If you have never tried a spring-trigger release aid, you definitely owe it to yourself to strap one on and take a few shots. You are going to learn some interesting things about archery and your own nervous system.
First, you will learn how ingrained the “Now!” impulse is when you are aiming. You will find yourself trying to punch the trigger on that thing with all you’re worth, yet the spring will simply flex a bit and you will flinch a lot. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Well, maybe your nervous system is in for a surprise, but once it settles in to accept this new sensation, you will start to learn how a bow is supposed to be shot.
Specifically, you will learn you don’t have to hold your pin perfectly still to shoot well. All you have to do is make an effort to keep it on target until the bow goes off. The arrow will find the mark almost as if it has a mind of its own. It is a bit eerie, to be honest. I am no psychologist, but I am pretty sure it is something like ESP, and it’s pretty fun when it starts to click. Shooting a release with a spring trigger almost guarantees it will click — eventually.
Why It Matters
You need to learn to shoot a bow using a surprise release, and one of the easiest ways to learn is with the spring trigger. The spring flexes as you pull it back, continually building up torque until it finally causes the trigger to break over and the shot occurs. As long as you keep your finger out toward the end of the spring, and not right at the base, it is hard to force the spring trigger to go off when you want it to. You have to wait for it to fire, and while you are waiting, you keep aiming. That really is all there is to it.
As easy as it sounds, it takes some practice to get used to shooting this way if you are used to commanding the release of the bow. Commanding comes from the erroneous belief we need to shoot exactly when the pin is on the spot. Our nerves soon turn this process into a game — attempting to make us do all kinds of twitching and jerking. This is how you get target panic. Most people who command the release have target panic to some degree.
You are going to shoot best, and handle the pressure of shots at game best, if you learn to shoot using a surprise release method. When it is time to hunt, you can easily go back to your solid post trigger if you wish. The feel of a proper surprise release will be ingrained in your nervous system, so you will be comfortable squeezing off the shot even with the solid trigger.
The Spring Trigger
A spring trigger is actually a small spring with a threaded end that replaces the hard trigger on specially made index-triggered releases. Because it bends when you pull it, the spring is very difficult to punch. Your only recourse is to keep pulling as you continue to aim at the spot you want to hit. In due time, it will go off and take you by surprise — exactly what you need to improve your shooting.
Because spring-trigger releases feel a lot like normal hunting releases in the hand, they are easy to learn to use effectively. I know many people who started shooting a back tension release and quit before the method took hold because they were too uncomfortable with the feel and action of the release. However, I don’t know anyone who has tried a spring trigger who found it intimidating in the least.
Making The Transition
Because you can shoot the spring trigger just as you would your regular release, it is the perfect training aid for most bowhunters. The only real difference between the two styles is the fact that you can’t make the spring trigger go off quickly by punching it. As the trigger flexes, you simply continue curling your finger. Don’t even think about the timing of the shot. Simply continue pulling the trigger while doing your best to keep the pin on target. It really is amazing how much better you will shoot (especially at longer ranges) when this method becomes habit.
After a month spent practicing with a spring, you will completely break yourself of the urge to punch the trigger. Target panic will no longer be your enemy. But the benefit is only temporary if you go back to your hunting release too soon and fall back into your old ways. Wait until just a few days before you start hunting to switch back to your hunting release. Be sure to maintain the same squeeze and aim style that works so well with the spring. Resist the temptation to fall back into commanding the release. Squeeze and wait.
When hunting, use this same aim and squeeze method to completely change the way you perform in the pressure-cooker of shots at game. If you can discipline yourself to do that, you will be amazed at how well and confidently you perform.
There are a few custom-made spring-trigger releases floating around the 3-D circuit, but Scott Archery and T.R.U. Ball are the only mainstream release companies I’m aware of offering spring triggers as an option on their hunting releases. To make the change, you simply screw the hard trigger out and screw the spring in. Check them out at www.scottarchery.com and www.truball.com.
Spring-trigger releases aren’t the only way to beat target panic and execute a perfect surprise release. As mentioned earlier, you can also use pure back-tension releases. These releases don’t have a trigger at all. Instead, they fire as you turn your hand at full draw. You can set the point of release to suit your style, but the key is the fact that you can’t anticipate the moment of release. Thus, you have no choice but to keep aiming and wait for the bow to fire.
There are a number of back-tension releases on the market. Scott makes good models, as does Stanislawski, T.R.U. Ball and Carter. They come in various shapes and sizes. Some have safeties and some don’t. Some are four-finger models, while others are three-finger models. Some have moving parts, while others have only spikes. I even shot in a league with a guy who made his own spike release from a dowel rod, some release rope and a bent and polished nail. They will all work once you get used to their feel and function.
It definitely pays to learn to shoot using a surprise release. I am not just saying this because it sounds good; since I made the transition about five years ago, I have shot much better and have had much greater confidence when shooting at game. It is one of the few things you can do that will really impact your shooting ability for the better.