March 10, 2022
By Christian Berg
Many bowhunters believe the key to accuracy is a more forgiving bow, more precise sight, better-tuned rest or helical arrow vanes. But if you don’t have a quality release aid — and use it to achieve a surprise release on every shot — you’ll never unleash all the accuracy your equipment is capable of.
To be brutally honest, most bowhunters have no idea how to properly use their release aid and, as a result, are shortchanging themselves on accuracy. Why do I believe that? Simple; the vast majority of bowhunters use wrist-strap, index-finger release aids, and most execute the shot by consciously squeezing the trigger with a mental “Now!” command. If you don’t believe me, watch people shoot. If the only thing moving on an archer’s release arm is the index finger, they are commanding the shot.
Regardless of the release aid you use, your goal should be to fire it using your back muscles as you pull through the shot. When executing the shot this way, you don’t know the exact instant the shot will break, allowing your brain to concentrate fully on holding steady, aiming in the middle of your target and gradually increasing tension between your bow arm and release arm until the string is released. This is the cure for common shooting maladies such as freezing, flinching and jerking. So, it’s no surprise employing a “surprise release” results in better accuracy and far more consistency than consciously triggering the shot.
Although it is possible to employ a surprise release with any style of release aid, it is far easier when using a release that requires the engagement of back tension. These are typically handheld designs that fall into two categories — hinge-style releases that require you to rotate the shoulder blade of your release arm in toward the center of your back to activate and true tension-activated releases triggered by increasing pressure on the release’s string hook until it surpasses a pre-set poundage setting.
I swore off wrist-strap, index-finger releases almost a decade ago after a severe bout with target panic. Ever since, I have been shooting tension-activated releases such as the Stan PerfeX Resistance, which is my new favorite. Unlike index-finger or thumb-trigger releases, there is no trigger on a tension-activated release. Rather, there is a safety that prevents the shot from firing while drawing and anchoring. To shoot, you hook up to the D-Loop on your bowstring, squeeze the safety and keep it pressed until you are settled in at anchor. You can then disengage the safety, aim and gradually pull back harder and harder until the shot breaks.
I love tension-activated releases for training because they force you to employ back tension on every shot, reinforcing good shooting habits. They also are perfect for hunting, because they allow you to shoot quickly (when necessary) by pulling hard and fast into the shot. After switching to a tension-activated release, my bowhunting confidence and success rate improved dramatically.
The PerfeX Resistance is the best tension-activated release I have used in terms of overall feel and quality. STAN offers the PerfeX in sizes S-XL to fit hands of all sizes. Plus, each size is available in either standard (aluminum) or heavy metal (brass) versions, with your choice of a long or short neck. The shorter neck will increase your draw length by a quarter inch to maximize your bow speed.
The PerfeX comes with attachments that allow you to shoot the release in either a three- or four-finger configuration, along with the ability to adjust the angle of the third and fourth finger positions. You also get a choice of two sizes for the thumb-activated safety knob, along with five mounting post options to achieve the perfect length.
The amount of resistance needed to activate the PerfeX can be adjusted from zero to 28 pounds, allowing you to achieve a custom feel regardless of your draw weight. And with activation force being within ±.125-pound from shot to shot, you can count on consistent results. Finally, the PerfeX offers a Trainer Lock feature that allows you insert a screw that prevents the release from firing, allowing you to draw, anchor, aim and then let down without worry of the string being released.
If you’ve been struggling with your shooting and are ready for a change, I truly believe the STAN PerfeX Resistance is one of the best releases on the market and an investment that will prove to be very good for what ails you. — Editor Christian Berg