If you are getting serious about finding the best compound bow releases out there, first you must know that this topic is highly subjective. Many different opinions coexist and you may sometimes end up confused rather than enlightened after reading a post or a review. A lot relies on comfort in your hand and favored anchor point which is mostly about personal preferences. When receiving advice on the release you should be using, people often refer to what works best for them which may not necessarily work out the same for you. Though, the main purpose of a good release aid will always remain the same...A clean and consistent release of the bowstring.
For this reason, I have included several types of release aids in this article so it can please a lot of different archers with different shooting styles. Whether you are looking for the best target archery releases or the best bow releases for hunting, this post will get you covered. But remember that nothing can't beat trying them out.
You will find index finger and thumb trigger releases as well as hinge releases, also known as back tension releases which are in fact a shooting style/technique that can be executed with almost any type of release, triggered or not.
First, let's briefly describe each type before going further in depth.
The Index Finger Release
Often falling into the category of wrist strapped releases because all of them are attached to wrist straps which help you pull the weight when drawing your bow. Its name "index finger release" tells you all, at full draw, the bowstring can be released when the mechanical aid is triggered by your index finger.
This type is mostly used by bowhunters, the reasons essentially being that the release is strapped to them so it cannot be lost and that the release of the bowstring can be performed quietly with total control over the timing the shot will be executed.
This type of release may motivate the archer to punch the trigger instead of using the whole arm causing some slight inaccuracies. It offers less contact area on the side of the face, increasing the chances for inconsistencies with the anchor point. Those are the primary reasons why the index finger release would rarely be seen in target archery.
The Thumb Trigger Release
Very popular type of release for bowhunters and target archers alike. The thumb trigger release is handheld and is obviously triggered with the thumb to let go of the bowstring. It is rarely seen with a wrist strap, though some models offer this feature, distributing the weight to be drawn between the arm, the hand and the wrist. The back tension release technique can be efficiently performed with most thumb trigger releases, an important factor why this type is popular among target archers.
Some bowhunters would not use the thumb trigger release because of the louder clicking sound made by this type of release but a lot of hunters who experimented it would say that this sound would not make any difference on a game's reaction because no release can make greater sound than the bow itself. The reason why it may seem loud is simply that the release is close to the shooter's ear. Still, I will take the quietness into account when mentioning the pros and cons of specific models.
The Hinge Release (aka back tension release)
A manually triggered release may enhance the problems caused by the psychological condition called "target panic", anxiety associated with the anticipation of the shot, which greatly influences accuracy and consistency by prematurely triggering the release.
The main way to prevent or solve, in part, the "target panic" issue is when you can't anticipate when the release happens so it surprises you. Your main task is, therefore, aiming at the target without thinking of triggering the release.
The hinge release is just that! It cannot be manually triggered with the index or the thumb, the release is a trigger by itself.
This type of release is just about drawing back tension; at the anchor point, by contracting the back muscles and squeezing the shoulder blades together, while aiming at the target, the open hook of the release would rotate, allowing the bowstring to go off unexpectedly.
This is a favorite when it comes to target archery. The hinge release is a handheld release but some may include a wrist strap as well.
The hinge release can be hazardous so keep in mind that you should aim the target spot on, at all time. Some hinge release may offer an additional safety feature to lock the bowstring in when drawing which can be set off once at anchor point and ready to pull back the bowstring further in order to create that same surprise release you want without the safety issue. This can also be a nice feature for bowhunters who want a hinge release.
Now that we have been through the three types of release this article is about, we are ready to go through them individually. To make this easier to find your way and to divide them for what they were essentially designed for, the releases are being put into 7 categories which are as follow;
- Best Index Finger Release for Hunting
- Best Thumb Release for Hunting
- Best Hinge Release for Hunting
- Best Thumb Release for Target Archery
- Best Hinge Release for Target Archery
- Best Index Finger Release for Target Archery
- Best Back Tension Releases for Beginners
1. Best Index Finger Release for Hunting
Spot Hogg Wiseguy Release
Great wrist strapped release triggered by the index finger. This release aid was specifically designed with the bowhunters in mind. The Spot Hogg Wiseguy features a quick loading jaw that clips to the D-Loop. This very quiet release folds back and locks in position to allow the bearer to free up his hand in order to achieve other tasks, though it may cause some limitations as it can get stuck in the clothing with certain motions or when digging into your pocket. The length is very easy to adjust for a custom fit. The adjustable trigger is very light and smooth which improves accuracy a great deal.
- Highly adjustable
- Quick loading jaw
- Light and quiet trigger
- Frees up the hand nicely
- The archer may be tempted to punch the trigger
- Even with the fold back position, it may limit some actions
Since I don't like to limit myself to only one release model for a category with a wide variety of choices, I have also included the following one as a cheaper option but could have included a handful of others...
Tru-Fire Hurricane Extreme Release Buckle Web
The Tru-Fire Hurricane Extreme Release is a smooth index finger trigger release, pretty similar to the regular Hurricane but slightly cheaper, which made me pick the Extreme model over the other one. Why pay more!?
This release offers infinite length adjustments and features a camo nylon Evolution buckle that fits nicely to the wrist (10 holes) with a half inch web connection system. The Tru-Fire Hurricane possess an adjustable trigger and can rotate 360 degrees which can fit righty or lefty along with many shooting styles. If you like more rigid straps, this one might not be for you. The trigger can be very sensitive, make sure to adjust it properly to avoid miss fires. If you like to free up your hand to achieve other tasks, note that this model can fold back but won't lock in position.
- Won't break the bank
- Miss fires may occur because of the high sensitivity of the trigger, be sure to adjust well
- Does not lock in fold back position
2. Best Thumb Release for Hunting
Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper Release
Available in 3-Finger or 4-Finger for 10$ more, the Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper Release has nice adjustability features for tension and travel along with two positions available for the trigger barrel to fit most archers. Comfortable to hold design with a closed jaw to keep the D-Loop locked in until the moment of release. Easy to anchor at the same spot every single time for consistent shooting. Because the grips on this release are quite flat, extended shooting sessions may be slightly uncomfortable but a wrist strap can be added for additional support when drawing back. All in all, the Whipper Snapper is quite a reliable release with great features and settings.
- Highly adjustable
- Wrist strap can be added
- Consistent anchor point
- Back tension technique easy to perform
- Crisp and clean break
- Extended shooting sessions may become uncomfortable without a wrist strap
- Neck may be slightly too long for some archers
And here is another great one at a considerably lower price...
TRU Ball Max Pro 4 Release
TRU Ball got it right with this release, simply love it and the price point is hard to beat, especially for a good thumb release. This release was designed more specifically for bowhunters but would suit any kind of archers. The Max Pro 4 is deadly silent and has a head that swivels 360 degrees allowing you to reach your favored position at anchor point with more ease. Plus, if you like wrist straps, then you can get it with a V-Lock wrist buckle strap. The jaws open and close quickly and easily for an increased loading speed. The sensitivity can be adjusted to your preference for optimal comfort.
- Wrist strap available
- Very silent
- Head swivels 360
- Adjustable sensitivity
- Awesome value for the money
- Misfires may occur. Make sure to adjust sensitivity well and oiling the calipers may be required to solve the issue.
3. Best Hinge Release for Hunting
This is certainly not the first type of release that comes to mind when speaking of bowhunting, but it certainly has its place for some shooters who are a fan of "back tension" releases.
A bowhunter who is seeking the perfect shot could opt for this type of release and avoid punching the trigger prematurely under stressful situations. If you can't take the shot with a hinge release, it is probably a shot that you should not be taking with any other release.
Some would say that they might not have time to take the shot with a hinge release compared with a triggered release but you should tell yourself this: If you can't take the shot with a hinge release, it is probably a shot that you should not be taking.
Scott Longhorn Hunter Release
The Scott Longhorn Hunter Release was specifically designed for bowhunters who wanted to increase their accuracy and/or defeat "target panic" they were experiencing with a triggered release. The three-finger design release has an open ergonomic full-radius handle that feels comfortable to hold. This hinge release also comes with a wrist buckle strap to help pull the weight back and keep it attached to you. The rope that connects the strap to the release can be adjusted in length as required.
- High-quality ergonomic design
- Increases accuracy
- Helps defeat "target panic"
- Adjustable wrist strap
- A bit of a learning curve for first-timers with this type of release
4. Best Thumb Release for Target Archery
Carter Chocolate Addiction Release
I have decided to settle on the Chocolate Addiction release but it could have been the Chocolate Lite which is equally great in my opinion but I needed to make a choice at some point. Both outstanding thumb trigger releases!
Trigger tension and travel on the Addiction is almost limitless and can be adjusted to fit just about anyone. This handheld release is offered in a 3-Finger and 4-Finger version. If you are to use a high poundage bow, I would seriously consider opting for the 4-Finger model for better grip and force when pulling back the bowstring with no difference in price. To close the hook, the release features a cocking lever. Years of shooting ahead of you when opting for this Carter release.
- Trigger tension and travel can be adjusted to fit anyone
- Crisp and smooth release
- Makes it easy to shoot back tension
- Extremely accurate
- Stays clipped on the D-Loop
- Also good for hunting
- Expensive for the budget minded archer
The following one is also a good cheaper option to consider...
TRU Ball Boss X Release
The TRU Ball Boss X release features a tapered handle delivering a comfortable hold. It has a free floating caliper head that eliminates torque and facilitates the position of your hand to your anchor point. Tigger travel and trigger tension can be adjusted to your liking with a 0.050 hex key wrench and a 5/64 hex key wrench respectively. The position of the trigger itself can also be adjusted to your preference for an optimal comfort.
- Caliper head rotates 360 degrees
- Adjustable trigger tension and travel
- Adjustable trigger positioning
- Comfortable design
- Considerable pressure needed to cock it
- Noisy release
*Mention to the Stan Black Pearl Heavy Metal that could have been included as well.
5. Best Hinge Release for Target Archery
Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage Release
The 3-finger brass constructed Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage release is one that you should remember when speaking of some of the best hinge releases out there. Brass increases weight for more consistency and feels a lot more solid in your hand. It comes at a pretty reasonable price for the quality and durability you get out of it, plus Scott releases are made in the USA and are covered by a solid warranty. You get the option to use the click or not and you get to set the moon to your liking quite easily. This release also features an auto-reset hook and interchangeable thumb pegs. The Pro Advantage will fit just about any hand sizes. Simple and efficient design from Scott Archery that deserves two thumbs up!
- Made out of brass
- Adjustable moon and auto-reset hook
- Click can be used or not
- Can fit most hand sizes
- Great value for the money
- Still not so cheap for the archer on a budget
Or if you are not on a budget at all and want to go for a more customizable release aid, you can have a look at this one...
TRU Ball Fulkrum Flex Release
The TRU Ball Fulkrum Flex release is made out of brass with an enclosed index finger and is probably one of the most customizable hinge releases you can get. It can be used as a 3-finger or a 4-finger release with the proper extension pieces included to assemble it as you like. The finger grips (extensions) can also be adjusted with an angle in each direction, up to 15-degree angle to be precise, so you can have your grip flat or curved to your preference. The Fulkrum Flex has a nice micro adjustable feature in the spring loaded sear that can be quickly and easily adjusted on the spot with the handy little hex tool stored (screwed) in the release itself.
- Highly customizable
- Brass construction with enclosed index finger
- Finger extensions (3rd and 4th finger included)
- Adjustable spring loaded sear with screwed in hex tool
- Expensive (but worth every penny)
6. Best Index Finger Release for Target Archery
Carter Like Mike Release
The Carter Like Mike is an index-finger release that features an open hook and a double sear design. It comes with a Scott buckle wrist strap. Its biggest asset is probably the adjustable trigger tension it offers as it can be set anywhere between 0 and 5 pounds. The big advantage of setting an heavy trigger is making it harder to punch so you don't have a choice but to slowly pull the trigger backwards to make the release happen, therefore, increasing accuracy and consistency of your shots.
Although this is a favorite when it comes to shooting back tension with a wrist strapped index finger release, the Carter Like Mike is not the only one available, especially if you are on a budget. You could as well opt for the Carter Rx1 or Rx2 for 139.99$ or even the Carter Quickie 1 for as low as 99.99$. If you rather go for a Scott release, try the Scott Rhino XT with a price tag of 85.99$.
- Adjustable trigger tension - 0 to 5 pounds
- Can eliminate trigger punching
- Makes it easier to shoot with back tension
- Increases accuracy and consistency
- Open hook for quick loading
- Highly priced for an index finger release
7. Best Back Tension Releases for Beginners
TRU Ball Sweet Spot II Release
Beginners may be intimidated by the idea of starting to shoot a hinge release because of its unpredictable behavior but know that some hinge releases come with an additional safety feature which is the case with the TRU Ball Sweet Spot II. The safety can be activated when drawing the bowstring up to the anchor point and then deactivated to execute the shot. This is a fine release to learn how to shoot back tension. The Sweet Spot 2 delivers the same consistent amount of trigger travel on every shot.
The TRU Ball Sweet Spot 2 release shown in the picture above is the Ultra 4-Finger model but is also available as the Ultra 3-Finger and the flat 4-Finger model. The Ultra models offer the possibility to attach a wrist strap to it.
- Safety feature
- Good to learn back tension
- Consistent trigger travel
- Possible wrist strap
- No cons really but isn't cheap
Scott Longhorn Hex Release
The Scott Longhorn Hex release is a bit controversial when it comes to categorizing it as a hinge release since it is not totally working the same way as one but is definitely a good release to initiate you with back tension.
The Longhorn Hex is a 2-finger hinge style release with an adjustable wrist strap and the bowstring must be pulled back using the wrist, the same way you would pull back an index-finger release, you can't pull it back as a handheld release. There is nowhere to put your thumb and the way to make the shot happen is to place your two fingers on the release and pull. The release itself is somehow a trigger, but a trigger that you are less likely to punch. Overall, it makes this trigger quite safe to draw and learn back tension since it won't misfire like a regular hinge release could.
- Good release to learn back tension
- Great control with the timing of your shots
- Pulled back with the wrist
- Not the same than a regular hinge style release
In conclusion, trying a release aid before making a significant purchase is always a good idea, some can be too small for you, others too large or feels bulky, you may not like the anchor of certain models and so on. If you are to perform a hundred shots in a day, you would want a good fit and have a comfortable hold on every shot. If you are going for a wrist strap, try opting for a buckle instead of velcro, this would allow you to have the same fit when putting it on every single time, therefore, delivering more consistency when performing the release.
Do not limit yourself to the bow release aids aforementioned, although they are great tested models, they might not suit you all. This article is largely open to discussion since someone would need to try them all out to really define the best out there but you certainly can't go wrong with any of them if it suits your hand and your style. But no matter what you hear and what you read, only you can know what is best for yourself.
Do not hesitate to leave a comment below or share with me what is your favorite release and why?
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