What Are the Different Types of Bow Releases?

A bow release, also called a release aid or mechanical release, is a device that aids in firing an arrow by activating a trigger to create precise shots. Every archer needs to know the different archery release types. 

This article will explain the archery release types in a detailed and easy-to-understand way. 

The Different Types of Bow Releases

bow release

There are four main types of bow releases: they include tension release, button release, index release, and hinge release. Let’s dive into the different archery release types here. 

Tension Release

This is one of the special archery release types: it doesn’t use a trigger, but instead has a built-in safety. It also works quite differently from the other archery release types on this list. 

It’s a handheld release aid that requires you to draw your bow, discharge the safety, and then apply pressure to activate the release. 

To activate it, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull against the back wall of the bow to place the required pressure on the release: this will trigger it, and allow the bow to go off. 

Since the tension release only activates from applied pressure, you have to keep pulling until it fires. 


  • Low chance of accidental trigger activation
  • Promotes better form 
  • Suitable for tackling target panic, or anxiety that comes with shooting


  • More expensive
  • Harder to use 
  • Not suitable for hunters 

Button Release/Handheld Thumb Release

The thumb trigger release is exceptional. It’s handled with a button that can be activated via your thumb. It’s quite comfortable and one of the easiest archery release types to use. 

When using the thumb trigger release, your hand position allows for relaxed fingers. Competitive archers also find this release useful because it’s accurate, easy to use, and consistent.

This video shows how to use a button release in archery. 


  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable
  • Ensures a perfect shot
  • Great for hunters 
  • Steady, repeatable anchor point


  • May cause target panic 
  • Expensive
  • It’s not attached to you, so may get lost

Wrist Strap Index Finger Release

The wrist strap index finger release is a popular type. From its name, you’d find that it can be worn around your wrist and is kept in place with a Velcro strap or buckle. The release can be activated with your index finger. 

This archery release type is also referred to as the command release, because it gives an archer control of their shot. It’s one of the best archery release types for long distances, which makes it common among hunters.

The release gives a consistent aim: when drawing the bow, the pressure will be distributed between your forearm and back. The fingers are completely relaxed, while your wrist does the job of holding tension and weight. 

On the downside, just like the button release, it’s quite common for archers to accidentally trigger the release, disrupting accuracy in the process. To prevent this, touch the release lightly, and then allow slow pressure until you trigger the release. 

Here’s a video showing how to use the wrist strap index finger release.


  • Makes controlled and precise shots 
  • Great for hunting 
  • Consistent release
  • Simple and comfortable to use 
  • Great for long distances


  • Release mechanics could increase the risk of target panic 

Handheld Hinge Release

The handheld hinge release is quite similar to the tension release (no trigger and handheld.) The main difference between them is that a hinge release incorporates both hand movement and tension release. 

The hinge release works by retaining pressure on the thumb and index finger as an archer draws the bow. When the archer is prepared to fire, they can relax the thumb and index finger, which moves the pressure to the middle and ring fingers, and engages back tension. 

Once this happens, the release will rotate and cause it to fire. Since there’s no trigger, there’s little to no risk of target panic.


  • Reduces target panic 
  • Great for hunting
  • Clean release


  • Not very easy to learn
  • Quite expensive

Which of the Archery Release Types Works Best?

archery release

The archery release types differ based on what your intentions for the release aid are. You can find a tension release great for hunting, but not as efficient in competitions. You also can consider your skill in archery before you decide which release works best for you. Unlike thumb or index releases, hinge releases are not as easy for beginners.


Knowing the benefits and downsides of these archery release types enables you to know what to expect when you use them, and how you can navigate through their shortcomings.

If you want more information about bows and archery in general, don’t forget to browse through our collection of articles.

Picture of Brad Burnie

Brad Burnie

Picture of Brad Burnie

Brad Burnie

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