Archery Release Aids

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If you’re not shooting a release aid you could be a better shot. There I said it, knowing full well my mail box is likely to be flooded with hate mail from traditional archery buffs and tab shooters everywhere.

Still I must say that there is no denying how using a mechanical arrow release can improve hunter success or 3D shooting scores.



I’ve been bow hunting seriously for 15 years give or take a season. Like most archery hunters I started out using a finger tab and felt my shooting skill was more than adequate for hunting at normal ranges.

The first release I shot changed my mind and shooting style forever. A friend introduced me to the Trophy Hunter and at his insistence I tried a few shots from his bow. Without ever having shot his bow before, I was able to parlay the tightest groups of my life in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t believe how my consistency and accuracy improved simply by using a mechanical release.

A sobering moment in my bow hunting career, it didn’t take me long to discover that with my own bow in hand, I could shoot better than I ever dreamed possible thanks to a release aid. I also discovered that I could shoot accurately at greater distances and with fewer fliers caused from a poor release as compared to my old finger tabs.

That was almost eight years ago and I haven’t looked back since. I still have that Trophy Hunter and half a dozen other release styles close at hand. They all work exceptionally well and choosing one is simply a matter of finding the model that feels comfortable with your personal shooting style and budget.

Archery release aids help to reduce the element of human error associated with archery shooting. It’s that simple. A mechanical release yields a crisper separation of the nock and string, resulting in significantly better arrow flight.

These benefits and more have boosted the sales and use of release aids dramatically in recent years. The increase in archery release aids can also be attributed to an growing number of archery buffs making the move to faster bows that deliver a flatter arrow trajectory and better shooting accuracy at all ranges.

High-performance bows and release aids are meant for one another. If you shoot a bow that generates an arrow speed of 230 fps or faster, you’re an obvious candidate for a release aid. Archers who shoot bows with an overdraw, heavy draw weight, and/or carbon limbs will immediately notice the benefits of these shooting aids.

A mechanical release allows the arrow to leave the bow with less torque and greater consistency shot after shot.

Using a release aid also allows a hunter or shooter to drop down one or more arrow spines without encountering arrow flight problems. Shooting a lighter arrow is an excellent way to pick up an extra 15 to 30 fps of arrow speed. Of course faster arrows means a flatter trajectory and better shooting accuracy especially at longer ranges.

The way you hunts should also be a major factor in determining if a release aid is the right choice. Bow hunters who concentrate specifically on whitetail deer and hunt in typical eastern habitats will find that most of their shots range from 10 to 20 yards. At these modest ranges, shooting accuracy is rarely a problem and the benefits of a release aid aren’t as critical.

Those hunters who spend most of their time stalking will also find that a release can be clumsy to get in place when shots must be made quickly and instinctively.

In comparison, the whitetail hunter who spends most of his or her time in a treestand will find a release no handicap. Serious hunters who travel for mule deer, caribou, elk, antelope, black bear, and other big-game animals will quickly find that they must develop excellent shooting skills at 20 to 40 yards and beyond to be. For these hunters there is little choice; a release aid can be the difference between success and failure.

I recently scheduled a Labrador caribou hunt with friend and trusted booking agent Rick Davis, from Wilderness Pursuits, International (P. O. Box 1258, Center Harbor, NH 03226) During the hunt I looked over hundreds of animals, but it wasn’t until day five of a seven-day hunt that I glassed the bull I wanted.

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I spotted the animal moving uphill when I was approximately 300 yards above him. By ducking and crawling my way between stunted spruce trees, I was able to close the gap to 50 yards. The big bull slowly moved my direction. When he stepped into clear view at 20 yards, I rose to one knee and made my draw.

Even though the animal was now above me and quartering away, it must have seen movement. The bull bolted, but in typical caribou manner it stopped to look back briefly to see exactly what had spooked him.

The bull stood broadside at 40 yards and looked me in the face. I put the pin on the top of the animal’s back and without a second delay anchored and made my release. The arrow a 2314 XX78 tipped with an 80-grain Rocket Broadhead hit the animal midway in the chest and just behind the front shoulder.

Even at 40 yards my Mountaineer Ultra Cam buried the arrow to the nock. The caribou whirled and ran back the way he came. With every step, proof of a double lung shot sprayed a red mist onto the snow-covered ground.

I doubt that I would have been able to make this shot without the use of a release aid. My whole trip came down to being able to successfully make one shot count.

Deciding that it’s time to try a release aid is the easy part. Selecting one from the dozens of fine products available can be a difficult chore.

Most releases range in cost from $20 to $50 with a few models somewhat more or less expensive. Hunters can choose from caliper styles, rope versions, single jaw, double jaw, concho hand-held versions, and those that strap onto your wrist.

Some of the more popular models include the Trophy Hunter Pro-Roller, designed to provide smooth releases and no serving wear. Jim Fletcher’s FletchCaliper, FletchMatic, and FletchHunter all feature adjustment from a heavy pull to a hair trigger. The Lewis and Lewis Pro-injector is a hand-held version that makes it easy to pull heavy draw weight bows.

Tru-Fire’s Pro Bearing Plus uses a roller bearing to provide smooth releases and reduced serving wear. Winn’s Free Flight provides a wrist strap with the ultimate in comfort and control. Cobra Pro Caliper releases offer quality at an affordable price. The Gator Jaw Release has two jaws that hold the string above and below the arrow nock to eliminate string torque. Scott Archery’s Old Faithful rope release is popular with target archers. And there are many others.

The most unique hunting release I’ve encountered is a new product offered by Winn Archery Equipment that’s designed to help tab shooters feel more comfortable with a mechanical release. The Winn model C-12 releases the string when you relax your finger, unlike most releases that require the shooter to pull against a set trigger like that of a firearm.

To use this release simply engage the mechanism onto the serving and hold the trigger down. Draw the bow, take aim, and relax your hand and finger on the trigger when you’re ready to shoot. The string releases smoothly and prevents the hunter from jerking the trigger and sending the shot astray.

This product will help those hunters who have a tendency to pull their shots. A great idea and a great product for the hunter who feels uncomfortable with most release aids.

An archery release is a tool that can help improve your shooting accuracy and hunting success. A small price to pay for something as fleeting as bow hunting success.

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