I have dedicated many years of my life to finding the most accurate method for releasing the bowstring day in and day out–facing both foam and flesh. I’m here to tell you that if fingers were the best I would have calluses like rawhide on my fingertips. Instead, they’re as soft as a baby’s behind.
When I draw my hunting bow, a worn Fletchhunter mechanical release aid is strapped around my wrist, where it has been for the last 20 hunting seasons. If you aren’t using a release aid, you’re limiting your ability to shoot an arrow accurately. Here are five reasons why this should be the year you switch to a mechanical release.
Beating Target Panic
Target panic is the inability to hold the pin steady while aiming at the spot you want to hit. Those plagued with this problem find themselves twitching and lunging at the trigger as the pin approaches the spot. It’s hard to beat target panic if you’re a finger shooter. Furthermore, the cure seems to be more like psychiatric therapy rather than archery instruction.
With a mechanical release, you can use a systematic method that doesn’t rely as heavily on the archer’s ability to control his or her nerves. Beating target panic with a release aid is all about selecting the right tool and technique that permits the mechanical system to trigger by surprise. By using a little self-discipline and following the proper steps, you can easily conquer this problem.
When you release the string with your fingers, it moves to the side as it clears your fingertips, causing a series of side-to-side oscillations. And as the string moves to one side, it causes the arrow to flex sideways. It becomes critical that you use the perfect shaft stiffness so that the flexing arrow bows around the arrow rest and riser rather than crashing into them. Arrow companies do a good job of providing useable stiffness charts, but I’d rather eliminate this dynamic altogether.
With a mechanical release, the arrow flexes very little. Not only does the string leave the release’s jaws exactly the same way every time, it also travels more or less straight forward; the thrust of the string is right down the centerline of the arrow. It is much easier to get bullet-hole arrow flight with a release aid than with fingers. Furthermore, a release shooter’s arrow flight is much less sensitive to shaft stiffness–increasing your options and further simplifying the tuning process.
Less Practice Time
No matter how much we may love shooting a bow, it is hard to find the time to practice on a regular basis. It is generally acknowledged that it takes more practice time to keep a finger release fluid. However, you can be a very good shot with a release aid shooting only 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week. If you find it hard to shoot the number of arrows required to keep your fingers working together, you will be impressed with how easy it is to maintain acceptable accuracy with a release aid.
Better In The Cold
If you’ve ever sat in a cold tree stand for three or four hours as the temperature crept below freezing and the wind was blowing 15 mph, you know that cold-weather performance is a big part of bowhunting. Regardless of the temperature, a release aid will drop the string the same way every time the trigger is pulled. A good finger release relies on two or three fingers working together to get the string off the same way every time. When fingers get cold and stiff they lose their feel and become less fluid. The possibility of making a good release decreases.
With a release aid, it is easier to make a good shot when wearing heavy gloves. The jaws do the same thing regardless of how the trigger is pulled–they drop the string and get out of the way just as effectively if you are wearing thick gloves or thin jerseys. As long as you practice with heavy gloves prior to the hunt, your accuracy won’t be affected. Even a finger that’s completely numb can still be commanded to curl–that’s enough to get the job done with a release aid.
Release Aids–More Accurate
Most importantly, you’ll discover greater accuracy with a release aid. It’s an emotionless machine; as long as the trigger is pulled, it does the same thing every time. Regardless of circumstance, it frees the string with amazing consistency. And in archery, consistency is synonymous with accuracy.
If you are releasing the string with your fingers and are not totally satisfied with your accuracy–or if you’re tired of fighting target panic–now is the time to switch to a release aid. The whole system will seem foreign at first, but by hunting season the release will feel like an extension of your hand. You will be astounded by your newfound accuracy as your confidence soars. In the end, a confident bowhunter is a better bowhunter.