As archers, we’re always trying to perfect our precision and consistency. One key component to having a consistent and precise shot is to release the string properly. This is where the release aid comes in handy. The purpose of a release aid is to help you get a better and more consistent release. This, in turn, will eliminate variables and lead to more accurate shots on those 3D targets. In addition to improving your aim, a release aid can also work as an anchor point.
In this article, I’ll give you a rundown of the best release aids, in my opinion, the different types of release aids that exist on the market today, and whether or not it’s worth your money.
After having researched and tried a few different release aids, I recommend the TruFire Patriot Archery Compound Bow Release (Amazon link).
Top release aids for 3D-archery
Best wrist strap index trigger release
TruFire Patriot (Amazon link) – Cheap, comfortable and durable. For compound archers. My personal choice.
The TruFire Patriot has lasted me over two years now. The release is consistent, and the wrist strap doesn’t strain like some others that I’ve tried. The trigger is light. Although you can adjust the trigger travel, I’ve just used the default. For the price, it’s really a no-brainer. Great for beginners and intermediates. I haven’t found a better trigger release even in higher price ranges.
Best handheld thumb trigger release
Tru-Fire Edge (Amazon link) – Super light and comfortable grip. A premium product, but currently out of stock. I’m going to research a good option to this one.
The Tru-Fire Edge is a very lightweight and comfortable 4 finger release aid. The trigger is very light but can be adjusted to personal taste. I recommend using a D-loop as part of your setup.
Best handheld hinge release
Tru Ball Archery Honey Badger (Amazon link) – Ergonomic grip, delivers consistent shots and very durable.
If you like back-tension releases, you’ll love the Tru Ball Honey Badger release. I got a chance to try this release from one of my friends, and i’m definetly considering buying one. This is a triggerless release aid. I want to see if it improves my consistency and accuracy after some practice. It’s on an entirely different price range, but at the same time this release will last you a long time. My friend is still using his first one after three years with no complaints.
Best glove release aids for recurve archers
ArcheryMax Three Finger Gloves (Amazon link) – The most comfortable out of the gloves and finger tabs I’ve tried. Great protection for your fingers which will allow you to shoot for much longer. I’ve never experienced finger pain when using these gloves. The fingertips are very sensitive which gives a natural feel. They’ll get less stiff after a few shots. It’s important that you get the right size, or it’ll be uncomfortable. Great glove for a very fair price.
A release aid will help you eliminate any mistake you might be making with the release. This can have a huge impact on improving your aim and consistency, which in turn will lead to higher scores in 3D archery. A release aid is attached to the string For compound bows, there are four types of release aids to choose from. Recurve archers can choose between two release aids. Here you’ll learn which release aid you should get.
Release aids for compound bows
For compound archers, you will be using a mechanical release aid. A mechanical release aid releases the string with the help of a trigger. There are four types of release aids for compound bows.
An index trigger has a wrist strap and small pin that you attach to the string or D-loop. The wrist strap helps with the draw and eliminates the risk of you losing the release aid. To release, you simply press the trigger with your index finger. The pin then moves and the arrow releases.
You will have to practice not releasing too early. After some practice, releasing with the trigger will feel natural and become second nature. Just like your stance, eventually, you won’t even think about it. But in the very beginning, it can be a bit of a challenge.
An index trigger is attached to your wrist with a wrist wrap, so you can’t lose it. It’s also very easy to attach the string to the pin.
The release should occur when you curl your index finger and pull through with your arm, rather than squeezing the trigger.
The thumb trigger works similarly to an index trigger, but instead, you use your thumb to release the string. A thumb trigger can be used as an anchor point, by having the trigger touching your cheekbone, for example. This gives you great consistency in your shots. Just like the index trigger, you can use the trigger as a button or a tension-building motion.
Most thumb triggers are handheld, which means they don’t have a wrist strap. Some thumb triggers come with wrist wraps. The thumb trigger is the closest thing to a back tension / hinge release, while still having a trigger for the release.
Hinge release / Back tension
A hinge release does not have a trigger. Instead, the release occurs with the natural rotation of your hand when fully extended. This means that when your index finger tilts backward towards your pinky, the hook opens and the string releases. This type of release has a very natural feel.
Compared to a trigger type release aid, it removes the step where you have to consciously press the release to shoot the arrow. This lets you fully focus on the target, and you won’t accidentally fire prematurely. Keep in mind that hinge releases are handheld and not attached to a wrist strap. Some of the more costly hinge releases have wrist wraps, but most don’t.
You can shoot a hinge release by either adding tension to your back, aka. squeezing your shoulder blades together, or by tilting your hand slowly when extended.
By either adding tension to your back, aka. squeezing your shoulder blades together, or by pivoting your hand until the hinge releases the string.
Resistance activated release
As the name suggests, the resistance activated release does not have a trigger. The first step is to attach the hook to the string or D-loop. Then, you extend, release the safety clip and squeeze your shoulder blades until the arrow shoots.
The advantage of a resistance activated release over a hinge release is that you’ll be able to practice good form and back tension before having to release the arrow thanks to the safety clip. It’ll make a huge difference in how quickly you’ll improve your form and release.
Which one is the best?
All release aids come with their advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I use the hinge release because it’s what works best for me, but there are many professionals who use other types of release aids. I recommend you try out a few and choose one that fits you, but you can do really well with any one of them.
Target archers usually prefer the hinge release, while bowhunters like to have more control over the release and go for either the index trigger or thumb trigger. But of course, there are exceptions.
How to use mechanical trigger release aids
You can use the trigger as either a “button” or slowly increase tension on the trigger until release. However, I recommend you try to instead slowly build tension and increase the pressure on the button until release. This shift made a big difference in consistency for my shots.
Wrist strap VS handheld releases
Wrist-wrap releases attach to your wrist with a velcro strap or buckle. They are cheap and beginner-friendly. Handheld releases give you more diversity in terms of design and sizing. Handheld releases have between 2-4 finger slots, with 3 finger slots being the most used type of handheld release. Both wrist wrap and handheld releases exist for index triggers, thumb triggers, and hinge releases.
Release aids for compound bows
A release aid is close to a must for compound archers because if you don’t use it you will get hurt. While it’s still possible for compound archers to use mechanical release aids, it’s usually not the intentional style of compound archers and is not allowed in competitions. However, there are two good alternatives for compound archers; finger tab releases and gloves.
Finger tab release & gloves
The purpose of a finger tab release or glove is to enable you to shoot longer without hurting your fingers. While they don’t immediately affect accuracy, They do allow you to practice longer and protects you from hurting yourself. The small strap around your long finger will keep the tab in place. It’s important that you get the correct size. A finger tab that is too big or small will feel uncomfortable and can worsen your release.
The finger tab will protect the inside of thee your three middle fingers. You can have either one finger above the arrow or all three fingers beneath the arrow.
Gloves work in the same way. Choose the one that you prefer. Both tabs and gloves come in different materials such as leather and plastic. Which type of tab release or glove is best for you depends on your type of shooting. You’ll have to specify which hand you will be using the finger tab or glove.
Now you know enough about release aids to make an educated decision whether or not it’s for you. For me, it really made an impact on my accuracy and consistency. Happy shooting!