The nice thing about shooting a compound bow in 2019 is that
we no longer have to shoot using only our fingers! As compound archers, we have
a variety of choices when it comes to release aids. Wrist strap trigger, hand
held trigger, hinge release, and resistance release. With so many choices, how
do we know which one to shoot? I’ll tell you how I’ve made my choice as a
professional archer, and hopefully make it easier for you to decide when
The most common release in bowhunting is the wrist strap trigger release.
They’re usually very reliable, quiet, and easy to always have ready since it’s strapped to your wrist. While it may not be the most accurate release for some people, it’s the best release for hunting to use if you don’t struggle with target panic. The thing is, most of us including myself struggle to keep target panic at bay, so training in practice with a hinge or resistance release is necessary to be accurate when shooting your trigger. The same goes for competing with a handheld trigger release.
For years have exclusively competed with a Carter Just Cuz+ which is a three finger thumb button trigger release. The reason I choose a thumb button for competition is because I feel I can aim a lot more steady. For me the steadier I aim, the better I can keep my shot sequence process moving. As the name implies, a thumb button release aid will not fire until the thumb trigger is activated. Most models allow for several adjustments between the length the trigger has to travel as well as the amount of pressure it takes to activate the trigger and break the shot. Practice makes fine tuning such a release very rewarding and can lead to creating a very confident shot sequence.
Another common type of release for the tournament archer is a hinge or back tension release. Beginners to a hinge must really be careful and fully understand how this style of release works before attempting to use one. A hinge is designed to activate after the internal parts of the release, commonly called sears or “moons” slide to a position that allows the hook to release the bowstring at full draw. These releases can be adjusted to allow for a little or a lot of travel from the sears, which is usually referred to as hot or cold adjustments. There are a few different ways to manipulate a hinge style of release to activate, but creating a shot sequence of hand manipulation that is the same between a thumb button and a hinge style release can create very good habits in an archer and is what I use to ensure the best possible shot and shot sequence.
A resistance style release is one where what looks like the thumb trigger is actually the safety that does not allow the release to activate until you remove your thumb from it. This style of release is designed to have the safety activated while drawing the bow and coming to anchor. While at anchor you release the safety, but the release doesn’t activate yet. The mechanism of the release then requires additional pulling pressure to activate the release to fire. Essentially, you have to pull harder on the string to activate the release. Of course, how hard you have to pull after the safety is released is adjustable. This style of release ensures a dynamic shot process of pushing the bow with the bow hand and pulling with the release hand. Each of these style releases can and should be activated utilizing back tension and a shot sequence that is similar in each style of release.
So What is Shot Sequence?
Your Shot Sequence is a cycle that we all have to figure out, but once you do, you’ll make stronger, more steady, and more consistent shots.
My Shot Sequence relies entirely on utilizing back tension in my shots, whether it be a thumb button style release, tension activated or a hinge. More than once a week I’ll break out the hinge release or resistance release. Each one of those teaches you and reminds you of one basic in archery that we all use, including recurve archers who only use their fingers as a release: The use of back tension.
Back tension is the core of a good shot. If it breaks down, so does the shot. Without consistent back tension, the detrimental process of starting and stopping the shot happens. It’s only in micro seconds that it happens, but as you start and stop a shot, the longer the shot takes. The longer a shot takes, then aiming breaks down. If aiming breaks down and the process of starting and stopping the pulling on the release continues until you either forcefully activate the release when you’re already shaky from holding too long, or you have to let down. A forced shaky shot is not likely going to hit your intended target. Letting down is rarely an option while hunting, and it’s not ever an option when in a medal match that only allows 20 seconds to shoot the shot. All that can be avoided in training yourself to create a proper shot sequence.
Try breaking out a hinge or resistance release sometimes and make it part of your routine to use these releases every other day or so. My advice to anyone is have both a trigger release and a hinge release and master both of them so that your shot sequence is very similar or identical between the two. In this way, you ensure you are using back tension to activate the thumb button, and not “punching” the trigger. The hinge allows you to check your form, as you can’t punch a trigger that doesn’t exist on the hinge. However, you can properly execute identical shot sequences on both releases.
Train with both, BUT compete with only one. Going back and
forth while competing is usually not a good idea. You are using both releases
to train your body and mind for one shot sequence and to gain confidence in the
one release you compete with. When you are attempting to find your very best
shot sequence that fits you, don’t be afraid to change it up a bit to keep it
fresh. Trying out different releases from different companies can lead
you to find something that just fits your right or that you feel more
comfortable with. Confidence with the release you know you love is a huge advantage
over others that are fighting a release and a shot sequence that they are not
completely comfortable with.
Lastly, get out there and compete. You’ll become an all around better archer just by going to events and getting experience where you’re not 100% comfortable and nerves start getting involved. Tiger Woods famously talks about “Ranger Rick” who has amazing results when just at the range and isn’t competing against anyone. But when Ranger Rick enters a tournament he falls apart and is not very good. Creating a solid shot sequence and gaining confidence in your equipment will take a Ranger Rick out of the range and allow them to compete and win.
By Paul Tedford
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