We as bowhunters are always researching the latest and greatest equipment. Anything we can do or buy that could potentially increase our odds at harvesting the trophy of our dreams gets evaluated each off-season. There are many ways to decrease your group size however one of the often overlooked variables is your release aid.
When I started bowhunting many years ago I quickly found out that using a wrist strap release was problematic for me. While in high school I fractured my wrist while playing football and though the injury never really affected my way of life I found out that the pressure from using a wrist strap caused me pain. After prolonged sessions of shooting I began to get the feeling in my hand that you get when you sit Indian style for too long, pins and needles as we used to call it. After pushing through for a few months I looked into other options. After doing some research I settled on a thumb trigger release.
My first thumb trigger release was a Carter Chocolate Addiction 3 finger. Immediately the problem with my wrist was solved as now I could shoot endlessly without any pain. I found out however that I had to retrain myself with a new anchor point and release method because no longer could I use my index finger to fire the release from my old anchor point. It took some time to establish my anchor point and thumb release method but now over a decade later it still remains unchanged.
My personal path to using a thumb trigger release was out of necessity, however in my opinion there are advantages to using a thumb trigger over a wrist strap release for all bowhunters.
Consistency. Boom – I said it! The number one way to become a better archer is to have perfect repeatability and consistency. This should come as no surprise to most dedicated bowhunters but ask yourself this question, “How consistent is my anchor point?” A lot of us spend most of the off-season shooting on relatively flat ground. It’s easy to maintain a consistent anchor point with your release when shooting horizontally but what about when you start practicing uphill and downhill shots or hang a treestand in your backyard to mimic those whitetail shots? Is your anchor in the exact same spot? I feel like with a thumb trigger I can anchor in a place that regardless of body orientation or bow angle it can be repeated every shot all season long. I can rotate my forearm vertically and lock my first two knuckles of my release hand into the corner of my jaw so that my index knuckle and middle finger knuckle bracket the point of my jawbone. Using this anchor it is nearly impossible to be inconsistent regardless of your bow angle.
Second only to consistency is the ability to shoot your bow with a surprise release. Most hunters that are good shots with firearms possess the ability to squeeze the trigger until the gun fires. I have found that this ability is not lateral across weapon platforms. The problem lies in the fact that watching a reticle float around a target and watching a pin float a target are two different things. Also the fact you are using different muscles to steady the weapons also makes it a comparison of apples to oranges. You are probably thinking of why I even mentioned firearms in an article regarding bowhunting releases. The reasoning being, that a lot of bowhunters started out using firearms when they were young and transitioned to archery at an older age like myself. So they are using their foundation of how to shoot a rifle with their index trigger release aid and can’t seem to ever master the weapon transition and suffer from target panic and trigger punch. The way to start with a clean slate mentally is to change which finger you are triggering with, i.e. a thumb trigger release. Reprogramming your mind to squeeze with your thumb to trigger your release will let you start fresh with new body mechanics and a new thought process. I my opinion if an archer can conquer this principle you will be able to maximize your ability and in turn decrease your group sizes.
The final advantage to a thumb trigger release verses a wrist strap is the ability to leave your release clipped onto your string loop. Whether you are spot and stalk hunting or sitting in a treestand at the moment of truth its nice to have both of your hands free until its time to draw your bow for the shot. Personally I shoot a moveable sight which needs to be moved each shot depending on the yardage. Having my release clipped onto the D-loop lets me be able to hold my bow in a ready position while I range and adjust my sight to the correct yardage. While stand hunting during the whitetail rut its nice to have your bow ready to go at a moments notice. Having to look down for two seconds to clip your release onto your string will cause you to lose very precious time on a fast approaching whitetail buck. The ability to never break sight of your target as it approaches a shooting lane can give you a few extra seconds to correctly field judge an animal that will disappear as quickly as it appeared.
This off-season as you put together your archery wish list for next year ask yourself, “Could I benefit from a thumb trigger release?” Whether you are looking to break target panic, decrease your group sizes, or simply like the convenience of leaving your release on the bowstring, a thumb trigger release could be the new piece of archery equipment that increases your taxidermy bill.