Man using hunting bow in the woods

Learn About the Best Bow Releases for Hunting

- Creative XP Brand Team

If you're new to archery, you might have heard veteran archers talk about bow releases. Even if you're experienced with a bow, you might hear others talk about or see others using a bow release that's completely different from yours. What are the different types of bow releases out there? What is the best bow release for hunting? 

This guide will help walk you through the basics of bow releases. We'll explain the different types of bow releases so that you can get an idea of what will best suit your archery needs. 

What is a Bow Release?

Archery is no longer in the medieval ages, and technological advancements have made compound bows more accurate than ever before. Bow releases help improve accuracy and are used by almost all archers today. 

Bow releases are devices that hook onto the D-loop on a bowstring. Instead of keeping your fingers on the string while pulling back to fire an arrow, only the release physically touches the bowstring. This puts less pressure on the fingers, and it also is more accurate than shooting a bow without a release. 

There is not simply one type of bow release, though. Instead, there are several styles of bow releases, and there is no type that is universally considered "the best." This next section will explain the basics of all major types of bow releases. 

Different Types of Bow Releases

In this section, we will cover four types of bow releases: index finger, thumb button, back tension, and hinge. 

Index finger

Arguably the most popular type of bow release, the index finger release features a trigger that an archer operates with their index finger, just like the trigger on a firearm. Pulling the trigger on an index bow release opens the caliper that attaches the release to the bowstring, sending an arrow loose. 

Index releases are also known for their wrist straps. The trigger mechanism is attached to a wrist strap, which means that when an archer pulls back using an index release, the pressure is not on their fingers like it is with other release devices. 

While index finger releases are regarded as the easiest bow releases to use, they do come with a downside that turns some archers away from them. In archery, there is a concept known as "surprise release." It may sound crazy to non-archers, but most archers agree that the best arrow releases happen by surprise. This allows the archer to focus only on aiming rather than on releasing.

With an index release, though, archers tend to have command style releases. Because the trigger releases the arrow, archers with index releases  focus less on aiming and more on pulling the trigger. As strange as it sounds, this extra command often leads to less accuracy than surprise releases.

Thumb button

Thumb button releases combine elements from other types of releases on this list. They have what is essentially a trigger like an index finger release, but it is pressed with the thumb. Like a back tension or hinge release, it is handheld rather than attached to a wrist strap. 

With a thumb button release, a caliper attaches to the bowstring. The release itself is a small device that involves users pulling back on the bowstring with their hands. As the name states, the release button for this type of release is set up to be activated by the thumb. 

For many archers, this bridges the gap between the benefits of a trigger like that found in an index finger release and the benefits of a non-trigger release. Experienced archers can control the thumb button so that they fire only when they want to. However, there is less of a tendency to try to command the trigger like with an index release.

Back tension

Unlike the previous two releases listed here, the back tension release does not fire because a trigger is activated. Instead, the tension in an archer's back is what releases an arrow. This may sound complicated, but for some archers, this makes it the best option for a bow release.

Like the thumb button release, back tension releases are handheld tools that attach to the bowstring. With no trigger mechanism, the device releases an arrow when the archer increases tension in their back to a certain threshold.

We have discussed the benefits of a surprise release, and back tension releases provide the ultimate surprise. Because archers do not know exactly when they will reach the point of tension to send an arrow, it is easier to avoid the downsides of excessive command over a shot.

However, even though back tension releases are great for some archers, they are not the most user-friendly, especially for novice archers. Back tension releases require adjustments with a hex key depending on the weight of an archer. Getting used to this type of release requires practice.


Hinge releases are a lot like back tension releases in that they rely on tension to fire an arrow rather than a trigger. With a hinge release, though, the tension that releases an arrow is largely centered around the fingers rather than the back.

When an archer pulls back with a hinge release, they keep weight on their thumb and index finger. To release an arrow, switch pressure to the ring and middle fingers. Doing this moves the device to release the arrow.

A benefit to the hinge release is the clicking mechanism. As an archer moves pressure away from the thumb and index finger, the device will eventually click to signal that the arrow is about to be released.

Because of this, it gives users a bit more control over when an arrow will be shot than a back tension release does. It still maintains that surprise element that makes back tension releases popular, though.

How to Pick the Best Bow Release

Each of the four main types of bow releases functions quite differently, which means that it can be difficult to decide on the one that would be best for you. Keep these tips in mind when looking at bow releases.

First-time bow release buyers should consider starting with an index finger release. It is the easiest type of bow release to operate, and if you're used to shooting firearms, the trigger mechanism will feel familiar.

Index finger releases are not only for beginners either. Many longtime archers swear by them for how easy they are to use and how they encourage consistency in shooting. 

There is no choice that is definitively the best bow release for hunting, but many hunters opt for something with a trigger. While there are disadvantages of accuracy in command releases, there are times when hunters need to fire an arrow at a precise moment. Thumb and index finger releases give archers this, while back tension and hinge releases do not.

If you're looking for a bow release for target archery, then practicing with a back tension or hinge release could help improve accuracy. Because you can take your time when shooting at a target, you will not need the option for quick releasing that comes with a trigger.


Between index finger, thumb button, back tension, and hinge releases, every archer has their favorite type of bow release. The best way to know which one is the best bow release for you is to try a few out and see which you feel most comfortable with. Whether you're a first-time buyer or are looking for a replacement bow release, explore the selection available at Creative XP.

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