By Christian Berg
About 10 years ago, I was gripped by a case of target panic so severe I could no longer stand in my backyard and consistently hit a target from 20 yards away.
My confidence was shattered, archery was joyless and I was honestly wondering whether I could continue bowhunting.
To make a long story short, I eventually overcame my affliction, thanks to some great advice from friends (big shout outs to Randy Ulmer and John Dudley) and a commitment to re-learning how to properly execute my shots using handheld, back-tension release aids. The use of hinge-style releases on the practice range and a tension-activated release in the field proved instrumental in my comeback. I continue to hunt with that tension-activated release today, with more confidence and better success than ever.
Back when I was at my lowest point with target panic, I ditched my wrist-strap, index-finger release aid and vowed I would never go back. Well, never is a really long time, and while I’m not saying I’m ready to make the switch, the innovative folks at Tru-Fire finally developed an index-finger release I believe will greatly help existing archers suffering from target panic and help new archers engrain good shooting habits that will help avoid getting target panic in the first place.
The name of this new release is the ThruFire, and, as the name implies, it is designed in such a way that it requires shooters to pull “through” the shot to release the bowstring.
The secret to the ThruFire lies in its design. As you can see, at the front of the release is a manually operated jaw that attaches to your nocking loop. You’ll also note the lack of an obvious trigger. That’s because the trigger is recessed inside the stem, or what Tru-Fire calls the “pull-through tension sleeve.” When you draw your bow, tension from the bowstring causes the button-like trigger to move forward and become exposed outside the tension sleeve. The amount of pressure required to expose the trigger can be adjusted between 2 and 30 pounds, based on your bow’s holding weight at full draw.
Here’s how you shoot the ThruFire: After hooking up to your nocking loop, you keep your fingers clear from the release while drawing and anchoring. Once at anchor, you move your index finger into the semicircular trigger opening and curl your finger around the tension sleeve so the middle pad of your finger rests against the trigger.
Then, as you aim, you pull through the shot by pushing with your bow arm and pulling with your release arm. This increase in tension will force the pressure between your finger and the trigger to increase until the shot is fired without consciously pressing the trigger. Voila! You’d just executed the elusive “surprise release” that is so often preached yet so seldom practiced.
Although it is possible to “cheat” by taking your fingertip and simply pressing the trigger with a conscious command, that is not the way the ThruFire was designed to be shot. In fact, doing so will eliminate its benefits. Instead, take some time to play with the ThruFire’s trigger tension and travel (sensitivity) adjustments until the release is calibrated perfectly for your setup. Then, commit to shooting the release properly and practice until it becomes second nature. In the process, I believe you will find your anxiety greatly reduced as you eliminate conscious thoughts about pulling the trigger and instead allow the shot to happen naturally as you maintain good aim and proper form.
If you are one of the many bowhunters who shoot an index-finger release and simply refuse, for whatever reason, to give handheld, back-tension releases a try, I highly recommend giving the ThruFire a shot. You may be skeptical now, but I suspect you’ll thank me later. $159.99 | feradyne.com/trufire