release, or you prefer something to hold. This 4 finger release is has a design that gives you something chunky to grab onto.

You activate this one with the ribbed trigger which is colored red to match the dual calipers at the front. The dual caliper design means that both calipers will open when the trigger is activated releasing the string more evenly.

If you're worried about losing this, you could always hook it onto your wrist using ​the little loop at the back which is designed for that purpose. However, one of the main benefits of this type of release (especially for the hunter) is that you can leave it attached to the D-loop on your bowstring whilst your waiting for your next shot to appear. Then all you need to do is grab your bow and your release and you are almost instantly ready to shoot.

Pros

  • Dual Caliper
  • Swivel
  • Usable Left and Right Handed
  • Shot Speed

Cons

  • Non adjustable length

4 Finger Thumb Release Reviews

Tru-Fire Hardcore 4 Finger Revolution

Tru-Fire Hardcore 4 Finger Revolution Archery Release

The Hardcore is a hook style release activated by a thumb trigger. These are nice to hold and draw with and create an ideal position in your index and first finger to use as an anchor point.

The head of this release can rotate 360 degrees. That means it's usable in either hand and it also means you can be sure of no string torque. Another plus point is that not only does the head rotate universally but you can lock it into position. There are 11 ball  bearings that ensure the rotation is as smooth as butter.

You can adjust the thumb trigger position, travel and tension giving you the ability to make this release work and feel exactly as you need it to.​ It's also included with a handy lanyard loop that can be adjusted to sit comfortably around your wrist so you'll never drop or lose it (this is optional and can be removed).

Pros

  • Trigger Adjustability
  • 360 degree swivel and lock
  • Includes lanyard/retainer
  • Usable Left and Right Handed

Cons

  • Price

Hinge (Back Tension) Release Reviews

Scott Archery BackSpin Release

Scott Archery BackSpin Release, Red, 3 Finger

This type of release is normally something you'd graduate to and not use as a beginner. It is the type of release professional target archers use and some hunters. This particular model from Scott is available in either 3 finger or 4 finger variants depending on your preference. The index finger hole rotates to allow you a smooth index finger draw. That extra rotation in the index finger sets this release apart above other back-tension releases. If you can afford it, give one a try, you may well never go back.

Pros

  • Optional Finger Configurations
  • Quality Product
  • Usable Left of Right Handed

Cons

  • Price
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