Shooting a compound bow without a release is possible. However, it can be pretty uncomfortable, requires more practice, and the design of most modern compound bows has release aids in mind.
You may have noticed some archers refrain from shooting with release aids and instead shoot with their fingers. There are various reasons why some prefer to shoot a compound bow without a release.
Some reasons could be that they prefer the feeling of the bowstring, while others don’t want to spend their money on another accessory to avoid more cost.
Whatever the reason is, it all comes down to preferences. Therefore, yes, you can shoot a compound bow without a release.
To explain further, read more about the following reasons why you should consider using release aids when shooting a compound bow:
- Requires more practice
- Modern compound bows are not ideal
- Find the right compound bow
Like other archery accessories, release aids also have their purpose. Comfort is the primary reason most archers use release aids to shoot compound bows.
Since a compound bow has its bowstring at a steeper angle, it will be uncomfortable for you to shoot without a release.
Compared to a recurve bow’s draw weight, you may need a lot of strength to pull back a compound bow’s bowstring because it tends to have a twice higher draw weight.
It means that since the draw weight is high, there is more tension experienced by your fingers when drawing the compound bow, resulting in discomfort.
Because of the discomfort from pulling the bowstring continuously without the help of a release aid, you may have to practice more to keep shooting accurately.
When we talk about more practice, you have to exert more effort and spend more time for your finger to get used to the constant tension of pulling the string back as far as you want.
Unfortunately, modern compound bows are not ideal to use if you plan to shoot without a release. Nowadays, the design of contemporary compound bows has release aids in mind.
Therefore, those who shoot with fingers may find it challenging to shoot with modern compound bows. Opting for modern compound bows means you have to be extra careful not to pinch them with your fingers.
Let’s say you are okay with the possible disadvantages stated above. Below are the following tips to help you get off to a good start:
As mentioned above, modern compound bows are not the right ones for you if you plan to shoot without a release aid. Luckily, some compound bows can support you with what you want.
Some archers are unaware of this, but some manufacturers produce compound bows for archers who shoot with their fingers, and yes, you read that right.
You can ask your local archery shop if there are a few compound bow manufacturers they know that cater to such preferences.
If you don’t want such hassle, you can opt to buy a standard compound bow instead.
However, there is a specific measurement you should look for in a compound bow: To avoid pinching your fingers while shooting, choose a compound bow that measures 40 inches or more from wheel to wheel.
You can also consider buying compound bows made in the 80s. These are compound bows made before the invention of release aids.
You may hesitate to choose this option since some would tell you modern compound bows are better. Although they are old, they are still adequate to use as long as they are in good condition.
Moreover, you can notice that these vintage compound bows have wheels instead of cams, making pulling back the bowstrings and shooting them easier compared to modern models.
Here is the list of compound bows ideal for finger shooting, and you can find most of them sold on Craigslist and eBay:
- Hoyt Medalist
- Martin Shadowcat
- Hoyt Vantage Limited
- Martin Scepter V
- The Barnsdale Classic
- Hoyt Tribute
- Consider wearing a finger tab or glove
Therefore, if you prefer to finger shoot with a compound bow, either you should buy a newer compound bow designed to your choice or look for a vintage compound bow.
Since shooting a compound bow without a release is uncomfortable, you may want to consider wearing a finger tab or glove to achieve a smooth release of the arrow.
The finger tab and finger glove differs in design but share similar purposes, mainly to protect your finger as you shoot.
A finger glove provides more flexibility with your anchor point by making it easier for you to use one finger above and the other below the arrow technique. It also has added padding, making it comfy to use when shooting a compound bow.
On the other hand, a finger tab is a piece of leather available in various types. It mainly separates your draw hand fingers from the bowstring. On occasion, finger tabs have an additional leather piece to provide more cushion.
Some are also available with a spacer between your first two fingers, while others have elastic to ensure it won’t slip off.
Since there are hundreds of finger tabs and finger gloves in the market, choose the one that works well for you.
Therefore, shooting a compound bow without a release is possible. However, to avoid discomfort and minimize challenges, it is better to look for the right compound bow and wear a finger tab or glove.
Is a bow release necessary?
Using a bow release is not necessary and is a matter of preference. On the other hand, using it can increase your accuracy, prevent target panic, make it easier to shoot, and keep you safe.
These days, release aid is widespread among archers, primarily since most bows now differ from the previous ones, whether in design, specs, or enhanced performance.
You may wonder if using release when shooting a compound bow is necessary. You may have seen a few compound bow archers use their fingers to shoot. If you plan to join archery competitions, release aid is not a requirement.
Therefore, the use of bow release is unnecessary and is a matter of preference. However, these advantages may change your mind, and you may want to consider using it instead of your fingers:
- Increase accuracy
- Prevent target panic
- Easier to shoot
- Keep you safe
A study showed that if you compare archers trained to use release aids to those that use their fingers, you can notice that those that use release aids to shoot significantly score higher.
Since they increase accuracy, World Archery sees release aids as a performance-enhancing accessory and allows compound bow archers to use during competitions.
You may be wondering why release aids increase accuracy. They can increase accuracy by reducing your chance of shooting inconsistently.
Since you don’t need to hold the bowstring directly to shoot, unlike when shooting with fingers, the chances of getting tired from drawing back the string are minimal. Thus, you will be able to shoot accurately and consistently.
If you didn’t know yet, target panic happens on archers when they find it hard to maintain the pins of their bow sight focused on the target without fidgeting, moving, and shaking.
Target panic seems to happen in many archers, and some see it as challenging to overcome. However, a release aid helps the archers eliminate their target panic by allowing them to hold the bow steadily without shaking.
Unlike finger shooting, release aid makes shooting more manageable, especially when using compound bows. Shooting without a release can be difficult because of adjustments you must get used to before you can start shooting smoothly.
If you use a release aid, you also won’t have to spend too much time practicing to shoot because using such makes it more accessible.
Compared to when shooting recurve bows, you must be extra careful when grabbing the compound bow’s string because the cams can derail if you are not cautious enough, resulting in significant injuries.
If you plan to shoot with your fingers, you must be more aware of how you pull the bow string. Using a release aid means you will encounter a lesser chance of string derailment caused by unintentional string torque.
Hence, although using bow release is unnecessary, it has several advantages you won’t be able to enjoy if you decide to shoot a compound bow using your fingers.
What to know before shooting a compound bow with a release?
You must first choose the right release aid and attach a D-loop before shifting to shoot a compound bow with a release.
If you consider shooting a compound with a release aid, you may get overwhelmed with plenty of options and information to remember. Especially for those who used to shoot with their fingers, shooting with a release aid may feel new and confusing for some.
Therefore, you want to ensure you bought the right release aid suitable for you and take note of what else you should attach before you can begin shooting again.
Here are a few things you should know and do as you transition to shooting a compound bow with a release:
- Choosing the proper release
There is a wide variety of release aids to choose from on the market; however they are mainly available in these categories:
- Thumb release – you hold this release aid with your fingers and use your thumb to release the arrow.
- Canting release – this release goes off the moment you cant it in a specific direction.
- Wrist release – you have to attach this release aid to your wrist, while your index finger must pull the trigger to release the shot.
- Back tension release – you won’t have to use your fingers to shoot with this release. You have to draw the bowstring even further back instead. When you pull the bowstring further enough, this release aid will discharge the shot at particular poundage.
Among the type of release aids enumerated, it would be best to start using either of the less complicated ones: thumb release and wrist release.
Since back tension and canting release require more training and are more advanced than the previous two, starting with easier ones will help you take this one at a time.
If you hunt with a compound bow, it will help to know that fellow hunters prefer using a wrist release aid. Because a thumb release aid takes more time to set up, which can be a hassle for someone running against time and timing, a wrist release is easier to use and more convenient.
On the other hand, target shooters prefer the thumb release aid since it lets them get a more solid anchor point. Nonetheless, choosing a release aid comes down to preferences and which feels more comfortable to use for you.
Since you are still figuring out which release aid type works best for you, it is acceptable to buy cheaper ones first. Furthermore, you can also try each different release aid first before settling on one type.
Don’t hesitate to experiment and discover which ones suit your style best rather than only consulting other archers and professionals.
Archers who used to shoot with their fingers have installed standard nocking points instead of a D-loop. If you plan to shoot with a release aid, you need to have a D-loop installed.
You have to know that attaching the release aid directly to the string is a bad idea because it can damage your compound bow’s serving and nocking points. Additionally, it can also result in inconsistencies in your shooting. To avoid this, you have to install a D-loop.
By installing a D-loop and ensuring you have the correct release aid, you can now pinpoint the vast difference between shooting a compound bow with a release versus without one.
Indeed, using a release aid to shoot a compound bow is convenient and has a lot of advantages that will help uplift your performance. However, if you plan to shoot a compound bow with your fingers, don’t forget to choose the right compound bow and wear a finger protector.