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Types of Bow Release Explained for Serious Bowhunters

Types of Bow Release
Written by Catherine Weeks
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Bow release which is many times also referred to as archery release comes in various types, and the understanding of these different types not only make of you an excellent archer, but it also means that you know which of the types of bow releases is needed and how to use it effectively.

In a bit to aid the knowledge of serious hunters as well as archers who are or have been on a quest to find out more about the different types of bow releases, this article shall not only be looking at the different types of archery releases, but also it would be providing other details as well, which will include the usability, the mechanism as well as the advantages and disadvantages. By the end of this article, you’ll also get a thorough idea of what makes a good archery release.

Bow Releases Explained

Bows have come to the scene somewhere between in 1960. From then it has gone through a lot of changes. Modern technology and designs have given bows attractive outlooks along with the perfection you need while using this. What we used to have as bows in ancient times, are not what we have now. A whole lot of inventions have sprung up that have introduced and still like to introduce more bow types like compound bows or modern crossbows.

Just like the bow itself, bow releases have also been through a number of innovations that can be said to span across 50 years since it was introduced. This innovation has brought to the front row a number of releases and considering the role they play in accuracy, a piece of knowledge as to the various types of bow releases will be very helpful to any and every serious bow hunter.

Factors That Dictate the Different Types of Bow Releases

Now, before going into details as to the different types of bow releases, it is very necessary to state that certain factors play a major role in dictating the different types of bow releases. It is on these factors that we today, and most probably in the coming years have different types of bow releases. Two major factors that dictate the difference in types include string types and axle lengths

Every bow release differs greatly in its string types. These string types are what determine the flexibility of one bow release from another. It also defines the relative ease or otherwise of pulling back the boy to shot at the target. The string type of a thumb release differs from that of an index release and same applies to other types.

Just like the string type, the axle lengths of a bow release also dictate its difference from other bow releases. This axle length makes some bow releases more portable than some other; makes it easy for you to fire shots, and most importantly determines the comfortability or otherwise of such bow release. It also determines the length of the bow as well. It is interesting to note that in recent times, more archers and bow hunters have been more interested in bows with shorter axle lengths than they have with longer ones.

Different Types of Bow Releases

Different Types of Bow Releases

With different factors determining the types of bow releases, a number of bow releases have been invented over time. Among these different now release types include the following

  • Back tension (hinge) release
  • Fingers
  • Index finger release
  • Resistance/Tension activated release
  • Tabs
  • Thumb trigger release

As a serious bowhunter, it is not enough to know that these are the different types of bow releases that exist, most importantly, it is necessary you have an in-depth understanding of each if you want to have an excellent outing in your hunting experience.

1. Back Tension (Hinge) Release

The back tension release is to many referred to as a hinge release and to some a coaching tool. As a bow release, it is used by now hunters, but mainly used by tournament shooters. This type of bow release does not actually need back tension before they fire, and as such they are best for individuals who suffer target panicking when bow hunting.

back tension bow release

How It Works?

This bow release type operates on a hinge, which doesn’t require the use of a trigger. It instead has its shooter designed in such a way that it rotates the release. The bow hunter making use of this bow release type, would have to first come to a full draw, after which gradually extend the draw and then move the release across the hinge. When this is done, you can now fire at your target.


While this bow release type has been tested to go with most types of bow, but the finger is what is needed to be used for this release. This is what makes knowing the number of fingers used very important.


  • It is easily adjustable to ensure comfort
  • This type of releases is quite very affordable
  • It helps to ease tension or panicking while hunting


  • It produces fear to the bow hunter in the course of drawing back that you might hurt yourself.
  • Lack of care can result in damage to the bow hunter.

2. Fingers

Fingers as a type of bow release, have long been regarded as the most genuine way to fire a bow and also the oldest as well. Though, a bow release type used by ancient archers, many archers and bow hunters till date still make use of fingers. While this can be sometimes hurtful to the fingers and result in some sort of discomfort or the other, it still is very much effective in recent times.

Types of Bow Release - fingers as a bow release

How It Works?

In this type of bow release, the index finger is what is being used. It is placed, one over the nick point and the remaining two is placed under it. When this is done, the thumb and the last finger which is the smallest one is the slightly bent. This way, the string is able to stay well on the bow, and allow for it to be fired to the desired target. It is amazing how this has served has the basis upon which the finger tabs were created.


Fingers are best compatible with compound bows and hunters who make use of it, buy bows with longer axle for utmost comfortability. This works because the longer the bow gets, the lesser the finger pinch and vice versa


  • Accompanied with the right shooting gloves, it can be very comfortable
  • This type of release doesn’t require cost unlike other types


  • It has lost its hold in the face of more advanced mechanical releases
  • It can cause short and long term damage to the fingers.

3. Index Finger Release

Either as a bow hunter, an archer, or just a lover of bows, a lot of people are more conversant with this, than they are with any other bow release type. Initially, it can be used with a triggered, but upon the attainment of mastery, you can begin making use of back tension.

Index finger release

How It Works?

Index finger release works in a very simple way. It comes with a wrist strap that is being attached to the wrist by a Velcro or buckle strap. It can not only be adjusted when trying to shot, it is also customized to fit individuals size.


It goes with virtually all types of bows and can be best when you go on a targeted hunting on shooting experience. Your wrists are the most important part needed for this bow release type as it is firmly attached there.


  • It is the best option for new archers and bow hunters
  • It offers a number of adjustable features that makes it flexible.
  • It allows for trigger tension adjustments.


  • Customized models are quite way too expensive to afford.
  • Experts don’t find it quite attractive and interesting to use.

4. Resistance/Tension Activated Release

The resistance or tension activated release is a release type that is a bit different from others in the way that it works. It doesn’t make use of trigger to shot, it is in itself the trigger! However, it is a bit complex in that it requires some sort of expertise to understand how it functions for optimum use.

Resistance Activated archery Release

How It Works?

In making use of the tension activated release, you have to come to a full draw, after which upon attaining it, you totally let go of the safety mechanism you initially were holding on to. Gradually, the pressure is placed on the bow until it is released and fired.


This bow release type is most compatible for target archery because it offers surprise release leaving the individual with little or no control over the time of release. This is the major reason why it is least desired by bow hunters.


  • It is the best pick for archers who are more inclined to surprise release.
  • It enhances accuracy when made use of consistently.


  • It leaves little or nothing to be desired by bowhunters.
  • It is quite complex and not an option for new beginners.

5. Tabs

Tabs are a type of bow releases made up of cordovan, a leather material made from horsehide. This makes tabs quite very strong and durable for use. This tab, because of the materials it is made from, gives archers and bowhunters a natural feel of comfort and ease while making use of it.

Types of Bow Release - Tabs bow release

How It Works?

It doesn’t make use of finger crease; it is instead used over a glove. This means that while in use, it can be flipped around the fingers allowing for relative ease in spotting target and also going on to attempt a shot at it


It can be used by archers and hunters and it is very versatile in use, portable and firm. This firmness needs to be protected because if at any point the tab gets loosed, it can provide a very frustrating hunting experience to you as a bow hunter.


  • It is very versatile and can be used and understood by anyone and for any purpose.
  • It is not so expensive, but very tough and durable.
  • It is not complicated to use


  • It many times makes hunting annoying especially when the tab loses.
  • Manufacturers sometimes don’t provide tabs made from the right leather source.

6. Thumb Trigger Release

The thumb trigger release is a type of bow releases that is widely known to archers and bowhunters because of the way it blends other types of mechanical releases. However, it differed a bit from other types of mechanical releases because of the presence of a trigger.

How It Works?

To make use of this thumb trigger release, you as a bow hunter will have to your bow up to the point where it reaches its anchor point. Upon reaching full draw, your thumb is being wrapped totally around the trigger and the trigger is being pull gradually until the shot is being fired.


It allows for a lot of adjustments that aids comfort, enhances consistency and allows for accuracy. It can be used by target archers, as well as be a hunting piece for vow hunters as well. Initially you might have to work with the trigger when you start out, but subsequently you can switch to back tension when you have gotten used to it


  • It helps in reducing target panicking and trigger punching of the bow hunter.
  • It comes with a squeeze that allows for slow and steady draw that brings about clean shots on target.


  • Customized thumb trigger releases are way too expensive
  • They are quite complex in operation leaving beginners with a lot of stress and time in understanding it.

Types of Archery Releases Compared

The various types of archery releases differ in a number of way based on how they function, what they are made of, and who and who their operations fit best. It is always very important that comparison is made on archery release types before you as an archer or bow hunter will go on obtaining one.

Amongst other things, it is also very important that you take into consideration the price variations of these archery release types. This is because while some are way too expensive, others are affordable and number of others are very cheap.

These 5 types of bow releases have been made detailed for every serious bowhunter and by extension archers as well. This is in a bit to influence your selection and ensure that you are fully aware as to what to expect from each type of bow release before opting for any of other.

A serious bowhunter would do everything to ensure that he/she finds out what would make his/her hunting experience worthwhile. The right bow, and bow release are needed for you to grow as a bowhunter, and that’s why having a clear idea about them is essential. 

About the author

Catherine Weeks

Cathy believes that hunting is not about downing an animal; rather, it’s about enjoying the purity of this challenge and making a connection with nature.

She loves country music, horses, shooting, and hunting; and spends her weekends in the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.

Though Cathy has hunted most of her life, it was not until her partner gave her a bow that she realized she had finally found her passion.

She is always determined to share her missed opportunities, dedication, emotions, and small details that people often forget to mention when they talk about their hunting experiences.

Cathy also works to promote wildlife preservation and protect natural resources. She thinks “patience” is the most important thing that can make a big difference.

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