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Back Tension vs Thumb Release: A Critical Overview

Back Tension vs Thumb Release
Written by Erik Himmel

Among the different archery releases, back tension models are notable for good reasons. Thumb releases on the other hand, is a bit similar to back tension in that is specially designed in such a way that you can hold at full draw, then giving you freewill to have your thumb around the trigger and pull it gradually. Back tension and thumb releases are no doubt similar in a number of ways, and as such, in this article we shall be examining quickly an overview of back tension vs thumb release.

Back Tension vs Thumb Release: What is the Best Way to Use Them?

In recent times, new archers have become more carried away by making shots than knowing what shots work best for them. This then makes new archers make use of either the back tension or thumb release at will and not necessarily either of the two based on the need. This is why a number of new archers at every shot find themselves confused and feel at a loss at several points in time to choose the bow release.

If this is you, then worry less, this overview of back tension vs thumb release will be of help.

overview of back tension vs thumb release

Design and Material

There are several ways to identify both releases especially by their design and material. The back tension release, comes mainly with a hinge, and lacks traditional triggers which leaves the archer with no other option than to rely on back tension to fire.

A thumb release has a trigger, but comes in a different design that allows for the archer to hold the bow whether a compound bow or even crossbow at full draw, which opens you up to be able to wrap your thumb around the trigger, letting you pull back easily and carefully as you aim.


First is the back tension releases which are of two types. First, we have the hinge releases in which the hand as a whole serves the purpose of a trigger and as a sear that ensures that the hook and D-loop are in place. Then, the tension activated release which requires that you pull through the shot to set it off by putting more pressure between the release head and the edge of the bowstring till you fire.

Modern thumb releases on the other hand comes in various forms which includes the general thumb release which most archers are familiar with where the bow is stretched off by the thumb creating space for it to be wrapped around the trigger. Then we have the thumb trigger release which comes with a small trigger releases that reduces panicking.


The thumb release works in a very easy to understand way as it is simply activated by pulling the trigger making use of the thumb and aiming at the desired target. It comes with closed jaw clasps that makes it mobile for use. The D-loop connects well with hook making it easy to draw back for longer throws.

The physics of archery and mechanism of back tension release differs a bit from that of thumb release and it is based on the type. For the tension activated release, the pressure is placed between the areas of the release head and bow string. This pressure mounted differs based on the strength of the archer and determines what the weight of the fire would be like

Efforts Required for Adjustment

The efforts required to adjust both the thumb and back tension release also differs. Let’s quickly see how we can adjust both releases.

How Can You Adjust a Back Tension Release?

Back tension releases which include both the hinge as well as the tension activated releases comes in different finger models. The difference in finger models is what determines the number of fingers required when firing and also how it can be adjusted. While it is possible to adjust the back tension release, you also need to put a whole lot of effort into adjusting yourself too.

How Can You Adjust a Thumb Release?

Since the hook of a thumb release connects with D-loop with both in place by the sear, to adjust a thumb release, you would need to adjust the sear. When you adjust the sear, the hook and the D-loop will also be adjusted and firm to either increase the shot range or decrease it. The lighter the sear is, the longer your throw is likely to become and vice versa.


The hinge vs thumb release and its usability is one that has many questions surrounding it as archers get confused with both at several points.

The back tension release which is maybe not as common as the thumb release is suitable for new archers particularly because they are still at the stage where they anticipate shots with their instincts and hunting release. With the back tension release, archers would not have to worry about flinching. Also, this is best for new archers because it comes with a safety feature that allows them have control over their firing.

Thumb releases, on the other hand, are best for those archers who are more interested in target archery and hunting. It is designed in such a way that a little body control and adjustment leaves you hiring your target. However, to do this, you have to know more about its adjustability, tension, travel and location.


Back tension releases comes with a number of advantages over thumb releases which includes its relative affordability, ease of use and depth of impact it has on targets. It also comes with certain safety features incorporated into it that means that the archer would not have to hurt himself while aiming at, and subsequently firing the target.

Thumb releases on the other hand, also have their advantages too. First is that they have proven to be one of the best and widely used releases. They also have very easy to use and comfortable anchor points that makes it easy to aim at target. It also comes in handy sizes and allows you to make use of your draw hand for other activities or have you keep them in your pockets during the cold.

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  • UNDENIABLE COMFORT - Super sleek, comfortable, CNC machined, solid aluminum handle and head with lanyard.
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Thumb releases are not left with their setbacks. Among other things, is that they are very expensive when not just compared to the back tension releases alone, but also when compared to other releases as well. Target panic release is also one disadvantage of thumb release especially among new archers who have little knowledge of it.

The back tension release is also not fleeting in that it requires a lot of practice sessions to master it. Inability to understand this type of release might be fatal when aiming at a target, because you might just get caught up in the whole process of getting things done, that you will end up missing your target.

Archery feels best when you constantly can get on the field and continually hit your target. However, an understanding is needed as to what releases are, and which is best for you. In this overview of back tension vs thumb release, I trust you have been able to see the difference, as well as the relationship that exists between back tension releases as well as thumb releases and, have been able to know what their usability is like. The more knowledge you get about archery, the better archer you become over time.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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