One of the most important aspects of accurate shooting in archery is a proper release. To better do this, archers need to have proper release aid form in order to achieve the best possible shot. Whether you are releasing with your fingers or a release aid, some simple tricks and techniques can help improve your shooting.
What Is The Proper Release Aid Form?
The perfect release in archery is a smooth, accurate, and consistent release of the arrow from the bowstring. This is done by releasing the bowstring from your release aid or fingers with the proper form and technique. By slowly releasing the bowstring, you can ensure the arrow is able to fly straight and true toward your intended target. This should be done without any additional vibrations or twitching in your bow hand or release hand. Either one can affect your release and the arrow’s performance.
Perfecting the Finger Release
So how do you achieve the perfect release? Using the proper shooting form and release techniques will help you get the best release time after time. This can be done with a release aid or with fingers, so let’s start with shooting with fingers first.
1. Place Fingers on String Properly
To start, you need to place your fingers on the bowstring in the correct position every single time. If you do not hold your bowstring in the same place every time, the shot will change and your release (and accuracy) will vary. Consistency is the key to archery. So where is the right place?
There are a few ways to grip the string. Many archers will place the string inside the first joint of your index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. Another way to do it is to place all three of these same fingers below the nock. Many beginners will benefit from this position as it removes the possibility of a nock pinch. Nock pinch is when too much pressure is placed on the nock, causing the arrow to lift off the arrow rest. No matter which way you grip the string, ensure that you do it the same every time you shoot the bow. In every finger position, place them very lightly, without engaging your fingers. Place your fingers in the same exact position and way every time you shoot the bow.
2. Utilize Back Muscles
The right way to get a clean release is by using your back muscles to not only draw back the bowstring but to help release it as well. While at full draw, you will want to continue applying force through your back. If your back is not engaged through the whole shot process, then you could start to see shots that stray left or right. It will also help you properly release the bowstring with your fingers, which is the next step.
3. Relax Your Fingers
Relaxing your fingers is one of the most important components of a good release. Don’t think of it as opening your fingers to let the string out, as the string will push your fingers out of the way when fired. Instead, keep tension on your back and slowly relax your fingers. As you do this, the string should eventually slip through and fire the bow. The shot should come as a surprise to you, and you should avoid releasing the string on purpose.
4. Follow Through
After the string slips from your fingers, remember to keep a solid follow-through. Train yourself to keep your hand against your face as it slides towards your ear. Just make sure it is brushing your face the entire time with your fingers barely touching the side of your face after a shot. A good follow-through will prevent low left or right shots.
Perfecting the Release Aid
Many archers will use a release aid to help achieve a better shot release. But to get the most out of your release aid, you need the proper release aid form and technique. This involves a few basic steps:
1. Get the Right Release
Release aids come in a variety of different styles and sizes. You can choose between the popular index and thumb releases or opt for a more advanced hinge or tension release. The key is to find one that fits you and is comfortable to use. You also want one that fits your hand size best. For example, an index release should be positioned so that you can curl your entire index finger around the trigger. A release that is too large or small might not allow you to do this.
2. Draw and Pull with Back Muscles
Like drawing and shooting with fingers, you want to draw back the bowstring and pull through the shot by utilizing the muscles in your back. Try not to use the muscles in your arms and pull with your elbow up. This will ensure a smooth and consistent draw every time, as well as keep you from tiring out.
3. Aim and Squeeze
Once you are at full draw and using your back muscles to hold it, now it is time to aim and execute the shot. To do this, you must continue to tighten your back muscles until the arrow is released and hits the target. As your pin settles on your intended target, slowly start to contract your back muscles. When done correctly, this should cause your elbow to rotate and apply pressure to your holding hand and the release.
As you tighten your back muscles, you will then begin to engage your trigger mechanism on the release you are using. Depending on the style of the release aid, this will look slightly different from person to person. For example, with a caliper release, you will want to lock your index finger in place and use your back muscles to pull through the shot. With something like a hinge release, you will relax your index finger and transfer the load to the ring finger which will help fire the release.
Regardless of what release you are using, remember to use your back muscles to engage it. This will place enough pressure on the release aid to activate it and send the arrow on its way. It will also help prevent any unintentional movement or jerks in the bow or your archery form before or during the shot.
4. Follow Through
Hold your form and stance until the arrow hits the target. A good follow-through is vital for an accurate and consistent shot. Many archers have a natural impulse to jerk the bow away and watch their arrow fly through the air. This can ruin a perfect shot faster than almost anything else, so resist this urge and keep your form until the arrow lands in the target.
How to Practice the Perfect Release
The only way to get a consistent, perfect release is plenty of practice. Luckily there are plenty of things that you can do to improve your release and achieve those perfect shots every single time. One of the easiest practice methods that you can use is blank bale shooting. This involves shooting your arrow at close range into a blank hay bale or large target.
To perform the blank bale practice drill, stand 6 to 8 feet away from your target. You should be close enough that it is nearly impossible to miss. Draw your bow and close your eyes. Pay attention to your archery form and attempt to execute the perfect release. By closing your eyes, you can better focus on the different aspects of the release without worrying about aiming. Because you are standing so close to your target, you will not miss and be able to practice a consistent release.
Another simple practice method is to use an archery shot trainer. A shot trainer is a device that helps to improve your shooting form and simulate firing a bow. Some shot trainers work in conjunction with your bow, while others do not require you to use your bow at all. Either way, a shot trainer can help you focus on the release and get plenty of practice.
At the end of the day, the only way to get better with your release is to practice as much as possible. This can even be as simple as going to the archery range to shoot your bow but taking extra care to focus on every aspect of your release. The more time you take to practice, the better and more consistent your release will become.
Things to Avoid
To round out your practice, you want to avoid any bad habits that can cause accuracy issues. A common mistake made by archers is called “plucking”. This often involves your hand leaving your face or moving backward. This is generally caused by too much tension in your arm or hand. It can also be contributed to a “forced” release based on shot anticipation, also known as target panic. To avoid this, try to maintain tension in your back muscles. Focus on not moving your hand at the shot.
Another common issue is called “peeking”. This is generally done during the follow-through phase of the shot and is when archers move the bow to watch their arrow flight. Peeking can cause problems as the arrow leaves the bow, sending it off course. Luckily many of the typical archery drills such as blank bale shooting can be helpful in controlling an issue with peeking.
Last but not least, ensure that you are remaining consistent with all of your anchor points. Too many archers alter their anchor points unintentionally. This can result in a different release. Consistency is the key to archery and performing the perfect release with a bow release or finger release.
Without the right form and technique, your archery release will suffer. Release aid form is one of the most important parts of the archery shot process. If it isn’t performed correctly, your accuracy and consistency will decrease. However, with enough practice and hard work, you can make sure your release is always perfect, taking your shooting to the next level!