I made an earlier archery lessons post about the types of archery release available and provided you with some information about them, but I did not cover how they work and how you actually activate them.
A piece of advice for beginners though: Start off without a release and learn how to shoot a bow right first before worrying about getting a release. Check out some archery tips and perfect your archery form.
There are 3 basic types of release activation techniques with a few more subtypes:
- Whole hand
- Small trigger
- Big trigger
- Whole hand
- Grip Deformation
Squeezing (Whole Hand)
This technique involves squeezing the whole hand gently until the shot goes off, which works especially well with trigger releases. With this technique, it is usually a good idea for the springs in the release device to be stiff, simply because excessive sensitivity is not required.
Squeezing (Small Trigger)
This technique involves applying the squeeze directly to the trigger lever. The issue with this technique is that when a shooter gets what is called “target panic” (Which happens to a lot of people), they suddenly jerk the trigger, causing bad shots. For this reason, archers need discipline and focus to apply this squeezing technique effectively and correctly.
Squeezing (Big Trigger)
This technique involves squeezing the pinkie and ring fingers. This is less tension than working the entire hand, and makes the release rotate. For this reason, this technique works very well with rotary releases devices. In addition, if you’re using a thumb trigger, the trigger gets pushed into the base of the thumb which causes the arrow to be fired, and so the techniques works well with thumb trigger devices as well.
Pulling (Whole Hand & Grip Deformation)
Pulling is not exactly a separate technique in itself. The act of pulling causes their grip to behave as if they’re squeezing their entire hand, indirectly triggering the whole hand squeezing technique.
The other thing it does is induce grip deformation. Grip deformation takes occurs in one of two ways:
- The hand slowly relaxes, deforming the grip of the hand on the release device.
- You increase the pull, while deforms the grip of the hand on the release device.
The way this works is that deformation of the grip allows the release device to rotate in the hand, and when it’s a slow and nice deformation, this results in a nice and slow surprise break.
This makes it so that rotary devices work extremely well with grip deformation. When it comes to trigger devices though, with a thumb release, grip deformation looks a lot like a big trigger squeeze. This is because the thumb release will rotate with grip deformation, and it will set itself off by pressing into the thumb.
Expansion is more complicated than the other release techniques. It is more used in recurve archery and has been in use since ancient times to break the shot, and was widely used in traditional Japanese and Korean archery.
The idea behind the expansion technique is to put a very small amount of extra force on the bow to open it enough to break the shot. Koreans shoot this way at the Olympics if you’re interested in checking out some videos of it. You will always take some archery tips from watching professionals, especially if you’re a visual learner.
For more info concerning the expansion technique, there’s a book about traditional Japanese archery that covers it in more detail entitled “Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery” by Hideharu Onuma, Dan Deprospero, and Jackie Deprospero. It’s an interesting book that will surely provide you with many archery lessons.
In summary, it is widely believed that the best techniques involve pulling to induce grip deformation, or big trigger squeezing with a bit of gentle pulling, but it is important to know that you can combine the various techniques and that practice will allow you to figure out what provides you with consistency and comfort.
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