Some bowhunters think nothing of spending eight or nine hundred dollars on a bow, then scoff at the idea of laying down more than thirty or forty dollars on a release. For others, a release is another piece of equipment they don’t want to carry into the field. You will never forget your fingers in the truck. You can’t drop your fingers out of a tree stand. To them, a release ends up being another hassle they don’t want to deal with. But as archery becomes more popular and more hunters see the results of using one, the release section of the archery shop is becoming a hot spot. A good release makes shooting tighter groups easier.
There are different types of releases and some hunters do you use back-tension releases but the majority of bowhunters use a wrist strap release. As is the case with just about any piece of hunting equipment, price and quality vary greatly. Lower-end models start at around $30. Top quality releases can cost $200 or more. What is the difference? Think about a release like you would an aftermarket trigger on a high performance rifle.
Expensive releases usually have more efficient triggering systems and higher quality components. There are differences in how the release attaches to the wrist strap. Some allow the release to fold out of the way while climbing in and out of your stand. That might not sound like a big deal but understand that wearing your release while walking in and out of the woods essentially extends your hunting time. If you wait to put your release on until after you’re in the stand, you can’t effectively hunt while walking in.
The jaw of the release is also one of the most important components. Slimmer is better in my opinion but what is most important is that the trigger breaks with the right amount of pressure. As is the case with a hard to pull rifle trigger, a release that requires too much pressure will tend to cause the shooter to punch at the trigger. This can have a big effect on accuracy and consistency. Some higher end releases allow you to adjust the trigger to your desired pull weight.
An often overlooked feature is the wrist strap. Velcro is usually used in lower end models while more expensive releases utilize a buckle. There doesn’t seem to be a big difference at first glance but Velcro does have some disadvantages. First of all, it is noisy. If you’re picky about making noise in the woods, this is a problem. The main issue is consistency. If you use a buckle, you know to always use the same hole every time you put the release on. This helps keep your anchor point in the same spot no matter where you’re shooting. With Velcro, the strap may be tight one day and a little looser the next. You may not notice it at first, but it can have a big difference in finding your anchor point.
When it comes to materials used for wrist straps, you’ll find leather, Cordura, and nylon used. Just about everybody naturally picks leather because they think of leather as being a high quality material. In my opinion, Cordura and nylon have a big advantage over leather. Leather will stretch, especially when it gets warm and sweaty. Then you have the same issue as you have with Velcro. Your anchor point may not stay consistent. Nylon and Cordura won’t stretch and are fairly breathable and comfortable to wear.
Of course, a lot of it comes down to personal preference. The best way to find out what release is right for you is to try a few of them. A good release is like a good hunting partner. Sometimes they are hard to describe but you’ll know it when you get one!