Archery Release Tweaks For Bowhunting

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archery release
When shooting an index-triggered release, shorten the release stem until the trigger contacts your finger at or behind the first knuckle.  That will make it much easier to make a proper surprise release.

Release Tweaks for Hunting

Hunting releases essentially come in two styles: thumb trigger release and index trigger release. Of the two archery releases, index trigger releases are by far the most popular and what this article focuses on. Below you will find a few of the small changes you can make to your index-triggered release aid that will make it more accurate in the field. Also there are some tips on the proper way to shoot archery release aids.

The Suprise is Key to Success

There is a steady pounding from other hunting writers about the need to make a surprise release, yet very few hunters actually take this advice. It makes hunting writers think that you didn’t think we they were serious, or you didn’t think it mattered or maybe that you don’t feel you can actually do it.

First off, it is important. It is the absolute key to shooting well under pressure. It is harder to mess up a shot when you have to squeeze and aim until the bow fires. This technique will not only make you more accurate on the range and in competition, but also when hunting. By simply reprogramming your nervous system over the course of a few months to accept a surprise release, your shots at game will become much more consistent and you will never go back to your old shooting style.

archery release aids
Most index triggered releases permit easy adjustment of trigger tension.  Once you have found your ideal setting, it makes sense to use a dab of Lok-Tite to keep the small set screw from moving later. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

You absolutely need to be shooting this way. You may think this advice is crazy or that you can’t do it, but give it an honest try and you will be glad you did. Here are two tweaks you can make to your archery release aid to help you achieve this result when hunting.

Archery Release Length

It’s possible that you’ve never considered the length of your archery release. As long as you can reach the trigger with your fingertip you may be satisfied that it works just fine. Some hunters have thought that way for many years. Granted, you could make the bow go off that way, but it is far from the best method for shooting an index-triggered archery release aid. By shortening the distance from the wrist strap to the trigger, you will greatly improve your ability to make a surprise release.

Rather than using the first articulation of your index finger to pull the trigger – from the first joint to the tip – use the second articulation. This puts the trigger on the pad of flesh between the second joint and the first joint. To do this you merely have to shorten your archery release aid and extend your finger a little farther forward when reaching for the trigger. This simple change may be one of the best-kept “secrets” in archery – or at least it is one of the most overlooked fundamentals.

surprise release
 The surprise release method is critical to more consistent shooting at game.  Squeeze off the shot.  This method will make you better under pressure, just what you need to be successful on the range and in the tree stand. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

This setup works better because the second joint isn’t nearly as sensitive to trigger tension as the first so it doesn’t give you enough feedback to anticipate the shot with the same degree of accuracy as you can when triggering with your fingertip. Moreover, the second articulation is much less mobile. This means that once you start squeezing the trigger you are much more likely to achieve the kind of consistent pull that produces a surprise release. Just keep aiming as close to the spot you want to hit as possible. Don’t worry if the pin isn’t glued there – it won’t be. Just keep squeezing and keep aiming as best you can. You will be shocked by how consistently and well you can shoot this way.

Most archery release aids are adjustable for length in one way or another. Some have a cord; others have a threaded stem covered by a rubber tube while still others have a screw or bolt that you can remove to change length. Shorten the archery release until the trigger falls right across the second articulation of your index finger when you hold the bow at full draw. This will feel foreign at first, but it is correct. Also, you will likely have to get used to a different technique for loading the archery release on the string since the trigger will be farther back in your hand.

Now that you’ve got the archery release set up correctly, there are three ways you can make the archery release aid fire; one is bad, one is better and one is best. First, the bad: pull the trigger abruptly when the pin crosses or momentarily stops on the spot you are trying to hit. This is likely the method used by 90% of the archery release shooters in the world, and is probably the number one reason people drop out of archery.

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