I have been shooting archery equipment for nearly 30 years. For all of that time, save six months, I shot a release. It just wasn’t for me. Today, without taking a poll, I suspect most arches, with the exception of traditional archers, shoot a release of some type…and there are many types.
Because I have a certain amount of visibility as a bowhunter, I am often asked what kind of release I shoot. The askers are sometimes surprised to learn, I am a finger shooter. When they ask me why, I counter with, “Why not?” So I thought this might be a proper forum to address that question.
First, let me explain “finger shooting”. In a normal finger position, the forefinger is placed above the arrow, the middle and ring finger are below the arrow. The string is grasped in the crease of the first knuckle. To release the arrow, simply relax your fingers. The bowstring, when at full draw, must come to a solid, consistent anchor point. Often one of the fingers is the anchor. When I started, I brought my forefinger to the corner of my mouth. I shot that way for many years. It worked fine.
As I so often do, I altered the standard method or form. I now still draw with three fingers, but as soon as I have my Champion Titan at full draw, I drop the ring finger and hold the string with two fingers. My anchor is the bow string against the tip of my nose. No idea why I changed. Just did it one day.
A mechanical release, sometimes called a release aid, is a device that holds the string while the bow is drawn. Then by means of a trigger of some sort, the string is released, propelling the arrow.
Now I may be wrong, I often am, but I can think of no, big time, tournament shooters who do not use release aids. So there must be an advantage. Personally, I have not found one. I often hear shooters talk about finger pinch in today’s shorter bows. This is when the string pinches the top and bottom finger. I have never experienced this. Never thought about it. If you look at the Champion Attack One and the Titan, you can see they are not real long bows. Still, no finger pinch.
I have been told that shooters get more consistent groups with a release. I don’t shoot groups. I shoot animals. I am not a tournament shooter. If I were, perhaps I would shoot a release. I have been told, there is less torque with a release. I wouldn’t know. Never worried about it. I have also heard, that shooting a release , is easier on your wrist and shoulder, when pulling the bow. Now that I can believe. It may be a factor in my switching…someday. As far as I know, all the traditional archers shoot with fingers. I could be wrong about that, too.
If you decide to shoot fingers, then maybe you have heard, you either need a tab or a shooting glove. I do not own a tab. I only use a “shooting” glove – a three finger, leather glove, designed just for archery – if I am going to be shooting 50 or more arrows at one sitting. I do use a glove to shoot. I use both wool and other materials. One of my favorite gloves is a shotgun shooting glove, made of light leather and fabric combination. I have found that practice with any glove is all it takes to become proficient with that glove.
A tab is a small device that fits over the fingers and provides a smooth release of the string. Tabs can be made of just about anything. Many are made from some sort of animal hide and are made with the hair side gripping the string. I’ve tried a couple different tabs. They work just fine. I just don’t happen to use one.
Gloves and tabs both, to a certain degree, require some breaking in. I suggest you use whichever you choose to hunt, or tournament shoot with, as a practice glove for a few days to get it “grooved” and broken in. I also suggest, you buy a spare in a larger size to fit over wool liners for cold weather shooting. Personally, regardless of the weather, I never leave on a hunting trip with less than three pairs of gloves. If I were a release shooter, I would have a t least three releases. (I carry two, pre-sighted sights too).
So there it is. The key to any shooting or any device is the same. Just practice and experiment. When you find something that works, stay with it. That’s why I shoot a Champion bow. And fingers, just like American Express, are something you never leave camp without.