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Using your bare fingers to shoot from a 60 or 70-pound compound bow is certainly impractical if not impossible. This is because the mechanics and string angles of high-speed compound bows favored by archers today require the use of a compound bow release. Using a proper bow release can mean the difference between that clean accurate shot and one that jumps off the string, leaving you red-faced as you miss the target. Unfortunately, finding the best compound bow release can be quite challenging, given that there are a lot of opinions out there. You want something that delivers a crisp, consistent and accurate release of the bowstring.
So what is the best compound bow release?
Based on my experience and research, the overall best type of compound bow release is a thumb release. If you switch to a thumb release, once you get used to it you can expect your accuracy and consistency to improve drastically. It also depends a lot on your preferred anchor point, the comfort in your hand, as well as your style of archery. So I have arranged my top 6 picks for the best compound bow releases here:
- Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper Thumb Release
- Carter Chocolate Addiction Thumb Release
- Tru-Fire Hardcore Caliper Release
- Tru-Fire Hurricane Caliper Release
- Scott Longhorn Hunter Back Tension Release
- Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage Back Tension Release
Before going deeper into the best compound releases let’s briefly answer these critical questions.
- 1 What is a Thumb Release?
- 2 What’s a Caliper Release?
- 3 What’s Hinge Release (AKA Back Tension Release)?
- 4 What is a Finger Tab, Gloves?
- 5 Are Thumb Releases more Accurate?
- 6 What’s the Best Compound Bow Release?
- 6.1 Best Thumb Release for Hunting
- 6.2 Best Caliper Release for Hunting
- 6.3 Best Caliper Release for Target Archery
- 6.4 Best Hinge/Back tension Release for Hunting
- 6.5 Best Hinge/Back Tension Release for Target Archery
What is a Thumb Release?
This type of release is hugely popular with both target archers and bowhunters. Also known as a handheld release, a thumb release uses the trigger mechanism to let go of the arrow from the bowstring. The trigger mechanism is structured to be pulled by
the thumb and not the index finger or any other part of the hand.
The main aim of using the thumb rather than the index finger is that the index finger naturally wants to pull back the string. This natural tendency can result in unintentionally releasing your arrow if you don’t train for it or are overcome by target panic. The thumb is naturally out of the way and so it’s easier to train to activate the trigger with your thumb.
Most target archers and bowhunters claim that thumb releases are the most consistent and reliable pieces of archery equipment. From my personal experience of using all types of compound bow releases, I can fully vouch for this claim.
Food for Thought:
I’ve come across a few bowhunters who wouldn’t use the thumb release because of the louder clicking noise they make. However, this sound wouldn’t make any big difference on the game’s reaction given that the release doesn’t make a louder sound than the bow itself. In fact, it’s probably louder simply because the release will be closer to your ear.
With enough experience, you’ll soon realize that the best thumb release does actually help in improving your shot execution and accuracy. On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect it to completely eliminate target panic. But if you learn how to use it appropriately and execute it naturally, you’ll significantly improve your accuracy, and this is what will help you eliminate target panic.
What’s a Caliper Release?
Also known as wrist strapped releases or trigger release, caliper releases are generally attached to wrist straps. This is to help you pull the weight when drawing back the bowstring. At full draw, the bowstring is released by activating the trigger with your index finger. It’s popular among bowhunters given that it’s easy to set up, adjust, and most importantly, easy to use. It’s also typically much less expensive.
The wrist strap is essential in the sense that you can’t lose it. Generally, caliper releases are structured either with single or dual ball bearing jaws.
Food for Thought:
Caliper release can motivate you to punch the trigger. This is because you’re using the entire arm, but this might cause some slight inaccuracies and inconsistencies. This is essentially why this type of release isn’t so popular with target archers.
When it comes to wrist straps, they’re available in hook, loop and buckle styles. While strap style tends to be cheaper, it can make lots of noise when tightened under tension. You should, therefore, go for something that can easily and perfectly fold away.
What’s Hinge Release (AKA Back Tension Release)?
Believe it or not, target panic or the psychological anxiety associated with anticipating the shot can negatively affect your accuracy and consistency. You’ll not only trigger the release prematurely but you’ll be unable to hold the pin steady on the bull’s eye. The main solution to target panic is by not anticipating the release and focus on back tension!
Well, when you don’t anticipate the release, your only task will be to aim at the target while paying attention to your form and this will increase your accuracy levels.
That’s where the back tension release comes in handy.
Devoid of the manual trigger, back tension release requires you to fully draw to a pre-set activation draw weight by gradually squeeze your shoulder blades together. This is achieved by increasing the tension in your back’s muscles.
As you contract and squeeze together your shoulder blades, the open hook of the release will rotate and allow the arrow to go off “unexpectedly”. Back tension releases are a favorite for target archers and can be handheld or wrist strapped.
Food for Thought:
Back tension release can be so intimidating if you don’t understand how it works. Again, it can also be hazardous if you don’t learn the ropes properly. To guarantee your safety, most manufacturers design them with safety features to lock the bowstring when drawing, and will only be triggered once at anchor point and pull back without any safety issue.
What is a Finger Tab, Gloves?
A finger tab is a simple piece of leather that fits between your draw-hand finger (the hand that’s pulling the bowstring) and the bowstring. It has a part that’s in contact with the bowstring, which is often made of leather. The main purpose of the finger tab is to protect your fingers while still ensuring smooth bowstring release with every shot. Again, the gloves can do the same functions: protect the fingers.
Can You Use Finger Tabs and Gloves for Compound Bows?
Even though this may depend on individual preferences, it’s generally easier and more forgiving to use a finger tab on a compound bow than gloves. This is because a finger tab works to smooth or flatten the transition between the fingers and the bowstring, and it’s quite hard for each finger to individually affect the string.
On the other hand, each of your fingers may have its own interaction with the bowstring when using gloves. Therefore, it’s a lot easier to use a finger tab on a compound bow than gloves. In fact, a finger tab can provide proper anchoring of the draw when you pull the bowstring and this will increase your shot consistency.
Are Thumb Releases more Accurate?
I’d say YES. And it’s because the thumb naturally is at rest when you draw the string back as opposed to the index finger that naturally wants to grab and curl around the string or a caliper release. Thumb releases drastically reduce unintentional releases.
Now, before you all go crazy, that does not mean that EVERY thumb release archer is ALWAYS better than archers who use other types of releases.
Skill does, in fact, make a difference.
It all depends on your skills and shot execution. If you can perfectly execute a shot with a caliper release, I’d just say you’d probably be even more consistent with a thumb or back tension release. It’s, however, crucial to note that most archers find it more difficult to execute an accurate shot with a caliper or index finger release.
What’s the Best Compound Bow Release?
Given that we’ve discussed the different types of releases and other factors related to compound bows, let’s go through the best compound releases currently available in the market.
Best Thumb Release for Hunting
Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper Thumb Release
Coming in either 3-Finger or 4-Finger, this thumb release has fine adjustability features for tension. These adjustability features are available in two positions for trigger barrel that can be suitable for most archers. It’s designed to enhance your comfort thanks
to its closed jaw, which can keep the D-Loop in position until it’s released.
This release is easy to set up and anchor at the same spot every time and can offer you consistent shooting every single time. Given that it’s designed with flat grips, this release can become uncomfortable if used for extended periods. However, this issue can be minimized by adding a wrist strap for additional support. Check the current price on Amazon here.
- Comes with a consistent anchor point
- It’s highly adjustable
- You can easily perform the back tension technique
- Allows for the wrist strap to be added
- It’s durable
- The neck can be too long for some archers
- It can become quite uncomfortable for extended shooting without a strap
Best Caliper Release for Hunting
Some people say this is arguably the best compound bow release currently available in the market. It’s designed with a single hook release that guarantees precision by automatically self-closing. Made of high-quality craftsmanship, this release provides reliable performance.
In fact, it’s the only wrist-based release designed with a pivoting head that can move either to the right or to the left at a full 20 degrees. This is essential in the sense that it helps lower the torque at full draw.
Equipped with the Evolution buckle strap, this release is the simplest and most comfortable to use. The trigger travel is highly adjustable to offer more comfort. You can also lock it firmly with a screw. Check the current price on Amazon here.
- Highly adjustable
- Has an awesome and super comfy wrist strap
- Its pivot can adjust to reduce torque when drawing
- It folds back much tighter
- The rotation of the head is slightly sticky
- It’s one of the most expensive releases in the market
- It has a lot of screws
Best Caliper Release for Target Archery
If there’s one caliper release that enables you to shoot those arrows with precision and confidence, it has to be Tru-Fire Hurricane. This is a dual caliper release that’s not only great for beginners but can also be used by the most experienced archers. It has a spring-loaded trigger for fast and instant response, which affords you the chance to aim and shoot immediately without giving the game an opportunity to disappear out of sight.
In addition to its state-of-the-art evolution buckle strap, its jaws can be easily opened by drawing the trigger back and still close when the same component is let off. The trigger travel is also adjustable and can be done without using any tools. Check the current price on Amazon here.
- The length can be easily adjusted without the use of any tool
- It’s easy to use
- The trigger travel is highly adjustable
- It’s designed with a comfortable fold-back
- The trigger travel is very sensitive
Best Hinge/Back tension Release for Hunting
Scott Longhorn Hunter Release
This release is specifically structured for bowhunters who want to enhance their accuracy while minimizing target panic. This 3-Finger release comes with an ergonomic full-radius handle, making it very comfortable.
This release also has a wrist buckle strap that’s crucial in pulling the weight back while keeping it attached to you. Check the current price on Amazon here.
- It enhances accuracy
- High-quality ergonomic design
- It has an adjustable trigger travel and wrist strap
- It can help lower target panic
- Can be slightly challenging for beginners
Best Hinge/Back Tension Release for Target Archery
Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage Release
Constructed with brass, this 3-Finger is one of the best hinge releases in the market. The brass not only increases its weight but makes it a lot more solid in your hands, thereby increasing consistency. It’s of high quality, very durable and available for quite a reasonable price.
It also has an auto-reset hook, as well as interchangeable thumb pegs, which makes it adjustable to fit just about any hand size. Check the current price on Amazon here.
- Made with brass giving it a solid feel
- It’s highly adjustable
- Offers great value for money
- It’s not cheap for those on a budget
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.