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Which bow releases are best?

Whether you prefer hunting or target practice, a bow release is a surefire way to get the perfect shot every time. Even if you’re an experienced archer, fatigue and tiny differences in finger positioning can negatively impact your accuracy. A bow release is a mechanical solution that pulls the bowstring and fires the weapon for you.

When searching for a bow release, the key things to look for are consistency and comfort. For a release that has both, the TruFire Patriot Compound Bow Release is the top pick. 

What to know before you buy a bow release

Benefits of using a bow release

When firing a bow, the smallest differences in finger positioning, rolling and even muscle tension can affect the trajectory of your arrow. Bow releases are simple devices that you attach to the bow string. The release ensures that your bow fires consistently and precisely, eliminating any of the nuanced factors that might affect your shot. Many bow releases are also strapped to your wrist with Velcro. These devices are comfortable to wear and may prevent the finger and hand fatigue that leads to injuries and impacts your shot. 

Types of bow releases

  • Wrist release: Also known as index style releases, this type of bow release is worn on your wrist and tightened with Velcro straps or buckles. Wearing the bow release on your person will keep you from losing the device, and the comfortable design prevents fatigue. One drawback to this style is that the device could get in the way when you aren’t shooting. The Velcro straps could also wear down over time. 
  • Thumb release: These devices, also known as handheld releases, are very responsive and small enough to fit in a pocket or be clipped to a bow. Thumb releases are a little more challenging to use than other types, and they’re often more expensive than wrist releases. 

Target panic

Target panic is a form of anxiety that can affect all archers, regardless of experience level. The condition usually manifests itself as a sudden hesitation or uncontrollable flinch that occurs when firing an arrow, thus hurting your accuracy. This anxiety is most common among hunters and competitive archers. Some bow releases may help alleviate target panic, while others could actually exacerbate the problem. If you experience target panic, read product reviews closely and consider a release with a back tension mechanism. 

What to look for in a quality bow release

Color scheme

Some bow releases feature a camouflage design, while others may be black, orange or chrome. A camouflaged bow release probably won’t make much of a difference in a real-life hunting scenario, so simply choose the color scheme that you like the most. 

Types of mechanisms

  • Caliper: This popular release mechanism works like a simple set of jaws that are attached to the bowstring. Once the string has been pulled back to the firing position, the user pulls a trigger that opens the jaws and releases the arrow. These mechanisms are very quiet and popular among hunters, but they have the potential to cause target panic. 
  • Thumb switch: These mechanisms are commonly found on handheld releases and feature a button that’s pressed with the thumb. Like caliper mechanisms, the thumb switch allows for smooth firing but could also lead to target panic. 
  • Back tension: This clever release mechanism features a hinge that rotates freely as the bowstring is drawn back. Once the string is pulled back completely, the mechanism automatically releases the arrow on its own. While this may sound odd, releases with a back tension mechanism are very popular among archers who experience target panic. 

How much you can expect to spend on a bow release

The cost of a bow release usually depends on the quality of its components. Mid-range devices are usually around $15-$75, while high-end models can be $100 or more. 

Bow release FAQ

Can a bow release improve my accuracy? 

A. If you’re a novice with improper form, a bow release won’t dramatically improve your accuracy, but if you’re an experienced archer who occasionally needs help executing their shots, a release can be quite beneficial for consistent shooting. 

Are bow releases ambidextrous? 

A. Most bow releases can be used by both right-handed and left-handed archers, but check the product details to confirm.

What’s the best bow release to buy?

Top bow release

TruFire Patriot Compound Bow Release

TruFire Patriot Compound Bow Release

What you need to know: This versatile bow release is comfortable, ambidextrous and easy enough for beginners to use.

What you’ll love: Made in the United States, this popular bow release has durable steel calipers with a padded nylon construction. The sensitivity of the trigger can be adjusted to fit your needs, and the release action is quiet and smooth. 

What you should consider: The wrist straps were smaller than what some users expected. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top bow release for the money

Nika Archery Trigger Caliper Compound Bow Release

Nika Archery Trigger Caliper Compound Bow Release

What you need to know: This wrist release with caliper mechanism is simple and very affordable. 

What you’ll love: If you’re looking to try a bow release without breaking the bank, this straightforward model is a good introduction. The rotating caliper head means that it can be used by both left-handed and right-handed archers.  

What you should consider: Users question the durability of the release, and it may be too basic for experienced archers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Trophy Ridge Precise Caliper Style Compound Bow Release

Trophy Ridge Precise Caliper Style Compound Bow Release

What you need to know: This high-end thumb release is adjustable and loaded with features. 

What you’ll love: Sold by a leading manufacturer of archery equipment, this quality release features a rotating caliper head and unique four-finger handle design for increased drawing power. The thumb trigger and wrist strap are both adjustable. 

What you should consider: This release is a bit more expensive than other models, and some archers don’t enjoy the handle design. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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